Anti-abortion group sponsors ‘extremely graphic’ display on Quad

Stephen N. Dethrage

The anti-abortion group Bama Students for Life and the Genocide Awareness Project will host an “extremely graphic” display on the Quad Wednesday and Thursday, an email from Dean of Students Tim Hebson to University faculty and Staff confirmed Tuesday.

“Bama Students for Life will be sponsoring a display from the Genocide Awareness Project on the Quad on April 10 and 11,” Hebson said in the email. “The display includes extremely graphic anti-abortion photos. Students who are upset by the display should be encouraged to contact the Women’s Resource Center or the Counseling Center.”

UA spokeswoman Cathy Andreen confirmed Tuesday that the Genocide Awareness Project, through a Bama Students for Life sponsorship, has already acquired a grounds use permit for their display on the Quad. Andreen said the email was sent because the Genocide Awareness Project set up a similar display on the Quad in 2007 and some students were distressed by the images displayed.

According to their website, GAP compares abortion to recognized genocides like the Holocaust.

Bama Students for Life distributed a press release Tuesday in which Courtney Pixler, the group’s president explained their decision to display the graphic material.

“Showing students photos of abortion may make some people uncomfortable, but that doesn’t change the facts about abortion—it’s a gruesome, bloody procedure that murders an innocent human,” Pixler said in the press release. “If the pictures are so offensive, then the act of abortion is much more offensive.”

The pictures, Pixler said, will have more impact than words would.

“These photos demonstrate the injustice of abortion—an injustice that words often fail to fully communicate,” Pixler said. “We believe that students have a right to medically accurate, comprehensive information about abortion. That way, they can understand what abortion truly is.”

The press release went on to say that the display has been erected more than 200 at universities and urban areas across the United States.

The concourse at Auburn University was the site of one such display earlier this week. The display brought their student group Auburn Students for Life came under fire for several reasons, including the use of photos of Holocaust victims on Holocaust Remembrance Day and the display’s proximity to on-campus childcare facilities.

Gwen Baer, the president of Auburn’s organization, responded to students’ concerns on their Facebook page.

“During today’s Genocide Awareness Project display, Auburn University Students for Life received a wide array of responses and reactions,” Baer said. “These responses ranged from the positive and encouraging, gaining over a hundred supporters’ emails and names in one day, to negative and emotional.”

Baer went on to apologize for the display coinciding with Holocaust Remembrance Day, calling the situation an unintentional oversight of our Auburn Students for Life. Baer also said the group surrounded the display with warning signs alerting passersby of the graphic nature of the display.

“While our intention was to get the student body talking about this issue, I felt that our intentions and our course of action require clarification,” Baer said. “Speaking for the organization, I can assure you that we are in no way intending to personally offend any particular group, suggesting that young children see this material or trying to suggest our behavior is above anyone else’s. As a member of the Auburn family, I was upset by the suggestion that we organized this display in order to do any of these things.”