story by Maddi Rotunda
photos by Madhulika Pesala
Be aware that some of the images below are graphic and may be triggering or upsetting to some.
On Friday, Sept. 18, Created Equal, a Columbus pro-life organization, visited Ohio University’s campus and posted graphic signs around Howard Park depicting what the group claims to be accurate depictions of abortions.
In order to protest the organization’s rhetoric, Feminist Equality Movement, also known as FEM, organized a counteraction in which they provided signs, condoms and various information regarding reproductive rights. FEM is a student organization on campus that focuses on intersectional feminism and “challenges systematic equalities through activism, advocacy and outreach in the political and cultural sphere,” according to the organization’s Facebook page. Alainna Marincic, a senior studying integrated media, is FEM’s Reproductive Justice organizer who helped lead Friday’s protest. According to Marincic, the short-term goal of FEM’s counteraction was to “educate people with actual facts about abortion” while their long-term goal is to “destigmatize the abortion narrative.” Marincic also serves as the Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity, or Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity (URGE), representative for FEM.
As an affiliate organization of FEM, URGE contacted members of the student organization to inform them of Created Equal’s upcoming protest. Haley Miller, the Midwestern field associate with URGE, said that URGE received information from partners in the state and through Created Equal’s website and Facebook page to track which college campuses the pro-life group planned to visit. From there, FEM had a few weeks to organize the counteraction. Sarah Jimenez, who works full-time with Created Equal as their communications coordinator, explained the organization has a schedule of Ohio schools in which they try to protest at larger campuses to “reach as many students as possible, whether they have pro-life views or not.”
Julian Shepherd, a sophomore studying English and pre-law, stood with FEM and URGE to protest against legislative limitations on abortion. “Anything that is a law isn’t necessarily the reality of people living under it,” Shepherd said. According to Miller, “Abortion’s legal, but it isn’t accessible. There are a lot of restrictions that affect a woman from accessing the option that she needs.” Most notably is the Hyde Amendment which Miller stated is celebrating its 40th anniversary this month. According to Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the Hyde Amendment “withholds federal Medicaid funding from abortion, except… when continuing the pregnancy will endanger the life of the woman, or when the pregnancy results from rape or incest.” Under the amendment, passed by Congress in 1976 just three years after abortion became legal nationwide, “federal Medicaid coverage cannot extend to abortion even when a woman’s health is at risk and her doctor recommends she obtain an abortion to preserve her health.”
The Hyde Amendment also disproportionately impacts women of color, according to the National Network of Abortion Funds, because women of color are “more likely to live in poverty and to rely on Medicaid for health care.” On the discussion of intersectionality in organizing reproductive justice, Marincic said, “The people who are often ignored by liberal or white feminism need reproductive justice the most. Low income people, people of color and queer people need abortions too and they deserve the respect and access that more privileged people have. Not only do women get abortions, but men and non-binary or gender fluid people get them too. Queer rights are reproductive rights. Reproductive rights are queer rights.”
When asked about Created Equal’s lack of diversity in terms of staff members, Jimenez said, “I guess I have given it some thought. We have about ten core team members who work in our offices and do these outreaches all the time. We have a Greek student, a Filipino student and it’s pretty even, male and female. So I would say it’s pretty diverse.” Jimenez continued, “Our organization specifically is not affiliated with any organization. We center our beliefs around the idea that all humans are created equal. We believe there should be no discrimination, whether it’s based on age, race, color or gender. Discrimination is discrimination and, right now, the largest discrimination being taken place is in the womb.” When asked, both Jimenez and Created Equal’s Director of Training Seth Drayer questioned the relevancy of staff diversity.
Jacob Hoback is a sophomore studying political science and pre-law. As president of Bobcats for Life, Ohio University’s new pro-life student organization, Hoback invited members of Created Equal to visit the campus. Hoback said, in response to FEM’s counteraction against Created Equal’s propaganda, “They’re very misinformed and misguided and it’s very sad. I know they have good intentions, as in they’re sticking up for the woman, but I think what we’re trying to do in our message is that there are more people in the act of abortion because there’s the woman and there’s also the child.” Hoback then compared abortion to rape, saying, “I am against abortion for the same reasons I’m against rape and killing adult— just because it’s morally wrong. It’s the intentional harm to another being. When you rape someone, you’re forcing harm onto another being and when you’re slaughtering a baby you’re forcing harm onto another being.”
While protesting against Created Equal’s pro-life claims, FEM brought a petition in support of HB 408 which, Marincic said, “would create a 15-foot radius around abortion clinics and providers where anti-choice people could not harass, block or harm anyone entering a clinic, including those who work there.” The student organization acquired a total of 218 signatures throughout the event.