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Anti-abortion groups bring graphic images to UA campus

EVAN CARAVELLI/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Cindy Cooper, an anti-abortion advocate and Tucsonan, prays the rosary as she holds a sign on Church Avenue near the Pima County Courthouse. A volunteer with Face the Truth Arizona, Cooper has been on the streets with the group for the last year.
By J. Ferguson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, March 11, 2005
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A large sign 20 feet south of Main Gate Square warned drivers and pedestrians that visually graphic signs were just ahead.

On the other side of North Park Avenue and East University Boulevard students saw a dozen large posters showing bloody dismembered fetuses lining the walkway.

Sunny Turner, founder of an anti-abortion action group called Face the Truth Arizona, said her group is using the graphic images to educate students about abortion.

Turner, a Tucsonan, said it's time students understand the truth about abortion because many students do not realize the complexities of the issue.

Chris Torgerson, a member of Face the Truth Arizona, said she joined the group about a year ago because she thinks abortion is wrong.

"It's killing an unborn baby," said Torgerson. "Many, many women have died (from complications from having an abortion) too."

Torgerson took her seven young children with her yesterday to help educate UA students about the issue. The children were helping to hold up signs that did not have graphic depictions of abortions.

Turner said the group visited the UA campus to educate students, not to protest any particular UA policy. In 1974 the Arizona Legislature passed a funding provision that in exchange for $5.5 million in renovations for the football stadium, the University Medical Center would be barred from teaching medical students abortion procedures.

But Rachel Chanes, a media spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, said while she was not familiar with Face the Truth, many groups rely on provocative photographs to influence students.

"I think it's clear that the agenda is to promote their ideology over science," Chanes said.

Chanes said the photos used in posters by anti-abortion groups are often taken illegally in another country.

"To tout the fact this education is medically accurate is a farce," Chanes said. "It is part of their pernicious web of lies."

Ariel Tinney, membership co-coordinator of UA Students for Choice, said she felt Face the Truth was manipulating people's emotions. Tinney said the anti-abortion groups often use the same type of graphic posters depicting discarded fetuses from abortions.

"I don't feel they are pro-life, they are anti-choice," said Tinney, an anthropology junior. "They feed off negative reactions."

Tinney said she wants to start discourse with the group but was rebuffed by some of the members she approached.

Although abortion is a controversial issue, several students passing by said they thought the graphic images were effective in getting the point across.

Jerusha Rubi, a theatre arts senior, said she welcomed the protesters.

"I think demonstrations are great," Rubi said. "It shows the strengths of the First Amendment and democracy."

Liz Ramnath, an undeclared sophomore, said she thought the posters were too graphic to ignore.

"It's raw. It gets the point across." Ramnath said.

Jenna McPhee, a geography graduate student, said she was glad to see protesters willing to stand up for such a debated issue.

"I admire their strongly-held opinions," McPhee said. "In some sense, I agree with them."

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