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Protesters clash in Centennial Mall

Community Editor

Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 01:09


Courtesy of Jami Beer

Sheila Raker, a volunteer with Created Equal, discusses her anti-abortion stance with a student on Sept. 16 in Centennial Mall.


Nicole Badick / IC

Members of the University of Toledo Feminist Alliance protested displayed images of aborted fetuses by an anti-abortion group on Sept. 16.

An anti-abortion protest displaying graphic photographs of aborted fetus tissue took place at Centennial Mall on Sept. 16, inciting a counter protest from abortion rights advocates.

The initial protest was organized by Created Equal, a group that lists its mission as “restore the true meaning of equality to include equal protection between the born and the preborn.”

“I believe in it,” said Jami Beer, director of campus outreach for Created Equal. “It’s a human rights injustice.”

The University of Toledo Feminist Alliance (UTFA) formed the counter protest, holding signs that said “My body, my rights.”

The opposing sides clashed a few times when conversation was initiated from either group, particularly when religious text was quoted, although Created Equal is not religiously affiliated.

In one incident, graduate student Terri Miller would not respond to religious arguments.

“We are here to advocate women’s reproductive choice,” she said to a Created Equal volunteer. “I will have no further discussion with you other than women’s reproductive rights.”

Miller, a full-time Inventory Control Specialist at UT, used her lunch hour to support UTFA’s counter protest after learning about it through a Facebook event.

“I don’t feel that anyone should be dictating what women do with their bodies. It’s still a hot topic and it really shouldn’t be,” Miller said.

“Other people should not be involved in any decision making, or legislating any woman’s uterus.”

On the other side, Beer began working for Created Equal immediately after graduation from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

She said she was compelled to work with an anti-abortion group after she saw a video in high school showing abortion procedures, something she said she “couldn’t believe was happening in America.”

“The way they’re being killed — they’re being dismembered, decapitated and disemboweled. It’s a violent death and it’s happening on a mass scale. A lot of Americans are dying,” Beer said.

Created Equal is Columbus based, but is aiming to expand to a nationally recognized level, according to their official website. They encourage students to organize their own poster showings and protests at their college campuses.

Alex Foulke, a first year electrical engineering major, said he appreciated the anti-abortion protest. He said he found the posters graphic but accurate.

“I hadn’t known of the group beforehand,” Foulke said. “But I helped them set up.”

Foulke said he stayed with the group for about an hour and volunteered with the placement of the display when he learned Created Equal’s stance.

Ernest Daniel, a second-year psychology major, was walking with a friend when he saw the protestors. He is currently taking a class called Life Span Development, a class he said helped form his opinion.

He said, had he known more about the event, he would have joined UTFA.

“I like the idea of protesting the protest. I feel it was a wise idea,” Daniel said.

At the same event, UTFA handed out a total of 800 free condoms to students that passed by, according to the group’s Facebook page.

Alcy Barakat, a former UTFA member and a public health graduate student, said she was proud of the group’s “willingness to do what other people don’t want to do, being the face of a conflict.”

Barakat said she accepted Created Equal’s right to free speech on campus — just not their message.

“It’s called pro-choice, not pro-abortion,” Barakat said. “There is a choice to be made, and you don’t have to choose to have an abortion. The circumstances of each woman should be the dictating factor in that decision.”

“But there is no right or wrong answer,” she added. “There’s such a large gray area. I’m not pro-abortion; I’m pro-whatever is best for the woman.” 

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