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Anti-abortion display invokes student response

Senior News Editor

Published: Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Updated: Thursday, April 18, 2013 18:04

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Brian Keschinger, The Spectrum

Up to 150 students at a time protested the anti-abortion display in front of the Student Union Tuesday. Students held up sheets to block graphic images of abortions.

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Alexa Strudler, The Spectrum

UB Students for Life President Christian Andzel (center) passionately debates students Tuesday in front of the anti-abortion display.

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Alexa Strudler, The Spectrum

Community members hoist opposing signs in front of the display.

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Alexa Strudler, The Spectrum

A student who supports abortion rights blocks a community member's anti-abortion sign as the two exchange words.

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Alexa Strudler, The Spectrum

A student holds a sign reading: "If the fetus you 'save' is gay, are you still going to fight to save it?"

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Brian Keschinger, The Spectrum

An abortion rights supporter holds a sign reading: "Fun fact: 77% of anti-abortion leaders are men. 100% of them will never get pregnant."


Graphic images of aborted fetuses towered beside the Student Union entrance on Monday and Tuesday.

Between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day, billboards showed dismembered fetus limbs and comparisons of abortions to genocide, child abuse and hate crimes – images Christian Andzel, the president of UB Students for Life, knows may make people uncomfortable. But he feels “it’s time to resonate the word abortion with pictures.” The images met a strong student force, and on Tuesday, opposition mounted as up to 150 students gathered outside of the Union.

Andzel contacted the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform’s “Genocide Awareness Project.” The group travels around the country to multiple universities with its anti-abortion display.

Darius Hardwick, the regional director for the Center of Bio-Ethical Reform, said he knows the display he brought to UB can get people “worked up,” but he thinks it’s important to discuss “what abortion is.”

 UB Students for Life does receive a budget from SA, but none of that money went toward this event. It did not cost the SA club any money for the Center to come to campus.

On Monday, Laura Curry, an adjunct professor in the media study department, was arrested after vocalizing her opposition to the display and using the word “f**k.” Curry was charged with disorderly conduct and the police report states Curry was released with an appearance ticket.

Many students are upset with Curry’s arrest, and a cellphone-captured video of her confrontation with the University Police Department has been shared hundreds of times on Facebook.

“I’m not being disorderly, that is disorderly,” Curry told UPD while gesturing to the display, according to the video. She continued by saying she felt the large images were profane, and they were “swearing” to her.

“What is the difference between that image and me saying f**k?” Curry went on to ask the officers.

UPD declined to comment for this article.

Andzel said he doesn’t think the incident with Curry called for an arrest, but it was UPD’s matter and he and his associates had no involvement.

“Our police are not doing a good job [in the terms of Curry’s arrest]. They are doing the best job they can, but they aren’t doing the best job possible,” said Phil Tucciarone, a junior chemical engineering major. “That’s because of a lot of confusion from the ground to the ceiling in terms of authority. I can’t blame them, but they are struggling like we are.”

Tucciarone was frustrated with the arrest but expressed gratitude for the work UPD did in keeping the students safe.

UPD was present throughout the entire protest.

Tucciarone helped organize a counter-protest on Tuesday alongside Chelsie Hinckley, a senior English major. Both created Facebook groups to bring students who opposed the anti-abortion display together.

Tucciarone said UPD told him to make sure he and his protestors didn’t curse violently, get aggressive in speech through yelling or instigate physical contact, in order to avoid arrest.

Tucciarone and Hinckley were adamant about keeping the protest peaceful on Tuesday. But the amount of passion and aggression that collected outside of the Union on Monday and Tuesday penetrated throughout the entire campus and on social media.

While students did collect in opposition on Monday afternoon, a counter-protest wasn’t formally organized until Monday evening in Capen Hall. Andzel “snuck in” to the meeting with a hat on, Tucciarone said.

