Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Antiabortion group turns heads at the University of South Florida

TAMPA — It was Valentine's Day, overcast and rainy. Students walked to the library, to the sandwich shop, to their next class, and when they saw the display their eyes and jaws grew round.

They were looking at a decidedly stark antiabortion protest Thursday at the University of South Florida, organized by the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform. The visiting group is an international antiabortion organization that demonstrates at colleges with its Genocide Awareness Project, comparing abortion to history's most deplorable mass killings.

Huge posters wrapped around the grass outside the USF library, showing Holocaust and Darfur victims, lynchings, Cambodian killing fields and abused children alongside pictures of abortions. One sign compared an abortion after rape to an honor killing.

The two-dozen Genocide Awareness Project members arrived Wednesday at USF, where they have protested a few times in the past. The university allows free speech anywhere on campus as long as the activities are safe and don't block doors or disrupt learning.

Nicole Cooley, one of the group's project directors, wore a sweatshirt that said, "I regret my abortion. Ask me about it!" She had an abortion 17 years ago after being raped, she said. She supported abortion rights until she held the fetus. It was all hard to grasp.

"If what I did was wrong, it meant I killed another human being, and that was very painful," said Cooley, 43. "My heart shattered."

She knew the pictures Thursday were shocking. She said the group ascribes to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s idea of confronting people with uncomfortable things in order to bring change.

Across the sidewalk, USF students from organizations including Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Freedom wore bright clothes under wet ponchos and passed out condoms. Graduate student Becky Killik, 24, pointed to the posters. The images could trigger traumas for people just trying to get to class, she said. "It dilutes the definition of genocide and makes it less impactful. … They're hurting people."

Tam Tran, 19, was on his way to study group wearing a hot pink shirt and tie. He stopped next to a student arguing with one of the antiabortion protestors. He didn't know what to think, he said. He stared at a poster, a fistful of red holiday carnations drooping in his hand.

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at shayes@tampabay.com.

Antiabortion group turns heads at the University of South Florida 02/14/13 [Last modified: Thursday, February 14, 2013 11:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Apollo Beach woman dies while scalloping in Crystal River

    Accidents

    An Apollo Beach woman died on Monday while scalloping with her husband in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Crystal River, according to the Citrus County Sheriff's Office.

  2. Editorial: Trump's vague, shifting strategy for Afghanistan

    Editorials

    President Donald Trump's strategy on Afghanistan makes two things abundantly clear: He has no better idea than Barack Obama how to break a political stalemate between the Afghan government and the insurgents, and he intends to turn over the losing military campaign to the ex-generals who have chewed on this for years …

    President Trump failed to make a convincing case for deepening America’s involvement in Afghanistan.
  3. Three students arrested over BB gun at Brandon middle school

    Crime

    BRANDON — McClane Middle School was put on lockdown Tuesday after the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office received social media reports of a gun on campus, the agency said.

    McLane Middle School in Brandon. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  4. Bill Nelson: Confederate statues belong in museum

    Blogs

    A day after saying decisions on Confederate monuments should be left to "communities," Sen. Bill Nelson changed his stance:

  5. Missouri governor halts man's execution after DNA questions

    Nation

    ST. LOUIS — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens halted Tuesday's scheduled execution of condemned killer Marcellus Williams after DNA raised questions about his guilt.

    This February 2014 photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows death row inmate Marcellus Williams. [Missouri Department of Corrections via AP]