Anti-abortion demonstration faces pro-choice opposition on OSU campus

An Oregon State University student holds two signs reading “The Audacity” and “No Uterus No Opinion” at an anti-abortion demonstration that took place on Oct. 12. After anti-abortion group Tiny Heartbeat Ministries appeared on campus, pro-choice students began their own counter protest. (Content Warning: other photos in gallery feature graphic photos)

Sukhjot Sal, News Contributor

*Content warning: mentions of abortion and descriptive imagery.

At about 9 a.m. on Tuesday, an anti-abortion demonstration started at Oregon State University, taking place until 1:30 p.m. when supporters of abortion rights gathered nearby to protest.

A few anti-abortion advocates from Tiny Heartbeat Ministries stood around a large poster that was propped up between the Student Experience Center and the Memorial Union. The poster featured a bloody baby who appeared to be dead. 

According to their website, Tiny Heartbeat Ministries is a “Christian, anti-abortion nonprofit purposed to provide the educational arm of the pro-life movement in the Pacific Northwest by focusing outreach efforts on the three C’s: Churches, Clinics and Culture.” 

By 1 p.m., a crowd of more than 20 students had gathered by the poster with many holding signs on notebook paper or ripped cardboard covered in slogans like “my body, my choice” and “pro-choice.” 

As a few students began shouting at the anti-abortion group to leave, the group picked up their poster and started walking to a parking lot in the east end of campus, near the intersection between 15th Street and Jefferson Avenue, past the Kerr Administration building. At least 15 students followed them to the parking lot, chanting “pro-choice” for part of the way. 

Andrew Kerin, the executive director of Tiny Heartbeat Ministries, was the spokesperson for the anti-abortion group.

“We’re hoping to convince college students that abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being by dismemberment, decapitation and disembowelment,” Kerin said.

Though Kerin was prompted for more information, he declined to comment, citing past news stories that have taken his words out of context.

The Tiny Heartbeat Ministries website states a key part of their mission is to “show photos of abortion’s victims on college campuses, downtown public squares, high schools and outside abortion clinics.”

The anti-abortion display by Tiny Heartbeat Ministries at OSU comes more than a month after Texas’s Senate Bill 8 was passed, which bans most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy in Texas. In addition, less than two weeks ago, a Women’s March was held in Corvallis, Ore. to protest Senate Bill 8.

Laura Catlin, an anthropology student, was one of the people protesting the anti-abortion display and walking them off the campus.

“We just want to make it a safe environment for people who may have had or might need or are considering an abortion, in any sense of the word,” Catlin said while following the anti-abortion supporters. “And we just want to make sure that it’s a place where they feel safe on campus because the people that are here are not students, they’re just coming here to stir the pot, which is what’s happening.”

Catlin acknowledged the anti-abortion group technically had a legal right to be demonstrating at OSU but said she wanted them off the campus.

“Of course, legality doesn’t determine morality, or vice-versa,” Catlin said.

According to Catlin, the anti-abortion supporters wore Go-Pros, or action cameras, and that they kept taking photos of her and other students. 

“I just believe everyone has the right to an abortion—or should have the right to an abortion,” Catlin said. “And… people think they can come here and scare us out of having one, or make people extremely uncomfortable with a decision that often they’re forced to make, because of health reasons or [because] they’re not financially able to have a baby and other socio-economic reasons.”

Scout Gomm, a sociology student who attended the protest, said she did not want to see the anti-abortion demonstration on campus because she believes everyone has the right to choose and the right to autonomy.

“They’re just a hateful group that is trying to make decisions for our own bodies,” Gomm said. “All of them were men, except for one woman. And it’s just not what I want to see on campus when I walk to class.”