Facing a choice

Photo by Jenny Rohl/TheNews

Controversial topics paired with shocking images brought abortion into the student eye this week

Story by Abby Siegel, News Editor, and Connor Jaschen, Editor-in-Chief

The words “Genocide Awareness Product,” hung over the breezeway Tuesday and Wednesday, April 11 and 12, framed on every side with graphic images of Holocaust victims and aborted fetuses.

The large display showed pictures of bloody body parts of aborted fetuses. Additionally, there was a poll for students to take, answering the question, “Should abortion remain legal?”

Center for Bio-Ethical Reform spokesperson, Maggie Egger said the images may be graphic, but they were meant to spark a conversation with students on campus. Some students came to debate, others to protest and others to offer support for the pro-life cause.

Egger said the volunteers who attended viewed themselves as social reformers, hoping to change public opinion surrounding abortion first and foremost. Only after the public opinion of abortion is changed can the law – specifically Roe v. Wade – be changed, she said.

“I don’t think anything is settled law,” Egger said.

Egger said the Genocide Awareness Project has two main messages: “Preborn are human beings and abortion dismembers and decapitates human beings.”

These messages are what the organization hinges its ideas on, believing if life truly does begin at conception then abortion must be murder. However, many passing students disagreed with the premise of preborn personhood, including one protester who decided to spread a message of his own.

Joshua Marvin, freshman from Murray, saw the protests and immediately leapt into action, grabbing a poster board and a bag full of condoms. He sat by the presentation for more than three hours.

“I walked by and saw it and I despise the flawed reasoning that is used on these signs,” Marvin said. “I believe that their imagery especially is deceptive. It’s an attempted emotional appeal.”

Marvin said the volunteers were polite and respectful, but his main issue lies with the iconography of the displayed, including statements comparing abortion doctors to Nazis.

Hoping to educate students on more positive birth control methods, Marvin handed out free condoms and sexual health pamphlets provided by Health Services.

His sign read: “Abortions are fine, but condoms are cheaper” and “Homosexuality is also a fine choice.”

The Genocide Awareness Product made no mention of homosexuality in their debates or posters.

Some protesters had issues with the apparent shock value of the images, but Egger stood by the group’s decision to use these visual portrayals of abortions, in the same way other social movements used shocking visual images to shed light on what they considered injustice.

“Yes, maybe, women are being upset by seeing these pictures,” Egger said. “But if being upset by seeing the pictures causes them to decide not to have an abortion and it spares them from that trauma, then we’ve done our job.”

Center for Bio-Ethical Reform volunteer,  Bill Boyer said he believes the pictures on the display are very effective in accomplishing the organization’s mission.

“There are pro-lifers out there and then there are people who are very strongly pro-abortion,  no matter what. Whether it is a baby or not in their womb, they want the right to terminate its life at any time prior to its being born,” Boyer said, “We know that those people generally have no functioning conscious, so we won’t be able to reach them.”

Instead, he said the goal of the organization is to try to reach the “mushy middle” – the people who consider themselves to be pro-choice until they see what abortion is.

Marvin, who received several high-fives from passerbies, said he was happy with his contribution to the discussion on abortion.

“People are allowed to believe what they want, I don’t think I’m changing people’s minds,” Marvin said. “The most I’ve done is that I’ve gave out a bunch of condoms. So, hey, I might’ve just kept a baby from being aborted, which is more than what these people have been doing all day.”

Alaina Goodlett, junior from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, said she thought the images were “a bit gorey” and “incredibly abrasive.”

“I feel like it is a little unethical, but I remain pro-choice,” Goodlett said.

She said the display didn’t change her opinion because she knows there are people who do need an abortion and can’t take care of a baby.

“I’m someone who has gone through a lot of pregnancy scares and there are points in my life where I have had to consider them,” Goodlett said. “I have become pro-choice because I know the fear.”