ArtDesignCulture

Anti-abortion group uses genocide, trys to change minds at UF

In Self-Publishing on February 24, 2010 at 9:06 pm

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Orange and blue signs reading “Warning: Genocide Photos Ahead” and “Genocide Awareness Project” lined the perimeters of the Plaza of the Americas and the Reitz Union North Lawn at the University of Florida Monday and Tuesday.

But students expecting depictions from the Holocaust and Rwanda may have been surprised when they discovered the majority of photos were of aborted fetuses.

The traveling exhibit consisted of about 10 double-sided panels reaching about 8 feet high. It is known as the Genocide Awareness Project and is run by the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, an internationally active group opposed to all forms of abortion.

Stephanie Gray, 29, a staff member at CBR, said the ultimate goal is to “make abortion unthinkable.” Initially, the group is trying to strike up discussion and debate.

“These pictures can move women out of denial and into recognition,” Gray said.

She used a specific example of a CBR staff member who had an abortion three years ago.

“She can’t go back and resurrect her child,” Gray said, “but she can save other babies.”

Though she acknowledges there are differences among all instances of genocide, Gray said the definition of “genocide” CBR is using, which some may consider broad, is the systematic extermination of any group, whether distinguished by race, culture or age.

Abortion has polarized many people for decades. Using the elements of genocide and graphic images galvanized some people to speak on both sides of the issue.

About a dozen protesters from Planned Parenthood gathered opposite the display holding hot pink signs that read “Pro-Choice” and “Women’s Rights.”

Megan Frazier, 22, a senior majoring in business at UF and a member of VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood at UF, did not want to address the assertions of the Genocide Awareness Project specifically.

“We’re just here protecting every woman’s right to choose,” said Frazier. “It’s a legally protected right, and we just want to keep it that way.”

Natalie Muniz, 25, the director of education and communications for Planned Parenthood North Florida, said that a common misconception is that they are “pro-abortion.”

“No one is ‘pro-abortion,’” Muniz said. “I think we can all agree on that. [The display] is meant to shock people. We’re here to give medically accurate, fact-based information.”

The majority of the work of Planned Parenthood is preventative, said Muniz. Their goal is preventing unplanned pregnancies through education and access to health care that enable people to make good decisions for themselves and their families.

Some appreciated the anti-abortion message of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform but didn’t categorically agree with the displays.

“I don’t mind this actually at all. It’s reality, and it’s part of life,” said Matthew Powers, 19, an engineering sophomore. “Most people will say it’s a little ‘out there.’”

Amaya Kulkarni, 24, a second-year graduate student in computer engineering, felt that the displays didn’t touch the root of the problem.

“I’m against abortion for sure,” Kulkarni said. “But it’s not required to have such a graphic display. It’s all about consciousness and culture. I come from India. Free sex is not prevalent in the East as in the West. If people are married and have a baby, they have no reason for abortion.”

In India, abortion is legal and occurs about 2 million to 6 million times per year. Abortion there, however, has been frequently used to abort female fetuses. This spurred the government to enact legislation in 1994 outlawing gender testing for the purposes of selectively bearing male children.

According to the U.S. Census, abortion rates have declined since 1990, when the peak was about 1.6 million nationally. In 2005, there were about 1.2 million abortions.

This statistic could be considered a victory for all sides.

And among the many varying views, some were supportive of the displays.

“I think that it’s very important to educate people about why abortion is wrong,” said Sharon Parker, 20, a sophomore majoring in mathematics at UF. “The emotional aspect of the pictures gets people talking where otherwise they wouldn’t talk about it. They are just as human as us and have the right to life.”

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