Students sound off about abortion displays

Bama Students for Life displayed graphic images on the Quad Tuesday, including pictures of aborted fetuses alongside lynching victims and victims of the Holocaust in an attempt to compare abortion to genocides in conjunction with the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, a national anti-abortion group.

The group was authorized by The University of Alabama to display these images, something Sarah Hughes, a senior majoring in political science, found extremely objectionable.

“In the student code, there’s a rule that protests or demonstrations can’t be obscene; and to me, this is beyond obscene – the graphic images and the public shaming of women who may have chosen to have an abortion,” she said.

Hughes also worried about the impression prospective students were getting of the Capstone.

“I’m disappointed that this is allowed to be on our campus,” she said. “Tour groups are walking by; I just think it looks really bad … It makes us look really militant.”

According to the UA Student Handbook, “Posted materials must not be obscene, must not be libelous, and must not be directed to and likely to have the effect of inciting or producing imminent lawless action.”

Lindsey Smith, a graduate student in political science, said she questioned the efficacy of this type of display.

“These images are [designed to] to shock someone into being disgusted, but what does that do as far as progress for their goals or claims as an organization?”

She also said she did not think the group was representing a pro-life stance.

“This doesn’t represent, necessarily, a pro-life movement. This represents a shock-factor movement,” Smith said. “I think that if you’re pro-life, this is just going to rectify your pro-life stance, and if you’re pro-choice, you’re just going to be disgusted by the images.”

Matthew O’Brien, a sophomore majoring in philosophy and economics, said the group’s reasoning was flawed.

“For me, there’s an open question about the personhood of fetuses. Whereas in the Holocaust and in the racist Jim Crow South, it’s really not an open question whether Jews, homosexuals, the infirm, or (in the case of the Jim Crow South) [African-Americans] are persons.”

Jason Atchison, a junior majoring in criminal justice, said he also had doubts about the “personhood” of fetuses.

“They aren’t people. They aren’t their own individuals yet. This is a fetus, not a person,” he said. “Personally, I’m pro-life. If I got a woman pregnant, I would want her to keep the baby, but I don’t think the government should tell women what they can and cannot do.”

Wes Bentley, a freshman majoring in marine biology, said he was “very against abortion” and thought this display would help the pro-life movement.

“You don’t see this every day, especially with the pictures – they’re really gruesome. That’s what gets people to stop,” he said. “If people see these kinds of pictures, it’d make them think twice [about supporting abortion].”

Bria Harper, a senior majoring in English and African-American studies, was concerned about women on campus who have had abortions.

“[The display] traumatizes, and it puts blame on women who have abortions without taking into consideration the turmoil that they must have went through to come to that decision,” Harper said. “We can’t publicly crucify their decision. That’s something they have to live with.”

Abigail Campbell, a junior majoring in psychology, said she was also worried about women who might be damaged by the display.

“My concern is really for people who have had miscarriages recently, or abortions, and, looking at these images, I think it’s unnecessarily traumatizing,” she said. “Focusing on the negative doesn’t really sit well for me. There are better ways to draw attention to your cause, more mature ways really, than just shock value, and that’s what I’m seeing here.”

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