GAP's Abortion Exhibit Elicits Student Debate

The exhibit was set up on Polk Place all day Monday and Tuesday.

Whether students read GAP's brochures, looked at pictures, participated in protests, engaged in conversations about abortion or asked questions of GAP representatives, GAP's method to deliver an anti-abortion message -- which included pictures of aborted fetuses -- was on many of their minds.

"Everybody was talking about (the display) in the lunchroom, dorms and on the yard," said freshman Lillie Williams. "It sparked conversation."

GAP, a campaign sponsored by the Center for Bio-Ethic Reform, has three national headquarter offices and travels nationwide to deliver a pro-life message on college campuses. GAP is notorious in some circles for its graphic comparisons of aborted babies to breast cancer, black lynchings, mass killings in Cambodia and the Holocaust.

Student protesters maintained a constant presence around the exhibit, claiming the exhibit was racist, sexist and denied a woman's right to choose.

Despite the protests, some people who had the opportunity to speak with GAP representatives said they believe the project's message encourages discussion. "Abortion is a controversial topic," said sophomore Torin Martinez. "(The display) is great because people need to think."

GAP facilitator Jane Bullington said she anticipated questions and conversation from students. "I want students to ask questions because many of them don't know the truth about abortion."

Freshman Jason McDaniel also said evoking discussions is important at liberal arts colleges because they spark students' attention. "You have to get someone's attention to change their opinion since people think they know everything."

McDaniel spoke with some GAP representatives and said he was pleased with their non-sugar-coated pro-life position.

But sophomore Angela Amanchukwu said the GAP representatives were unable to give her adequate answers. "What do you hope to accomplish?" she asked them.

Carolina Review publisher Nathan Byerly, who sponsored GAP's presence on campus, said he thought open dialogue is good despite some criticism. "A lot of discussions have started because students have the opportunity to see the pictures and think about them in a different way."

But while some said student interaction is a positive result of GAP's display, others still found it to be highly offensive, violating students' public safety. "The campus police is supposed to protect (us), not ignorant people that come to this campus and put our safety in danger," said sophomore Patrice High.

Although GAP is protected under the First Amendment to present its display, its delivery has riled many student reactions concerning the abortion issue. "(The display) is ignorance; ignorance should not be tolerated," said junior Marcus Harvey.

Sophomore Dawud Muhammad said he believes the presentation places guilt on women who have had abortions, and GAP shouldn't be allowed to publicly broadcast its message.

"Abortion is something personal," he said. "What if you had an abortion, and they used your baby's head out there?"

But some students said they agree with GAP's presence on campus, despite its aggressive tactics. "To me, it is disturbing because I am seeing aborted children that could've been great, but they were killed by irresponsible parents," said sophomore Kadiatu Kaloko.

Sophomore Miriam Williams said students should remember GAP's initial message without focusing solely on the display itself. "The display is against abortion, and people need to realize that is what it is, although the method may be skewed."

Whatever students' reaction was, GAP did fulfill its initial goal -- to get students' attention concerning abortion. Williams said, "It was a bit extreme, but they succeeded to get people's attention."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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