Published on April 8th, 2013 | by Elise Schmelzer, News Editor
Abortion protests cause stir on campus
Images of aborted fetuses, Rwandan genocide victims and abused children were part of an anti-abortion display by The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform on Lowry Mall today. The group compares abortion to historical genocides like the Holocaust and those in Cambodia.
The secular group, facilitated by Mizzou Students for Life, set up the installation as a part of it’s Genocide Awareness Project that hopes to “show as many students as possible what abortion actually does to unborn children and get them to think about abortion in a broader historical context,” according to the group’s website.
“We are not a protest,” said Reagan Nielson, Mizzou Students for Life president and founder. “We are showing the truth of abortion and creating awareness and conversation.”
Some members of the group brought their children to be a part of the display.
In reaction to CBR’s display, the Feminist Student Union at MU organized a protest. The student organization had not known the display was going to be there in advance, but heard about it through the tweets of the Mizzou student body. They showed up at 2:45 p.m. with Planned Parenthood-donated and homemade signs.
“Our protest is really important because people need to see both sides,” Feminist Student Union member Kaitlyn Ingersoll said. “The use of images of genocide is very triggering to many people and it’s important that people know that this is not all of Mizzou.”
Many students, like those on the Overheard at Mizzou Facebook page, thought it was disrespectful for Mizzou Students for Life to plan such a display on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Nielson said that the occurrence was “complete surprise” and the group simply booked Lowry Mall for the first Monday and Tuesday available.
Director of Mizzou Hillel Jeanne Snodgrass said that the Jewish community at Mizzou will stay focused on events planned for Holocaust Remembrance Week, but their doors will remain open for anyone who is disturbed by the images.
“As a Jew, as a director of a Jewish community, we don’t feel that they deserve an official response,” Snodgrass said. “They have freedom of speech, their own rights of expression, but they have hijacked a very emotional historical event.”
In general, the display, on Lowry Mall instead of Speaker’s Circle due to its large size, has been treated with respect, said Nielson. Her father, Pete Nielson, said a few students had acted outwardly hostile towards the display. One student descended the stairs of Ellis Library shouting obscenities at the anti-abortion group, including the phrase “F-your babies.”
CBR and Mizzou Students for Life will keep the photos up until tomorrow evening and the Feminist Student Union will continue to counter-protest. After its stop at MU, the display will travel to other universities for similar demonstrations.