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National Anti-Abortion Group Tries To Rally Voters In Jacksonville

One of Mark Harrington's signs at the Jacksonville Landing Monday.
Blake Allen
One of Mark Harrington's signs at the Jacksonville Landing Monday.

Members of a national anti-abortion organization called Created Equal are barnstorming battleground states in the final days of the election. It made a stop in downtown Jacksonville Monday.

The group isn’t allowed to endorse a candidate due to its nonprofit status, but its national director, Mark Harrington, said he sees one candidate as particularly threatening to his cause.

“We do know what we get with Hillary Clinton, right? She’s already said she’s going to put justices on the Supreme Court that affirm Roe v. Wade. To me that’s all you got to know,” he said.

Harrington said he uses graphic imagery at his events because it’s proven to change the minds of voters. But just as fast as he set them up, Harrington was asked to move his signs with images of bloody fetuses further from the Jacksonville Landing’s entrance, which is holding a kids trick-or-treating event.

“After someone viewing one of these images, they tend to be more against abortion. So, the statistics and the studies are on our side,” Harrington said. “The idea that this would turn someone against us … to me is kind of, you know, they’re already in that camp.”

Harrington offered up a Canadian study funded by the anti-abortion group End the Killing as proof his strategy works. It concluded graphic imagery increases negative feelings toward abortion.

However, the same study found little evidence the graphic campaigns move pro-choice voters to the anti-abortion column. A Jacksonville University marketing professor Doug Johansen said campaigns like Harrington’s are more likely to rally the base.

“For example, if you take the cigarette ads that show a dead lung … people who don't smoke and think smoking is bad for you might think, ‘Yeah, that’s  true, and that’s a great reason not to smoke.’ Smokers might say, ‘It may be true, but it may not happen to me,’ ” he said.

Harrington’s group will be flying a plane towing anti-abortion banners around downtown Jacksonville for the next couple of days.

Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at , 904-358-6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk.

News intern Blake Allen can be reached at or on Twitter @BAllenMMJ

Copyright 2020 WJCT News 89.9. To see more, visit WJCT News 89.9.

Ryan Benk is originally from Miami, Florida and came to Tallahassee to attend Florida State University. He worked on Miami Dade College’s Arts and Literature Magazine- Miamibiance Magazine and has published poetry and a short film called “ The Writer.” He’s currently working as the Newsroom’s Researcher while finishing his Creative Writing Bachelor’s Degree at Florida State University. When he’s not tracking down news, Ryan likes watching films, writing fiction and poetry, and exploring Florida.
Blake Allen is a senior studying multimedia journalism at the University of North Florida.