Graphic abortion photos spark discussion among students
Video: Graphic abortion display at UCF. Video by Caroline Glenn, Central Florida Future
"What's your opinion on abortion?" is a question you might want to save for the third date, but it's one members of the Center of Bio-Ethical Reform will be asking UCF students on campus this week.
The group's Genocide Awareness Project, which features a photo mural of graphic abortions, will be displayed on the grassy area in front of the library Monday through Wednesday.
Members of CBR will be dispersing pamphlets and engaging passers-by in discussions and debates over the ethics of abortion.
"We are showing how abortion is comparable to human rights atrocities, genocides, all those different human rights violations that have happened throughout history — except that abortion is happening now," CBR spokeswoman Devorah Gilman said.
The 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade made it legal for any person to have an abortion until the fetus can potentially live outside of the mother's womb, albeit with artificial aid.
"Yes, abortion is legal, but throughout history, usually when an atrocity happens, it's very legal. Slavery was legal once in the United States," Gilman said.
Some students walked by briskly while others stopped to talk to some of the 35 members of CBR. Gilman said the reactions have been mixed.
"I honestly think the display is disgusting," said Taylor Fake, a UCF student. "I understand the message they're trying to get across, I don't personally agree with it, but I feel like there's a way to do it in a way that is not going to be so offensive and make people sick. These are really triggering photos for anyone who had to get an abortion."
However, CBR spokesman Jonathon Van Maren, said that while the photos are graphic, the message is effective.
"Once you show people what abortion looks like, they can no longer debate it in simply abstract terms," Van Maren said. "Most people have never seen what abortion looks like and most people don't realize the destruction of the developing human being."
He recalled an instance when a couple considering abortion walked by one of CBR's displays, just like the one at UCF. The man, he said, turned to his girlfriend and said, "We are not doing that to our baby."
Yilmer Gucman, a junior Aerospace engineering major, was one of the students who stopped to look at the display — a mixture of photos of fetuses, Jewish victims of the Holocaust and African-American victims of lynching.
"[The images] are very strong; I think they deliver the message … that abortion is not a good thing, that it shouldn't be legal, that it's just as wrong as killing grown-ups," Gucman said. "... Everybody has their own opinion so I'll respect that. I don't think there's much I can do to those who think [the photos are] gross."
In the past, CBR has put up signs farther away from the display to warn students of the graphic images ahead. This year, however, the signs were resting on the ground within the barricaded display.
Gilman said she was in contact with Shane A. Juntunen, associate director of the Office of Student Involvement at UCF, who told her not to put the signs up in order to keep the event more condensed. Gilman said if it were up to her, she would have displayed them.
However, UCF spokeswoman Courtney Gilmartin stressed that universities encourage the open exchange of ideas.
" ... But that doesn't mean they endorse a particular set of beliefs. UCF respects each individual's right to voice their opinions," she said in an email.
If Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, can be considered the start of the Holocaust, Gilman claims that the Roe v. Wade decision was the the beginning of the genocide we call abortion.
"In the United States, if you're born after 1973, you're a survivor," Gilman said. "Your mother could have had you killed legally and so I would just encourage young people who have survived this atrocity of abortion in this nation that they should be speaking up for their fellow man."
After talking to a member of CBR, Jason Donnelly, a sophomore nursing major, said the group has some valid points but is too extremist for him.
"They're trying to say all abortion is bad, all the time, but it's not that simple; it's all situational," Donnelly said. "I think they'd be much better off focusing their efforts on preventing unwanted pregnancies than coming here and telling us that abortion's wrong."
He added that defining abortion as right or wrong is an impossible task due to special circumstances.
"[A CBR member] was saying things like, 'Is it ever OK to kill a person?' Of course it's OK to kill a person. If someone's running at me with a knife, I'm going to shoot them," Donnelly said. "All cells once hold life and nobody gets lynched for exfoliating."
Alex Wexelman is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.