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Abortion images horrify children

Children were horrified by gory images of aborted fetuses at the Pear Blossom Festival two weeks ago, prompting Medford City Council to explore options to ban them from city parks.

“My daughter was very, very upset, pleading with me to leave,” said Tatiana Keen about her 6-year-old. “She was scared to go to sleep. She was afraid to be left alone.”

Keen and more than a dozen parents urged the council last week to ban images displayed by anti-abortion groups at public events, despite the potential for lawsuits based on freedom of speech or freedom of religion.

Keen, 34, said her daughter doesn’t want to go near Pear Blossom Park anymore and doesn’t want to go to the festival next year.

“That was a ‘G-rated’ event, and those were ‘R-rated’ images,” Keen said. “Every time she closed her eyes, she saw the bloody baby.”

Keen said she had to explain to her daughter about abortions. Previously her daughter has watched a video of her mother giving birth to her.

“She loves it,” Keen said. “To me, that’s a beautiful thing. She was also there when her brother was born.”

When she saw the images, Keen was disgusted but also had the feeling that the group displaying them was protected under the law.

“In my mind, I thought it was his right,” she said.

Still, Keen thinks that an event that brings out so many children is the wrong place to display photos of aborted fetuses.

Councilor Kevin Stine last Thursday made a motion for the city to find ways to eliminate graphic photographs from Pear Blossom Park and other city spaces.

On an 8-0 vote, the council agreed to study the issue with the understanding that constitutional issues could come into play in drafting an ordinance.

The city of Ashland banned the Rogue Valley Saltshakers last year after that group displayed signs attacking the LGBTQ community.

Stine and Councilor Kay Brooks said they’ve been asked how they would feel if their child was murdered when they’ve crossed paths with anti-abortion groups. Both Brooks and Stine have children.

“Pictures like this of gratuitous violence should not be allowed in a public space,” Brooks said.

Councilor Clay Bearnson said he’d support Stine’s motion, but worried about the constitutional questions that might arise.

“The First Amendment is a double-edged sword,” he said.

Other councilors said they had been contacted by other parents concerned about the images.

Councilor Mike Zarosinski said, “It’s horrifying, it’s shocking that that happened.”

He said he might support some kind of ban even if it means the city has the potential to get sued over it.

Jesse Hart, who spoke to the council, said, “This is crossing the line between free speech and harassment.

At the council meeting, the images were attributed to the Rogue Valley Saltshakers, but the images were displayed by another group, Abolish Abortion Oregon.

Mark Mayberry with Abolish Abortion said, “I’m sad that some kids have to see this.”

But, he said the purpose of the images isn’t to scare children but to alert parents to the “holocaust” of abortion.

Typically, he said, children become upset at the images because they’re reacting to their parents being upset.

Mayberry said other parents, who are anti-abortion, take the time to explain to their children that some people believe it is all right to “murder babies.”

“When parents explain it, it doesn’t affect the kids negatively,” he said.

The parents who get the most upset have often had an abortion, and their reaction to the images is brought on by a feeling of guilt about their actions, Mayberry claimed.

He said the U.S. has a history of displaying graphic images to change the culture, citing the anti-tobacco campaign and photos of wars.

He noted that the courts have sided with anti-abortion groups who have displayed the images in public places.

“We have a constitutional right to do that,” he said.

Abolish Abortion is aligned with the Rogue Valley Saltshakers and CORE Ministries.

“We all label each other as abortion abolitionists,” said Mason Goodknight, director of Community Outreach Evangelism Ministries.

He said it is far more important to shock people into understanding how bad abortions are than the reaction of children to the images.

“We’re hoping it shocks people into reality,” Goodknight said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.

Tatiana Keen says her 6-year-old daughter was horrified by images of aborted fetuses displayed at the Pear Blossom Festival in Medford, Oregon.