Emaan BangashManaging Editor
POSTEDSeptember 15, 2019
Comets for the Preborn demonstration sparks counter-protests from pro-choice organizations
A recent protest from campus organization Comets for the Preborn ended in a counter-protest, chants and one student getting handcuffed.
On Sept. 9, the pro-life organization Comets for the Preborn gathered in the Chess Plaza donning graphic imagery of aborted fetuses and a Jumbotron playing a video of abortion procedures. At the same time, students from multiple organizations on campus including Deeds Not Words and the Young Democratic Socialists of America met and formed a counter-protest with homemade signs and posters. They periodically walked back and forth on the plaza chanting and holding their signs. The protests took place from 9 a.m – 4 p.m. and the area was surrounded by cops from UTDPD.
In addition, a student was handcuffed during the protest after cursing at a student from CftP, and later cursing at the police when they took them to the side. They were then told not to return to the area. Psychology freshman Kundai Nyamandi was protesting on the pro-choice side when she saw the incident with the student. She said the person was not violent during the interaction with the police, but the police still handcuffed them for disorderly conduct.
“We didn’t know that cursing was violent or anything like that. Yeah, they brought them over to talk, but then of course because of everything that was happening … they were in a high-stress situation like with police coming after them for cussing at these protestors,” Nyamandi said.
This time, CftP was accompanied by the Ohio-based pro-life organization Created Equal, who brought five representatives from the organization to speak alongside approximately 10 students from CftP. Evangeline Dunn, a representative from Created Equal, said the organization is currently implementing a program called “The Blitz” where they tour college campuses and promote pro-life ideals.
Dunn said it’s important to be able to start the conversation on abortion because of how relevant it is to college and high school students. She said unbiased respectful dialogue was a priority when engaging in these discussions.
“And that’s why we have a collision of thoughts today. Some people are stubborn about it and some people aren’t,” Dunn said. “We’ve had lots of minds changed today and some people don’t even want to talk to us. I think we need to start the conversation regardless, because we need to talk about this somehow because we all live here.”
As the event took place, multiple posts were made on the UTD subreddit warning students of the images being displayed, one of which received 191 upvotes and 194 comments in one day. Child and learning development senior David Rocha said he attended every demonstration held by CftP since last semester. He said although the biggest dispute between both sides was mainly about when conception occurs and on the graphic imagery, there was very little angry yelling or violence taking place.
“I find it frustrating that they’re allowed to post these graphic images potentially triggering and retraumatizing women that have already had abortions on campus,” Rocha said. “I’m not saying they shouldn’t be allowed to speak on their beliefs I just think that the way they go about it by using the images trying to fear (sic) people is the wrong way to go about it.”
Regarding the organization’s use of graphic imagery, Dunn said this was the same method used during the civil rights movement when 14-year old Emmett Till was lynched and his mother held an open casket funeral for him. She said the effective nature of the graphic imagery in changing people’s minds justified its use.
“I often hear, ‘Why the graphic imagery? It’s so ugly.’ I agree with them, it’s awful. But we wouldn’t use it if it wasn’t effective. Graphic imagery, campaigns, and you know when we see the billboards with people with their teeth out because they’ve been using meth, no one gets upset at those,” Dunn said. “And we see that there’s been a decrease in people using meth. In Montana it went from being up in the top ten to the bottom 40s of meth use. So, I think graphic imagery is effective and if it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be using it.”
Michael Lockwood, mathematics sophomore and president of CftP, said he used to volunteer for Created Equal when he lived in Ohio and later founded CftP during his time at UTD. He said the signs and jumbotron were from Created Equal, but they weren’t their parent organization. Lockwood said people were mostly respectful and positive during their interactions with him and his organization, and that it was important to have dialogues on polarizing issues like this.
“We are here to show what abortion does to preborn human beings and be a voice to those preborn human beings, to spark discussion on abortion and change minds on abortion,” Lockwood said. “I would say that UTD, just like any other college campus, is becoming more polarized on the abortion issue and on other issues and it’s important that we have rational dialogues, that we display medical evidence and that we come to truthful conclusions about the morality of abortion and other issues.”
Nyamandi said a lot of people during the protest were focusing on what happens before the fetus is born, and that she wanted to focus on what happens after. She said she was pro-choice because people often don’t have the resources to take care of the babies they carry to term.
“A lot of people don’t have the resources, just don’t want to have kids, it interrupts their lives,” Nyamandi said. “There’s so many reasons I’m just looking at like how the kids’ lives are gonna be affected after they’re born. I feel like a lot of people who are pro-life don’t.”