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Anti-abortion group compares abortion to genocide in Polk Place

Senior geology major Michelle Gavel participates in the counter-protest against anti-abortion group the Genocide Awareness Project. Gavel was invited to protest the display by friends with shared views, and expresses disappointment in GAP's return to campus.
Senior geology major Michelle Gavel participates in the counter-protest against anti-abortion group the Genocide Awareness Project. Gavel was invited to protest the display by friends with shared views, and expresses disappointment in GAP's return to campus.

The Genocide Awareness Project, a media outreach program from the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, came to UNC for the fourth time yesterday. The program uses graphic images to compare abortions to various genocides.

Carolina Students for Life president Grace Garner said her organization sponsored the project to come to UNC.

“Some people say they’re offended by these photos, but maybe these people are offended by the photos because they can’t defend the decapitation and dismembering of little human children,” Garner said. “So that’s why we’re here.”

Maggie Egger, Center for Bio-Ethical Reform project director for Virginia, said she was pleased with the discussion that her organization’s display fostered.

“We were expecting pretty much what we’ve gotten here today — a lot of disagreement — but we welcome that,” Egger said. “We like it when students come out and protest and voice their opinion.”

And voice their opinions they did.

Students held signs next to the anti-abortion display reading, ‘Keep your laws off my body,’ ‘Our bodies, our choice,’ and ‘Please compost your bullshit.’

Junior Justine Schnitzler, who created a Facebook page to organize responses to the displays, said people needed to combat the message of the Genocide Awareness Project.

Along with recruiting people to create posters, Schnitzler’s group shared a map showing alternate routes around the display and set up a safe space for those affected by the display in front of the Campus Y.

“We have a lot of tour groups that go through, we have a lot of visitors coming through. Fourth grade tour groups don’t need to see this imagery,” Schnitzler said.

Other students engaged directly with Genocide Awareness Project members and supporters.

After hearing people argue for a constitutional amendment banning legal abortions, graduate student Joanna Percher talked with them. Percher studies reproductive health in the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

“For individuals in this state, there are a lot of barriers to abortion access, including the fact that public government insurance including Medicaid doesn’t cover abortion care, and the average cost of an abortion I think is around $500,” Percher said.

Journalism professor Cathy Packer said the anti-abortion display is well within the group’s First Amendment rights.

“(This) is not to say that it’s not disturbing or that it might not be harmful, but there’s nothing that the University can do to stop it without violating the First Amendment,” Packer said. “This is a problem, but the answer is not censorship.

“More speech is the answer.”

university@dailytarheel.com

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