Visiting nonprofit speaks out against abortion
Published: Sunday, March 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 22:03
Correction appended: An earlier version of this story stated that Alexa Nelen was vice president of UCF's chapter of Voices for Planned Parenthood. She is the organization's president. The story has been changed to reflect this.
A group of high school and college students took a two-day trip to UCF last week, which they’ve compared to the Freedom Rides that many Civil Rights activists made during the 1960s. But these “Justice Riders” aren’t rallying together to fight racism; they’re part of an anti-abortion organization speaking out against ageism.
Created Equal, a non-profit organization, has been traveling to colleges throughout Florida for the week. Members of the Ohio-based organization settled on UCF’s Free Speech lawn Thursday and Friday, handing out brochures that explain why they believe abortion is age discrimination.
“The argument is that some people aren’t as equal as others, and in abortion, the argument is that because they are younger and they virtually don’t possess all the same abilities that we do as born people, somehow we can then discriminate against them,” said Mark Harrington, the executive director of Created Equal. “It’s ageism, it’s discriminating on the very young, and it’s no different from racism [or] sexism.”
But on the other side of the Free Speech lawn, progressive student organizations including Voices for Planned Parenthood (VOX), the National Organization for Women, College Democrats and the Secular Student Alliance were making a different argument.
Alexa Nelen, the president of UCF’s chapter of VOX, said that Created Equal’s concept of ageism is “based on a logical fallacy” because “there’s no way to know whether or not life begins … at conception.”
Created Equal is not the only anti-abortion organization that has voiced the idea of ageism. Many like-minded groups, including the Christian organization Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, use a similar message when protesting against abortion.
Sarah Maher, a 23-year-old missionary working for SAH, decided to journey this week with Created Equal on their Justice Rides throughout Florida because of their shared sentiments.
“We seek to expose the truth,” Maher said. “[Abortion] hurts college-aged women. There are so many woman that have abortions who then regret it later and have to go through a lot of pain and suffering because of it.”
But according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, 80 percent of women are not depressed after having an abortion. The results actually showed that the majority of women are satisfied and relieved by the decision that they made.
Still, Created Equal’s mission is to create a movement of young people to take on what Harrington calls “the culture of death.” To Harrington, this culture comprises those who support abortion and who believe that it’s a human right.
“The Supreme Court and all the rulings are wrong when they found the right to privacy in the constitution,” Harrington said. “The real violation is the dismembering and decapitation of a preborn child, because our founders and our documents are very clear that we have a right to life.”
He believes that like the Civil Rights movement, it is going to take a generation of young people bound together to defeat the death culture.
The Justice Rides, which started last year, are one way that Created Equal hopes to win the battle. Through private donations from other anti-abortion organizations and individuals, the group has managed to take 12 trips to high schools and colleges throughout the United States.
Like many anti-abortion organizations, Created Equal uses images of aborted fetal remains to spark discussion among students.
And the vice president of UCF’s Students for Life, Isabel Walker-Burgos, who also participated in the display, said that the images are important for students to see.
“The illustrations are really hard to look at; they’re really graphic,” said Walker-Burgos, a junior English and Spanish double major. “But I also think that they are important to show what abortion actually does to unborn babies. I just think it’s necessary to really see what’s happening to be able to take a stance to whether you’re opposed to it or agree with it.”
But Nelen believes that the images actually do more harm than good.
“[The illustrations are] meant to mislead people about the process of abortion,” the senior history major said. “It’s also meant to demonize abortion as this narrative constructed around ‘murder’ and ‘life’ when they don’t even evaluate what these things mean.”
To Nelen, displays like the one produced by Created Equal over-politicize the issue of reproductive rights.