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CURRENT ISSUE:  January 23, 2006VOL. 44, NO. 2Oakland, CA

Despite vandalism, BART posters
continue to convey pro-life message

Pro-life advertisements in BART stations and cars are drawing attention – positive and negative –as some outraged viewers have defaced the ads and others have responded with interest and support.

“Clearly they are suffering a higher degree of vandalism than most ads do,” said Monika Rodman, diocesan resource specialist for Respect Life Ministry. At the same time, she said, the positive responses have outweighed the negative.

Some supporters learned of the ads through media coverage, which began with an article about the vandalism in the San Francisco Chronicle. Other newspapers, TV and radio reports followed, mostly in the Bay Area but also in other regions of the country.

This coverage has generated interest in a pro-life website run by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, according to Mary Jaminet of the bishops’ respect life office in Washington, D.C., who noticed an increase
in feedback after the news reports appeared.

Some visitors to the online site have said the ads are “a great teaching tool,” “cool, classy and catching,” or “concise and to the point.” One woman wrote, “Thanks for the conscience-stirring and thought-provoking ads,” and another visitor said, “You are doing what other Christians should be doing.”

The positive responses have included comments from non-Catholics as well as Catholics, Rodman said, and a handful of comments have been negative.

Friends of Respect Life Ministry paid for the advertisements, which were developed by the USCC Second Look Project, a pro-life initiative. The same materials were on display last year in the Washington, D.C., transit system, but they did not attract anything like the vandalism seen in the Bay Area, Jaminet said.

The BART advertisements went up Dec. 26 and appear in two versions, one which says “Nine months. The amount of time the Supreme Court says it’s legal to have an abortion.”

The other states, “The Supreme Court says you can choose…” and lists several stages of development, such as, “after it sucks its thumb” or “after it could survive outside the womb.”

At the bottom of each poster is the question: “Abortion. Have We Gone Too Far?”

The ads appear on billboards within stations and inside BART cars, and they carry a line saying they are paid for by Friends of Respect Life Ministry, Diocese of Oakland. Some of the graffiti is aimed at the message, Rodman said, and some is aimed at the Church. Vandals have written “lies” or obscenities, and some have torn down ads entirely or slashed them.

“The vandals don’t represent the pro-choice women in the Bay Area,” Rodman said, and some pro-abortion women have appeared on news shows saying they support the right of pro-life advocates to speak out. “The best coverage appropriately focused on the First Amendment, free speech issue,” she added.

This is one of the two posters on display in BART trains and stations, sponsored by Respect Life ministry in the Oakland Diocese.

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