On Sept. 27, the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) was displayed at St. Michael’s Catholic Secondary School in Stratford, Ont. GAP originated in the United States with the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform and there is now a Canadian version, the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

According to the website, GAP “is a visual display composed of 4-foot by 8-foot (or 6-foot by 13-foot) billboards that graphically compare the victims of abortion to victims of other atrocities, such as Jews in the Holocaust. It is typically exhibited at universities by campus pro-life clubs. GAP shows students what abortion actually does to unborn children and compels those students to think about abortion in a broader historical context.”

As noted above, up until very recently, GAP had only been on university campuses. Patti Rothwell, a teacher at St. Michael’s, changed that when she began working on having it at her high school in Stratford.

St. Michael’s has had numerous other pro-life activities over the years that have created a climate making the whole school community know they are there to love, protect and support the baby, mother and the post-abortive woman. In order to create this atmosphere, the school has participated in fundraisers for Sarah’s Place (a local maternity home), poetry and prayer contests, workshops and prayer-a-thons. Students have watched videos that show the truth about the abortion procedure and attended pro-life conferences. Speakers such as Angelina Steenstra, Rebecca Kiesling and Stephanie Gray have presented at the school.

It is essential, according to Rothwell, to have such activities before having GAP at the school. The atmosphere is not one of judgement, but of love for all those involved in a crisis pregnancy.

Santosh DeSouza was one of three university students who came to the school to talk with the students during the GAP display. DeSouza noted that the “goal of GAP is to get people talking and thinking about abortion.” He says, “Young people are urged to embrace the word ‘choice,’ without taking the time to reflect on what they are choosing” and with GAP, “students have the opportunity to view the truth about abortion and to question our society’s acceptance of ‘choice.’”

Many of the students were shocked and appalled when they saw the graphic pictures. They responded in that way because they could not believe this was happening in our country and  around the world hundreds of times a day. Many felt students did need to see the truth, as horrible as it may be. DeSouza noted that “the majority of students were positive about the display.” Frequent questions that were asked were, “Until what month is abortion legal in Canada?” and “What do they do with the baby after an abortion?” A recurring question was, “What can I do to help end abortion?” These students were faced with the truth and recognized the terrible injustice toward the unborn.

The event was successful in challenging the students to think about the reality of abortion. It would not have been as effective if there were not efforts prior to the GAP display to create the environment where the students knew the community is there to love, support and protect the unborn and born child, the mother who is considering an abortion and the mother who chose an abortion.