|Andrew W. Griffin|
Toby Harmon, with the Abolitionist Society of Oklahoma, holds his daughter Selah and a hat featuring the "AHA" button.
By Andrew W. Griffin
Red Dirt Report, editor
Posted: June 5, 2011
NORMAN, Okla. – Taking a cue from the brave abolitionists of the 19th century – William Wilberforce, Elijah P. Lovejoy, even ol’ John Brown of Harper’s Ferry fame – a new movement is taking root right here in Oklahoma and their issue is not slavery, of course, but the controversial issue of abortion.
And the thoughtful and informed members of the Norman-based Abolitionist Society of Oklahoma, now only two months old, is looking to eventually abolish abortion.
It might seem like an impossible task. But talking to co-founder Russell Hunter this past Saturday, the group, made up largely of young people, seems intent on spreading the word about their ultimate goal – total abolition of human abortion and ending the objectification of women.
“This is the first (abortion abolitionist society) that we know of,” Hunter said. “There is one group that started in Tahlequah and we are visible on Twitter and Facebook and hear from people in Texas and New York and other places.
Talking to Hunter and some of his abolitionist colleagues – Toby Harmon and Paul Zimmerman – at their first-ever “Yard Sale for Heroic Women,” held in a lot belonging to the Berry Road Baptist Church, Hunter tells Red Dirt Report that the money collected from sales at the yard sale will go towards a young woman who nearly had an abortion but opted to keep her baby instead.
“We are doing this for a young lady who kept her child,” Hunter said, adding, that the group wanted to “help alleviate her struggle” and “raise money” for her.
Additionally, Hunter and Harmon noted, they also want to show the pro-choice camp that they are concerned with the child after it is born, not just before.
“We’re accused of bashing women and not helping them,” Harmon said, as he held his young daughter Selah in his arms.
And it was interesting to see all the kids running around the yard sale site. It appeared to be a very family oriented event. There were plenty of women working the tent. There was even a young man on site who survived a botched abortion. Everyone was smiling and wanting to talk. As Hunter explained, many of the people here are from Norman’s Trinity Baptist Church. And while they are an evangelical group and hold firm to their Christian beliefs, Hunter said they are an ecumenical group and are even willing to work alongside atheists as long as they are working to abolish abortion.
“We will work with anyone who wants to abolish abortion,” Hunter said. “We just won’t compromise our theological motivations.”
Again, Hunter emphasized, the men and women seeking to abolish slavery were following Biblical teachings and that all men were created in God’s image regardless of race. Ultimately, the tide turned in favor of abolition in the midst of a nation torn apart by civil war.
As the state on their website – abolishhumanabortion.blogspot.com – “Our approach to the abolition of human abortion is rooted in our theological beliefs, convictions and motivations. In this we are like earlier Christian abolitionists of human slavery.”
“We’re not going to do anything John Brown-esque, instead we feel that we should bring this issue to light and that this law (Roe v. Wade, 1973) needs to be abolished,” said Hunter, who has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s in science history from the University of Oklahoma.
Many young people working the sales tent or helping customers were sporting T-shirts that read: “Abort73.com,” referencing an informative website that explains what abortion really is and when it was legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court in January 1973, a decision, notes the site that led to the deaths of “more than 45 million human beings.”
The young abolitionists said they have had their share of online debates and arguments with pro-choice forces.
“Their argument is that the fetus is not a human being,” Harmon said. And since that is the case, in their opinion, it is all right to end the life of the fetus.
But, when women are given an option of an ultrasound or other information about abortion prior to the procedure, they get up in arms, the young men said.
“The pro-choice lobby wants to keep people ignorant,” Hunter said disgustedly. With the Abolitionist Society of Oklahoma they hope to fight that misinformation just as the abolitionists of old fought the evils of slavery that kept men and women of African descent in chains.
For example, the abolitionists sport buttons with a curious symbol. It’s two capital letter “A’s”, one right-side up and the other upside down. They are connected and between them are two lines making an “H.” It’s AHA – “abolish human abortion.” The abolitionists of today hope the eye-catching symbol helps start conversations with people much as the 19th century medals and brooches worn by anti-slavery forces featured a chained slave and the slogan “Am I not a man and a brother?”
And while Hunter and the others applaud the efforts of the
established pro-life movement, the abolitionists hope to take their message beyond just the graphic images of destroyed fetuses blown up and put on signs.
It appears that public opinion is on the side of the Oklahoma abolitionists. A New Thomson Reuters/NPR poll, out this week, shows a majority of Americans oppose all or most abortions and nearly 60 percent see “abortion as wrong.”
At the same time, Hunter noted, pro-life people are out there, they just tend not to be particularly vocal for fear of being labeled “a radical” or “ a dissident.”
In addition to pursuing the abolition of abortion – something the group hopes to achieve via debates, “celebration of life” gatherings and general engaging with the public, as was done in the mid-19th century, they are also arguing in favor of the benefits of adoption.
Abortions not only kill developing children in the womb, Hunter said, “they dehumanize the women who have them.”
“It destroys babies and it destroys people involved with it,” Hunter said.
Paul Zimmerman, who joined Hunter and discussed his
involvement with the abolitionist group said it’s important for more people to
join this growing grassroots movement to save babies from cruel death and to participate in a movement that celebrates life.
“Be for women, for families and be pro-adoption,” Zimmerman said. “Be part of it.”
Copyright 2011 West Marie Media
|Andrew W. Griffin|
Russell Hunter and Paul Zimmerman are involved with the Abolitionist Society of Oklahoma, based in Norman.