Student Mariana Gonzalez holds a makeshift poster in a counter-protest to the demonstration staged by anti-abortion group Project Truth in the Library Quad on Monday, Oct. 17. In his Presidents Message sent on Oct. 27, President Nelsen announced that a new policy regarding the time, place and manner restrictions on campus had changed, effective Oct. 25. (Photo by Rin Carbin)
Student Mariana Gonzalez holds a makeshift poster in a counter-protest to the demonstration staged by anti-abortion group Project Truth in the Library Quad on Monday, Oct. 17. In his President’s Message sent on Oct. 27, President Nelsen announced that a new policy regarding the time, place and manner restrictions on campus had changed, effective Oct. 25. (Photo by Rin Carbin)

Students confront anti-abortion group during campus demonstration

For many passers-by, it was difficult to ignore the posters depicting graphic images lining the campus walkways near the Library Quad on Monday, and even more difficult to ignore the makeshift poster rising above the heads of a swarm of students.

The poster, held and created by Sacramento State student Mariana Gonzalez reads “You’re creating a hostile environment.”

Gonzales said that after she saw photos of what are purported to be aborted fetuses, she briefly went to class then bought the materials to make her poster.

“I came out here because I think it’s horrible to create an emotionally stressful situation for women and men alike on campus,” Gonzalez said. “It could create a situation as severe as suicidal thoughts.”

The images were displayed as part of an anti-abortion campaign by Project Truth, a Christian anti-abortion group that focuses on changing the minds of college students about abortion.

“We would like for them to not only tell other students who may be considering (abortion), that it is not right — but also if they were personally in that situation, to say ‘This is another human being, that person has rights also,’ ” said Ed Whitfield, a volunteer with Project Truth.

When asked what he thought about the students gathering around Project Truth speaker William Wilberforce in the Library Quad, Whitfield said, “I’m glad they’re there because they’re learning — they’re dialoguing, and that’s what college is about.”

Whitfield joined other volunteers in passing out a pamphlet titled “Unlock the truth about the 57 million missing,” which gives anti-abortion arguments.

However, some students disagreed that any dialogue was occurring.

“My personal thought is … instead of coming to have a dialogue, he would rather tell us that our thoughts are illogical,” said Micah Brufield, a Sac State student. “He said that all of our arguments are based on emotional appeal — that we’re illogical. But that whole pamphlet is emotional appeal.”

Whitfield claimed that women who are raped are “violated again with abortion.”

“We even have many of them tell us it was worse than the rape,” he said.

A woman with Project Truth, who wished to remain unnamed, said that she was a foster child and a three-time survivor of rape who was urged by her doctor to have an abortion six months into the pregnancy due to a brain malformation.

“I get the circumstances, but it doesn’t justify killing a baby,” she said. “Everyday with (my baby) is a blessing.”

On Tuesday, President Nelsen responded to “complaints and messages of concern” he received about the images, warning in his President’s Update that the group’s protest was scheduled to continue.

“If these images are upsetting to you and if you feel that they are as inappropriate as I do, then I encourage you to avoid that area,” Nelsen wrote. “While the University does not take a position on these issues and honors the sacred privileges of the First Amendment, I personally do not condone this group’s approach.”

Nelsen also noted that Sacramento State is a public space and as such, groups have a right to be on campus and exercise their freedom of speech.

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  • Connie Costello (Alumnus)Oct 20, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Why is it that people who claim to want to be educated about the issues, really do not want to be educated about the pre-born development of a human being? Why is it that they do not want to see the images of these children when they have been dismembered and killed? Could it be for the same reason that the German people were revolted when confronted by the piles of corpses in Dachau and Auschitz? They want to hide their eyes from the truth because of their own crimes and because of their complicity in others’ crimes.

  • Stephanie NielsenOct 20, 2016 at 9:30 am

    So proud you stepped up & vocalized your opposition, Mariana!!! You helped provide a voice for those unable or uncomfortable with saying anything against the group. You’re a superstar.

  • Project Truth team memberOct 19, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    In response to the negative and bias responses here, I am one of the team members who is here to tell the truth about who we are and what we are about. Each one of us that come to share the truth about abortion have a story and a struggle we have been through in our lives. As a woman, a mother and someone whom has endured alot of traumatic experiences in life including child molestation, the foster system, being raped 3x, having medical conditions causing me to be high risk pregnancy, and also having a 3yr old boy with a medical condition, I 100% can sympathize and understand the many circumstances people can endure. Myself and my team members are in no way out to shame women but to call out the horrific act of abortion. Many women and young girls, including myself and 2 of my own family members, have been in a position where we faced abortion. Many are coerced and pressured as I was because my son was diagnosed with a brain malformation called holoprosencephaly. However, when we are dealing with abortion we are faced with one major question. Is the preborn a living human being, and if so do they deserve human rights? Our belief is that words are not enough to share an injustice. We believe in order to share an injustice you must show the injustice. Because of this we are able to engage in many civil dialogues where we can hear out the opposition as well as share our views and the scientific and biological facts that back our position. We are here to be a voice for the voiceles and wish healing for post abortive women so that they can forgive themselves and be set free of the pain and suffering caused by abortion.

    • Kazuki TakahashiOct 24, 2016 at 8:14 pm

      There is nothing that is “unjust” about the right to choose. The fact that individuals like yourself want to force your moral code onto others is an affront to everything that this country stands for.

  • JasmineOct 19, 2016 at 8:39 am

    He could have done something though to lessen the guy people were feeling. The group could have been moved to another part on campus. They video taped is and put it on YouTube and Facebook. I also had a man tell me I needed saving and was worse than Hitler killing children with gas because I believe women should have the right to have an abortion. I myself have had one, and seeing these signs was highly upsetting and made it hard to concentrate on my midterms. If I am paying thousands of dollars to come here, I should feel safe on campus.

  • HopeOct 19, 2016 at 12:11 am

    I would like to respectfully point out, in response to President Nelsen’s encouragement to avoid the area where the demonstration was taking place, that the specific location of the event covered the main entrances to the library, the university union, and the walkways to access the AIRC, the bookstore and the Well, in such a way that it was impossible to access those parts of campus from the north end of the campus without passing through the area where the demonstration occurred. For students in a hurry to move from class to class, or those with health problems that could not feasibly take the long route around the side of campus, the demonstration was wholly unavoidable. Even in a public space, there are appropriate and inappropriate methods of exercising one’s right to free speech, and the location of these demonstrators is something I believe that both sides of the abortion debate can agree was unacceptable.

    • Peter StillsonOct 19, 2016 at 12:27 pm

      If Hillary is elected you’ll get your wish. Any “unacceptable” presentations etc will just be banned. Goodby 1st amendment.

      • Kazuki TakahashiOct 24, 2016 at 8:11 pm

        What a ridiculous comment. Bet you are a trump supporter….

  • Bethany RaderOct 18, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    Mariana, you’re my hero! Thank you for your courage!