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.