Anti-abortion group brings graphic images to campus

From 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., today and Friday, the anti-abortion group Created Equal will be setting up signs depicting fetuses outside of the MSC and Cooper hall. ORACLE PHOTO/ALEX ROSENTHAL

The aggressively offensive anti-abortion campaign that is set up across campus every year will be in place today and Friday from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.

The anti-abortion group Created Equal is responsible for displaying the graphic images.

Students who do not wish to see these images are encouraged to avoid the areas outside of the Library and the Marshall Student Center. 

Mark Harrington, national director of Created Equal, said the display is meant to be disturbing.

“We want to stimulate dialogue on the university campus because the campus represents the marketplace of ideas,” he said. 

Created Equal is “a program developed to train the next generation of pro-life leaders,” Harrington said.

USF is one of several stops the organization will make during the course of its weeklong Justice Ride.

The Justice Ride is based on the freedom rides of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.  Harrington compared the two movements because both attempt to achieve equality.

“Back then it was equality between races … we believe there should be equality between the born and the pre-born and that abortion is simply ageism: discrimination based on age,” he said.  

Because of the graphic nature of Created Equal’s display, questions have been raised about whether or not such a demonstration is protected under the First Amendment.

Thomas Miller, vice president for USF Student Affairs, said the display is, in fact, protected under free speech laws.

“Speech can’t be curtailed or banned based upon content,” he said. “In other words, once we allow one form of speech to exist in a place, we can’t decide that we want to stop some other speech because we don’t like what they’re saying.”

Miller clarified the difference between an organization’s right to free speech on campus and disrupting students’ education.

“We don’t have to (allow) the display … to appear in a classroom because that interferes with our business, the fundamental business of the university,” Miller said. “If something disturbs the learning environment, we don’t have to permit it.”

However, he recognized that some students do not want to be presented with this kind of display. 

“There are people who have had life experiences for whom this might bring up painful memories and … all we can do is warn people that something might be disturbing,” he said.

Still, Harrington has high expectations for the Justice Ride.

“The climate is ripe for change on a number of fronts, I think it’s right for change on the fronts of the anti-abortion issue as well,” Harrington said. “I think Americans are re-examining their views on this.”

For the most part, USF students do not share Harrington’s optimism. On a Facebook post on the Oracle’s page, most students expressed outrage and disgust with the display. 

Jenna Newman, a junior studying chemical engineering, said that she thinks a display like this is “inappropriate.”

“I’m all for people telling their opinions…but when it upsets other people, that’s where it draws the line,” she said.  “That’s not stimulating positive conversation.”