"I just don’t think I am guilty for witnessing about abortion on the campus of a Catholic university," explained Dr. Monica Miller, one of the 40 individuals arrested for trespassing while protesting at Notre Dame’s graduation on the weekend of May 17. Miller and members of a pro-life organization pleaded "not guilty" in court on June 3.
The protestors objected to pro-abortion President Obama being honored as commencement speaker and awarded an honorary doctorate in law during Notre Dame’s commencement exercises.
Miller, who is a professor of Sacred Theology at Madonna University in Livonia, Mich. believed that she and other supporters from Citizens for a Pro-Life Society (CPLS) "needed to be on campus to make a witness." Sixteen of the group members were arrested. On June 3, all but one of those arrested pleaded "not guilty."
"Were we to pretend that there was no problem? Stay off campus?" Miller asked. "Our plan was to show the photos of abortion victims to the very graduates filing in just before they were to hear Barack Obama be applauded and honored. We did not want to allow the moment to pass without showing the truth about abortion."
Speaking about Notre Dame, she continued: "When they bring in the most powerful, most prominent pro-abortion president - that creates a situation where there should be a demonstration," continued Miller. "These were extraordinary circumstances. Inviting Obama to a Catholic university was a moral outrage."
In addition to holding demonstrations, CPLS joined with the Pro-Life Action League to pay for two billboards on the Indiana toll road near Notre Dame to decry the invitation. CPLS also took out full page ads in the South Bend Tribune and the Washington Times. The official Notre Dame student newspaper, the Observer, refused to print a picture Miller described as "non-gory" of the arm and leg of an abortion victim. Miller’s intention was to demonstrate the humanity of the child.
Prior to the June 3 hearing, Sister Lois Marie Mitoraj, another demonstrator stated that she was going to plead "not guilty."
"I opposed the invitation Notre Dame gave to Obama, the platform space. We are witnesses for Jesus, witnesses for the babies, voices for the babies. Legal abortion is barbaric in a civilized society."
"I encourage people of good will to pray at the abortion clinics and to sidewalk counsel," she continued. "Pope John Paul II in "The Gospel of Life" tells us that we must be defenders of life. Just as slavery was abolished I hope that abortion will be abolished in America. We abide by God's law, 'Thou shalt not kill,' not man's law, Roe vs. Wade."
The defendants are being represented by Osceola, IN, attorney Thomas Dixon, who is co-counsel on the case with the American Center for Law and Justice. Dixon plans a variety of defenses to contend that the protesters’ constitutional rights were violated by their being arrested.
Trial dates of September 9 and 10 have been set, although they could change. "God willing-- I plan to see this all through to the end - even should it mean a jail sentence. Pro-lifers can do a lot of good in jail - it's like a mission field," Miller said.
Father Norman Weslin and Norma McCorvey, the woman who was "Roe" in Roe v. Wade, were also among those arrested and will be arraigned on Monday.