Purdue prof calls pro-life fetal images 'child pornography'

A pro-choice professor accused pro-life organizations of “child pornography” for using images of dead fetuses as a rhetorical device during a debate at Purdue University.

At an April 24 debate hosted by the Boilermakers for Life student organization, David Sanders, an associate professor of Biology at Purdue, accused his interlocutor of “child pornography” for showing “images of fetuses” when defending his pro-life views.

[RELATED: Purdue staff member calls pro-life students ‘vile, racist idiots’]

“He thinks fetuses are children, and he belongs to an organization that likes to show images of fetuses,” Sanders remarked, referring to a pro-life activist group known as Created Equal, for which his opponent Seth Drayer works.

A video of the full debate was posted by Created Equal, and Sanders’ remarks begin just after the 38:00 mark.

“What would you call the public display of a butt naked body of a child?” Sanders questioned. “I would call it child pornography. Do they have their permission? Do they have the permission of the fetus? Obviously not.”

He went on to question whether or not Created Equal obtains “the permission of the parents to show these images of children,” soliciting a shocked reaction from the audience, with one in attendance pointing out that Sanders had effectively admitted that “it’s a child.”

“I didn’t admit it. I’m using his language. He thinks it’s a child. I do not,” Sanders quickly retorted, but then appeared to equivocate, saying, “if you want to enforce and protect First Amendment rights to allow you to show child pornography, have at it.”

Drayer, responding to Sanders’ argument, told The Liberty Conservative that “the claim that displaying abortion victim images in public is equal to child pornography is absurd (and laughable based on the reaction from the crowd gathered for the debate),” pointing out that the issue has already been decided by the courts.

[RELATED: Purdue investigating staff member’s alleged threat to rape pro-life women]

“Federal law defines child pornography as ‘any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor.’ By all accounts, images of abortion victims do not even come close to meeting that definition,” he explained. “The displaying of images of dismembered preborn children in public have long been considered protected political speech by federal courts where displaying child pornography is a criminal act punishable with up to 30 years’ maximum in prison.”

Sanders, however, contested Drayer's interpretation of the relevant statutes, telling Campus Reform that he "has misrepresented federal law." 

Additionally, Sanders claimed that the video in question was recorded in violation of the terms of the debate, calling the recording one that he had "explicitly demanded should not be made and about which the organizers of the debate lied," though Indiana requires only one party to consent to a recording when there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.  

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski