By Michael Baggot

  ALBUQUERQUE, NM, April 25, 2008 ( – “I want to save others from the same fate that I was almost put into,” said 14-year-old Janelle Bushnell referring to a silent protest against abortion she has been punished for planning at her New Mexico middle school.

  Bushnell and a friend have been distributing flyers to fellow students at their James Monroe Middle School, encouraging them to wear red armbands and duct tape in protest of the scourge of abortion that has silenced the voices of so many of Bushnell’s unborn peers.

  Bushnell was inspired to protest abortion after learning that her biological mother was encouraged to abort her, before foster parents stepped in to take care of her.

  School officials argue that the planned protest disrupts the educational process because the protesting students will not be able to respond to questions when called upon in class.

  Bushnell’s father argues that her daughter’s protest could provide an unexpected, but valuable lesson to those in the school.

“She’s trying to educate her peers about dangers that are going on right now.  Hopefully this is an educational process,” said Janelle’s adopted father Scott Bushnell.

  Bushnell has agreed to “take the punishment” of a daily silent lunch detention for her protest plot.

  Bushnell is not the first to face opposition for a silent protest of abortion in school.

  Last January, the Alliance Defense Fund pressed charges against the Shenendehowa Central School District on behalf of a 13-year-old in Albany, New York after her middle school prohibited her from duct taping her mouth in silent protest.

  The Albany student was one of about 1,400 middle and high school students who took part in the 3rd Annual Students’ Day of Silent Solidarity.

“Students do not abandon their free speech rights when they set foot on campus,” argued the student’s ADF legal counsel Matt Bowman.  “The school’s egregious actions in denying this student’s free speech rights, while allowing students to speak on other issues, cannot be allowed to continue.”

  Even the liberal American Civil Liberties Union has expressed support for students interested in silent protests against abortion.

  In October, the legal director of the ACLU of Michigan Michael J. Steinberg publicly argued that Jackson, Michigan students had a constitutional free speech right to take part in silent abortion protests, despite objections from middle school officials.

“The Supreme Court made it clear that school officials cannot censor student speech because it’s controversial.  School is a place for the exchange of ideas,” said Steinberg.

  See related coverage:

  Middle School Principal Bars Student from Participating in National Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity

  Learn more about the National Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity:

  To respectfully contact James Monroe Middle School officials:

  James Monroe Middle School
  6100 Paradise Blvd. NW
  Albuquerque, NM 87114
  (505) 897-0101