SAGES Speaks Out Against the “Cemetery of the Innocents”

Each year, Respect for Life holds a memorial for the innocents lost to abortion. Courtesy of Casey Chun.

Each year, Respect for Life holds a memorial for the innocents lost to abortion. Casey Chun/The Fordham Ram

By Erin Shanahan

SAGES Coalition stood in opposition next to Fordham University Respect for Life’s demonstration, “Cemetery of the Innocents,” Tuesday, April 28.

The demonstration, set up on McGinley Lawn, consisted of 2900 small white flags representing the amount of abortions that occur in the United States each day. Fordham University Respect for Life members stood in front of their demonstration and discussed abortion with passing students.

“We’re here because we think that the number and magnitude of abortions in the United States every day is so high that we feel we need to be public,” commented John Casey, FCRH ’15, Fordham University Respect for Life president.

While the Fordham University Respect for Life event occurred, SAGES Coalition gathered in front of McGinley with a banner stating “Birth Control Prevents Abortion. Respect Student Life.” In addition, they handed out flyers promoting the use of contraceptives to prevent abortions as well as their new “Just a Friend Network” and engaged in conversations with students regarding the demonstration nearby.

“A lot of people thanked us because there are many on campus who feel traumatized and triggered and personally attacked through this demonstration,” commented SAGES leader Monica Cruz, FCRH ’16.

Although SAGES found the demonstration disturbing to those who have been involved with abortions, Fordham University Respect for Life asserts that the purpose of the demonstration is not to offend.

“It is not our intention to shame women in any way.” Casey said, “We think that this display is the best compromise between not shaming women and being public about our conviction.”

In addition, SAGES discussed contraceptives as a means to prevent abortion. The group expressed confusion with the University’s priorities.

“Fordham has obviously shown that preventing abortion is something they are willing to create space for and allow students to organize against,” Cruz acknowledged. “If Fordham is so concerned about stopping abortion, then they should provide their students with birth control.”

In regard to the topic of contraceptives, Fordham Respect for Life remains neutral.

“Our club doesn’t take a stance on contraceptives.” Casey said. “While our members have different views and opinions on contraceptives – some even agreeing with SAGES, that contraceptive is a way of preventing abortions – as a club, we feel that the best way to balance our members’ opinions and focus on issues in front of us is to not have an opinion [on contraceptives].”

Despite the conflict of interests present in the shared space, both parties reported little to no disrespect occurring in front of McGinley this past Tuesday.

“To be honest, when we saw so many people, we were intimidated at first,” Casey confessed, “But they’ve been respectful and that’s all that we really wanted them to be.”

Besides one incident, SAGES largely reported the same positive response.

“We’ve definitely had some people express that they didn’t agree with us,” Cruz reported, “We had someone do the sign of the cross to someone handing out flyers with us. However, besides that, everything here has been calm and respectful.”
On the other hand, SAGES plans to launch a rebrand of the coalition called Fordham Students United (FSU) in the fall semester.

This organization will act as a student movement organization promoting broader-based issues such as free speech and engagement against sexism and racism.

“These issues are not gone. We’re not gone,” SAGES founding member, Rachel Field, FCRH ’15, informed The Fordham Ram earlier this semester. “This is not something that happens in one semester because it is exciting and then disappears. This is work that take a long time to develop and cultivate and it will be continuing regardless.”


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