Pro-life group weighing legal action after being placed on extremist database alongside 'Hamas, KKK'

'We have every reason to be concerned,' Students for Life of America said after they were 'quietly' removed from extremist database

A pro-life group is considering taking legal action after its members were placed on a database that tracks extremists within the U.S.

Students for Life of America, or "SFLA," was named in a University of Maryland project called the "Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States" or "PIRUS," The College Fix first reported. The database tracks "over 3,500 violent and non-violent extremists who adhere to far-right, far-left, Islamist, or single-issue ideologies in the United States covering 1948-2022," according to its website.

PIRUS is run by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, or "START," a research center led by the University of Maryland listed as a Department of Homeland Security Emeritus Center of Excellence. Centers of Excellence, or COEs, are defined by the DHS as "university-led research networks that anticipate threats and challenges to the homeland and its operations."

Students for Life said it was "surprised" to find the group's name on the database's non-alphabetized list. "It’s almost like they didn’t want us to see it. But an eagle-eyed student noticed," the group reported.


photo of pro-life activists

A pro-life group contested being placed on a list tracking extremists, alongside known terrorist groups. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

On April 9, SFLA responded by sending a cease-and-desist letter to START, demanding it remove the group from the list "immediately." 

"Inclusion of SFLA on this terrorist and extremist list has conveyed to the world that SFLA should be treated as a dangerous threat. This unduly stigmatizes SFLA, which is not a terrorist or extremist group," the legal letter exclusively shared with Fox News Digital read.

The database listed two members of SFLA under its "Group or Movement Affiliation" category. SFLA suspects this was referring to two SFLA students arrested in the summer of 2020 for writing, "Black Pre-Born Lives Matter" in washable chalk outside an abortion facility in Washington, D.C.

The students were reportedly cleared of charges in October 2021. 


pro-life protesters arrested in D.C.

Police arrested pro-life protesters on Aug. 1, 2020 for drawing with chalk outside an abortion facility in Washington, DC. (Alliance Defending Freedom)

SFLA appeared to have been taken off the list by April 15. The group sent Fox News Digital screenshots appearing to show they were on the list as recently as the end of February.

When reached for comment, the START center confirmed that SFLA was in its database originally, but was taken off on April 8 due to routine updates to court cases.

A spokesperson for START said it could not confirm the criminal cases affiliated with SFLA but clarified the crimes were tied to activism, not terrorism.

"The PIRUS database helps us understand crimes that are motivated by ideology. Crimes are not limited to any one political stance or belief, and the database reflects actions that are tracked in the U.S. criminal justice system. A number of individuals - whose identities are not included - were removed as part of a regularly scheduled update on April 8, after logging updated court information," the spokesperson told Fox News Digitial.

"The cases you asked about were among those that were removed on April 8, as the charges had been dropped in the court system."

However, SFLA argued its members should never have been grouped in a database with the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the Ku Klux Klan, Hamas, and Nation of Islam."

They also argued that it was hypocritical for the group to omit radical groups like "Jane's Revenge," whichas targeted pro-life groups with violence since Roe v Wade was overturned, yet put "peaceful protesters" on the list.

Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins said the actions to remove their students from the list were, "too little, too late."

Pro-life activists at the Supreme Court

Pro-life protesters at the Supreme Court. (Fox News Digital)

"After receiving a letter from our attorneys demanding that a website funded in part by Homeland Security end its vicious smears of peaceful pro-life students on a terrorism tracker, the mention of Students for Life of America quietly disappeared," Hawkins said in a statement to Fox News Digital.

"Use of the delete key on the START website is not enough to fully resolve this viewpoint discrimination. This biased program smeared peaceful students, and we have no assurance they won’t do it again," she warned.

The START program no longer receives direct funding from the DHS, although it does receive funding from other federal agencies.

SFLA later confirmed they received a response from START on April 18. START relayed the group was removed on April 8 as part of a regularly scheduled update to cases dropped from the court system.

Kristi Hamrick, Vice President of Media and Policy at SFLA, told Fox News Digital the pro-life group was weighing all its options."We are considering all options, legal included, as they quietly put us on the list, ignored our query until media reached out, without extending either an apology or assurances they would not do it again," she said. "We have every reason to be concerned about the viewpoint discrimination poisoning the process." 

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