Activists raise abortion display near Hepner


Andrew Dyer

Students gather in front of a graphic anti-abortion display in the middle of campus.

by Bella Ross, Senior Staff Writer

A pro-life group called the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform hosted an expansive display of graphic photos of unborn children outside of Hepner Hall on May 1.

About one dozen counter protesters stood by the display, which equated abortions to a form of genocide.

In addition to unborn children, the display showed African-American men who had been lynched and numerous Holocaust victims. 

Despite the graphic nature of this display, Assistant Director of Student Life and Leadership Dr. Renzo Lara said the group went through all the required steps to reserve the space, a process he said spanned over the period of a month due to the content at hand.

“We offer a platform for anybody to come in since this is a free speech campus,” Lara said. “So, we can assure that the procedures are being followed.”

Kevin Olivier, who is identified as being the person who organized this display from the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, said the organization’s goal is the communicate the what they believe is the violent nature of abortion.

“(The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform is) a pro-life, nonprofit organization that’s privately funded and we expose the horror of abortion,” Olivier said. “Our goal is to spread awareness of the fact that abortion is an act of violence that decapitates and dismembers preborn human beings.”

Marketing junior Lisa Schloss attempted to have a conversation with the event organizers about their approach to spreading this message.

As somebody who has recently had an abortion herself, she said she asked the organizers if they would call her a murderer.

“She could not say that,” Scloss said. “She couldn’t call me a murderer to my face. She couldn’t say that to my face because she knows that’s not true.”

Other opponents to the display’s message opted to organize a counterprotest, which evolved merely hours after the display was set up.

Humanities junior Kaya White held a sign that read: “Abortion does not equal genocide. Educate.”

“The spread of misinformation and the comparison of Holocaust and genocide to abortion, which can in fact be a necessary medical procedure, seems immoral,” White said.

White said she also took offense to the graphic nature of the photos, which she interpreted as a attempt to scare people into supporting their cause.

“I think setting up violent gory images in the middle of a public campus is not the way to go,” White said. “I think they’re going for shock factor and fear factor rather than education.”

Olivier said in his view, the offensiveness of the photos stems from the fact that they display the injustice of abortions.

“There’s no question that these images do and should stir emotions as graphic images of any injustice would do,” Olivier said.

Associated Students President Chris Thomas said he thinks display was an improper approach to education.

“There are ways to educate people the right way and I don’t support this type of education, if that’s what you can even call this,” Thomas said.

However, not everybody on campus Tuesday was opposed to the display. Library and Information Access Supervisor Michael McGovern said he would consider this display a great way to educate students on unpopular perspectives surrounding abortion.

“It shows people what abortion really is and what abortion really looks like and it’s not something that’s obscure,” McGovern said. “This is reality. They want to live in a fantasy land that doesn’t exist.”

Political science and Spanish junior Reuben Kessler said he hopes people can make their own informed decisions regarding the content of this display instead of believing everything they’re told.

“I think people should say whatever they have to say and they should not be silenced but at the same time, people need to make their own educated opinions on what they’re going to believe and what they’re not going to believe,” Kessler said.