The eternal debate of abortion

The eternal debate of abortion

Montgomery College has been witness to a rather civil response coming from the Pro-Life advocates. On a typical Friday, normally after noon, Pro-Life supporters set up right by the cafeteria or the Humanities building, discussing what abortion is and answering any questions from students passing by.

Often, students will converse on the terms they and the Pro-Life supporters can both agree on. Others will, in a civilized fashion, argue why they are Pro-Choice. Most students, if not all, simply listen and open up to some “out-of-class” education. But who are these Pro-Life supporters with the scarring images that can easily strangle one’s appetite? Meet CBR.

Who is CBR?

CBR stands for Center for Bioethical Reform, the organization for which these Pro-Life advocates speak for. This organization was founded in July of 1990 and was a privately funded and non-profit educational program. This organization has several different projects to accomplish their objective of educating the public about abortion. But there is a special project designed specifically to grasp the attention of college students, known as GAP: Genocide Awareness Project.

The GAP is a photo-mural exhibit that travels to several college campuses with speakers who interact with the students and explain their perspective on this polarizing issue. Kenn Garrison, one of the speakers involved in this project, explains the overall objective of GAP, “The main goal is to educate the people. I would call it the Abortion Education Awareness program. We want people to know what an abortion is, what the results are, what happens to the unborn; that the unborn is a person, and that we should not be able to indiscriminately kill people.”

Necessary Tactics

The graphic imagery used in the exhibit for GAP is sure to turn heads. But this strategy is not merely used just to gain attention; there is a point that is made here. CBR Maryland worker Jonathan Darnel discusses the strategy and the awaited reaction from the audience, “For every person who hates us because we use the victim images, there is another person whose eyes are open. Our tactic only seems aggressive because our culture doesn’t want to admit that abortion is wrong.The fact that they get angry indicates that their heart is convicting them.”

Despite the civilized manner from those holding up the posters, every now and then a sparked response will come from someone who is disgusted by what is shown in the pictures. Darnel recalls one physical encounter he has had while displaying these images, “One time a guy tried throwing our signs into a busy street and attacked an older volunteer. I came after him with a camera and he tried to knock me down and grab the camera before leaving.”

Garrison, too, claims how he can get a negative response from the crowd at times, “Well, a lot of people want me to know their IQ, if you know what I mean. It comes in the form of a hand gesture, I don’t know why they choose that particular hand gesture to tell me their IQ, they can just tell me that there IQ is just one.”

Darnel explains that despite the responses, people need to see what these pictures show. “We constantly meet people from all walks of life who say they’ve never seen an image of an aborted unborn child. The news doesn’t show it and the schools don’t show it. The abortion clinics absolutely never show it. The image of a dead, mutilated unborn child upsets people, because it makes us realize that we’ve been wrong all this time. That’s not something we like to feel.”

The Argument

Quick question: What is considered a fetus/baby? At what point is the contents of a woman’s womb considered an actual baby? The answer varies for many people. For some, it is at the point of conception, and for others it is after a few months of being pregnant. But this is the basic question that sparks the debate between those on the Pro-Life side and those on the Pro-Choice side. Garrison re-words this fundamental question, going straight to what is being questioned, asking, “What is the unborn?”

The answer to this question can take the argument down many roads. Because Pro-Life supporters consider the unborn an actual baby from the moment of conception, abortion is actually heavily compared to historical genocides. Darnel goes onto explain how this comparison is based on choice. “ Choices can either be right or wrong, and CBR demonstrates this by comparing the choice of abortion to the choice of other injustices like genocide.  Nazis “chose” to murder Jews.  Hutus “chose” to murder Tutsis.  Pro-aborts “choose” to murder unborn babies.”

The “choice” argument is quite specific. Not far from the Montgomery College campus, there is an abortion clinic in Jackson Place, known as the Potomac Family Planning Center. This center was opened in 1992. This establishment was initially opened to help women in terms of health care, as well as basic family planning assistance such as PAP smears and birth control.

One of the medical assistants at the center explains this aspect of the argument coming from a Pro-Choice perspective, “You see a lot of children in  orphanages, children that were given away. A lot of those children get good homes, but some others don’t.Some of them grow up in abuse, or whatever it may be because the mom is just not ready. I think a lot moms look at that point of view of the future. Until you’re in that situation, it is very hard. You don’t know until you’re in that situation, until it’s facing you.”

Who knows what?

As much as the Pro-Life supporters argue and set up pictures to prove their point, businesses that support and perform abortions keep to themselves and are very subtle in the area in which they do businesses.

The medical assistant explains that it is because of this that the information given to the women is done in the office in private. “Due to the nature of what we do, we can’t provide a lot of information and we prefer patients coming into the facility and reading the documents because they are going to have a lot of questions. Unfortunately, on the phone we can’t answer all those questions. We even have a counseling session where we talk to them more about the procedure and the things they need to be aware of, so on and so forth.”

Of course, many Pro-Life supporters don’t feel the woman knows exactly what she is walking into. Some will stand around the corner by the clinic with the posters and signs in hopes to change a mind or two. However, some women driving up to the clinic are more angered by the Pro-Life people than they are encouraged to go home.

“Patients, when they drive by or when they’re coming in, it upsets them because they know what they’re going through; they know what’s going on with them. The people from Pro-Life don’t know, and they’re not going to go up to them and assist them in what they need, they’re just basically telling them  that it’s wrong,” the medical assistant said.

Garrison feels that this is necessary information  and that the emotional disturbance is necessary. “Why would we hope that this makes [the patient] uncomfortable?” he said. “And then, as a result  of saying ‘This makes me uncomfortable because this is not what I want to do to my baby, what would she then do?” Darnel supports this idea with the same concept, “You want to make an abortion-minded woman uncomfortable with what she’s doing, and comfortable talking to you. Both can be accomplished at once if you take the right steps.”

To each his own…

Who has the right to what in terms of life differs according to personal beliefs. The medical assistant at the clinic explains her take on this subject, “My view is that every woman has their own voice to say what they want to do. It’s not my place to say, ‘No, you have to have it’ or, ‘Yes, you’re right, you can terminate it.’ It’s their choice on what they want to do. Of course we make sure that they are not being forced to do this, we ask them all the time, ‘Are you sure this is what you want to do?’”

As time progresses and new generations emerge, many will have their own opinions and emotions when it comes to how this issue is handled. Darnel feels that this generation is leaning more towards Pro-Life, stating, “Most polls show that younger people are becoming more and more “pro-life,” and we know from the numerous numbers of testimonials CBR receives that we had something to do with that, although of course, there are other factors. We still have a ways to go before the popular vote of younger people is significantly influenced.”

As much as this issue has been put in the back of many minds, it still exists in its subtle form. The key to knowing where one stands in terms of that issue is the education given to that person. Some will feel that the mother should not be forced to have a child, other will argue that the baby should not be forced to die. It is true that this is not a subject that is graded and taught in schools, like History or English or Math are. But that does not mean that it should be forgotten or disregarded.