At 5 pm on Saturday, September 10, 15 students from Cedarville University joined Students For Life of America in the downpour outside of the Cleveland University Wolstein Center for one purpose.
To make it known that the Pro-life movement is not dead, but is very much still alive and active.
At 8pm, pop singer Sia was scheduled to open for a free abortion rights concert at the center. SFLA and their CU affiliates gathered outside the entrance in the hours leading up to the concert, addressing concert-goers as they arrived about the ethical issues of abortion. Some were more aggressive in their addresses than others – but all had the same goal: to educate those taking a pro-choice stance about the ghastly truths of abortion. To protest the awful practice.
Don’t get me wrong…I’m a pro-lifer all the way. I think abortion is a terrible thing, and far from the best option for both mother and child.
Hence the reason why I had no qualms when my editor asked me to cover this event. Sure, it was an almost 3-hour drive both ways and my wallet was not necessarily friendly towards the idea of paying for a full tank of gas. Sure it was going to be raining, which always poses somewhat of a challenge for a photographer for obvious reasons. And sure it meant sacrificing my entire Saturday to stand in that rain, face possible (probable) opposition, and socialize with tons of people – which I had spent my entire previous weekend doing, and was really looking forward to not having to do again.
But it was all for a good cause, right?
Taking a stand is one thing. Screaming borderline abusive messages through a megaphone and displaying graphic images of aborted children, parts of aborted children, and even women killed by failed abortions…that’s another thing entirely. And, in my humble opinion, it was far too aggressive for this particular venue – where the opposing side was gathering peacefully and without a show to support their cause.
It wasn’t so much the content of the message that bothered me as it was the delivery method. When Sue, our group leader, told us that we were going to be a “peaceful presence” at the event, I had envisioned holding signs and engaging in constructive conversation – possibly heated debate – with those of the opposing viewpoint. Which is, for the most part, what our little group of 15 from CU was doing.
Unfortunately, we were directly tied to the group from SFLA, who had an entirely different definition for “peaceful presence”. A definition which included, as before mentioned, being downright attacking (and honestly just obnoxious) with a megaphone and drawing attention to a bloody image of a woman killed by an abortion gone-wrong. Sometimes even chasing people down with those images – not running after them, but more so turning them as people passed, essentially following them. And let’s not forget the trucks with trailers displaying a never-ending slideshow of aborted children/aborted body parts, driving around the block again and again for all to witness.
In my opinion, what could have been an incredible image of taking a stand was ruined and marred by horribly misplaced passion. Their heart was in the right place, and I do firmly believe that there is a time and a place appropriate for that kind of protest.
But in this case, we were initiating the attack. And, honestly, I have to agree with one of the concert attendees who shouted at us as she passed, “You’re being intrusive!” Because in a sense, we were. Even just holding the more graphic signs, without the screaming through a megaphone across the blocks of Cleveland, would have been a more acceptable approach in this scenario. Keep the debates and the loudspeakers for the more outspoken opposition – we’re not called to instigate a problem, we’re called to take a stand against it and spread the truth in love.
By the end of it, I was hiding behind the sign I held. My camera battery had died, and my always-helping self had – foolishly – offered to hold one of the bigger signs so that the SFLA media peeps could do their thing. Of course, that also put me right next to the megaphone…which meant every time a member of the pro-choice crowd saw our outrageous display, I was one of the first faces they saw.
I’ve never been so ashamed to be a part of the pro-life movement than I was that rainy evening.
These are simply my personal thoughts about the event. I am in no way putting down SFLA or their mission, because I do support it. I also, however, must respectfully disagree with some of the methods I saw displayed by them while standing beside them at this protest. But please do not take any of this as an attack to either side of the abortion topic, or to any one individual mentioned/shown in the photo gallery. I have my views and opinions, and am exercising my right to freely express them. I do not intend to come across as attacking, belittling, or criticising towards anyone involved. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments regarding what I have said in this post. Love you all!