It is difficult, the first time, to stand in front of an abortion clinic and just pray. It is even more challenging to be a sidewalk counselor just outside an abortuary, trying to help and inform women about their other options. But perhaps the greatest challenge is to speak about such things on a modern college campus, where moral relativism is, ironically, the only "rule".
But that's precisely what some Canadian pro-lifers are doing this week at the University of Central Florida's main campus.
The Canadian chapter of the Center for Bioethical Reform (CBR) is displaying their "Genocide Awareness Project" (GAP) today, as they did yesterday, at UCF. The purpose is to demonstrate the effects of labels in dehumanizing people, which all too often leads to genocide. The primary examples used are Jews under Nazi rule, as well as the more recent Rwandan genocide. They then make the moral equivalence argument that a similar genocide is taking place all over the world against others that are labelled "less-than-human": a human fetus or embryo.
Stephanie Gray, the executive director for Canadian CBR, has been carrying this message to college campuses across the United States and Canada. This week, she and her team were at FSU in Tallahassee, before making the drive across state to Orlando.
Since many college students don't think any more about abortion than a few soundbites like "women's rights" and "freedom to choose", they are at high risk of committing abortion with little regard to what it actually is. To correct this lack of knowledge, people like Stephanie have taken the maxim, "A picture is worth a thousand words," to the walkways and campus greens.
The message they carry is one of awakening to and realization of the horrors of what an abortion actually does to a human being. Side-by-side with pictures of the mass graves of Auschwitz and KKK lynchings are photos of aborted fetuses from every stage of gestation. Obviously, these are shocking and revolting images, and many people do not wish to acknowledge this reality. That is where Stephanie's team has to step-up.
Emily, one of the Canadian pro-lifers that is part of Stephanie's team, stated that it is difficult to make that first contact with someone viewing their display boards. "It's like jumping into a pool," the Winnipeg native said. "It's difficult to get up the nerve to jump in, but once you're talking with them, it's much better."
The images, while gruesome, do have a sobering effect on the preconceived notions of many students passing by. One woman took a flyer and just stood nearby for a while with a twisted look on her face. Emily went up to her to ask if she had any questions, and the woman replied, "I almost aborted my son 7 years ago. My parents convinced me not to, but I still thought that women should have that choice. Now I'm not so sure."
This is not the first time CBR has been to UCF (and given the fact that UCF is the 2nd-largest school in the nation, it likely won't be the last!). Stephanie said, "It seems to be much better this time. Last year when we were here, there were protestors and some very angry people. This time - if you could even call it a protest! - there was only one woman standing nearby with a sign that said, 'I don't judge. Free Hugs.'"
She is not the only one who doesn't judge. The folks at CBR, as well as the Diocese of Orlando, encourage women who have had an abortion to seek healing and counseling through Project Rachel and the Rachel's Vineyard retreats. "These displays are not meant to make post-abortive women feel bad. 40% of women in Canada who have had an abortion are repeats. So we are also trying to prevent post-abortive women from being pre-abortive again."