The billboards “connecting the dots” of genocide to abortions were on display on Monday but not Tuesday. Frank Diorio, a volunteer with the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, said the group normally displays all 16 of its posters at once but couldn’t because of the space available at UB, so it put up different ones Tuesday for variation.  

It’s the comparison to genocide that upset many students. Students who were “triggered” by the images contacted UB Wellness Education Services and the Student-Wide Judiciary on Monday, according to Hinckley. She felt the display was inappropriate to be outside the Union, and while she supports freedom of speech, she said she doesn’t support “the complete use of propaganda to forward that belief.”

Andzel and UB Students for Life aimed to “put a picture to the word abortion.”

“The reason why we brought the other genocides throughout history is to show two things: a continuum of oppression by those in power to suppress and oppress the voiceless – victims,” Andzel said. “I want to make that clear. What do they all have in common? They have victims that are voiceless. And we should stand up for all human rights. Now there are many differences and I understand that, and I hear the voices of those who may be offended. But all we are trying to do is to show the continuum of history of oppression of those without a voice.”

Tom Tiberi, the director of Student Life, said UB Students for Life followed every appropriate procedure to reserve the spot outside of the Union. Tiberi said Student Life, which allows recognized organizations to reserve areas in the Union, also spoke with University at Albany, one of many schools that previously showcased this display. UB knew what to expect and took the appropriate precautions, according to Tiberi.

“As a state institution, we support the right of free speech, which is a part of this,” Tiberi said. “When we allow an event to come on campus, we are looking at what is available as far as space goes. We would look at if it is a structure to make sure it’s safe, but we do not look at the message. That is where you would infringe on the right to free speech.”

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15 comments

Anonymous
Wed May 29 2013 04:07
Anti-abortionists are confused in their thinking that a fetus is a baby. It is not. A first trimester fetus has nothing comparable to human brain. (In fact, it isn't until week 21 or later that we can even tell if the child will be born with a brain or with only a primitive reptilian stem).

Abortion is not murder, anymore than cutting off your toe is murder. You might not do it lightly, it has a long term impact, but you certainly should not be compared to Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, the slavers who were responsible for the Middle Passage, etc, for doing so.

The only reason you *might* think it's murder, if you don't define human beings as related to our consciousnesses and our enormous mental capabilities, is if you believe in supernatural magic stuff, like souls. However, magic stuff has no place in a rational discussions, so if this is what you believe, admit to it, but take your religion elsewhere, and stop trying to force religious beliefs on anyone else.

As far as the confused young man who uses himself as an anti-abortion argument, since his mother "chose" him, no - she chose to carry a fetus that could have turned out to be anyone else. An accidental gene epression could have even turned you out to be braindead, and we're glad it didn't. I appreciate you are very happy that she didn't abort, but you aren't an argument against abortion. You could have turned out to have been a child molestor or an axe murderer, but it was how you were raised that made the difference. Should she have aborted you had you grown up differently?

I assure you that the choice of how you grew up was not made one time in her life when you were an 8 week old embryo. The choice was made daily and monthly over the last 18+ years.

