Two-day project shocks campus, draws protest

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, pro-life activists displayed graphic images of aborted fetuses, comparing them to images of the Holocaust and other genocides. Dubbed the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP), these images were set up by the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) in the center of campus next to the Oakland Center.

The project, displayed from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. on both days, was brought to campus by Students for Life.

“Our idea behind this is that in our generation we’re educated about all these different kinds of genocide,” said Secretary Christina Lo Piccolo. “We compare this to abortion because this is the genocide that’s happening now.”

Lo Piccolo said that genocide is defined by the United Nations General Assembly as a denial of the right to live based on race, religion, culture or “any other grounds that specifically targets a group of people”.

The group here, Lo Piccolo said, is the unborn.

The project cost around $10,000, according to Lo Piccolo. Students for Life and six other student organizations worked to raise $5,000 and the CBR “support raised” the other $5,000.

In response to this display, a counter-protest was arranged by student group Voices for Choices.

“It’s actually horrifying that they’re comparing this to genocide because genocide is a widespread movement to eliminate people and abortion is a medical procedure people have when they need it,”  Treasure and co-founder Lauren Catoni said.

Sophomore Grace Smith stood to the side with a colorful sign that said “Freedom Means Choice: Keep Abortion Safe and Legal”. 

“I’m not really affiliated with the group, I just felt like I needed to be here,” Smith said. “I’m trying to be as peaceful as possible… but people shouldn’t have to see this. It’s a personal matter and I think it has no business being out on this campus where everyone can see it.”

Another protester was Julia McGowen, a single mother and previous intern for the Gender and Sexualities Center.

“I think it’s sort of a desperate attempt to stir up an argument that’s already been resolved,” McGowen said. “You can’t compare genocide to a women’s choice to chose what she does with her body.”

Even with the protests, Oakland University has responded well compared to other schools, according to Maggie Egger, project director of the CBR.

Egger said that the CBR has done this at over 200 universities across the country. They have done mostly public campuses because “they can’t deny us” but have taken legal action in a few cases if  students’ rights were being threatened.

“We want to emphasize the humanity of the unborn and the fact that abortion decapitates, mutilates and dehumanizes the unborn,” Egger said. “It’s a legalized mass killing in this country.”