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Former Pro-Life Student Sues Louisville School of Medicine for Alleged Discrimination

— August 13, 2021

The Louisville School of Medicine is at the center of a lawsuit filed by a former student who claims he was discriminated against for his pro-life views.

A medical student at the University of Louisville School of Medicine (ULSOM) recently filed a lawsuit alleging the school discriminated against him because of his pro-life activism. The student is Austin Clark from Louisville. In his suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court against ULSOM President Neeli Bendapudi and 13 others, alleges the defendants harassed and expelled him “in retaliation for a 2018 pro-life event he hosted.”

Gavel and two hardbound books on wooden table; image by Succo, via
Gavel and two hardbound books on wooden table; image by Succo, via

According to the suit, the 2018 event “featured Alex McFarland, a noted Christian apologist, and author, speaking about the origins of life in the womb.” As is common with this sort of event, many students and faculty members thought the event topics were controversial. But then again, aren’t college campuses supposed to be a place where ideas and opinions can be debated and discussed in a safe environment? In a statement, Clark said:

“They are saying I was being unprofessional, but all I’ve done is to be a vocal pro-life student, standing up to bullies.”

The suit further alleges that between the 2018 event and his expulsion in 2020, Clark was “frequently harassed by professors who allegedly verbally assaulted him…he was arbitrarily given a failing grade in internal medicine even though he claims to have earned a passing score.” On top of that, the suit claims Clark “was the victim of viewpoint discrimination, as seen by the disparate treatment he received compared to other politically active students.” The complaint further states:

“Defendants punish Clark … when there are students who, when expressing contrary views or faiths (or lack thereof), via Student Organizations and other means, or otherwise engaging in similar or more severe ‘unprofessional behavior,’ while both on and off the clerkship services are not subject to the same or similar restrictions or such severe level of academic discipline as applied to Clark.”

As part of the suit, Clark is seeking to be reinstated and alleges the school violated his first and 14ths Amendment rights.

When commenting on the suit, Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins said:

“Viewpoint discrimination is running rampant in workplaces, online, and on college campuses…Students’ futures should not be threatened simply because their beliefs don’t line up perfectly with their professors’, but once again, a student must head to court to fight for basic rights.”

This isn’t the first time the University of Louisville has come under fire by pro-life groups. In 2020, the Family Foundation and 35 “state lawmakers demanded an investigation into whether the university violated state law on taxpayer funding of abortions by effectively controlling the lone abortion clinic.”

When commenting on that matter, Martin Cothran, a spokesman for the Family Foundation, said

“Not only is U of L involved in the abortion clinic’s activities, but the clinic operates, for all practical purposes, as an extension of the Medical School’s program.”


Student expelled from University of Louisville over pro-life views, lawsuit claims

Student Claims He Was Expelled from University of Louisville Medical School over Pro-Life Views, Files Lawsuit

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