WASHINGTON – Fanned out among tourist posing for photos on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Tuesday were more than 20 signs and a jumbo screen displaying images of aborted fetuses. Anti-abortion demonstrators in matching black T-shirts spread out to approach tourists with smiles and pamphlets.
Created Equal, a anti-abortion advocacy group, brought over 70 members to peacefully demonstrate on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial near the Reflecting Pool. The Christian group focuses on training young adults to advocate against abortion.
“Abortion is an act of violence. It harms women and kids. Our goal is to raise awareness, to make it unthinkable,” Executive Director Mark Harrington said.
Despite the size of the demonstration and the graphic nature of the photographs, most visitors went about their business as usual. They stood between the signs to take photos with the Washington Monument in the background. A steady flow of tour groups entered and left the memorial.
Carol Komer, 48, a stay-at-home mother from Albuquerque, N.M., said she was not affected by the photos because she has seen similar ones before.
“I am not for it or against it. I am an innocent bystander,” Komer said. “I don’t mind them. I don’t know if it is at all necessary.”
Signs ranged from the digitally aged faces of aborted fetuses to fetal matter placed over an image of the American Flag. The large screen displayed a video showing aborted fetuses covered in blood sitting next to quarters to show how small they were. Harrington said the photographs and videos are necessary. He quoted President Barack Obama as saying “democracy is messy.”
“A picture is worth a thousand words. A video is worth a million words. We live in a visual culture, and we do not learn by the written word as we used to,” he said.
The group set up bright orange signs outside of the demonstration space to warn people, especially parents, about the graphic nature of the photographs.
“We do what we can to promote a level of discretion. We realize to a certain extent that children are going to see these photos,” Harrington said. “Stop killing, and we’ll take the photos down to spare the children from seeing them. We don’t want children ending up in the photos.”
Some tourists supported the demonstration, despite being with their children. Robert Mason, 46, a community post-incarnation advocate, said he did not mind his daughter and two goddaughters, ages 8 to 14, seeing the photos. He said he hoped it was promoting discussion among families.
“I think this is awesome. This is what America is about, the sharing of ideas in a peaceful manner,” Mason said.
His goddaughter, Riley Owens, 12, from Sterling, Va., said she wished she didn’t have to see the photographs despite being against abortion. However, she said the demonstration would not have have had as much impact without them.
“It might not be as strong, but that is kind of sad. They shouldn’t have to use things that give kids nightmares,” Riley said.
Demonstrator Maria Olmos, 22, a student at Florida Atlantic University from Palm Beach, Fla., said she is still affected by the photographs after three years with Created Equal.
“It has a very strong impact even for pro-life people. We don’t want to see this. It is necessary to prevent future abortions,” Olmos said.
Not all tourists, including Laetitia Leporcq, 30, a photograph retoucher, from Paris, said they were necessary.
“I think it is stupid to be against abortion. You can do what you want with your body,” Leporcq said. “It is ruining everyone’s time here. Why here? That is not why people are here. I don’t think people care. I don’t see the point.”
Reach reporter Sarah Fulton at [email protected] or 202-408-1492. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Download photos: Anti-abortion-Lincoln-Memorial.zip