The Center for Biological Reform was invited to my school on Tuesday and Wednesday by Western for Life, my university’s anti-choice club. They put up a display comparing abortion to genocide in the center-most public area of campus. There were signs that read, “Warning, Genocide Ahead,” but the area is difficult to avoid and many students told me they proceeded expecting something about a real genocide.
I took a few pictures of the displays. They are graphic and probably not work safe, so you may want to skip this post if you’re not up for being in a bad mood.
I took these pictures on the second day. On the first day, there were small children behind the barricade, in the sun, and infants being carried by women.
I saw about 2/3 of the people behind the fence were men. Most of the men were with the traveling signs, I believe, while the women were student volunteers. The man on the right is Darius Hardwick, the Center for Bioethical Reform’s education direction.
I took a picture of one of the students eating a ham sandwich in front of this poster, which I found ironic since it’s supposedly anti-vivisection. I don’t want to post it, though, because she looks really vulnerable behind that fence.
The anti-choicers claimed they were not Photoshopped pictures, so my friend Chrissy asked, “What did they do with the quarter after taking that picture, rinse it off and buy a Snickers?”
Biology majors told me these were Photoshop jobs.
These guys, nicknamed the Bible Jims, showed up on Wednesday supposedly coincidentally.
A student who works for the Associated Students told me that the Center for Bioethical Reform group demanded the school provide the barricade and sued the University of British Columbia for not providing one. One of my professors said she’d never heard of any group putting a fence around themselves and stopping physical access to a section of school grounds. The physical barricade is very symbolic, she pointed out. A few hours later, David, a man my own age I’ve gone to school with for the last three years, jumped the barricade and began removing the posters that compared genocide to abortion.
David was arrested and charged with 2700 dollars in damages. He wrote about it in his LiveJournal and gave me permission to link it here. From his own words:
Hurt and rage built up like a ball of fire that engulfed my entire being. I ran, jumped over the barricade (like that will stop anyone), started taking down all the hurtful signs â€“ genocide, holocaust, lynching, animal torture, skipping the ones that just had aborted fetuses. I didnâ€™t know where the strength came from. I felt I was doing it for the dignity of all the people who were being misrepresented.
I suspect that The Center for Bioethical Reform wanted someone to destroy their display. From my school paper, The Western Front:
Hardwick said the projectâ€™s policy is to let protestors rip the display down rather than endanger volunteers by trying to stop them.
They have a policy as if this is something that happens regularly, and the cameras were turned inward to face their posters. I think they wanted this to happen. Why do they want us to attack them? To show how violent we are, as one Wester for Life member put it?
My good friend CT, who also attends Western, also wrote a thoughtful response about the display and protest on hir blog:
[I]t might become apparent to you that the thereotical woman who is a neccesary participant in carrying and birthing a child is never mentioned. She becomes nothing more than a faceless, mechanized incubator, incapable of feelings, wants, or even rights. The pin up girl for the anti abortion movement never speaks. She does not move of her own accord, but exists to be positioned like a mannequin by hordes of (usually) white men. Her vagina and uterus are rented out to her; she never owns.
Our world history is built on multiple oppresions, but I feel comfortable suggesting that the most pervasive oppression is that leveled against women, across societies, across time. In South Dakota there is now no caveat for abortions if the child is the product of rape, but I say to you now that to force a woman to carry the unwanted result of a rape is to continue to rape her.
I decided not to post pictures of the counter-protest to protect folks’ privacy, but here’s a picture of me in my I Heart Vaginas t-shirt: