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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

It’s that time of year again: Winter is easing into spring, the weather is gradually warming up — and the infamous posters of aborted fetuses are once again on display in high-traffic areas of campus.

Created Equal is an anti-abortion advocacy group whose primary tactic in sparking conversations about abortion includes displaying banners of aborted fetuses. According to Alligator archives, the display is “notorious for inducing tears or vomit.”

The executive director of Created Equal told the Alligator last year that abortion was a form of ageism, or discrimination based on age.

For those of you who haven’t seen them and suspect your Facebook friends are simply being melodramatic, the photos truly are gruesome. Tiny fingers clutch quarters and, on its website, a video set to autoplay shows body parts of aborted fetuses being handled by doctors.

Shock, obviously, is the easiest way to incite a reaction; however, it doesn’t have staying power.

Regardless of your politics, it’s clear that the Created Equal campaign tactics are inefficient and bordering on harassment — no one wants to be bombarded with such graphic images, and furthermore, these images are a trigger for women who may have previously undergone abortions.

Although Created Equal organizers claim that shock and conversation are their goals, it seems that shame is the tool they’re really capitalizing on.

The organizers have to know what they’re doing. If they really wanted to educate students on abortion, they’d hand out pamphlets or other materials that would actually inform rather than disgust or shock students.

Aside from the fact that the campaign comes across as a calculated attempt to shame women for their personal choices, it seems that reappearing on college campuses every year would only detract from the cause for which they’re supposedly advocating.

Sooner or later, people who aren’t triggered by the images will simply become desensitized to them.

It comes down to the law of diminishing returns: If they keep forcing these images upon students, eventually they’ll lose their impact. Any “Game of Thrones” viewer will tell you that by season 3, no one is shocked by graphic beheadings and disembowelments.

The Created Equal campaign, then, is defunct on both sides: Those who agree that abortion is, in this case, ageist surely also agree that shock tactics are the wrong way to spark a serious conversation. And those who disagree and believe that abortion is a woman’s choice obviously don’t want to see graphic images on their way to class.

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Of course, we recognize that college campuses are open grounds for political and religious organizations to reach out to students. But that doesn’t mean we support shock and shame tactics. Those techniques drive everyone away.

[A version of this editorial ran on page 6 on 3/12/2014 under the headline "Gross and pointless: The abortion banners need to go"]

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