October 5, 2004

Abortion Activists Educate Students

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Squaring off yesterday during a rally at Ho Plaza, both pro-life and pro-choice activists utilized eye-catching displays to educate students about abortion.

The pro-life activists, led by the Cornell Coalition for Life (CCFL), displayed graphic posters which compared abortion to historically recognized forms of genocide.

One poster juxtaposed the “religious choice” of the Nazis to murder Jews during the Holocaust and the “racial choice” to lynch African-Americans to the “reproductive choice” to have an abortion. Another compared Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor and Al-Qaeda’s attacks on the U.S. to Planned Parenthood’s support of abortions.

The posters were part of the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP), which hopes to “[expand] the context in which people think about abortion” through images of unborn fetuses alongside those of genocide victims, according to the group’s website.

Pro-choice activists included members of Students Acting for Gender Equality (SAGE), Planned Parenthood and the Women’s Resource Center, who protested the posters by holding a yellow yield sign reading “Warning: Dangerous Maniacs Ahead” in front of the pro-lifers, in addition to handing out stickers and pamphlets.

CCFL president Paul Ibrahim ’06 hopes that the pro-life posters will help to educate people who have not yet formulated a decision about abortion.

Especially at a largely pro-choice campus such as Cornell, “the posters aren’t something you see everyday,” he said. “People are a little distraught about the posters because abortion is distressing.”

Ibrahim said that several people had approached him throughout the day to thank him for reconsidering their stance on abortion.

“We just hope to get more people on our side,” he said.

Emily Marchese ’05, co-president of SAGE, said she is extremely offended by the posters’ content.

“I talked to pro-life people who said they felt alienated from this gross extreme. I feel like [the posters] defeat the pro-life purpose and hurt their message,” she said.

Marchese said it seems wrong to liken the relationship between an African-American and a lynch mob to that of a woman and her doctor.

“The statement that women are strategically coming together to kill people is incredibly offensive,” she said.

Some students who viewed the pro-life posters said they didn’t understand the relationship between genocide and abortion.

Christina Alfonso ’06 said she believes the posters exaggerated the connection.

“[The posters] play off unfairly about horrible things such as starvation, poverty and the KKK,” she said.

Alfonso said she is especially opposed to the posters’ comparison of abortion to the September 11th attacks, as the attacks “still seem so vivid and it feels wrong to use them in this connotation.”

Heather Margrill ’05 said she is bothered in particular by a poster that focused on “the insanity of choice,” in which a “wanted” baby is compared to an “unwanted” or aborted baby.

Margrill disagrees with the posters use of the word “wanted,” saying, “Millions of women would love to have children but they might not have adequate resources to bring them up healthy.”

She also said the display “significantly simplified the decision making process that women face”, as the posters lacked information about the outside influences that may have led to abortion.

But other students believe that the pro-life posters accurately represent abortion’s destruction of human life.

Describing the posters as “pretty powerful,” William O’Connell ’07 said that the comparison between genocide and abortion is appropriate.

“The posters only reinforced my belief that abortion is murder,” he said. “As a Catholic I value the sanctity of life over the quality of life. Abortion under any circumstances is not the way to go … there is always another option.”

Archived article by Olivia Oran
Sun Staff Writer