Pro-life group mulling legal action after university lists peaceful activists on terrorism database

Police arrest Students for Life members outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 1, 2020.
Police arrest Students for Life members outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 1, 2020. | Twitter/Students for Life

An anti-abortion group is considering taking legal action against a public university that listed pro-life activists and organizations on a domestic terrorism database.

The University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism recently launched a database called Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States.

Last week, Kristi Hamrick of Students for Life of America posted a blog entry explaining that her organization was listed on the PIRUS database as part of “a non-alphabetized list of alleged suspects under ‘group or movement affiliation.’”

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In comments to The Christian Post on Thursday, Hamrick said a student who looked through the database first brought this listing to her attention.

“You can tell that viewpoint discrimination is rampant in the project in that Jane's Revenge, which actually threatened gun violence against pro-life students at one of our events, is not listed, while peaceful, pro-life speech gets flagged,” Hamrick said.

“This is an attempt to smear the reputations of peaceful students who use their free speech right to advocate for mothers and their children, born and preborn. It is a highly offensive and highly suspect organization that can't tell the difference between students with signs and actual terrorists threatening violence.”

When asked by CP if her organization was considering legal action against the National Consortium over the listing, Hamrick said the group's attorneys “are evaluating our options.”

The database also garnered negative attention on the pro-life news site, which reported that the Pro-Life Action League and two student activists who were arrested in August 2020 for trying to write “black pre-born lives matter” on a sidewalk were also listed. The charges against the two activists were later dropped.  

Deanne Winslett, communications manager with the National Consortium, directed CP to a PIRUS FAQ page to read the methodology for how an entity is added to the database was explained.

The criteria for being included in the database included fitting at least one of the following parameters: being “arrested for committing an ideologically-motivated crime,” “indicted for an ideologically motivated crime,” killed because of “ideological activities” like an attempted attack on a target, being a member of an officially designated terrorist organization, or being involved in a group “whose leader(s) or founder(s) has/have been indicted for an ideologically motivated violent offense.”

“PIRUS is a deidentified cross-sectional, quantitative dataset of individuals in the United States who radicalized to the point of violent or non-violent ideologically motivated criminal activity, or ideologically motivated association with a foreign or domestic extremist organization from 1948 until 2021,” stated the FAQ page.

The database lists several far-right and white supremacist organizations, among them the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis, as well as “tax protesters, sovereign citizens, militias, and militant gun rights advocates.”

The database also includes organizations and individuals that identify as far-left, such as some animal rights and environmentalist organizations, as well as extremist groups that promote violence in the name of Islam.

When asked about the nonviolent pro-life activists and groups included in the list, Winslett told CP, “We cannot comment on specific individuals in the database out of respect for privacy and civil rights, and regulatory compliance.”

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