At Wednesday evening’s meeting of the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico, members from Students for Life rekindled a debate over a pro-life resolution that failed to pass last week.
Emotions were high as several members from Students for Life expressed their concerns to their Senate representatives. At one point, one student supporting the pro-life effort drew astonishment from the room, saying there was “no difference between (ASUNM) and Adolf Hitler.”
The resolution — introduced by a seven-person, pro-life voting bloc — failed in committee following scrutiny of its sourcing and statistics.
If passed, the resolution would have lent support to the pro-life Students for Life organization.
“The ASUNM government acknowledges that students on the UNM campus actively participate in the pro-life movement,” the resolution read.
Seven ASUNM senators sponsored the resolution, which was written with input from the leadership of pro-life student organizations on campus. If the resolution made it to the full Senate, the seven sponsors would have formed a near-majority voting bloc.
Many of those senators are involved in pro-life groups on campus and are actively involved in the on-campus religious student organization LoboCatholic.
But instead of making it to the entire Senate, the resolution was failed 2-3 in the Steering and Rules Committee. The supporting votes came from two of the resolution’s authors, part of that pro-life voting bloc.
According John Valdiviez, vice president of Students for Life, that voting bloc — which ran together on the Speak Now slate — was backed by many pro-life students on campus.
“They had a pro-life stance,” Valdiviez said. “We knew most of them from our clubs, so we encouraged our members to go out and vote. Of course, they can vote for whoever they wanted, but we said that these are the candidates who will pass pro-life legislation across the campus.”
In response to the student-voiced concerns, some senators defended their choice to vote down the resolution.
“It was my perspective that the bill was failed because of the quality of the legislation, not the content,” said Anand Macherla, a senator who voted against the resolution in committee.
According to information collected by the Daily Lobo, numerous statistics put forth in the resolution were not accurate.
In one instance, the resolution claimed women who have had an abortion are at a higher risk for breast cancer. The authoring senators cited the website abortionbreastcancer.com, which provided no information that links abortions to breast cancer.
The Center for Disease Control provides no information supporting the ASUNM resolution’s claim connecting abortion to breast cancer either.
Not all senators reflected Macherla’s sentiment, and some were disappointed the resolution didn’t pass through its committee.
“I was in disbelief,” said Finance Committee Chair Francine Briones. “I felt very targeted that the first time the Steering and Rules Committee shot down a bill, it was with an issue from Students for Life.”
“We want to be recognized, because there is a big group of students on campus who support issues like these,” one representative from Students for Life said.
Leadership from the student organization says it has approximately 20 active members.
One author confirmed that a similar, revised resolution will be introduced for consideration during the last legislative cycle of the semester.
Brendon Gray is a beat reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers ASUNM. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @notgraybrendon.