Signs warning of graphic genocide photographs were everywhere Wednesday morning as I walked to the Library. Intrigued, I wondered what the demonstration, presented by the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform between the Library and Cooper Hall, was all about. When I approached the setup, called the Genocide Awareness Project, I quickly found that it was not an anti-genocide demonstration. It was an anti-abortion project.
I am not offended that there is an anti-abortion demonstration on campus. I am not offended that I had to look at pictures of corpses and aborted embryos on my way to the Library. What I am deeply offended by, rather, is the center’s audacious claim that legalized abortion is comparable to genocide.
Comparing genocide to abortion aggravates me not only as a pro-choice proponent of reason – it aggravates me as an English student.
The definition of “genocide” is a systematic, government-run attempt to eliminate a particular group of people. It is fueled by hate and by the belief that certain people are subhuman and do not deserve to live. The “Final Solution” constructed by the Nazi party in the ’30s is one example of genocide with which nearly everyone is familiar. By its very definition, genocide can in no way include abortion, or its victims include the unborn “group” of people the center claims is being slaughtered.
No woman gets an abortion because she hates children or thinks they do not deserve to live. The decision to have an abortion can be a decision to live with remorse, guilt and often regret for the rest of one’s life. To compare women who get abortions to the monsters responsible for lynching, concentration camps and massacres – as the demonstration did – is disgusting.
Abortions are performed on women of every background in every nation. Abortions were being practiced long before safe, medically supervised procedures were available, and will continue to be practiced even if governments make them illegal. Abortions have saved the lives of innumerable women who would have died had they carried their pregnancies to term. When was the last time genocide saved anybody’s life?
To make its point, the center slapped pictures of genocide victims next to pictures of aborted fetuses. Although one poster read “Comparable does not mean identical,” when you hang a picture of massacred Cambodians next to the photo of an aborted embryo with giant text saying “If this is wrong, how can this be right?” next to them, that is exactly what you are saying.
To quote essayist Gayle Rubin, “arguing from bad examples is effective but irresponsible.” In a desperate attempt to sway public opinion by any means possible, the Center fell back on a fallacious and offensive argument.
It branded its demonstration as genocide awareness and hung up huge posters containing gruesome images just hoping to shock passersby into guilty submission to its anti-abortion cause. I heard one man in the Library tell his friend, “Well, I’m definitely more on the pro-life side now.” Congratulations, Genocide Awareness Project! Your message is being heard – even though it has nothing to do with genocide.
In addition to being disgusting and utterly offensive, the Center’s decision to host an anti-abortion demonstration is disappointing in light of international events. With genocides being reported in Colombia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda, why was abortion first on the agenda for the Genocide Awareness Project? They should check out genocidewatch.org and decide whether abortion should really be the foremost concern of a group that claims to raise awareness about genocide.
Renee Sessions is a senior majoring in creative writing.