- The Washington Times - Friday, November 20, 2009

When a 14-year-old black youth from Chicago was murdered in the South in the 1950s, the killers sent the body to his mother in a sealed casket. The mother opened the casket to find her son’s body bloated, distorted and unrecognizable. To everyone’s surprise, she decided to have an open-casket funeral. Over the next few days, 50,000 people saw the body of what used to be Emmett Till.

Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks saw images taken by photographers, according to Fletcher Armstrong, southeastern director of the Center for Bioethical Reform (CBR).

“That image galvanized them to resist at that time,” he said. “[Images] galvanize people who are already on your side to stand up and do something.”

Mr. Armstrong said those images pushed reformers to “resist racism.” Several weeks after Emmett’s funeral, images of black men and women being attacked by dogs and sprayed with hoses appeared on the national news. Images make a difference to every cause, Mr. Armstrong told a group of students last week at Liberty University, the world’s largest and fastest-growing Christian evangelical university.

Mr. Armstrong said this idea also can be used to change how the country views abortion.

“We have to change the hearts and minds of the American people. There’s not a consensus in the country to stop abortion right now,” he said. “We need to convert more people to [the] pro-life position.”

The Liberty University Student Government Association educated its 12,000 students about abortion at “the largest pro-life week ever held on a college campus,” according to SGA President Matt Mihelic.

Liberty was established by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell in 1971 in Lynchburg, Va. Its mission is “training champions for Christ.” The school’s pro-life week kicked off Nov. 11, when Mr. Mihelic presented an award to Norma McCorvey, Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade, for her work in the pro-life movement.

Mr. Armstrong was one of several speakers that week, including Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte, Virginia Republican; Rep. Trent Franks, Arizona Republican; and former abortion nurse Carol Everett.

The SGA’s theme was “Reclaim Others’ Sacred Existence,” or ROSE. The group used the term along with images of roses on several poster designs, including an image of a rose on a swing and a partial image of a young girl holding a rose, to advertise the week to the student body.

Mr. Goodlatte thanked students at the “politics and abortion” forum at the Schilling Center on Friday for “recognizing the importance of this issue.”

“You’ve taken the stand that you’re going to protect human life, including that of the unborn,” Mr. Goodlatte said. “What each and every one of you do personally … is how you’ll win the battle to make sure that human life is protected under the law.”

As an elected official, Mr. Franks said, he fights for the unborn through the legislative process. His faith in God helps him, he said.

“The main reason I’m pro-life is because I believe the image of God has been stamped on every human being … we are all his children,” Mr. Franks said in an interview at Liberty’s Snowflex Centre. “The idea that we would kill the most innocent among us for convenience or economics is beyond my comprehension.”

The importance of family values and protecting the sanctity of marriage “all stem from first grasping the importance of life,” Mr. Goodlatte said, and these issues are protected in the founding documents.

“It’s enshrined in our Constitution with the recognition of the rights of each and every one of us,” he said. “It is commemorated in our Declaration of independence. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness go hand in hand.”

Mr. Franks said that the college-age generation is more pro-life than his generation, but everyone still needs to come together to protect the unborn.

“If you don’t have the courage to protect the innocent among us, in the final analysis, we’ll never the courage to protect any kind of liberty for anyone,” he said. “The whole of humanity is dependent upon our commitment to protect the innocent among us.”

Ergun Caner, president and dean of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, spoke about the Bible and abortion. The most common argument Christians use to not take action against abortion is the “argument of silence,” he said. They say that if it is not mentioned in the Bible, it must not be wrong. This is not true, he said.

“Jesus never killed one person,” Mr. Caner said. “In fact, he gave up his life on the cross [and] took the wrath of all cosmic enemies.”

Mr. Caner said the Bible nullifies the argument that a fetus is not yet a person when it says each human is “formed in the womb.” He also said abortion is not the “unforgivable sin.”

“God can forgive even abortion. What about those women who made that decision and regret it?” Mr. Caner said. “We forget that there are women in our pews who are post-abortion.”

The dean of Liberty Law School, Mathew D. Staver, said the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton cases shaped the abortion debate, but most people forget that “both have situations that were based completely on fraudulent material.”

Mr. Staver said Sarah Weddington, a law school graduate, found Ms. McCorvey’s (Jane Roe’s) case and saw it as seeking the “ultimate women’s right.” The 1973 Doe v. Bolton case, which overturned Georgia’s law limiting abortion, also was set up, and “Jane Doe” even fled from her home in Georgia so she wouldn’t be forced to have an abortion. None of this information was presented to the Supreme Court, and medical doctors did not testify, he said.

One student asked Mr. Staver if abortion should be left to the states to decide.

“Morality does not have geographic boundaries. If slavery is wrong, it’s wrong in New Hampshire, California and Florida,” Mr. Staver said. “It cannot be right in one state and wrong in another state. Life is a fundamental, inherent right. It is a natural right.”

Mr. Staver said the law would see some cases - such as abortion - as permissible, and other cases - such as murder of an unborn child and/or the mother, as in the killings of Laci Peterson and her unborn son, Conner - as murder.

Mr. Armstrong agreed.

“It is legal to kill a child who is unborn and unwanted,” Mr. Armstrong said.

“Scott Peterson was convicted of two murders because that child was wanted,” Mr. Armstrong said. “If you shot a woman in the womb and the baby died, you could be convicted of [two] murders, too.”

Mr. Staver said abortion is a problem in other countries, such as China, and U.S. leaders need to stand up for the unborn both domestically and abroad. He said there is an annual report that discusses human rights violations in foreign countries, and U.S. governmental leaders can take action based on the results of the report.

“Whenever our Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton goes into one of these countries and does not speak against human rights violations, it emboldens those countries, and people die,” Mr. Staver said. “If we come there, and if we don’t take the moral high ground, it empowers them.”

Mr. Staver said he used to be a pro-choice pastor until he saw images of aborted fetuses. Mr. Armstrong has made a living by traveling to universities across the country and showing large images of aborted fetuses to college students.

“People have to care enough about [an issue] to want to go out of their comfort zones,” Mr. Armstrong said. “The first time I stood out among those images, it was not comfortable for me. I had to make the decision that I wanted to be a part of this [movement].”

CBR uses large images of dead fetuses, including a bloody hand on a quarter, on trucks and airplanes, he said, especially at the University of Tennessee, which is near CBR’s headquarters in Knoxville.

“My horror at abortion was so great that I was willing to step out of my comfort zone to do something that I knew was right,” Mr. Armstrong said. “I had to help people understand that this is the right method of reaching our culture.”

Mr. Armstrong, Mr. Staver and Mr. Caner agree that unborn fetuses have the same rights as children who are born.

” ‘It may be human, but it’s not developed enough to deserve rights of personhood’ - that argument fails,” Mr. Armstrong said. “All of those qualities are developed over time and acquired over time and continue to develop after people are born.”

Mr. Franks said America’s future depends on the fight to ban abortions.

“We have to ask as a nation and as a Congress one vital question: Does abortion kill a little baby?” Mr. Franks said. “If it doesn’t kill a little baby, I’m ready to stop talking about it.

“But if abortion does kill a little baby, then those of us living in America are living in the midst of the greatest human genocide in the history of humanity, and that’s something that we need to face as a people, and I intend in Congress to continue to try to help us face that,” Mr. Franks said.

• Melinda Zosh is vice president of Liberty University’s Student Government Association.

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