Members of Eastern Michigan University’s student organization EMU Students for Choice gathered outside Marshall Hall on Thursday, Oct. 12 to protest Tuesday’s anti-abortion display.
EMU Students for Choice, a pro-abortion rights group on campus, created poster board signs with messages related to women being given the choice to have an abortion regardless of other beliefs. Such messages included ‘get your rosaries off my ovaries’ and ‘my body my choice’. From 12p.m. to 2p.m. the students held up the signs and offered posters to passerby to hold should they agree with their beliefs.
Rachel Kindred, the secretary for EMU Students for Choice, noted the nature of their protest.
“We take a strong offense to the demonstration yesterday, particularly because of the graphic nature of the photos they had on their signs,” she said. “That can be traumatizing not only to people who have had abortions but anyone who’s had miscarriages.”
On Tuesday, Oct. 10, the anti-abortion organization Created Equal placed a display on the walkway outside Marshall Hall depicting graphic pictures of aborted fetuses. During their display, about 30 students unaffiliated with organizations gathered to silently protest the display with handmade signs from cardboard and scrap paper.
Students for Choice heard about the event through the Women’s Resource Center, which prompted it to come out and stand in silent protest.
Created Equal’s main debate is the idea that abortions are a form of ageism – or age discrimination – against the unborn child. The pictures, according to one of its members, was to ‘give a platform to victims that can’t speak for themselves.’
Kindred contested this debate, but noted the organizations right to protest.
“They’re allowed to have their opinions, they may see them as victims but it’s a medical procedure – we just think everyone should have the choice,” Kindred said. “Nobody should be allowed to make that choice for you or take that choice away from you.”
Layla Noor, a sophomore studying business at EMU, said the photos used by Created Equal were an irresponsible way to get their message across.
“It’s exploitative,” she said. “It harms victims or rape or incest who may have found it necessary to have an abortion – after those things happened to them, do you think it would be appropriate to exploit them in such a way?”
“Our signs say we’re supporting people who want the choice to make that decision – they don’t have to, we’re not ‘pro abortion’ we’re not ‘pro killing fetuses’ we’re pro choice,” she continued.
Tritia Heemstra, the president of EMU Students for Life, an anti-abortion group on campus, said the images Created Equal showed weren’t intended to hurt people.
“These images are not intended to cause depression or anxiety – these images were designed to show the truth about abortion and the horror and destruction it imposes on women and their unborn babies.” Heemstra said.
Some passing student picked up extra signs created by Students for Choice and held them in agreement with their cause. Mindy Holmes, a junior majoring in social work, passed out condoms from a small basket as well as slips one could sign if they sought to participate in similar activities as Students for Choice.
Holmes said, while she would contest the message of Created Equal regardless, she would have been less upset if there was a trigger warning before the pictures were shown.
“They’re using these images to manipulate a non-consenting audience,” she said. “Personally, I’m disgusted by blood – if I had seen these images after being in an extreme accident, it would bring up memories of that.”