About a month ago I wrote an article covering some pretty horrific things occurring in hospitals throughout Great Britain. In that piece, I reported on thousands of fetal remains that had been burned along with trash to produce energy.

Last week, reports began to emerge that a similar waste-to-energy facility exists in Brooks, Oregon, and that sources discovered that it, too, had burned fetal remains for energy. Reportedly, Marion County Commissioners responded quickly, halting operations at Covanta Marion, Inc.

Naturally, I was disturbed to read that the practice was occurring in the United States as well. I spent quite a bit of time trying to understand why someone made the decision to implement this program. I struggled to wrap my head around the fact that human flesh is being burned and used as a source of energy in my country.

Coincidentally, I heard about what was happening in Oregon around the same time that my university’s pro-life group, Mustangs For Life, started a campus awareness project. I am a member of the organization, and found the project to be quite powerful: Little pink and blue flags were placed on the lawn in front of a main building on campus, with each flag representing ten babies who are aborted each day. There were several other signs scattered around the grass displaying facts about abortion.

The project certainly did not go unnoticed, and we quickly received responses. Some were positive, and others were quite negative. We received messages of support from pro-life students and members of the greater Dallas community. A candidate for the Texas House of Representatives was even kind enough to stop by and let us know how proud he was.

Abortion advocates, on the other hand, quickly and viciously expressed their disapproval.

Many of our flags were torn from the ground and thrown in trashcans or bushes. One girl even tweeted a photo of herself proudly holding one of our flags with the caption, “Stole ten dead babies yesterday. Does this mean I get a tax break?” She was just so proud of her vandalism and so were her friends, leaving comments like “I ABSOLUTELY ADORE YOU FOR THIS” and “YOU GO GIRL. Let’s start a revolution.”

A revolution against what? Free speech? A dissenting idea? I can’t help but wonder if these girls are familiar with the market place of ideas. Milton’s concept promotes welcoming more ideas, not less, with the belief that the best will ultimately prevail. Perhaps these young women aren’t so confident in the goodness of their views.

You don’t like our display? Cool, make your own as a response. Don’t act like a two-year-old child, throwing a temper tantrum because someone is saying something you don’t like. It’s childish, and it undermines the maturity that I would like to believe that students at my university are capable of maintaining.

An article written by The SMU Fountain, a seemingly left-leaning satirical paper written by students on our campus, sarcastically claimed that our arts and crafts had ended abortion forever. The piece quoted a fictional student writing, “What if the Mustangs for life had been aborted, wouldn’t our lawn be a hell of a lot less distracting right now?” Classy. Tolerant. Oh, so inclusive.

A serious opinion piece was written for The SMU Daily Campus that claimed we were judgmental individuals who don’t actually do anything for people who have already been born, but rather spend our time shaming women. This is a false and unfounded claim that is easy to refute with a list of service projects we have engaged in this year, but that’s beside the point. Our pro-life group could eradicate worldwide childhood hunger, and still our critics would label us as control freaks who are imposing our self-righteousness on innocent bystanders.

Is this tolerance? Mocking someone else’s views? Destroying their property? Labeling them with overused buzzwords?

Pro-life activists don’t shame women who find themselves in difficult circumstances. We believe that the human life growing inside them is precious, but we also believe that they are also precious. We want these women to know that they have no reason to be ashamed or embarrassed. We want to help heal a society that is plagued by the belief that innocent human life does not need protection at all stages of development.

Many who consider themselves pro-choice realize that, frequently, students have yet to form a firm opinion on abortion. I’ve heard it referred to as agnosticism towards abortion, and I think that is a very fitting description. Students have received the message that a woman’s decision is not their concern, and many have not formulated a complete personal opinion as a result.

So what do abortion advocates do to make sure these students don’t reach the conclusion that abortion is wrong? Label and ignore.

Label us as bigots, as misogynists, as bystanders in a patriarchal world that seeks to silence the desires and autonomy of women everywhere.

Label us as twisted individuals who fight to protect the unborn while abandoning the needs of the starving, the hurting, the sick, and the lonely.

They ignore the days we spend at children’s hospitals, crafting with suffering children.

They ignore the hours we devote to raising funds to provide clothing, diapers, and other necessities to expecting mothers.

They ignore the meetings we spend brainstorming about who we want to help next: members of the military, orphans, the elderly, the unloved, and the unwanted.

Feigning ignorance to all that we do is far easier for our opponents than it is to confront the reality that, while our opinions may differ, we are not monsters. They understand that no one in this ultra-sensitized, politically correct society wants to be labeled anti-woman. They think that if they can steal our property and mock our message, then maybe they can make us seem rigid, disrespectful, and uncool. Then, ultimately, maybe they can win.

It may seem like I’ve ventured quite a bit off topic. What does the culture of life on a college campus really have to do with what happened with the waste-to-energy plant in Oregon?

The culture that would allow something like that to happen gets started in places like SMU.

The college campus is a fertile ground for liberalism, moral negligence, and demonization of the conservative mind. The opinions that are formed on a college campus don’t die at graduation, and they aren’t abandoned when blue caps float through the air and diplomas are obtained. They also don’t dissipate the moment legions of students enter the “real world.”

No, opinions formed on college campuses seep out into the rest of the world. They affect legislation and, perhaps more importantly, attitudes. They are discussed at the workplace and the gym, the church and the coffee shop, the carpool line and the PTA meeting. They influence culture.

That’s why it is indisputably important for pro-life college students to engage in thoughtful, non-judgmental, and careful conversations with other students. It is important for them to stand up for themselves when their ideas and property are disrespected. We hold positive and life-affirming views, and that’s a reality that stealing little pink flags and stuffing them in a trash can cannot take away.

We should, however, shy away from being too idealistic: the majority of those who destroyed our flags, bragged about stealing “dead babies,” and laughed at the thought of our mothers aborting us will likely never become our allies. While hearts can certainly change, their movement is solidified. Many students who don’t yet realize that the protection of the innocent is not only their business but also their responsibility can be reached, touched, and motivated by a culture that honors the dignity of human life.

And maybe, if we reach enough of them, we will find ourselves in an America that does not stand for treating human flesh as waste. Perhaps we will live in a future that ensures everyone has opportunity to participate in the messy, confusing, and beautiful reality that is the human experience.