» kathleen dehring

It is spring here in Tennessee and APSU, with all of its flowers exploding with color and beauty, is unequaled, in my opinion, by the several other schools I have seen on my travels around the south. Yet, for two days running in the free speech zone, there has been some real ugliness — the mangled baby pictures and pamphlets cheerfully handed out by smiling women, who support the pro-life agenda.

I understand in order to have free speech in a democracy, all speech must be heard. I will never ask for anyone’s removal from the free speech zone for exercising their speech rights as a citizen of the United States, even though I might think their rhetoric is flawed or invalid.

However, the medical waste-grade billboards show the results of what could have been a dilation and curettage or an abortion, (who can tell how old these pictures are), and those are two different procedures.

I for one have had a few miscarriages and appreciated the availability of the “D and C” procedure to move on from a lost pregnancy and heal.

Having spent 18 years in the medical field — some of which was in labor and delivery — I asked just where the pictures came from. After all, if I am rendered unable to eat lunch, I want to know who went trolling for D and C pictures or if there was even a Hippa consent for some woman’s medical procedure to be on display. No answers were given.

On day two, the pamphlet ladies were spread out so far, leaving one was in my path outside Harned Hall, extending a pamphlet to me. The young lady said, as I refused, “I just want you to have literature.” I truly get free speech is possibly speech I may not like, but as APSU is a public institution, can it not be kept strictly in the Free Speech Zone?

Is the message this group needs to share so weak and diluted they need pictures of gore to make someone stop and listen? Where is the counterpoint to this? Who will be there to argue for the raped, incest survivors and medical crisis intervention patients?

Where are the people who will stand up and say women are not chattel and do not require a government to stand in as a parent to tell us what’s best for our bodies? I applaud a campus that makes a boundary space for this; I am asking why it seems to be one sided?

It seems to be only ministers with loud speakers or pro-life advocates with spatter pictures that would feel at home in a horror show in our Free Speech Zone.

Women, now is the time to have your free speech and tell people their belief systems are fine in their own lives and homes. It is time you also use that Free Speech Zone to talk about your rights not only as a woman but a human being. TAS