Anti-abortion activists take flight over campus

Kate Bigam

A plane flew over Kent State yesterday afternoon with a banner saying “10 Week Abortion” with a large photo of an aborted fetus. Many students were surprised to see the banner. The plane also flew over Akron. GAVIN JACKSON | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Steve Schirra

Among the sedans and sports cars that cruised campus yesterday were two trucks displaying graphic images of aborted fetuses. When the rain stopped, an airplane circled the sky above Kent State trailing another abortion image.

Both displays were the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform’s attempt to educate Ohio voters about abortion issues.

The center, a national non-profit organization devoted to “right to life” issues, brought its Key States Initiative to Kent State and downtown Akron yesterday as its trucks slowly drove through campus and garnered varied responses from passersby.

“Most people are just kind of in shock, in awe,” said Mark Harrington, the organization’s executive director of the Midwest. “You can see them just stop and stare. They’re getting it.”

The Key States Initiative targets voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Tennessee, what Harrington calls “battleground political states” in the upcoming elections.

The organization is non-partisan and not based on any particular religion, although Harrington said the organization uses religious, biological and legal arguments to defend the unborn.

“We believe, as our founders did, that the right to life is the foundation for all other rights,” Harrington said. “If you can’t ensure the right to not be slaughtered, then none of the other rights matter.”

The trucks featured graphic, bloody images of first-trimester aborted fetuses; one photo compared the fetus’ size to a quarter, alongside the word “CHOICE” in bold, vertical print. The airplane trailed a similar banner with a photo of an aborted 10-week-old embryo.

Parking services associate John Raymond, on duty at the visitor lot outside the Student Center, said he was glad to see the images being displayed around campus and hoped it would encourage people to think about abortion issues.

Senior crafts major Nikki Fiume said although she wasn’t offended by the images, she wasn’t sure how she felt about the presence of the trucks and airplane on campus.

“I definitely feel like it’s a marketing plot, like they’re stereotyping college-aged women because they’re more likely to want or need an abortion,” Fiume said.

Riajo Loftin, vice president of the Kent Feminist Union, said the images might have swayed the opinions of some women who were unsure about their stances on abortion, encouraging women to put unwanted children up for adoption rather than abort them.

Loftin, who is in favor of abortion rights, said she is offended by the prominence of the images.

“Do you know how many women were raped or victims of incest? By you putting it out there, that’s just opening old wounds,” said Loftin, a senior exercise science major. “Abortion, for a lot of people, that’s a deep, dark secret they keep and they live with every day.”

Contact administration reporter Kate Bigam at [email protected].