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Fresno State University professor Gregory Thatcher attempts to erase a pro-life chalk message on campus.
Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

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Prof tries to stamp out pro-life free speech and now he’s getting sued

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

FRESNO, California, May 15, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A college pro-life group is suing a professor for violating their free speech.

Students for Life at Fresno State University filed a lawsuit on Thursday against Dr. Gregory Thatcher, a public health professor who attempted to destroy their sidewalk chalk messages and encouraged pro-abortion students to do the same.

The pro-life student group creates chalk messages on campus sidewalks after first obtainsing permission from school administration and Student Involvement. The messages are meant to help new parents and women in crisis pregnancies.  

When pro-abortion students began erasing the chalk creations, Students for Life Fresno president Bernadette Tasy asked why. She was told, "We have a teacher that's telling us to get rid of it."  

The teacher was Thatcher.

Thatcher himself approached the pro-life students and used his shoe to wipe out their messages while giving them a tongue-lashing. He told them that they could only express themselves in a "free speech zone," an area the university eliminated years ago.

"College campuses are not free-speech areas," Thatcher angrily said while blocking the pro-life messages from being seen. "Obviously, you do not understand."

Thatcher’s rebuke of the pro-life group’s members and defacing of their messages was caught on video.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has taken up the Students for Life cause and filed the lawsuit.

Fresno State Students for Life v. Thatcher claims the professor violated the students’ freedom of speech through censorship, harassment, intimidation, and recruiting others to do the same. The lawsuit asks that Thatcher and his pro-abortion students no longer interfere, disrupt, or alter lawful free speech.

“Fresno State Students for Life received full permission to chalk pro-life messages near the library," Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins explained. "Rather than countering with his own message, Dr. Thatcher took the illegal approach of censoring speech and inciting students to help.”

“No students should have to endure this kind of intimidation and harassment for simply expressing their views," Hawkins added, "especially not those who want to help the women betrayed, and the preborn children killed, by the abortion industry.”

ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox said faculty members should practice what they preach. "It's important that university professors model the First Amendment values they are supposed to be teaching to students," Mattox said.

“No university professor has the authority to ... silenc(e) any student speech he happens to find objectionable,” ADF Legal Counsel Travis Barham added. “Professors have an obligation to respect students’ free speech rights. ... The professor’s actions here represent a flagrant violation of the First Amendment.”

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