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Abortion Awareness on Campus

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It was a Monday. The South Oval of the University of Oklahoma was adorned with 18-foot pictures of aborted babies. On the ground, students and random passersby stood around the giant triangular exhibit, talking, yelling, and staring in disbelief.

“What do you think of this exhibit?” a teenager helping out with the event asked me.

I knew exactly what I thought about the event. In fact, I knew that the display would be there that day. It would be in same spot on Wednesday and Thursday too. The images are graphic, but people need to understand what abortion is and what it looks like.

“I’m pro-life,” I said, “and I think people need to see this and understand how awful it is.”

“What’s your name?” the boy said, holding out his hand.

“Jelani,” I said as I shook his hand. “I’m actually here to help out.”

“Oh, ok,” he said back. “Nice to meet you.”

The boy walked off to engage someone else in conversation while I stood looking at the pictures. I wasn’t completely shocked by the images of bloody, half-developed babies. I’d seen the pictures before.

The summer before my senior year, I took a speech class. We had to do an oral presentation on anything we wanted. I chose to talk about abortion.

I prepared my speech, and created a visual aid with pictures of abortion I had found on the internet. Some of the pictures I pasted on my poster board, were some of the same pictures that now towered above me.

I was not shocked as someone who was seeing the images for the first time, but I was shocked to see the images so big.

A group of girls now stood on top of a bench with signs. They yelled, “My body, my choice,” and “Keep abortion safe, legal, and rare.”

This display disgusted me more than the pictures ever would. They sounded so selfish.

I wanted to yell at them with my fist in the air, but I had to stay cool; I was there to engage people in calm, thought-provoking dialogue.

Yet, I was angered by these women who felt that their rights were more important than an unborn baby, so much so that it became ok to get rid of the child if it infringed on those “rights.”

Their chant about keeping abortion safe, legal, and rare frustrated me as well, considering how abortion in this country is anything but rare.

There are nearly 1.5 million abortions in the US each year. How is that rare?

The protesters insisted that they were not pro-abortion per se, they just wanted women to always have the choice to abort depending on the circumstances.

They asked repeatedly, “What if the woman was raped?”

The number of abortions administered due to rape account for 1% of abortions. I wondered what the reason for the other 99% of abortions was. It seems to me that the majority of abortions happen because of reckless decisions. If 1% of abortions are due to rape and a fraction more due to complications between the child and the mother, then not wanting to deal with consequences is really the only other explanation.

That is what Justice for All is trying to raise awareness about: the recklessness and senselessness of abortion.

According to their website, the mission statement of JFA is to “train thousands to make abortion unthinkable for millions, one person at a time.”

Their method for doing this is by showing the true horror and violence in 18-foot display on college campuses around the country. Frankly, I think it is the best way to get the attention of an apathetic society that often chooses to turn a blind eye to injustice rather than facing it head on. I share in their mission to raise awareness about abortion and hopefully put an end to it.

I am not a complete outsider to the issue either. I have a family member who received an abortion. I know firsthand that it affects more people than just the woman. When I learned that I had lost my family member, I spent a while mourning for them. I felt like the baby was my own child and I wished that I could have been there to stop it from happening.

I felt victimized right along with her. Some doctor had touched her body and did something to it that they had no right to do. It angered and saddened me.

I shared this story on the free speech board that JFA had placed near the exhibit.

As I continued to come to the exhibit throughout the day, I had doubts for a moment about whether the JFA exhibit was really accomplishing what it was supposed to. All the shouting of pro-choice protesters and the sometimes heated debates got to me. My heart became heavy and I had to walk away from it all for a moment.

Then as I reflected on everything, I realized that when something as drastic as the murder of millions of unborn babies was occurring, that perhaps a drastic measure had to be taken. And beyond that, amongst all the debate and fighting, true open-hearted dialogue about abortion was occurring. The message may have been controversial, but it was opening up minds and hearts.

I again reflected on the time I gave the presentation in speech class. After I presented my speech and poster, I remember hearing a girl say, “I’ll never have an abortion.”

That was my goal in doing what I did. If one woman decides that there is a better way than abortion, then that is one step in the right direction. After experiencing the Justice for All display and meeting the people who are passionate about its cause, I know that this is their goal too: ending the horror of abortion one person at a time.

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About Jelani Sims