Fetus truck tour rolls into Tampa

The broken and bloody body of an unborn fetus rests next to a dime to show its tiny size.

This is the image that will be seen traveling throughout Tampa this week as the Reproductive Choice Campaign kicks off its Florida tour.

Eight of these pictures with the word ?choice? in bold letters will be placed on the side of trucks and driven around the city. They are the size of large U-Haul trucks. Some show images of an entire aborted fetus, while others show only individual body parts, including arms and a head.

The campaign is the work of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform out of Los Angeles, Calif., a pro-life and anti-genocide organization. Center director Gregg Cunningham said the group has been able to use an influx of funds from private contributions to create the truck campaign.

?We have expanded our range of products to include huge, aborted baby fetus photos,? he said.

Cunningham said the goal of the campaign is to show the public the horrors of abortion.

?We want that baby to be real so that people understand abortion is not merely the lesser of two evils,? he said. ?These pictures are the only means we have of force-feeding these images into the heads of a collective culture.?

Cunningham said the campaign causes a shock response in those who see the pictures. The hope of the center, he said, is that the campaign will be able to ingrain images into peoples? minds that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

?Even those who hate us have to admit they?ll never be the same after they see us,? he said. ?Once you put the picture in their head, they can?t get it out.?

Cunningham said the babies depicted were aborted while in the first trimester of pregnancy.

?Americans believe babies are not babies and the first trimester abortion is a better choice,? he said. ?If you show what a first trimester baby looks like, you?ll have a substantial impact.?

This does not mark the first time a campaign from the center has visited the Tampa area. In previous years, the center has held campaigns at USF which included billboards displaying graphic pictures of genocide and abortion. Cunningham said the truck campaign has developed from these previous events.

?This has been kind of an evolutionary process,? he said. ?This truck project is an outgrowth of work, much of it done on (the USF) campus.?

The campaigns from the center from previous years at USF were met by protest and some arrests. Once again, not everyone is happy with the campaign.

Eddie Gilley, area director for the Baptist Christian Ministries at USF, said he is a supporter of the pro-life movement but doesn?t agree with the tactics being employed. He said the fact that young children riding on the roadways may come into contact with the pictures is disturbing.

?I don?t think (the pictures) need to be shown to children in any form, for any reason,? he said. ?Just because you have a right idea, it doesn?t mean you should use a wrong tactic to present it.?

Gilley said the streets are not the place for such a display, but a college campus is a good forum for the debate.

?It?s over-dramatized and a little harsh, but it does make you stop and think about the choices,? he said. ?It?s an issue that?s going to be debated on a college campus but not where young children might see it.?

Cunningham disagreed, saying children are exposed to such imagery in their daily lives.

?You can?t take your children to the grocery store without exposing them to horrible imagery,? he said. ?The reason parents don?t complain is because very few Americans have been complicit in the death of an Israeli citizen, but many have been complicit in the death of an unborn child.?

Cunningham said the real effect is on the parents, who must suddenly explain to their children what they are seeing.

?It?s far more traumatizing to the parents than the children,? he said.

Cunningham said while children are exposed to violence in the media on a high level in today?s society, the images the trucks portray are meant to affect people on a much deeper level.

?It?s not squeamishness, it?s horror,? he said. ?It?s real violence ? that is bloodshed to kill.?

On the other side of the abortion debate is the pro-choice group the National Organization of Women. Helen Grieco, executive director for NOW in the state of California, said she has seen the impact of the truck campaign in her state.

?I think the imagery has shock value,? she said. ?(The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform) is a very dangerous faction in our opinion.?

Grieco said she supports free speech, but that this sort of campaign is pushing free speech too far.

?Where do the First Amendment rights stop and where does work to stop hate crimes begin?? she asked.

Grieco said she supports the debate on abortion when it takes place in the proper forum.

?I would say that if we were able to have an equality in the debate that would be one thing,? she said. ?We don?t drive down the road with billboards of dead women.?

Sarah Clarke, a student at USF who is involved with the campus chapter of NOW, said she too believes both sides of the debate have a right to express their opinion, but the way the center is going about it is wrong.

?It?s incredibly disturbing,? she said. ?They?re going for shock value not education.?

Clarke said for a pro-life campaign to be successful, it should concentrate more on educating youth about proper techniques to avoid unwanted pregnancy, such as birth control.

?I think the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform is going about it the wrong way,? she said. ?All kids know is that (the pictures) are scary.?

Clarke said there is no place for such images. She said they are scare tactics and do not have a place in the debate.

?I don?t think there is ever a proper forum,? she said. ?You can say a lot more with words.?

Contact Rob Brannonat oraclerob@yahoo.com