Students organize abortion-rights counterprotest against CBR
Students organized an abortion-rights counterprotest on April 27, 2023 in response to the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform’s conspicuous presence in Cleveland State University’s courtyard.
Arguments between students and the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) transpired the previous day due to the organization’s graphic photos and anti-choice message, comparing abortion to genocide. That evening, students organized a counterprotest through the instant messaging social platform, Discord, and returned 12 hours later with a plan.
The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform spent April 26 through 28 on Cleveland State University’s courtyard displaying graphic images comparing abortion to genocide. (Credit: Abigail Preiszig)
“Yesterday we were arguing a lot and it was a very antagonistic atmosphere and today we decided to be a little more constructive, hand out materials on abortion, healthcare, voting, as well as give out coffees to people and accept donations for Protect Choice Ohio,” Michael Eadie, a public administration student at CSU, said.
Student groups like Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity (URGE), CSU College Democrats, the Queer Student Alliance and hosts of the student podcast The Policy Wonk gathered in the courtyard around 7:45 a.m., over an hour before CBR began to put up their scaffolding and fence at 9 a.m.
“I think they’re frustrated with the fact that we are showing these pictures because the pictures show what abortion is and does,” Jacinta Robin, CBR’s media contact, said. “So they’re frustrated that we are showing the truth about abortion, that is decapitated and dismembered children.”
Jacinta Robin, The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform’s media contact, front left, records Cleveland State University students doing the cupid shuffle in counterprotest in the university’s courtyard on April 27, 2023. (credit: Abigail Preiszig)
CBR visits colleges in Ohio and West Virginia, by invitation, as part of their genocide awareness project which compares abortion to genocide by displaying “aborted embryo and fetus photos” next to graphic images of lynchings, the Holocaust, the Rwandan Genocide of the Tutsi people and the Wounded Knee genocide of Native Americans.
“We’re undergoing a genocide right now that is being carried out by abortion,” Robin said about the comparisons.
CBR’s three-day reservation from April 26 through the 28 was prompted by an invitation from Advocates for Life, a student advocacy group focused on the right to life of the preborn and vulnerable people.
Despite their invitation, many students were upset by their imagery and message of CBR. For some students like Abbey Safos, a psychology and neuroscience student at CSU, this was personal.
“I have had an abortion and honestly, it genuinely saved my life,” Safos said. “So that is why I am here today.”
Cleveland State University students distribute informative materials and collect donations for Protect Choice Ohio in exchange for a cold brew coffee in the university’s courtyard on April 27, 2023. (credit: Abigail Preiszig)
Between classes, students held signs, played music, chanted, chalked and distributed informative materials and collected donations for Protect Choice Ohio in exchange for a cold brew coffee.
For Protect Choice Ohio, the buzz on the courtyard worked in its favor, gaining petition signatures and donations for its cause.
“What a group of students,” Mary Boyle, a volunteer with the non-profit, non-partisan coalition fighting for reproductive freedom and abortion rights in the Ohio Constitution, said of the students. “Where have you been all my life!”
Mary Boyle, a volunteer with the non-profit Protect Choice Ohio, supports the student counterprotest, April 27, 2023. (credit: Abigail Preiszig)
For months Boyle, along with other Protect Choice Ohio volunteers, have offered Ohio voters on CSU’s campus the chance to sign a petition to put a vote for reproductive rights in the Ohio constitution on the ballot in November. She said having the issue on the ballot will give Ohio voters the chance to actually vote on the issue rather than “having it argued about everywhere else but at the ballot.”