Last week, UNC-Greensboro students held a protest against organizers showcasing the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP), an anti-abortion initiative, on College Avenue.
Students chanted, “What do we want? Choice! When do we want it? Now!”
GAP is a collection of various signs that include pictures of, what organizers argue are, dismembered fetuses placed next to pictures of genocide victims.
GAP, an initiative of the pro-life organization Center of Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR), defines abortion as genocide, stating that the group targeted is “unwanted, pre-born babies” and compares this to slavery and the holocaust.
The signs also included questions of what should be done if a woman was raped, to which the reply was that some cultures execute innocent rape victims and call it “honor killing.” The group stated that this was similar to abortion and reproductive choice and asked students if abortion was less primitive and barbaric than honor killing.
Similar signs were posted such as that of a woman claiming that it was her body; however, the organization placed a sign of a bloody fetus and stated that it was a body as well.
“The Genocide Awareness Project is all across America to show what abortion looks like, which is the decapitation and dismemberment of tiny humans,” said Lauren Handy, a full-time anti-abortion activist and pro-life missionary.
Handy discussed how GAP reserved the space in front of the Jackson Library on the public forum for free speech activity.
She stated that the organization tours different college campuses and was heading to North Carolina State University next.
Handy noted that many students have argued that the pictures are there for shock value and are triggers. She believes this is a valid assessment; however she contends that if the images are triggers for students, the reasons behind this need to be addressed.
Handy, who focuses on post-abortion healing and grief counseling stated, “At the moment of fertilization, you have a new human; at that moment, you have value.”
Frank Diorio, a representative of GAP, compared abortion to child labor and former Baltimore Ravens football running back Ray Rice’s assault on his then-fiancee, now wife. Diorio said that in both incidents, laws and ideas changed because the public was able to learn more about the incidents within the context of the pictures and released video.
“You must see the injustice in order to acknowledge the injustice, and then you have to get people moving to do something about it. Again, our purpose is education. You have to be patient with it,” Diorio said.
College Avenue had a “Should Abortion Remain Legal?’ poll stand and a free speech board where students and passersby were able to voice their opinions.
Debbie Picarello, a representative of Deeper Still, a post-abortive support organization, was there to tell her personal story.
She said that after a mother and father have had abortions, they are still parents, and she believes that Deeper Still can provide a retreat that may help.
Picarello had an abortion at age 19 after nine-and-a-half weeks of pregnancy in 1987 and now says that she regrets this. She had not told anyone for 20 years until she went to Deeper Still in 2007.
The images and comparisons made students frustrated, though.
Freshman Suzy Hasanin believes that GAP’s pro-life sentiment and her pro-choice sentiment come from different sources, and the opinions will never meet.
Hasanin believes this is because the organization views abortion from a fundamentalist Christian perspective and she understands abortion from a Muslim household perspective, where she says that due to her young age she would be expected to have an abortion, especially if she became pregnant out of wedlock.
Hasanin and other student protesters spoke out against the images, stating that they were “violent” and “disturbing.”
Hasanin believes that students should be able to express their outrage, but she acknowledges that it might not be productive since GAP organizers travel to many different campuses and are no strangers to student animosity.
“These are violent images, especially on College Ave, right in front of the library. They’re really shoving it right in front of our faces,” Hasanin said. “I guess they do have the legal right to do it, but I don’t think they should it.”