By: Ashley Alvarez
Pro-life advocates erected graphic photos of aborted fetuses on Ring Road near the School of Humanities, sparking controversy among students.
The group, who identified themselves as advocates of the Center for Bioethical Reform (CBR) a privately funded, non-profit, secular corporation established and located in Orange County, arrived on campus on Feb. 20.
Their visit to UCI, which was approved by the university in adherence with freedom of speech laws, was in promotion of their organization’s “Genocide Awareness Project.”
The project is a mobile display that places images of aborted fetuses and embryos next to images of victims of historical genocides to make an argument that abortion is a form of genocide.
“All life has value, intrinsic value. It doesn’t rely on sex or size, level of development, environment, or dependency. And we all have value from fertilization until natural death, and that if abortion is an act of violence that kills an innocent human being, we would argue that as a society we should at least discuss whether we should kill innocent human beings for convenience or for arbitrary reasons,” said Robert Seemuth, the group’s leading spokesperson.
With a desire to open discourse on the issue, advocates handed passing students pamphlets reading, “Unlock the truth about the 60 million missing.” Afterwards they coaxed students into viewing the display and voicing their opinion on the matter.
A volunteer representative for the organization stated their intentions were not to change minds nor advocate for legislative changes, but instead to have a conversation with students.
During these conversations, Seemuth referred to a contradicting student opinion as “what you’ve heard in your training.”
In his exchanges with students, Seemuth also argued that abortion should be recognized as a categorical genocide by comparing abortion to slavery.
“If you went and did your history where the south wanted to justify slavery and the owners of the south went and said that’s our property, that’s our right, and so we can do what we want. And so, this culture treats that child as property, until it goes through the uterine canal and is born. And so is there a difference though, between those slaves and this child if we looked at logic, science, medicine, the things we want to base our decisions on? Evidence and not just emotion.”
Seemuth argued that in addition to being deprived of their rights like slaves, fetuses are also being aborted by the millions, making the genocide an even more pressing matter. He drew evidence from a study conducted by two researchers, Jacobson and Johnson, titled “Abortion Worldwide Report: 100 Nations, 1 Century, 1 Billion Babies.”
Jacobson and Johnston, according to Seemuth, ambitiously documented, “all of the evidence from over a hundred countries and asked these countries to go back 100 years and share their statistics, public health people whatever, how many abortions happened in your [each] country. It took them 35 years, and so they announced last year that one billion babies had been aborted in one century in over 100 countries.”
This number towers over the lives lost to slavery and to the holocaust Seemuth noted.
“You go to Wikipedia and they list all the recognized genocides that you and I would have total common ground and agreement that these are bad. In fact, if we lived back then or there we’d be fighting against that genocide. We’d be in the front lines. Or if you had a farm in Tennessee and you had slaves fleeing the south , you’d be part of that underground railroad. Or if you were in France or the Netherlands in the 50’s and 40’s and you had Jews trying to flee from the holocaust you’d say, ‘I’ll hide you ‘till I can get you out.” So here we have a genocide in California that’s worse than twenty-four recognized genocides. Twenty-four happening right now right here.”
He further compared abortion to slavery and segregation, insisting that the death caused by slavery and lynchings pales in comparison to the high rate of African-American abortions taking place, which for his organization comprises a modern African-American genocide.
“A high estimate of 11 million of African-Americans died in here, in America, since 1973. 19 million African-Americans have been aborted. Unprecedented horrible black genocide is happening today right now right in California, right in the United States, so one third of all abortions are African-American and they’re only 11 percent of the population, that’s genocide of a people group. We shouldn’t stay silent and indifferent and yet we can’t even talk about this.”
Additionally, Seemuth suggests that the country’s culture of sanctioning abortion begins in everyday rhetoric, particularly the type used when addressing fetuses.
“It’s not an it. It’s not an it. It’s a he or a she,” says Seemuth. “I like she. It just flows, there’s something more maternal about it. But it is a human, it’s not an inanimate object. It’s not an it. It’s a person. So I will put a sex on that to counter the its and the dehumanization, because that’s what’s happening by our words we dehumanize so we can go ahead and discard. That’s what the ‘it’ implies.”
Seemuth holds that an unwanted pregnancy brought to term and put up for adoption or even entered into the foster system is better than a pregnancy terminated.
“Let’s rally around the child, and give them a chance.” However when asked to consider the happiness or unhappiness of a child abandoned by his mother and put up for adoption or placed in the foster care system he quoted Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist and professor, saying “life is tough, life is hard, you gotta learn to deal with it.’,
Advocates for the CBR returned the next day, Feb. 21, with a different spokesperson, Dr. Kevin Olivier, the Director of Operations for the CBR, to continue promoting their awareness project.
“Our goal is to share with students information that we feel is critical to the abortion debate. And that information has to do with precisely what abortion is: an act of violence that decapitates and dismembers very real human beings,” said Olivier.
The CBR group was met with student protestors led by Nicole Dunger, president of UCI’s College Democrats, who wore her Planned Parenthood T-shirt and brought posters in protest against the CBR’s attendance.
According to Jeanie Le, a protest participant, member of the College Democrats and a student leader and representative for UCI’s Planned Parenthood organization, “Nicole Dunger, seeing that they [CBR] were still out here today, decided to spend her time protesting this with her posters, and she texted the board with the rest of the College Democrats to come out, and I came out to help her.”
Le provided the student-run counter-protest with free resources.
“Lots of people have come by to get stickers, free condoms, lube.”
Although the counter protest was improvised, many students passing by would join in solidarity.
“People who had extra time, even if it was just five minutes, came by, grabbed a poster, and stood with us,” said Le.