Anonymous
Thu Apr 25 2013 06:44
I'll keep my opinions on whether or not abortion should be legal to myself, HOWEVER those pictures were beyond idiotic. If you are pro-life and arguing that the mangled up fetus is indeed "a human being" then treat them like one. If you truly believe that it is a human life that is being taken then don't show everyone their corpse. I'm sure a lot of people would be upset if after they died, people took pictures of their bodies and used them for their own personal protests for a cause that they may not even have supported. Again I'm not lending my support to either side of the argument, but it is incredibly irreverent to the dead to be using their pictures without their consent. It doesn't take a rocket scientist (much less a college student) to figure out that nothing good came out of this protest. Also I wasn't aware that it was a group that was separate from UB that was invited to make this happen. If the Pro--lifers handled this correctly they would of realized that that they could of figured out a more civil way of protesting instead of inviting a "hate group" to come do their thinking for them. You are actually dehumanizing those fetus's with those signs, have some respect.
Anonymous
Thu Apr 25 2013 06:44
I'll keep my opinions on whether or not abortion should be legal to myself, HOWEVER those pictures were beyond idiotic. If you are pro-life and arguing that the mangled up fetus is indeed "a human being" then treat them like one. If you truly believe that it is a human life that is being taken then don't show everyone their corpse. I'm sure a lot of people would be upset if after they died, people took pictures of their bodies and used them for their own personal protests for a cause that they may not even have supported. Again I'm not lending my support to either side of the argument, but it is incredibly irreverent to the dead to be using their pictures without their consent. It doesn't take a rocket scientist (much less a college student) to figure out that nothing good came out of this protest. Also I wasn't aware that it was a group that was separate from UB that was invited to make this happen. If the Pro--lifers handled this correctly they would of realized that that they could of figured out a more civil way of protesting instead of inviting a "hate group" to come do their thinking for them. You are actually dehumanizing those fetus's with those signs, have some respect.
Anonymous
Thu Apr 18 2013 16:00
I'm offended that the administrators at the Student Union would allow such a graphic, illogical display to go up right before finals. They need to rethink the rules of what they allow their student groups to do - while I get that they have 'free speech' and the right to be there since they're funded by the university, this display was horrific and they should NOT have allowed it to happen. I consider this display a form of harassment - it's violent and meant to incite rage in those who view it. Some of the people that I saw with the pro life side were clearly not college students - the Student Union should've taken steps to see who this was actually putting this display up and standing in solidarity with the three students in this right to life club that give a shit about something completely not relevant.

The whole thing makes me angry - especially that the police would be protecting these people, whose sole purpose is to instigate a fight.

UB Student Union admin, you really blew it - you allowed funding for a group who harasses people, and probably triggers PTSD responses and panic attacks in some people. Congratulations on turning a blind eye under the guise of free speech.

Anonymous
Wed Apr 17 2013 12:50
I love how everyone thinks that the offensive imagery on Monday was the "aborted fetal tissue" pictures. It wasn't. It was the holocaust mass graves, the lynching of an African-American in the 1940s, the Cambodian killing fields, and the comparison of these atrocities to abortion that was what drew the offense of most of us. Also the insinuations about honor killings in the Middle East. THESE things were the offense on Monday, not the "what does abortion look like" (answer: not what those pictures showed, anyway). Frankly, I'm not offended by blood, however I'm also not going to want to go watch an open heart surgery taking place -- it's kind of icky and gross. I don't think we should ban those because of icky and gross anymore than I think that about abortion. No one needs to see it, but the issue that most of us took on Monday was NOT with the "abortion" images (other than that it was distasteful).
UTPROF
Wed Apr 17 2013 12:47
Abortion will rank with slavery as the biggest stains on American history, and those who advocate for the "right" to murder babies will correctly be remembered in the same light as slave owners.
Anonymous
Wed Apr 17 2013 11:51
There is a difference between killing a 2 month old fetus and a 2 month old baby. The fetus is INSIDE the woman. I believe that life begins at conception, and while I can say I would never want to go through with an abortion myself, I can't make that decision for all other women, that's why I'm PROCHOICE. I don't think any people have sex thinking its ok if i get pregnant ill just abort the thing. I also think the term prolife is garbage. You say prolife in terms of life or death but what about life quality. If a woman who was raped is forced to live with a physical reminder of that rape - a NINE MONTH pregnancy not to mention what shell go through after that, how is she getting a quality of life a return to normalcy after her world was turned upside down. Its not so cut and dry, and that's what both sides have to realize.
Anonymous
Wed Apr 17 2013 10:25
The pictures clearly invoked people's emotion. Anybody ever wonder why? About time people should get 'jolted' about what abortion is really about. It's murder. Does anybody ever wonder why there's a media blackout on abortion? It is partly of making us desensitized to the reality that is abortion.

