A lawsuit was filed last week by an anti-abortion legal group against UC Santa Barbara, one of its professors, and three of its students after a physical and highly publicized confrontation on campus last spring. The suit seeks compensation for battery, theft, and civil-rights violations, according to the Life Legal Defense Foundation, which declined to elaborate on a possible dollar figure.
On March 4, Professor Mireille Miller-Young with UCSB’s feminist studies department confronted a group of anti-abortion demonstrators on campus who were holding large signs and distributing leaflets. After a verbal exchange, Miller-Young — accompanied by students — forcibly took one of the signs and later destroyed it. She also tussled with 16-year-old demonstrator Thrin Short, who filmed much of the incident. After initially defending her actions by explaining she was pregnant and “triggered” by the posters’ disturbing abortion images, Miller-Young later pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of theft and battery and was sentenced to probation and community service.
Short’s mother, Katie, is the legal director for the Life Legal Defense Foundation. In July in an unrelated legal matter, Katie threatened to sue the City of Santa Barbara unless it rescinded or amended its “bubble ordinance” restricting free speech rights near the entrance of Planned Parenthood, churches, and medical clinics. It’s unclear if a lawsuit in that matter has been filed.
Last Thursday, the Life Legal Defense Foundation issued a statement on the Miller-Young case and criticized the university for not publicly censuring or reprimanding the professor. “In fact, communications from university officials implied that the youth who had been peacefully engaged in advocating a pro-life worldview caused the incident,” the statement reads.
“This is a mature, supposedly educated woman charged by the University of California to convey knowledge, and instead she conveyed discrimination and intolerance,” said Dana Cody, president and executive director of Life Legal Defense Foundation. “Not only was she out of line in attacking students, but she literally drew blood from a minor.”
A copy of the lawsuit is below. UCSB officials said it’s the school’s policy to not comment on pending litigation.