By David DeKok
HARRISBURG Pa (Reuters) - An anti-abortion group has secured a permit to erect a video screen near the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, a popular destination for young schoolchildren, to show images of aborted fetuses this week, the U.S. National Park Service said on Tuesday.
Created Equal, which is based in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday plans to set up the 9-foot (2.7-meter) by 12-foot (3.6-meter) screen next to the building housing the Liberty Bell and across from Independence Hall, according to the permit.
During the park's peak visiting hours of 11 a.m to 3 p.m., the screen will display graphic images of what the group told the Philadelphia Inquirer are “victims of abortion,” including pieces of aborted fetuses.
“The Park Service is obliged by law to make accommodations to individuals or groups regardless of the content they are displaying,” said Jane Cowley, public affairs officer for Independence National Historical Park.
While there are no park activities for children planned for that day, school groups and families frequently visit the park without notice, Cowley said.
Even though the National Park Service reserves the right to deny permits for activities that would “cause derogation of ... the visitor experiences, ” that means noise, not content, Cowley said.
Mark Harrington, the national director of Created Equal, could not be immediately reached for comment.
He told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he knew some children would see the display but that he hoped parents who are offended would heed the warning signs the group intends to erect near the video screen.
Harrington said he would be “happy to stop doing this when the killing stops.”
Cowley said as many as 100 First Amendment protests are held at Independence Mall in a typical year.
“We have a lot of people come, and whether something is controversial depends entirely on who you ask,” Cowley said. “What might be controversial to you might not be controversial to someone else.”
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jim Loney)