Anti-abortion messages to roll on campus

Adam Griffiths

Images of first-trimester aborted embryos and fetuses will join commuters on the streets around campus today.

Billboard trucks displaying the graphic photos will drive around campus today and tomorrow from noon to 3 p.m. in an effort by the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform to educate college students about the realities of abortion.

Mark Harrington, executive director of CBR Midwest, said in a press release that Kent State represents the center’s target audience because large groups of students are “abortion vulnerable.”

According to a 2006 study by the Guttmacher Institute, 52 percent of U.S. women obtaining abortions are younger than 25 years old. Harrington said in a phone interview that a large segment of this population is found on college campuses.

“That’s why we go there,” Harrington said. “A picture’s worth a thousand words. Even at a glance, it may deter a woman from actually killing her baby.”

He said the idea for the billboards that debuted in the summer of 2001 came from studying past social reform movements.

“All successful social movements have used horrifying pictures to dramatize injustice,” Harrington said. “We’re not doing anything different.”

This isn’t the first time the CBR has brought its trucks to the campus, and Kent State isn’t the only local university where the organization has displayed pro-life material. The trucks drove around the University of Akron campus Monday and yesterday.

Katie Troha, junior applied conflict management major and former programming chair for the Kent Feminist Union, said she first saw the trucks when she was a freshman.

“They have no right to put that on signs,” Troha said. “People don’t need to see that. They don’t want their kids to see that, no matter how they feel about abortion.”

She said students who see the signs aren’t influenced to have anti-abortion views.

“When I talk to people who see them, they say (the CBR) is sick and what they’re doing is wrong,” Troha said.

Harrington said he’s encountered varied reactions from students when displaying the signs.

“About 20 percent of the population is just shocked because they’ve never seen an abortion before,” Harrington said. “Some are frankly apathetic. It doesn’t affect them. Then you probably have another 20 percent or so that will be pro-abortion, that are upset that we would even dare to show them. They’ll just attack the messenger and not the message.”

Troha attended a protest against photos that CBR posted in front of the Youngstown State University student center last week. She said protesters explained the images and efforts of the CBR to students who passed by the signs, and many joined their protest.

“I think they’re kind of making assumptions about people by trying to use (the photos),” Troha said. “They’re saying that if people see something, they’re just going to feel differently and not look into the issue. They don’t give people in general enough credit.”

Contact health and medicine reporter Adam Griffiths at [email protected].