By The Beacon's Editorial Board
Last week, two anti-abortion demonstrators were asked to leave the University premises after displaying graphic images of aborted fetuses. The two men, who are affiliated with Missionaries to the Preborn – an anti-abortion group based in Milwaukee, Wis. – did not have authorization to demonstrate or distribute leaflets on campus.
The men were asked to leave campus. Public Safety did not base its decision on the content displayed by the Missionaries to the Preborn, but rather on University policy. According to the University's Sales and Solicitation Policy, individuals or groups may not sell or solicit among the general University population unless a recognized student organization or University department sponsors them.
The Beacon commends the University for this policy because the school is not forced to take a stance on controversial issues or pick and choose which groups or individuals can stay on campus. This policy also allows for a safer campus by reducing the intimidation that students may feel from solicitors and protesters. Students should be able to focus on learning and not be worried about being upset or targeted by a protest on campus.
First, it should be noted that The Beacon is not taking a stance on abortion, but rather the way in which Missionaries to the Preborn chooses to convey its message. On its website, Missionaries to the Preborn defends its display of photographs of aborted fetuses with the assertion that the media has censored such photographs from the "abortion debate."
The photographs displayed by the Missionaries to the Preborn are grotesque, repulsive and graphic. Displaying these images is disrespectful because it focuses on the death of a fetus, rather than the saving of a life, which is not going to change people's hearts.
The Missionaries to the Preborn say there are many historical precedents for displaying photographs of aborted fetuses because photographs exist of lynched black men, Jewish corpses and lifeless Vietnamese children, which, according to their website, makes it acceptable to display images of aborted fetuses.
Rather than using the images as a scare tactic, the Missionaries to the Preborn should use a reasoned argument. Members of the media are required to have a free and responsible discussion. Missionaries to the Preborn should be open to doing the same.
On the other hand, in a guest commentary submitted last November by Ann Cowan, the president of Voice for Life, she states "we spend too much time trying to paint the people on the other side of the issue as horrible and ignorant."
This is exactly what Missionaries to the Preborn is doing. By throwing images in our faces, the Missionaries to the Preborn are implying UP students are ignorant, when in fact students are not.
The anti-abortion student group on campus, Voice for Life is not affiliated with Missionaries to the Preborn. The Beacon appreciates Voice for Life's respectful approach through its Cemetery of the Innocents memorial rather than the gruesome tactic of Missionaries of the Preborn.