A group of activists from Created Equal, a pro-life education and activism group based out of Columbus, Ohio, set up a provocative demonstration Wednesday along the Pattee Library Mall. Several signs depicting the gruesome reality of abortion lined the mall. Each aborted fetus shown, many of which were severally dismembered, were accompanied by a description of their gestational age prior to their death. On the back of these signs was information for women that read: “Pregnant? Had an abortion? Confidential counseling: 800-712-4357, optionline.org.” As a warning to anyone in the area, notice signs were also placed near entrance walkways surrounding the pro-life demonstration.
Emma Mysko, a Created Equal Field Assistant and organizer of the pro-life demonstration, said that they were there to “show the truth of abortion and have conversations.” Just as Created Equal has done in six other states on college campuses, Mysko stood outside with her signs depicting the brutal and gruesome reality of abortion and handed out information on their cause. Included in their packet were more images of aborted fetuses, some basic information on conception and embryonic development, pro-life arguments, and resources for pregnant and post-abortive mothers. Someone did attempt to destroy their signs, Mysko recounted, but they were unsuccessful and did not disrupt the event.
Soon after the display was set up at 10 am, a group of pro-choice protesters began to assemble with neon signs in front of the library. The protest was mainly quiet, as a response to the silent display, but the pro-choicers did repeat their usual chants during class changes: “her body, her choice,” etc. Adorned in Planned Parenthood gear and holding a sign reading “good women have abortions,” Riley Cooper (sophomore – global and international studies) helped lead the pro-choice protest against what she described as signs that were “too graphic, even for those who are pro-life.” Cooper stated that she was there to “broadcast a message of equality, and equality doesn’t include telling people what to do with their bodies.”
Presumably unbeknownst to Cooper, this message of equality espoused by the pro-choice protesters is ironic, considering that the murdered humans on the signs had no rights and the information packet distributed by Created Equal argued that fighting for equality necessitated fighting for the right to life:
“We are all humans from the beginning. We are all equal despite our differences. Regardless of our skin color, gender, or age, we are all human beings. The pre-born differ from the born according to size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency. But toddlers and adults differ from one another in these ways as well, yet we don’t kill them based on these arbitrary differences. Should we really let age determine which humans live or die? Abortion is ageism. Help end age discrimination against the preborn.”
To top it off, the packet also included a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of it’s creed…that all men are created equal.”
Although both sides claim to stand for equality, there is a clear disconnect on what equality actually looks like. Created Equal argues that there is no equality in the grotesque, dismembered bodies of unborn children. These protesters also argue that they stand for equality and human rights, while at the same time condoning the deplorable act of abortion that is responsible for the murder of these children on the signs. Those fetuses were humans, and they had no rights or equality. They were dissected and sold or discarded as medical waste, never given a proper burial or a funeral, never held or told they were loved. Where is the equality in that?
A male, communications professor, who engaged in the protest and elected to remain anonymous, argued that these images on the signs were “biased” since they were intended to “evoke an emotional response” and only depicted “one version of reality.” When questioned about when life begins, the professor claimed that “human life is a social and cultural construction.” He argued that unborn human offspring were not human until society deemed them so, which is conventionally at birth. “My mother considered abortion, and if she would have gone through with it, then that would have been her choice,” the professor proudly said, while facing the images of what could have easily been him. This is a professor at our university. These same arguments were used to justify the most heinous of crimes in the past, including slavery and genocide, and abortion is no different.
Lauren Metz, a college student and intern for Created Equal, argued for the effectiveness of using these kinds of gruesome depictions, explaining how images of slavery were used for the same reason, “to show people the reality of what’s happening.” Student and passerby, Nick Babich (junior – linguistics) agreed that while “the images are quite disturbing,” they were also “reasonably effective.” Babich says he is pro-life, so the display did not change his mind, but he did express how seeing these images made him think more deeply about the issue. For him, there is value in giving students an honest glimpse of the horror of abortion, a reality that most don’t see or think about.
In contrast, one of the male protesters, who wished to remain anonymous, said that “it’s a little shocking and unnecessary to have these pictures on campus…it doesn’t really change my opinion.” Another female student agreed, saying, “I do believe in ‘her body, her choice.’ It grosses me out, but doesn’t change my opinion.” Even though these students found the images of aborted fetuses to be shocking and gross, they still were in complete support of abortion. The sheer ability to see the bleeding corpse of another human being, ripped apart from a brutal murder, and to go on condoning abortion is something quite troubling.
Fortunately, with groups such as Created Equal and Penn State’s own Students for Life, as well as several other national and campus groups who hold pro-life views, more and more young people are becoming aware of the reality of abortion. One look may not change their mind, but through persistence, technology, and education, these groups have a chance to make a real impact and prevent the murder of more innocent lives by abortion.