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Display sparks debate with staff and students at U of M

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Pro-choice advocate Kevin Mcrae, left, and anti-abortion advocate Cara Ginter represent opposing sides in a debate over abortion that erupted at the University of Manitoba last week, when the University of Manitoba Students for a Culture of Life student group set up a display on campus called the “Genocide Awareness Project.”

STEPH CROSIER Enlarge Image

Pro-choice advocate Kevin Mcrae, left, and anti-abortion advocate Cara Ginter represent opposing sides in a debate over abortion that erupted at the University of Manitoba last week, when the University of Manitoba Students for a Culture of Life student group set up a display on campus called the “Genocide Awareness Project.” Photo Store

Tempers flared, opinions were shared, and voices dared to be heard.

From Sept. 23 to 25, the University of Manitoba’s Students for a Culture of Life student group set up a display titled the "Genocide Awareness Project."

What it displayed was graphic anti-abortion posters.

"It compares abortion to other historical genocides," said Cara Ginter, a representative from the Students for a Culture of Life group and a student in the faculty of arts at U of M. "The reason that we do this is because we look at past instances where people have been denied their humanity, or their personhood, by governments arbitrarily or by individuals, and we take a look at these grave injustices that have happened."

At the display, the group had students handing out pamphlets and speaking to other students. The display soon garnered an impassioned response, as young women and men held signs supporting the pro-choice movement near the display.

Karleigh Bacon, who represents the university’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered students on the U of M student council, was at the rally.

"I feel that their use of obscene, inaccurate photos infringe on people’s rights here to learn, and infringe on people’s rights to any kind of opinion," said Bacon. "So I’m just here to state my opinion."

Bacon feels they’re infringing on the student body’s right to learn by distracting them from their studies.

"University is supposed to be an open environment and the fact that they are using such large photos in such a populated place, it’s very distracting," said Bacon. "I’ve had profs come up to me today telling me it’s an eyesore and how distracting it is for students and themselves."

Ginter said their use of the images is intended to portray the seriousness of abortion and genocide.

"The reason the images are intense is because abortion is intense and genocide is intense, so naturally people are going to get a little riled up," said Ginter. "But that doesn’t change the message. The images are intense because the issue is intense."

Kevin Mcrae, a zoology student, was at the display arguing for the pro-choice side of the debate, but he hadn’t planned it when he woke up that morning.

"Got off class, I came down here and noticed the whole genocide versus abortion (display), so I don’t really agree with that terminology because genocide has nothing to do with abortion," said Mcrae. "So I went right away to Staples, got marker, got a sign, and came right back here."

He said he thinks of his sister when thinking about the issue.

"If my sister wanted to get an abortion or something I would totally support her," said Mcrae. "And if someone gave her a hard time about it that would make me pretty upset, because it has nothing to do with them. It’s her life and her decision."

Ginter and Bacon said the first day the display was up there were some flare-ups of shouting between both sides. Campus security came to the display and stayed there for the remainder of the time it was up.

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