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Noblesville Schools Prevails in Legal Battle Against Anti-Abortion Club

Noblesville Schools emerged victorious in a federal lawsuit against a student who initiated and managed an anti-abortion club. However, the legal battle may not be concluded yet, despite the Hamilton County school district already spending $200,000 to address the complaint.

In 2021, a student at Noblesville High School established a local branch of Students for Life, an anti-abortion organization that is part of a larger national network.

Referred to as E.D. in the lawsuit due to her age, the student claimed that school authorities infringed upon her First Amendment rights by withdrawing approval for the club and preventing its continuation.

Judge Sarah Evans Barker of the Southern District Court of Indiana ruled in late March that the district did not violate the student’s rights when enforcing the school’s regulations for student clubs.

The officials of Noblesville Schools expressed gratitude for Barker’s decision, affirming that the district acted appropriately.

“We encourage our students to create clubs that reflect their passions, and we have numerous student-led clubs encompassing a wide array of interests, activities, and beliefs,” stated Marnie Cooke, a district spokeswoman.

Noblesville Students for Life is affiliated with the larger Students for Life organization, which aims to engage, educate, and mobilize the pro-life community to end abortion.

The student alleged that the school administrators imposed restrictions on the club due to its cause. In response, district leaders cited concerns about parental involvement in the group.

However, Kristan Hawkins, the president of the national organization, argued that such actions undermine First Amendment rights.

Hawkins remarked, “Dealing with a weaponized judicial system unfairly burdens pro-life Americans, including in this instance, a high school student.”

Following the club’s inception in 2021, conflicts arose between E.D. and school officials when she sought to display flyers depicting students holding signs with messages like “Defund Planned Parenthood” and “I am the pro-life generation.”

The school authorities contended that the flyers should not feature photographs, aligning with regulations applicable to all student clubs.

Throughout the legal proceedings, Noblesville permitted the club to operate as per the judge’s directive. Despite attempts by attorneys representing Noblesville Students for Life to disqualify Barker as the judge, citing her alleged bias in favor of abortion, their efforts were unsuccessful.

The case garnered attention from prominent pro-life figures, including Noblesville pastor Micah Beckwith, who accused school leaders of discriminatory behavior towards E.D., a member of his congregation.

In response to the recent ruling by the judge, Beckwith expressed concerns about the limitations imposed on conservative students’ rights.

Beckwith stated, “It is concerning when only certain perspectives are permitted within our educational system.”

As of now, the anti-abortion club continues to operate at Noblesville High School, according to district officials.

Rachel Fradette serves as the WFYI Statehouse education reporter.