Protesters for Choice

By and

The abortion debate continued to play out across the grass of the University of Utah. On the free speech area behind the Union, brightly colored female symbols replaced the thousands of wooden crosses set out last week.

Monday, Students for Choice asked passers-by to “celebrate a woman in your life.” With construction paper and wooden sticks, anyone could contribute to the display.

The display countered the Catholic Newman Center’s anti-abortion demonstration from the previous week, according to Autumn Chadbourne, Students for Choice director. The Catholic organization placed crosses in the ground to represent the thousands of abortions that occur every month in the United States.

The display made a provocative statement for some.

“With how intense it was, we had to do something,” Chadbourne said.

“We felt it took the focus away from women and tended to focus on death” said Kelli Lund, Students for Choice member. “Behind each abortion is a woman who is faced with a choice in her life.”

For Chadbourne, each cross told a story that went deeper than the abortion it represented.

“This is a woman who was raped. This is a girl who grew up in small town and didn’t know about birth control,” she said.

In an ideal world, contraception would be free, she said. People would be comfortable enough to talk about sex with their children. There would be no rape, no violence against women.

“Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world,” Chadbourne said.

Nathan Stock, a U student, contributed one of about 75 symbols planted in the grass Monday.

He made it to honor women in general.

“Women should be able to have their own choice, and they should definitely think about the decision,” he said. “The alternative is quite gruesome.”

“I do not believe in abortion,” Krista Bridge, U student, said flatly. She said she did not understand how someone could justify killing a fetus with a heartbeat.

Wes Sadler, another student who sat next to her on the Union patio, offered a different take.

“I’m against abortion, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s a woman’s body, and a man doesn’t have to deal with the consequences, let alone go through with [abortion],” he said.

“I believe it denies a child the chance to live,” Bridge said. “Who knows what that child could have become?”

Sadler disagreed. “With that logic, you can’t condone masturbation. Where do you draw the line?”

“I believe abortion is murder. I don’t believe any person in society gets to choose to kill another human, unless they have legal reason,” such as self defense, said Sara Sanchez, a Newman Center peer minister, who organized this year’s anti-abortion demonstration.

“While I don’t agree with the political message, the way they’ve done it this year is infinitely better than the way it was handled last year,” she said.

An anonymous group countered last year’s anti abortion demonstration with twisted coat hangers representing women who die as a result of illegal abortions.

This year, Students for Choice wanted to take a more positive approach, Chadbourne said.

[email protected]