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Anti-abortion exhibit fuels protest, debate

Byron Mack | Photo Editor

Senior French major Rachel Cherpillod stands outside the Education Building in protest of the “Cemetery of the Innocent” exhibit.

UPDATE: (posted 8:06 p.m. March 28)

Members of Veritas and St. Thomas More University Parish put approximately 3,500 white wooden crosses in the ground in Carillon Park at 8:30 p.m. Monday.

The exhibit, titled “Cemetery of Innocence,” was put up for a couple of different reasons, said Peter Range, lead campus minister at St. Thomas More University Parish and adviser to Veritas, a Christian Catholic life group.

“The first reason is to give the unborn a voice, and the second reason is to be able to dialogue with people who have a different opinion,” Range said. “[And] we do have a debate coming up and we wanted to invite people to that.”

The crosses came from Marion, Ohio, and have been used for exhibits at other universities, such as the University of Notre Dame, Range said.

Range said the groups have achieved their goals to reach out to the other side and have an honest discussion about abortion.

Tuesday evening, a man began removing crosses from the exhibit. The man’s name is Nicolas Ross, said Steve Shaner, dispatcher for the University Police.

Students stood with signs in front of the exhibit in protest on Wednesday.

Senior Sarah Moon, one of the protestors, said the protestors think the sign is offensive and want to get the abortion-rights opinion out there.

“We believe they have their right to free speech and we also have our rights, and we would rather exercise our right to free speech than take away theirs,” Moon said.

The protestors are individually standing up for what they believe in, Moon said.

“We’re going to be out here until this comes down,” Moon said about the exhibit.

Range went and spoke to the protestors.

“I told them that I appreciate their presence,” Range said. “But I disagree with them … we found some common ground.”

Junior Kelsey Klein, a protestor, talked to Range for about 15 minutes, she said.

“He thanked us for coming out and giving our voice to the community,” she said. “I appreciate that he did that.”

Klein said the protestors have a consensus that the exhibit has a right to be there.

“I have a problem with the message because I view reproductive rights as a human rights issue,” Klein said. “They have freedom of speech. We just want to make our voice heard.”

Klein said she also had a problem with all the types of abortion being lumped together. Klein listed types of abortion, such as for medical reasons, as the result of rape or incest or elective.

Range agreed that there are several different types of abortions.

“At the end of the day we believe human life is sacred no matter what, even in the case of rape,” Range said. “The abortion never takes away the pain of the rape.”

Klein feels like the exhibit is inappropriate.

“[It’s] not only violating human rights issues but it’s a trigger point for people who have had an abortion,” Klein said.

Range said he thought about how the exhibit would affect women who have had an abortion before they decided to host the exhibit.

“I know the pain and agony a lot of women hold with them,” Range said. “We want them to talk about it.”

St. Thomas More and Veritas are hosting the abortion debate Thursday night and the exhibit was put up partly because of the debate, Range said.

“It’s been great and it’s caused a lot of dialogue,” Range said. “Both sides have been able to represent their views.”

The groups are also hosting an event Saturday night about abortion.

“We want to give unborn children whose lives are taken representation,” Range said.

Below posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 – 2:57 p.m.

Students protest anti-abortion exhibit

By The BG News


Ten students stand outside the education building with cardboard signs protesting the “Cemetery of the Innocent” exhibit in Carillon Park today.

The anti-abortion exhibit features several rows of white wooden crosses in the ground across the lawn meant to symbolize “3,500 babies killed daily by abortion in the USA” according to the exhibit sign.

Junior Kelsey Klein was one of the protestors and said she’d stay in front of the exhibit as long as she could.

“I plan to stay here until I feel like my voice is heard,” Klein said.


Check for more details about the protest later today.

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