Anti-abortion group demonstrates at FAU

Created Equal spent a day outside the Social Science building with a JumboTron television playing abortion footage.


Created Equal representatives wore body cameras this year as they spoke to bypassers about the morals of abortion. Photo by Chris Blackshear

Kristen Grau, Staff Writer

Editor’s note | This story contains photos of Created Equal’s anti-abortion signs, which include blood and gore.

At least once a year, posters of unborn fetuses sprawl across the Free Speech Lawn, meeting students on their way to class. This year, there was a JumboTron TV screen in the mix, which displayed graphic footage of abortions for over four hours.

Created Equal, an anti-abortion organization based in Ohio, made their way to the Boca campus yesterday as part of their national college campus tour. The founder of the organization and other representatives debated with students about the morality of abortion outside the Social Science Building, which was surrounded by FAU police.

“We’re here to raise awareness on the greatest human rights violation,” founder Mark Harrington said. “We want to take on the culture of death and win.”

The group’s tour isn’t allowed to advocate any political candidate for the Nov. 6 election, according to Harrington — but the visit’s mission was to influence students to vote anti-abortion candidates, he said.

The Created Equal team is travelling by bus to different college campuses across Florida, Tennessee and Missouri. They call these trips “Justice Rides,” named after the “Freedom Rides” in the 1960s that challenged racial segregation in the south.

Members wore body cameras to “protect themselves” and hold counter-protestors accountable for possible equipment damage, Harrington said. They passed out pamphlets with pictures of bloody embryos, which read “abortion is ageism.” Harrington said these graphic photos came from abortion clinics.

Created Equal’s use of bloody fetuses on signs have caused backlash among students, who feel there should be a clear warning of graphic content before people approach the Free Speech Lawn. Photo by Kristen Grau

“These images are absolutely offensive,” said bystander and senior neuroscience major Patricia Vega. “I’m ashamed at whoever allowed this.”

Counter-protestors handed out content warnings to students nearing the Social Science Building. Kheyanna Suarez, a class of 2017 FAU alumni, came back to campus to pass out warnings sponsored by Planned Parenthood.

“I will come back every year until [Created Equal] stops coming to campus,” Suarez said. “They’re not here to make a difference … when you call the helpline [provided on their pamphlets], you get shamed.”

Suarez is a member of Generation Action, which advocates for women’s reproductive rights. The content warning she provided said the exhibit could “trigger unpleasant emotions,” and that students “may be coerced into having a conversation about decision making that can be very intrusive.”

A Created Equal representative has a conversation with a student while the JumboTron television plays live footage of abortions behind them. Photo by Chris Blackshear

While sporting her Generation Action shirt and passing out more warnings, Suarez shared her negative experiences with Created Equal’s demonstration last year.

“They yelled at me … and said I was a shame to my culture,” she said. “They attacked me based on my race and said I was murdering black babies.”

Harrington said that some students had knocked down his organization’s signs throughout the demonstration, but that he decided not to press any charges.

While some students kicked signs, others signed a petition. One senior interdisciplinary studies major, who wished not to be named, started the petition and said she garnered around 50 signatures.  

“I respect everybody’s view, but this is gruesome,” she said. “The petition is for FAU to regulate whatever this is.”

In response to the petitioners, Harrington laughed and said, “They’re going to have to petition the founders of our country. They’re wasting their time.”

Other students rebelled against the demonstration with satire.

Henry Calway, a sophomore philosophy major, passed out flyers of his own — though they weren’t content warnings.

With a picture of a faceless doctor, the handouts read: “Uncle Joe’s abortion clinic. You bake ‘em, we’ll scrape ‘em. Mention this ad for a free shaved ice with any procedure.”

“I was quite distressed last year [by Created Equal],” Calway said, “but these people are worth the mockery and ridicule.”

Created Equal plans to return to FAU during spring break next year.

Kristen Grau is a staff writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].