Amid graphic images and vitriolic jeers, the pro-life group Justice for All held an event on Denver’s Auraria Campus April 11 and 12 to promote fruitful dialogue about life-issues.
“We’re opening the casket on abortion,” said Justice for All spokeswoman Tammy Cook. Justice for All is a pro-life group that travels around the country putting up huge displays of images and facts related to abortion on many of America’s college campuses to spark dialogue and change minds about abortion.
Some students were shocked at the images, some were moved, and some refused to look.
“The images stick with people when they see them,” Cook observed. “Some women who saw these images when we were here in the past come to me now and say they decided not to have an abortion just from seeing the images.”
Others were not so convinced that the shocking images have value. “You’re doing it the wrong way!” a defiant young man bellowed several times as he walked past the display. Another student blocked the images from his sight with a notebook.
Underneath the charged surface, however, there was productive dialogue taking place among the students and volunteers. Alaina Parsons, 19, said that the discussions she had were mostly fruitful. “I was enriched and enlightened.” Parsons, who is in favor of legalized abortion, said she was upset with the educational system for not presenting the facts of abortion that she learned from Justice for All. “We’re simply not taught the facts of it all in our education. We have never seen the sight of it, and that’s not fair.”
Metro State student, James Yarovoy, said that the dialogue he engaged in with Justice for All volunteers persuaded him to change his view on a few particular issues. “I’m still pro-choice,” Yarovoy said, “But I was persuaded that late-term abortions are morally impermissible and that affirming unborn life as much as possible is a general principle we ought to hold.”
The 15 feet high and 30 feet wide displays include images of fetuses at various stages of development and also some disturbing images of aborted fetuses. The images are supposed to create dialogue and also awareness of what actually happens when a woman has an abortion. “Our aim with these images is to make abortion unthinkable,” said Cook. According to her, the images have power because they give a voice to groups of people who would not even be considered human otherwise.
The Justice for All spokeswoman cited the 1955 case of Emmit Till, a young black boy who was killed and his body mangled for whistling at a white woman. Till’s mother insisted on an open casket so people would see the treatment blacks were receiving – subhuman. Jet magazine published a picture of the body, a picture that inspired Rosa Parks to remain sitting in the famous bus incident. The goal of these pictures, Cook said, is to get another class of humans the respect they deserve – the unborn, “Just like Jet magazine did for Emmit Till, we’re opening the casket on abortion,” she said.
Cook explained that the group has visited “about fifty college campuses” around the country, and that this is the fourth time they have been on Auraria Campus since 2004.
The pro-life group provided several ‘Free Speech Boards’ where students could write their opinions or arguments on the matter. Many students took advantage of the opportunity to voice their position, while others seriously considered what was written.
Though Justice for All was responsible for the event, another group was also present. The Pregnancy Resource Center of Northern Colorado, represented by Anne Wunder, was there to offer resources for women who are pregnant and provide support for women who have had abortions in the past.
Wunder, who wore a button that said “I regret my abortion,” told CNA that after her abortion as a young woman, she was haunted by nightmares for years. “I spoke with young women here who have had abortions and I offered my support because I know what they’re going through,” she said. The pregnancy resource center offers pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, pre-natal vitamins, Doppler heart monitor exams and advisement, all free of charge. Justice for All also had resources available for pregnant women.