Abortion protest stirs strong emotions at USM | News

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Abortion protest stirs strong emotions at USM

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- An anti-abortion protest in the middle of the University of Southern Maine's Portland campus cultivated strong emotions on both sides of the issue due to the graphic images being displayed.

The Center for Bioethical Reform has organized the display of large billboards featuring pictures of abortions on college campuses across the country as part of its Genocide Awareness Project.  After spending Monday and Tuesday at the University of Maine in Orono, the group traveled to USM for another two day demonstration.

"This is an organization that is focused on educating, counseling and supporting students nationwide," stated volunteer, Laurice Baddour.  "What we want to do is we want to build awareness in the student body of what an abortion is.  We know biologically human life begins at conception."

"This is the age of the visual," she added.  "These students have read about abortions, they have heard about abortions, but they have not seen an abortion, and you can't deny the impact of what these pictures do to students."

"There has been some pretty strong opinions offered on both sides of the issue, but overall, it has been a relatively low key affair," said Bob Caswell, USM's Executive Director of Public Affairs.  "We're trying to strike that balance between meeting the needs of our students, but also again as I said, providing a forum for that free, open and civil exchange of different opinions."

The university placed warning signs near the walkways heading toward the display, and had counselors available for students upset by the imagery.  The school also sent out an e-mail warning folks about the event, but another more detailed e-mail with background information was inadvertently not sent to students until the second day of the protest.

Some students were unhappy the school did not do more.

"I walked on to campus unaware of an alternative path, unaware that this was even happening, and walked by it, so they did not prevent harm to me," stated Amanda St. Jeanos.  "They can demonstrate what they want, scream at the top of their lungs, it is not a rights issue, it is more of an issue that the school didn't take the initiative to make sure that the students weren't going to be emotionally harmed."

The Center for Bioethical Reform's display is set to be packed up and shipped to other campuses throughout the northeast on Thursday afternoon.



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