Demonstration sparks campus controversy



Street Couch vocalist Kyle Harding, right, and percussionist Keenan Wright went to the abortion protest to support students who are pro-abortion rights with their music Monday afternoon in front of Bryan Hall. The demonstration included a series of graphic pictures from anti-abortion group The Center for Bio-ethical Reform.


An abortion demonstration that appeared on campus Monday morning displayed several billboards covered in pictures of apparently aborted fetuses in front of Bryan Hall. The group, known as The Center for Bio-ethical Reform, held the demonstration that attracted many passersby and counterprotesters.

The demonstration also included historic photos from lynchings and the Holocaust, comparing them to abortions.

The Daily Evergreen reached out to The Jewish Community of the Palouse for comment, however the JCP board chose not to respond at this time.

Other photos showed images of seemingly aborted fetuses. A poster next to the billboards stated the photos were authentic and undoctored, with text stating: 

“To confirm their authenticity, please ask to see our copy of ‘The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology.’”

The photos on the posters, however, were not from the textbook but the group’s own website, [Warning, this website includes graphic images]. The photos on the website are not attributed.

“It doesn’t say that they’re from the textbook, it just says to confirm the authenticity of the photos, see this textbook,” said Kevin Olivier, director of operations for CBR. 

The textbook, Olivier said, confirmed the authenticity of the group’s photos because it showed a similar morphology based on the developmental stage. 

“The thing that people are often skeptical about is that the babies look as developed as they look at the early ages that we put on our photos,” he said.

One of the billboards used a partial quote from the textbook:

“Human development begins at fertilization,” but left out the second part of the sentence, “approximately 14 days after the onset of the last normal menstrual period.” 

ASWSU At-Large Senator Linda Vargas said the group is legally allowed to demonstrate as WSU is a public university. The group sent a letter to WSU President Kirk Schulz saying they have legal teams who will protect them if WSU chooses not to let them have the demonstration, she said. 

The posters were more graphic than Vargas expected, she said, and she was worried it could be triggering for some people, she said.

Vargas said the Bias Advisory Response Team placed posters around the demonstration to let people know what it would entail. 

“I feel like those signs are not enough to prepare you for what you’re gonna see,” Vargas said.

Students are encouraged to talk to ASWSU senators in terms of how to handle demonstrations like this in the future, she said.

“The photos are graphic because abortion is graphic,” Olivier said. “The photos are nothing more than babies immediately after abortion procedures.”

Olivier said their goal is to show people that abortions are an “act of violence,” and that there is another planned demonstration Tuesday.

Olivia O’Brien, junior fine arts major, said she understands the university’s policy about free speech, but was “appalled” and “disgusted” when she saw the demonstration on her way to class. 

“[WSU] is for students,” O’Brien said. “This is a place where we’re supposed to feel safe, this is our home, this does not make me feel safe.”

She said there were pro-life demonstrations in the past and this was the first time she saw a big display for it.

“For [WSU] to have all this talk of respecting and honoring their student body and loving the students of Wazzu and the community — this is not creating a community, this is creating a divide,” O’Brien said. 

Amy Nusbaum, a doctoral candidate in the department of psychology, sat near the demonstration with a sign that read; “We Won’t Go Back #protectroe,” next to that statement was a depiction of a wire coat hanger. She said she had been there since 8 a.m.

“The rights of people with uteruses should not be thrown away because of someone’s religion,” Nusbaum said.

Cristal Sianez-Celis, junior nursing major, said the group does not consider women who are facing the option to abort. Men without uteruses should not force their opinion on the women directly affected by abortion laws, she said. 

“I don’t understand why they’re trying to make people feel bad for having a choice,” Sianez-Celis said. 

Members from a local band, Street Couch, played the tambourine, guitar and percussion next to the demonstration while holding a sign that read “Fight hate w/ music.” 

“They have $2,000 worth of aluminum and we got a pizza box, but our side is louder,” one of the band members said as the crowd cheered.

Kyle Harding, Street Couch vocalist and frontman, said the band wanted to spread a positive message through music. The demonstration is a fear tactic that brings out the worst in people, he said. 

“Imagine if someone was going through a difficult decision to do something like this right now and they saw this — that could push them to possibly even worse things,” Harding said.

Students and abortion protesters debate the ethicality of abortion on Monday afternoon in front of Bryan Hall.