Really, if you 100% believe that it's NOT human you killed in an abortion, why even bother?? Explain the 'emotional disturbance' you feel when you see the pictures. If you (pro-abortion people) really believe that whatever you abort is a thing and not human, then it really should be the same as looking at a picture of broken chair or table. Why got so worked up?

John
Wed Apr 17 2013 04:13
Really, it's not about "choice" or "my body, my decision". It's whether you believe human life is sacred and worth protecting, or you don't. If it's OK to kill a human child in utero, then it should be OK to kill a human child at 3 weeks, 6 months, or a year old. Why is it OK at 2 months in the womb but not OK 2 months out of the womb? At some point along the way, was that person 'less' of a human being?

We know that a fetus is a human being. It's not going to come out as a duck, a rabbit, or a horse. It's a human life. Why is it fine to kill a human being at one point in their development, and not in another?

Nevermind the true history of the abortion movement... racial population suppression, eugenics, Margaret Sanger. And now women have been brainwashed into believing they are exercising their rights when they abort a human life. Twisted stuff.

Kristina
Wed Apr 17 2013 04:04
Tucciarone said the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform was "a hate organization terrorizing preaching fear tactics. By any definition that is a terrorist group. It was terrorism and that's not appropriate."

Behold the progressives notion of freedom. Anyone with a dissenting opinion will be labelled an enemy of the state/terrorist and silenced. This is what liberals really mean when they talk about "diversity" and "tolerance". You either walk lock-step with the progressive line or you are banned from speaking or having a voice.

Tracy
Wed Apr 17 2013 03:58
Pictures of aborted fetuses are offensive to those who support abortion. Truth staring you in the face too much to handle?
Anonymous
Tue Apr 16 2013 22:28
"If abortion pictures really offends you, why support it. After all they are just pictures. "
- Im sure this picture offended prolife and prochoice people alike. As a paying customer of the university I have the right to go to my class without having these gruesome images shoved in my face. That's what I have the problem with. I didn't take part in these activities on either side yet I had to look at this. Also, how many women do you think walked by these posters today that had abortions. Who cares what your side it. Have some COMPASSION. Those women have to live with the choices they made, they don't need you to remind them.
Instead of standing up on your soapbox why don't you talk to one of them. Hear their story before you judge.

"First of all in the case of rape, there are several preventive measures to take to eliminate pregnancy from occurring, for example the morning after pill."
-You need to educate yourself before you make these comments. The morning after pill can only prevent pregnancy if conception has not yet occurred. If you take the morning after pill and your egg has already been fertilized the pill does NOTHING.

I would like to know why there is an exception in your argument for incest rape incidences. If everyone deserves to be born, why don't these babies. There are holes in your arguments....

Anonymous
Tue Apr 16 2013 21:09
Is it safe to say that the people who are pro-life are making a CHOICE to be that way. How about we get as radical to take away the CHOICE to behave that way. People can do what they want with their bodies. It does not effect them the pro-lifers as well. I think a child being a born and the mother not caring about them is the real crime. If anything, pro-lifers should look to improve the lives of children born into poor conditions or in families that do not want the child.
Anonymous
Tue Apr 16 2013 20:25
If abortion pictures really offends you, why support it. After all they are just pictures. Nonetheless, what ever that fetus is gay, straight or handicapped, they deserve to be born. I will only agree with abortion under the circumstance of Father-Daughter incest or family-related incest rape incidences. First of all in the case of rape, there are several preventive measures to take to eliminate pregnancy from occurring, for example the morning after pill. However, as long as it is past the cutoff months, an 'infant' cannot be eliminated!!! If I felt the need to kill the pregnancy of my dog, the whole freaking America will be offended because a dog's life matters more than a human!!!! Fuck you and your liberalism!!!
Phil Tucciarone
Tue Apr 16 2013 19:37
Although I was frustrated with the arrest yesterday, I do want to express a lot of gratitude for the work our police did in keeping us safe. We worked rather cooperatively today and I think the peacefulness of the event was a product of that. I feel as though it may seem as though I was discrediting them, and that is the last thing I want to do.




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