Story by Alyssa Williams | Contributing Writer
A group of protestors gathered on Middle Tennessee State Univeristy’s campus in response to a demonstration by Created Equal — an anti-abortion organization — in the Student Union Commons on Thursday, Oct. 27.
Created Equal is an organization in Columbus, Ohio, that “works to end the killing of babies and establish human equality by exposing the truth about the abortions,” according to their website.
The organization set up graphic pictures of aborted fetuses across the Student Union Commons, which many students found to be disturbing. Additionally, they handed out pamphlets with similar content inside. Members also called out to students walking by with questions such as, “How do you feel about abortion?” or “What are your feelings on abortion?”
Evangeline Abaffy, 22, is from southern Ohio and has been with Created Equal for five years.
“We’re here just to engage in conversations with college students, have a civil dialogue about abortion,” she said. “We hope to challenge their beliefs and hopefully get some challenges back to ours… We believe in the syllogism that it is always wrong to intentionally kill a human being. Abortion is always the intentional killing of an innocent human being, so therefore abortion is always morally wrong.”
She also addressed the graphic images displayed around campus, saying they are graphic “because abortion is graphic.”
“Social reformers have used it to change people’s minds about injustice, whether it was Emmett Till and how that really affected people,” she said. “Or the Holocaust photos we saw in our 9th grade history class, you know. Images, although they may be graphic and horrible to look at, we know that they resonate with people.”
It was at this time in the interview that she was interrupted by a passerby student who ripped off a portion of one of the images and screamed at Abaffy. This kind of response happens often, Abaffy said.
Vice President of MTSU College Democrats Davina Miller-Clements said this student was not associated with the College Democrats, who organized the protest and positioned themselves across from the Created Equal demonstration.
“We wanted to be very clear that we wanted to come here and respond to whatever was happening on campus with a spirit of love and a real spirit of education,” she said. “And, we really wanted to come out here and say that we can talk about abortion in a way that is productive, talk about reducing abortions in a way that is educational, and we all want the same end goal.”
To help with this goal, MTSU College Democrats handed out around 1,400 condoms and told students that sex education and birth control are more effective means of reducing abortions than “scare tactics,” Miller-Clements said.
Additionally, the College Democrats escorted women who felt unsafe by the Created Equal images. One woman in particular was stopped by one of the representatives from Created Equal and was asked about abortion.
“She came to us sobbing,” Miller-Clements said. “It was horrifying.”
Ravel Piroiznia Jr. walked her by the signs, and then he returned to the protest.
“It was not only out of anger, but, like, she was actually crying of how disgusted she felt,” Piroiznia said.
MTSU Campus Police were called to the protest to ensure the safety of both groups. However, some pro-abortion protestors felt they were unfairly treated.
MTSU graduate student Kiona Wilson interacted with one of the officers.
“You know what’s crazy? The whole time you’ve been over here, y’all have been on this side,” Wilson said to the officer, after she asked the police officer to intervene when a Created Equal demonstrator compared abortion to slavery.
Officers said they were there to keep the protestors and Created Equal from being disruptive to classes. However, some students said that Created Equal’s images themselves were disruptive.
As things continued to escalate, Miller-Clements said that the College Democrats left the protest. A large group of students congregated on the walkway next to where Created Equal and the College Democrats protest was set up. Students discussed their opposing views with each other until the crowd dispersed about an hour after it originally appeared.
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