Sep 252006
Authors: Stephanie Gerlach The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Bloody photographs of mangled, half-formed fetuses sparked debates about abortion among students on the Lory Student Center Plaza on Monday.

Justice for All, an anti-abortion group that put on the exhibition, wants to raise awareness about the effects of abortion and create dialogue among the student body and surrounding community, organizers said.

“Our objective is not necessarily to change their opinion, but to hash it out and talk about the issue,” said Sam Mazzarelli, a spokesman for Justice for All.

Volunteers for the group walk around and engage students, trying to get them to voice their own opinions about abortion.

“We are here to listen. That’s why the display is covered in questions, not statements,” said Rebeccah Pedrick, a Justice for All spokeswoman. “We genuinely care about what people think and how they came to their conclusions. We want to give everyone a voice and a listening ear.”

Surrounding the anti-abortion display, Voices for Planned Parenthood and the Campus Feminist Alliance held posters and passed out information regarding their position as supporters of abortion rights.

“This is accomplishing nothing in the sense that after they’re gone, people will still be having unplanned pregnancies. Giving people sexuality information, education, and family planning information is the only way to prevent it,” said Daniel Kessler, Planned Parenthood spokesman. Their key phrase is “educate yourself, protect yourself.”

“I beg to differ that this will change people’s minds,” said Ellen Steiner, a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman and president of the CSU Young Democrats. “That’s why we’re here. There are other views out there about this issue and we have so many resources to help people in these kinds of situations.”

Almost every hour, a new cluster of students walked through the area, listening in as small groups stated their opinions. Free speech boards were also available for people to post their own comments about the event.

Individuals from both sides of the debate were represented on all four boards.

“The child has done nothing wrong, why barbarically kill it,” one comment said. Another read, “My mind, my body, my choice.”

Students on both sides of the debate held very strong opinions about the exhibit.

“I’m pro-life, but I’m not sure if I agree with their tactics,” said Ryan Pooler, a senior civil engineering student. “Even so, it’s more important to try to prevent abortion than worrying about offending someone.”

Grant Phillips, a sophomore civil engineering student, had his own opinion about abortion before viewing the exhibit. He feels that at the end of the day, most people won’t change their minds, but they may be more aware of both sides of the abortion issue.

“I saw the exhibit and was really wondering why it was here. Nobody wants to see that,” said Josh Anderson, a junior health and exercise science major. Anderson added that he is a supporter of abortion rights because he believes having that choice is what makes America special.

Overall, Justice for All organizers said this first day was successful. Pedrick said she’s excited to see what will happen over the next few days.

“I was really excited and it’s been really active so far,” she said. “I’m hopeful because when both sides realize that we both want to talk and express our views, it can make a difference.”

Staff writer Stephanie Gerlach can be reached at news@collegian .com.

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