The Justice for All anti-abortion display will return to UT-Austin this semester but on a smaller scale.
The anti-abortion controversy returns to UT this month, apparently on a smaller scale than last year. Justice for All, the student anti-abortion group that erected a controversial photo exhibit on central campus last February, plans to do it again for four days from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1. Last year's display -- a 15-foot exhibit of hugely magnified photos of aborted fetuses, juxtaposed with photos of war crimes, triggered several student and faculty protests, a police action which resulted in injury to Professor Mia Carter, and a series of university committees, hearings, and free-speech reports (see "Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words?" March 23, austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2001-03-23/pols_feature.html ).
Jeremy Alder, student president of JFA's UT chapter, confirmed via e-mail that the local group will be hosting a display this month. Tany Norwood of the UT Dean of Students office said the display will be small enough to be used on the West Mall, a designated student activities area. "It's described as a triangular display, 3 feet on each side and about 6 feet high," said Norwood. "So I guess it's about the size of one football player." Norwood said while the display is probably a little larger than most West Mall activism displays -- often no more than card tables -- the area would easily accommodate it.
"To our knowledge, the national group is not involved this time," said Norwood, "although the display itself may be a loaner available to student groups." Norwood said the planned student display was well within the standards for West Mall activities and no legal discussions had been necessary (as had happened last year with the national JFA). A spokeswoman for Justice for All's national office in Wichita, Kan., said her group is not directly involved in the planned display and referred further questions to Alder and the local organization.
Carter, an associate professor of English and the interim director of the Center for Asian American Studies, told the Chronicle, "This smaller, student-sponsored exhibition is not very alarming to me. I just hope pro-choice, reproductive-rights students are out there with some information to counter the exhibition's misinformation, finger pointing, sensationalism, and scare tactics."
In advance of the display, student and faculty activists -- notably Action for Abortion Rights, a student organization formed in the wake of last year's Justice for All exhibit -- said they were meeting to discuss possible responses.