WU Law Students Maintain Rejection of Anti-abortion Group

October 11, 2002

By Susan Thomson at St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Unmoved by criticism from a Philadelphia group and the urgings of its own dean, the student government at Washington University's law school is standing by two previous votes to deny recognition to an anti-abortion student group.

At a hastily organized meeting at the law school Thursday, the Student Bar Association, as the governing body is called, aired once again the pros and cons of approving the Law Students Pro-Life group.

No votes were taken, and SBA President Elliott Friedman adjourned the meeting after an hour and scheduled a follow-up for Monday.

The meeting came a day after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a Philadelphia-based advocacy group, publicized the issue along with critical comments on its Web site and in a nationally distributed news release.

Joel Seligman, dean of the law school, was first to speak at Thursday's meeting. He said the SBA's decision to deny Law Students Pro-Life had done "some real damage to the reputation of this school," especially among prospective students. "

We appear to have stomped our foot down and said there's only one ideologically and politically appropriate way to behave," he said. He said he wanted the school to be inclusive and a place of mutual respect and pluralism.

Seligman left after making his remarks. Then, one by one, 13 students addressed the audience of about 60, among them about 30 SBA members and several members of Law Students Pro-Life.

Three of the 13 student speakers advocated recognition for the anti-abortion group. The rest, several of whom identified themselves as SBA members, voiced objections. A recurrent theme was that Law Students Pro-Life was a single-issue group and that recognizing it would obligate the SBA to recognize other groups with narrow political agendas...

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