Abortion display, while graphic, within its rights

By: Giselle Rodriguez /Staff Writer

The sun shines on the bright orange warning sign and I stop to read it on my way to the Graham Center from the Blue Garage. “Warning,” it says in all capital letters, “Disturbing Images Ahead.” Next to this sign is another one with an 800 phone number and the words, “Confidential Post-Abortion Help Line.”

The anti-abortion truck was back.

While the truck sparked a lot of dissension and complaints from the people gathered around it, I thought it provided an essential source of discussion in a dialogue that is too often represented solely by its polarizing sides.

Full of representatives from the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, the giant truck emblazoned with graphic post-abortion images was on campus Feb. 21 and 22. This year, the protest was accompanied by a fence around the Pro-Life supporters and a “Free Speech Board” outfitted with dangling Sharpies for all and sundry to make their opinions known.

Abortion is something that tends to drive a wedge between those who are “pro-life” and those who are “pro-choice” with no room for a nebulous opinion or even one that is not quite as extreme. While these trucks are obviously “pro-life,” the inclusion of the “Free Speech Board” allowed those with dissenting opinions to argue their position in a relatively safe space.

Even the pro-lifers who walked around asking if you would be interested in discussing your opinion were polite and low-key. As I moved around the rest of the campus that day, most of the conversations I overheard seemed to be along the lines of people complaining. I heard someone say that “those crazy Conservatives” had struck again and someone else said the truck was showcasing “unnecessary pictures.”

But the truck, the pictures and the fenced-in pro-lifers were all doing something most people are not willing to do by honestly and un-antagonistically expressing their opinion. They were also more than willing to calmly explain their opinion if anyone wanted to discuss.

The truck and its supporters were sparking debate in something that does not really get debated outside of the political stomping ground. The usual complaints offered by both sides revolve around the rights of women and the rights of the unborn. However,  these are such touchy subjects, and there does not seem to be an un-vitriolic way of even having these discussions.

Regardless of the graphic nature of their display, the group was calmly expressing their opinion and asking others to do the same. It is difficult to complain about a group expressing their right to free speech.

If it takes pictures of dead babies to get a discussion on abortion rolling at the collegiate level, then the Center and its display have done their job, even if the conversation sparked is a two paragraph rant against the Center on their “Free Speech Board.”

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