Anti-abortion activists advocate on campus
Published: Thursday, March 22, 2012
Updated: Thursday, March 22, 2012 16:03
They compared themselves to the Freedom Riders of the 1950s and ’60s, crusading for what they call “contemporary age discrimination.”
The Florida Justice Riders, launched by the Ohio-based nonprofit Created Equal, stopped at USF Wednesday as part of a statewide tour to speak out against abortion. They displayed
graphic posters in front of the Library and handed out flyers with quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. and images of dismembered fetuses to passersby.
“(Abortion) discriminates against the young because people say they aren’t as developed,” Created Equal Executive Director Mark Harrington said. “The same could be said of older people, because they’ve lost their capacity to participate in society and culture. We shouldn’t discriminate on that stuff, just like we don’t discriminate based on color — black and white — just like we don’t discriminate based on whether you’re Jew or Gentile or Protestant or Catholic or male or female.”
Harrington said the group hoped to spur civil discourse across campus to target a demographic likely to be at risk for unwanted pregnancies — college students. USF is the seventh campus the organization has stopped at on their state tour.
The images were graphic, Harrington said, but no different from the “dramatization” every other social reform movement has used.
Some students screamed at men standing near the displays, saying they had no right to treat women as “mere incubators” since they could not get pregnant.
“I’m not Jewish, but I’m not anti-Semitic, and I’m not black, but I’m against racism, and I’m not female, but I’m against sexism,” Harrington said. “Men don’t have a say? The problem is that men don’t own up to their responsibility.”
Debates spanned from philosophy to science, from opposites to middle ground, centering on the definitions of personhood and humanity.
“I’m here because my mother didn’t abort me,” Miguel Cabrera, a freshman majoring in business, said. “I think all babies should have the right to live.”
Mylanie Sanchez, a senior majoring in women’s and gender studies, disagreed with the “Justice Riders’” contentions that human life was defined as fertilized egg and sperm cells.
“I have a flu right now,” she said. “That has cells, but that doesn’t f------- make it a human.”
Sanchez, who stood with members of Planned Parenthood, handed out coupons to passersby to receive $10 off any Planned Parenthood service other than birth control or emergency contraception.
“We’re here to counter the sensationalism,” she said.
Justice Rider Rebekah Wright, a high school student who toured with the group during her spring break, said most people at USF were respectful of her views in comparison to other schools, where some people came up to her screaming and wanting to hit her.
“People tell me I’m a Nazi, and that I hate women and stuff, but I am a woman,” she said. “I plan to do this for the rest of my life, and I thought it would be a great experience.”
The Riders, who will be outside the Library today from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. before leaving for Ocala.