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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Anti-abortion preacher returns to Wichita State, attracts police attention

The WSU alum expressed anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments to students

Please note that some aspects of this story and gallery could be triggering.

An anti-abortion advocate stood outside the Rhatigan Student Center on Tuesday to “preach the gospel” and speak against abortion and the LGBTQ+ community. Wichita State police watched at a distance after receiving a call from someone disturbed about the situation.

In March 2023, “Free the States” members and other anti-abortion protesters came to WSU with graphic posters, making students uncomfortable. Nicholas Heald, one of the protesters, returned to Wichita State.

Heald said he had been among the “abolitionists,” who distinguish themselves from pro-life groups with their goal to “abolish” abortion with no exceptions.

Heald displayed two large posters. One poster condemned abortion and featured a bloody fetus. Stickers with anti-abortion and anti-birth control messages and a graphic fetus image also cover Heald’s worn, duct-taped Bible.

Heald’s second poster quoted Proverbs 16:18, warning that “pride goes before destruction,” with the text displaying pride flag colors. Heald also expressed anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments when speaking with WSU students and condemned the LGBTQ+ community.

WSU Police Officer Zachary Hendrich said students had been “yelling” at Heald on Tuesday, and he and another officer came to learn more details.

“(Heald) is in a free speech zone, so he’s allowed to be here, even if people don’t like what he has to say,” Hendrich said. “We’re just kind of hanging out to encourage people not to keep yelling at him.”

Some students passing Heald made comments of scorn, such as “That’s pathetic.” One chalk phrase written on the ground near Heald expressed mockery: “I (heart) eating babies.”

A chalk drawing reads “I (heart) eating babies” in front of anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ+ activist Nicholas Heald. Heald said the chalk drawing was made minutes after he arrived on campus. (Allison Campbell)

Heald said that the chalk phrase and other negative reactions highlight the need for a “preacher” on campus. He said he returned to Wichita State specifically because of his alumni status as well as Wichita’s history with abortion.

“This actually is minor compared to what I’ve dealt with,” Heald said. “Like I was at UW-Milwaukee last year, and much worse — much, much worse (happened).”

In October 2023, Heald spoke against abortion and LGTBQ+ rights at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Hendrich later asked Heald if he had a permit to be on WSU campus and discussed potentially bringing his supervisor to explain the situation to Heald. Heald reiterated his Constitutional rights and alumni status.

“I’ve stood in this spot several times before … I’m a little surprised that they asked that (about having a permit) because they didn’t ask that before,” Heald said.

Student Michael Miller said Heald shouldn’t have been allowed on campus due to Heald’s message of “intolerance” and opposition toward women’s “right to choose.”

Miller, a member of Sexual Health Advocacy, Resources and Education, a Planned Parenthood generation action chapter at WSU, shared that the lack of access to abortion care can lead to difficulties and potential health complications in pregnant people.

Student Bailey Goodman also said that, like “people handing out Bibles,” Heald speaking at WSU made her uncomfortable. Several students huddled closer together when walking past Heald.

Miller emphasized that a tolerant society cannot allow hateful views.

“We should be tolerant of all different viewpoints, but if you’re preaching hate, then no,” Miller said. “You can’t be tolerant of intolerant people.”

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About the Contributors
Courtney Brown, News Editor
Courtney Brown is one of the news editors for The Sunflower. She previously worked as a reporter and assistant news editor. Brown uses she/her pronouns.
Allison Campbell, News Editor
Allison Campbell is one of the news editors for The Sunflower. Campbell is a junior pursuing a journalism and media production degree with a minor in English. Campbell hopes to pursue a career in writing or editing after graduation. They use any pronouns.

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