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YOUNGSTOWN Trucks with graphic images spread anti-abortion message



Published: Sat, August 10, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The group says some 400,000 motorists see the trucks each day.

By SHERRI L. SHAULIS

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Using a "grass-roots visual aid campaign," a California-based foundation will tour the streets and highways of the Mahoning Valley on Monday and Tuesday to spread its message against abortion.

The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, a nonprofit educational foundation, brings its Reproductive "Choice" Campaign to Youngstown this week using billboards pasted to the sides of tractor-trailers.

The billboards are emblazoned with the word CHOICE, graphic images of fetuses aborted in the first trimester and the group's Web site address.

"We are not a political action committee," said Mark Harrington, Midwest regional director for CBR. Rather, he said, CBR is a group of people who believe "Americans have been lied to about abortion. These are not just blobs of tissue.

"We want to get people to understand who the baby is in the first trimester and what abortion does to him," Harrington said.

According to CBR's literature, Americans are not affected by the "horror of abortion" because the victims are invisible.

"Abortion pictures have been banned from television, newspapers and magazines, but we have truck photos and hand-held sign photos, and we are using them to make abortion as unavoidable as the press has made terror," CBR's publication In Perspective reads.

A spokesman for the National Organization for Women Chapter of Greater Youngstown could not be reached to comment.

Traveling campaign

The campaign started in California last summer and has traveled the roads there every day since. In the past several months, the convoy of trucks has traveled to other cities throughout the country, including New York City, Orlando, Miami and other places. But the move into the Midwest cities is bringing about some of the biggest reactions, Harrington said.

"The bigger the city, the more apathetic people seem to be," he said. "The reactions have been varied."

The decision to display the "horrifying images," he said, was based on research into other reform movements where public opinion was swayed by graphic pictures.

Harrington said CBR looked at other events like the Civil Rights movement, the anti-Vietnam movement and others where success was gained by disturbing visual aids.

CBR officials acknowledge that some anti-abortion activists are opposed to the campaign but noted that the "freeway is the last place where viewers can neither turn the page nor change the channel." CBR reports some 400,000 motorists a day are viewing the trucks.

Harrington said the number of trucks traveling through Youngstown would not be released due to security reasons but said the convoy will travel "all day Monday and Tuesday.

"We'll only stop for media interviews and breaks," he said.

slshaulis@vindy.com




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