Controversy erupts over pro-abortion SGA statement
Controversy erupted last month at UMass Amherst when the university’s Student Government Association openly supported abortion, and Students for Life (SFL) at UMass pushed back.
In June, the SGA sent a campus-wide email that provided a list of resources for students seeking an abortion.
Controversy erupted last month at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (UMass) when the university’s Student Government Association (SGA) openly supported abortion, and Students for Life (SFL) at UMass pushed back.
The controversy began on June 25, the day after Roe v. Wade was overturned, when UMass Amherst’s SGA sent a mass email to the student body that criticized the Supreme Court's decision and promoted abortion. The email was also shared on the SGA's Instagram.
The email stated that the fall of Roe “marks a harrowing turning point in American history” that impacts “millions of women and gender minorities’ right to bodily autonomy.” It goes on to speak positively of UMass Amherst's decision to “provide the medical abortion pill to students on site beginning this fall.”
The SGA concluded by providing a list of resources at the end of the email, all of which were geared toward those who wish to get an abortion.
In response, the President of SFL at UMass Amherst, Kate Scott, emailed SGA President Shayan Raza, and Vice President Meher Gandhi, on July 11 objecting to the politicization of the organization.
Campus Reform obtained copies of these and other emails pertinent to the events.
Scott told Raza and Meher that she “and other members of the club feel that this statement made by SGA is inappropriate given its role as an apolitical organization meant to represent the entire student body.”
“We are particularly disappointed by the one-sided list of resources which advertise and promote abortion to our students without giving the full range of options available to them,” Scott continued. “There are many resources on campus and in the surrounding area which provide support to pregnant and parenting students.”
Scott concluded by asking the SGA to rescind their email to the student body and attached an official statement from UMass SFL addressed to the UMass community.
“[SGA’s statement] is extremely partisan and assumes the views of our students in regards to the issue of abortion. UMass has a diverse student body, and our students have different views on social and political issues, including the morality of abortion,” the statement read.
The statement goes on to charge SGA with failing “to provide any alternatives [to abortion], such as the many resources offered on or near campus for pregnant and parenting students.”
“In a post-Roe America, now more than ever it is crucial to emphasize the range of options available for women. Abortion is not and has never been the only answer,” SFL emphasized, before offering their own list of life-affirming resources pregnant students can access near campus.
SGA President Raza responded to Scott the same day, saying, “While it is true that the SGA has a variety of apolitical (or viewpoint neutral) processes…the signed members of our statement are entitled to the same right to express their opinions as you and your organization.”
“As students who were elected to our positions, we were given the opportunity to run on a platform and were voted by our peers to uphold it,” Raza concluded. “[G]iven the undersigned right to free expression, we will not be rescinding any part of our statement.”
Scott, however, did not find this reply convincing and offered a rejoinder on July 14.
“I cannot accept your explanation that the statement was made by a group of individual SGA members…the subject of the email is: ‘A Statement on SCOTUS from the Office of the Student Government Association’. It is clear that the statement was made on behalf of the SGA using the power and resources of the SGA,” Scott argued.
She continued, “[T]hese members have not merely stated their own opinions on their own platforms. They have abused the power and platform of [SGA] to promote their opinions to over 20,000 members of the UMass community.”
“I appeal to you as a pro-choice individual, do you really want women to have choices? Or just abortion?," she asked.
SGA never replied to this follow-up email from Scott, according to sources. Their official pro-abortion statement also remains posted on their Instagram account.
Campus Reform reached out to Shayan Raza, Meher Gandhi, SGA speaker Clare Sheedy, and all signatories of the SGA statement for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.