UVA’s Invisible Controversy: I Will Not Comply, I Will Not Apply

This past fall provided me with a wonderful opportunity to engage in pro-life activism directly. Last September, I stumbled upon a Facebook page known as the Human Rights and Scientific Honesty Initiative, University of Virginia; the group is dedicated to exposing UVA’s long history of performing abortions in its on-campus medical center [1]. As somebody who had been looking forward to applying to UVA, I was devastated by this news, and I was even more alarmed when I found out that Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill also carry out such procedures. I ultimately decided to forego applying to these schools because of their involvement in the abortion business. In doing so, I realized that I would be sacrificing career opportunities and a tremendous level of prestige in the name of upholding my own principles, yet I decided to do so anyway. The Initiative convinced me to send letters to the presidents, regents, and board members of those three universities detailing my reasons for not applying.

In early November, I sent out those letters.

Over the course of several weeks, I received responses from only two of the original addressees. One was from N. Thompson Long of the University of North Carolina; the other was written by UVA President Teresa Sullivan. Neither addressed the controversy that I wrote to them about.

Long’s response was surprising, yet not compelling. He expressed his (personal) agreement with my belief in the sanctity of human life, while dedicating the rest of his response to extolling the virtues of education and the ways in which it helps bring about social change [2]. While I can hardly disagree with such a message, I was perturbed by Long’s refusal to address the controversy I had written about in my letter.

Dr. Sullivan’s response was even more disappointing. She simply thanked me for “[my] letter regarding the sanctity of life,” stating that she “respect[ed my] beliefs” [3]. At no point did she respond to any of the concerns that I raised.

Interestingly enough, neither Long nor Sullivan denied the fact that their universities perform abortions.

That same month, I wrote to The Cavalier Daily, the University of Virginia’s supposedly independent student-run newspaper, in the hopes of getting my letter published. While I never expected the Cav’s Board of Editors to approve my letter, I was still shocked by the extent to which they asked me to engage in self-censorship. Katherine Ripley, Executive Editor of the publication, asked me to tone down the language I used in my original draft, arguing that my choice of words “could misrepresent the University’s policies and misrepresent abortion procedures” [4]. She also claimed that my letter “[did] not account for the legal ramifications the University’s hospital could face if it refused to provide abortion services” [5]. In later emails, she argued that my “classification of abortion as destroying human life” was “an opinion” and that my references to beheading and dismemberment misrepresented abortion procedures [6]. Ripley also made the claim that, in order to receive Medicaid or Medicare, hospitals are required to provide emergency care, which could include abortion [7]. She even asserted that some might make the mistake of believing that it is the UVA hospital’s decision to terminate unborn lives, rather than the decision of individual patients [8]. Unsurprisingly, the amendments I made to my piece did not satisfy Ripley, and The Cavalier Daily did not publish my article.

Since that time, I have sent my letter to numerous Virginia state delegates and senators, as well as Congressman Rob Wittman. Under no circumstances should a government or public institution be permitted to perform abortions, let alone use taxpayer dollars to carry out such procedures. As the premier human rights violation of our time, abortion should be abolished in its entirety; until such a time as that can be accomplished, however, no abortions should be state-sanctioned or subsidized with taxpayer money.

At the time of this writing, I am preparing to appear on The Schilling Show in order to discuss the issue of university abortions, and I also plan on having my letter published in The Roanoke Times. In addition, the Human Rights and Scientific Honesty Initiative plans on starting a petition for college-bound students who refuse to apply to universities that perform abortions, and I hope to meet with my own state delegate, Gordon Helsel, to discuss this matter further. The coordination of future pro-life protests at UVA remains a strong possibility as well


As of 2011, the University of Virginia has performed approximately 2,480 abortions, while Virginia Commonwealth University has stolen roughly 9,120 lives [9]. If this generation is going to abolish abortion, then it must be willing to take a firm stand and refuse to fund any organization that participates in the destruction of innocent human life, regardless of the personal sacrifices that such convictions might entail.

“I will not comply. I will not apply."

Photo credit: Trekboer.com, Flickr Creative Commons

WORKS CITED 1. The Human Rights and Scientific Honesty Initiative, University of Virginia. 2014. http://www.uvalies.org/.

2. Long, N. Thompson, letter to author, n.d.

3. Sullivan, Teresa, letter to author, 3 Dec. 2014.

4. Ripley, Katherine. “Re: LETTER TO THE EDITOR.” Message to the author. 10 Nov. 2014. E-mail.

5. Ibid.

6. Ripley, Katherine. “Re: LETTER TO THE EDITOR.” Message to the author. 10 Nov. 2014. E-mail.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. “The Human Rights and Scientific Honesty Initiative.” The Human Rights and Scientific Honesty Initiative, University of Virginia. 2014. http://uvalies.org/initiative. A detailed letter to UVA President Sullivan explaining the purpose of the initiative. References to statistics provided by the Virginia Department of Health are also provided.

#volume4issue1 #abortion

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