Abortion display fuels debate

By Joy Priest

Big, bold billboards of aborted fetuses next to images of Jewish genocide and the lynching of African-Americans were shown in the grassy area beside White Hall Classroom Building Wednesday for the fourth time on UK’s campus.

The display signs are a part of the Genocide Awareness Project, or GAP, a demonstration being held through Thursday by the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform and the UK Students for Life group.

“In this whole display, there are several important aspects,” Fletcher Armstrong, director of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, said. “We use pictures because unless people see pictures, they don’t have a sense of how bad it really is.”

Fletcher said that CBR’s operating principle comes from the King family.

“Dr. Martin Luther King said ‘America will not reject racism until America sees racism,’” Armstrong said. “It was the pictures he showed of the dogs attacking protesters and police brutality that led to the end of racism.”

Armstrong recited words of Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King Jr., saying, “America will not reject abortion until America sees abortion.”

Armstrong said the comparison to genocide was a topic often asked about.

“It’s important to know that in every case of genocide in this display, legal personhood was redefined by those in power in terms that excluded the intended victims,” Armstrong said.

Some students on campus were disturbed by GAP. Darren Brunkhart, a senior, was loudly protesting the content of the display on Wednesday.

“I just think that is disrespect to the Jewish religion and the Jewish people,” Brunkhart said. “(Abortion) isn’t even close to the Jewish genocide.”

Ronita Adams also disagreed with the display comparing the lynching of African-Americans to abortion.

“I don’t think these are the same things,” Adams said. “Abortion is a personal choice; lynching was an act of hate.”

Members of the campus organization Medical Students for Choice picketed next to the display, between which sometimes led to heated debate among the opposing demonstrators.

“I think this (display) is horribly offensive,” Angela Jarman, a second-year medical student, said. “I’m particularly offended by this sign calling us ‘death camp doctors.’”

Some of the medical students at the demonstrations questioned the  amount of time required to deem a fetus a human being.

Deeper Still, a post-abortion healing retreat from Knoxville, Tenn., had two members present to share their abortion stories. Both of them had the procedure done in their teens and expressed regret about their decisions.

“We’re here to share stories that show abortion comes with a price tag,” Debbie Picarello said.

“Both of us have had an abortion,” Sandie Sendall said. “I made my decision based on fear, and statistically I find that other women who have had an abortion regret it by sometimes 10 years later.”

Armstrong said he believes men play a large role in women choosing to get abortions.

“The Elliot Institute says 64 percent of abortions are coerced,” he said. “Clearly it is predatory and irresponsible men doing the coercing. Men don’t force your girlfriends, wives or daughters to do this.”

Armstrong, however, said he felt abortion is not a gender issue but a human rights issue, and as long as human beings are being killed, women and men ought to speak out about it.

The UK chapter of Voices for Planned Parenthood was also on-site to oppose GAP.

“We’re out here in response to them,” Planned Parenthood President Elizabeth Licis said. “We have been waiting for this (display) to come because we feel people are seeing this and they have no support. We’re here as support; to show what we believe and what Planned Parenthood has to offer.”

Licis said she is “pro-choice” because illegalizing abortion could have negative consequences.

“I’m not completely pro-abortion,” Licis said. “When you are pro-choice you are for the choice to be sexually active, the choice to use contraception and the choice to have an abortion if put in that position. One of our biggest concerns is that there were so many (illegal abortions) done in the past, and (women) shouldn’t have to risk their lives.”

Demonstrations from both sides of the issue, anti-abortion and abortion rights, continue Thursday outside White Hall. One week from now, Students for Life will have another display of crosses to represent the number of abortions done on average each day.