Two voting boxes sat on Dexter Lawn, overshadowed by massive graphic posters from the Kansas-based pro-life group Justice For All (JFA).
JFA set up displays on Monday and Tuesday in the University Union and on Dexter Lawn. The group provided students with an open mic forum on Tuesday and asked students to vote whether the group should return next year.
Two ballot boxes asking if the group should return next year were at the displays marked “yes” in green ink and another marked “no” in red ink. Students placed votes and comments into the ballot box of their choice.
In opposition to the display, students from the Cal Poly Democrats and Progressive Student Alliance (PSA) handed out flyers reading “Real Choices, Real Options,” that listed numbers for Planned Parenthood in San Luis Obispo and the Family Care Network, among others.
“We want to provide options,” said volunteer Ruthie Osorio, who handed out information to students and wore a shirt that read, “Real Justice Means Choice.”
“Abortion is legal in all 50 states and in all nine months of pregnancy,” said JFA representative Rebeccah Petrick from Wichita, Kan. She said any woman can go and have an abortion for social and economical reasons, while claiming medical reasons. Yet, according to California Health and Safety Code, People vs. Barksdale (1972), “in no event shall the termination be approved after the 20th week of pregnancy.” In other words, abortions are generally not performed after the second trimester.
The case further explains that in the situation of grave harm or death to the mother, an abortion may still be performed in the third trimester, but as trimesters pass the legal right granting abortion passes from the mother to the fetus.
Petrick insisted that all the photos on JFA’s posters were of first and second trimester abortions. Only three of the total images on the posters were from the second trimester of pregnancy and none were third trimester abortions.
The Cal Poly club Justice for Peace, which is registered through the UU Epicenter directory of clubs, invited JFA to Cal Poly.
Prior to JFA’s arrival, Cal Poly vice president for Student Affairs, Cornel Morton sent an e-mail to alert students about the group.
“As a member of the California State University system, the University is responsible for honoring the free speech rights embedded in the U.S. and California Constitutions and ensuring that faculty, staff, students and their invited guests have the opportunity to appropriately exercise these rights,” the e-mail stated.
“I knew the display would be quite graphic,” Morton said. “Quite a bit of effort went into making this event respectful and uneventful.”
JFA volunteer Trent Horn from Phoenix, Ariz. gives presentations and volunteers at pregnancy crisis centers. Horn explained that as a result of seeing his mother and friends deal with the pain of abortion, he supports pro-life.
“I don’t think men should have an opinion,” said Sequoia Chappellet, a social science senior who spoke out at the event. “One in five children in this country go to bed hungry. I’m not saying abortion is the best choice. It’s a personal choice that depends on the situation.”
The event provoked much attention on Dexter Lawn and generated many student comments.
“Why don’t you go educate yourself?” yelled child development senior Rena Levy, yards away from the speaker. She then ran up to the speaker and spoke out against the visiting group.
“I just dislike ignorance,” she said afterwards. “I went to their Web site and they don’t say anything about being anti-abortion.”
“I think it’s creating awareness, but not to both sides,” agribusiness junior Brianna Park said. “I think if you take away women’s rights, you should take away a man’s too. Rapists serve two years or whatever and then are free. Cut their balls off.”