By ASHLEY LUBECKY AND MAYS TURABI
On Wednesday, April 26, staff and volunteers with the Center for Bioethical Reform came to Cleveland State University’s campus to share anti-choice rhetoric by setting up billboards of their “Genocide Awareness Project” in the courtyard, comparing abortion to genocide and claiming abortion as a “tax-funded massacre.”
Their demonstration included graphic images of the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide of the Tutsi people, and the Wounded Knee genocide of Native Americans, as well as lewd photos.
Statements claiming that abortion constitutes child abuse, comparing abortion doctors to death camp doctors, and declaring the life of the mother as the only exception for medical intervention, were displayed throughout the billboard, as shown below.
Additionally, the center’s staff and volunteers attempted to use the Black Lives Matter movement to further their argument, with one billboard noting “ALL Black Lives Matter,” including “born and pre-born.”
In doing so, they also argued that Planned Parenthood has “suppressed the Black vote more effectively than poll taxes, literary tests, voter ID requirements, and Klu Klux Klan lynchings combined” by performing abortions. The Center for Bioethical Reform used skewed, outdated statistics to try and further this argument, as shown below.
Anti-transgender rhetoric was also displayed on two of the billboards that compared genital mutilation to gender-affirming health-care, claiming “puberty blockers chemically mutate children forever.”
The Cauldron spoke to staff members and volunteers from the Center for Bioethical Reform about their mission for being on campus today:
“We’re trying to change public opinion on abortion,” said Jacinta Robin, a staff member with the organization. “Abortion decapitates and dismembers tiny children. We want to raise awareness on that.”
She also further discussed their Genocide Awarness Project:
“We’re talking about different genocides, particularly the one that’s happening right now,” she said. “Every year, 1 million children are eliminated through abortion. That is 1 million Americans that are not here every single year…We believe that that is genocide.”
When asked about how she feels about high school students and minors on campus seeing the graphic images displayed, she said:
“We find that the graphic images don’t disturb children in the way that adults are concerned that they might…We see the reactions of children that come by the images. If the parent is outraged, the child will mimic the parent. If the parent is calm and explains what’s going on, the child will understand that this [abortion] is a tragedy, but they don’t leave traumatized.”
When asked about how their logic of children mimicking their parents’ feelings applies to pregnant victims of domestic violence, Robin said that when a mother is under stress, the child inside the womb also feels it, but that she does not know “all the science behind it.”
She continued on to say that “it’s better to have a live person that’s dealing with anxiety than a dead person because we didn’t want them to go through the tragedy of handling anxiety as an adult.”
Students took to counter-protesting with the center’s staff and volunteers.
“This is absolute f—- bull—t,” shared a CSU student who wishes to stay anonymous. “As a Native American person, they have no right to use pictures of the genocide that has happened to us as an excuse to take away women’s healthcare. All while Native American babies are getting taken away from their mothers. Abortion is healthcare.”
Ohio reproductive rights advocates were also present, handing out informative pamphlets on abortion and collecting signatures to put abortion on the November ballot.
Within the demonstration was a free speech sign in which students and passersby could write their thoughts and opinions. Some took to writing quotes about abortion, including “banning abortion doesn’t stop abortion, only makes them more dangerous.”
Adam Stonstegard, Cleveland State English Professor, who does not speak for Cleveland State as a whole, shared concern about the physical fence placed by the Center for Bioethical Reform between them and students:
“One concern is the fence that is a barrier between us and them in what’s already a big free speech zone in the first place. We don’t think we’ve seen that before, and I’m kind of wondering what the implications are for free speech zone on campus.”
He continued on to say, “Another point to make is just that a lot of people are here to provoke, to bait students and people on campus into responding.”
The Cauldron reached out to CSU President Laura Bloomberg for comment.
“I acknowledge that the presence of the Genocide Awareness Project on our campus and the materials they shared were difficult for many members of our community today. As a public university, we protect the rights of all to exercise their freedom of speech. I appreciate the feedback I received from students, faculty members and staff members, and we will continue to evaluate how to best provide for free speech and expressive activity on our campus.”
Cleveland State’s Free Speech On Campus policy allows for anyone and everyone to share their public opinion, which has continuously brought controversy and made students on campus feel unsafe.
The Center for Bioethical Reform plans to continue their demonstration in the courtyard throughout this week.
This is a developing story. Updates will be posted as they become available.
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