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Abortion protest on Green stirs emotions

The Center for Bioethical Reform recently staged a public demonstration on the Green at UNF, protesting against the controversial practice of abortion.

The CBF’s Southeast division presented demonstrations called “The Genocide Awareness Project” from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 25-26.  Surrounded by event barricades, volunteers and directors from the project spoke with UNF students about abortion issues while standing in front of large pictures of aborted fetuses.

“At the most basic level, we want to show who the baby is and what abortion does,” said Fletcher Armstrong, director of the Knoxville Tennessee-based Southeast division.  “Abortion is an act of violence.  If any of us had our [limbs] torn off, we’d consider it an act of violence.”

UNF students played a prominent role in attracting the CBR to the campus.  Students for Life, a club that started on campus in spring of 2007, initially reached out to CBR last fall.

“One of our members heard of the project through other schools and recommended it so we could educate students about abortion,” said Danielle Maier, president of Students for Life.

Both Maier and Armstrong said roughly 10 UNF students were involved in the demonstration.

Most were members of Focus, Campus Crusade for Christ and Students for Life.

Although not officially participating in the presentation, sophomore Brian Jackson stopped by to offer his support.

“It’s murder,” he said. “You cannot justify [abortion].”

But some students found the presentation of the message, using real pictures of aborted fetuses and genocide victims, to be offensive.

“I do not like the pictures.  It’s just gross,” junior Christina Bornmann said. “[They] get your attention, but I could’ve been rocked with literature and education. The images weren’t necessary.”

Sophomore Tristan Haines agreed.

“I agree with their right to free speech, I just disagree with the images they presented,” he said.

Although Haines disagreed with the presentation method used by CBR, he said he was surprised by how polite they were in conversation.

“They have coherent arguments, and I respect that.  They listened to me and let me speak,” he said.

Haines said he retains his pro-choice beliefs after speaking with Armstrong and viewing the imagery.

CBR stands by its policy of employing graphic imagery firmly.  On the group’s Website, AbortionNO.org, CBR states “So long as America accepts the practice of abortion, CBR will continue to show America pictures
of abortion.”

Upon arriving at the AbortionNO.org homepage, viewers are shown video of abortions taking place, interchanged with text espousing the group’s beliefs.

Despite the controversial imagery used by the CBR, the group was permitted to stage its demonstration according to the regulations of University statute 6C 9-7.014, regarding the campus’ public speaking policy.

According to the statute, “Any person or organization may apply to use areas of campus for an event … and they must receive prior approval of their applications from the Office of Student Life.”

According to the statute, University President John Delaney or a representative appointed by him could ask the demonstrators to leave, but only under the provision that the demonstrators’ event was “disrupting normal university operation or infringing on the rights of other members of the university community.”

According to its Web site, CBR was established in July 1990 and maintains a strict policy of nonviolence, including against members of the group’s ideological opposition.

E-mail Steve Smithwick at [email protected].

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