Anti-abortion group Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) set up its “Genocide Awareness Project” last week, presenting photographs of mutilated infants and fetuses in protest of the “lives” lost to abortion.
Although the group proved to be peaceful in its demonstration for anti-abortion laws, showcasing such explicit pictures on a reasonably sensitive subject could be emotionally triggering not only for students, but for faculty and staff as well. The U.S. Constitution gives CBR the right to express its opinions in a public setting. Since VCU is not only an urban community but a public institution, the organization was well-within its rights to set up its “Genocide Awareness Project.”
By presenting photographs of mutilated infants and fetuses on such a large scale, viewers could be triggered and affected by a past traumatic experience. It is immoral and unethical to force someone to re-live such an incident.
There are different ways to grab attention besides setting up a large wall of posters with dead fetuses.
CBR’s demonstration could have been done in a different manner that did not involve gruesome images displayed so prominently in a public setting where a large population could possibly be emotionally affected. Instead of using this type of display, the organization could have set up a smaller booth or table with less shocking pictures on it, or with their cause or mission statement presented in front. The group’s members could walk around the area with pamphlets containing information and less gruesome images to control reactions.
However, students reacted reasonably well to the display. Planned Parenthood Generation Action at VCU counter-protested CBR by rallying its members and other student organizations on campus. Both demonstrations were peaceful with the exception of a few emotional verbal exchanges.
Planned Parenthood at VCU responded maturely, carrying posters that read, “I Stand With Planned Parenthood,” “Get Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries” and “Republicans Care About Fetuses Until They Become Women.”
The group also handed out condoms and pamphlets and helped keep the peace when people became emotionally agitated. This situation proved how maturely students react when faced with political opposition and how to properly, and peacefully, counteract it.
CBR’s display intended to raise awareness to the harm brought to lives that cannot yet make a choice for themselves. However, the group actively turns a blind eye to its damaging effects on people who have had abortions — pushing them back into their experiences and opening emotional wounds which could reverse any progress made in healing and grieving. Choosing life is not always the life of the fetus, but the life of the mother. It is not always a choice — sometimes a person is forced to do so because of health problems, financial issues and mental or emotional reasons.
Planned Parenthood at VCU had the right to counter-protest CBR’s display. Showcasing horrific and heartbreaking images of mutilated infants and fetuses should not be the proper form of demonstration in a public and academic setting, especially when there are other mature ways to do so.