Behind the anti-abortion organization that has gathered outside of the high school. 

By Josie Stewart, ’21.

During the 2020-21 school year, a pro-life organization named Created Equal has gathered outside of the high school building after school three times. 

The group, which is headquartered in Columbus, believes that they are best known for campus outreach. 

“[We] go to most high schools in the Columbus metro area. We came to Upper Arlington High School for the first time last fall, and have been back two more times since then,” a representative from the organization, Ian Spencer, explained. “We go to multiple high schools and colleges each week.”

Spencer accredited this outreach to two reasons: “high schoolers are having abortions” and students “know people who need help.” With this, they cited a statistic that 300 American teenagers have an abortion every day and that they intend to “share hope” with “students who are grieving aborted siblings” or those who may be considering the procedure.

On their website, they say that they started after being “inspired by [their founder] Mark Harrington’s vision of uniting human rights defenders.” Now, this has become a team that is “committed to the defense of preborn babies and human equality.”

While the argument between those for and against abortion are typically fueled by bodily autonomy or the belief that life begins at conception, Created Equal believes that “abortion is injustice fueled by ageism” as explained on their website.

Besides campus outreach at high schools and universities, the group also campaigns through urban outreach, justice rides and signs such as jumbotrons in cities.

The signs purchased by the group typically show graphic images of aborted fetuses which are also on their website. When the group came to the high school, they brought multiple sandwich boards with these images along with fliers that were handed out to students.

Despite being close to students and a school building, the group is able to campaign on the sidewalks since it is not on the property. This means that while administrators may ask the group to stop, they have no legal right to make them leave.

Senior Erin Murphy noticed the group standing on the sidewalk one day when driving down Ridgeview Rd. on the way home from school. After exchanging looks with her friend in the car behind her, the two looked into the organization online to understand why they were there.

“I felt kind of attacked and uncomfortable [with the group outside the school]. I didn’t feel like they belonged there, and I didn’t like ideas being forced onto me,” Murphy said. “I think it’s absolutely a good thing to have your views challenged and questioned, but when there are people yelling and shaming other’s decisions—especially at a high school full of minors—I think a line needs to be drawn.”

On the other side, pro-life advocate and junior Anneliese Johanni somewhat agrees with Murphy about the tactics they use. Although in the school-based pathway, Johanni has not seen the organization at the building before or researched the group.

“Although people need to understand the realities of what abortion is, I don’t know if scare tactics are the best way to educate. I think in some cases it make pro-lifers the enemy,” Johanni said. “We are about loving each and every human being, especially the ones unborn. But it can seem hypocritical when we can love those in the womb, but not those with the womb. So I’m slightly worried about how these people are coming across with their movement.” 

She believes that this applies to other situations other than schools as well.

“Instead of standing outside of a Planned Parenthood and shaming people and telling them they will ‘regret it for the rest of their lives,’ come at it showing these women that they are seen, and that people care about helping them and their child. Showing these women that this is not the only way. We want to give women more options that don’t involve death.”

Nonetheless, Created Equal believes that this campus outreach is an effective method of educating people about their beliefs surrounding abortion.

“We take our team to high schools to speak with students,” their representative said. “If [students are] old enough to have abortions, they’re old enough to see abortion.”