This past weekend, our campus hosted the largest student-run pro-life conference of its kind, the 16th Annual Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life.

Georgetown students brought in speakers from different backgrounds to address the morality of abortion and other life issues. In response to the mere presence of pro-life activists on campus, H*yas for Choice felt compelled to protest the event, ignoring invitations to attend themselves instead.

On the protest’s Facebook page, they called the ideologies of the speakers “misogynistic, racist, homophobic and xenophobic,” insisting that their opinions were “offensive to the majority of students.”

They lauded these accusations despite the fact that the latest Gallup polling showed 46 percent of Americans identifying as pro-life. This is not some fringe, hateful group in our country; we are a strong, growing population that is seeking to come to a better understanding of what life is and how to protect it in all of its stages.

No meaningful dialogue can take place when one side of the issue repeatedly refuses to converse, resorting instead to name-calling. Equating the pro-life movement with all that has ever been wrong in the world is the truly offensive act. The left prefers to think of everyone they disagree with as being motivated by some dark, deep-seated desire to oppress a minority group. Although easier than having morally complicated arguments, this compulsion to demonize those they disagree with is driven by emotion and not based on reason or presented facts.

According to the H*yas for Choice blog, what they seem to have meant in describing certain pro-life ideologies as “homophobic” was that some of the speakers opposed in vitro fertilization. Since many pro-life advocates view human embryos as human life in need of protection, IVF poses an ethical problem as it creates life only to destroy it.

However, it is not a process exclusively used by the gay community and gay couples can form families through methods like adoption. Given this, it remains unclear exactly how believing that IVF unnecessarily brings life into the world only to destroy it is an inherently homophobic belief.

The racist accusation seemingly stems from the fact that one of the speakers, Damon Owens, is a black pro-life activist who points out the undisputed fact that black women have a disproportionate amount of abortions. Nevertheless, black lives matter, and Mr. Owens work has focused on protecting that life at every stage. How Owens’ concern for his community and advocacy on the issue of what he sees as millions of black deaths per year make him racist is beyond any rational comprehension.

In contrast, the Cardinal O’Connor Conference sought to have a real discussion on life issues. During the daylong conference, distinguished scholars and thinkers discussed a wide variety of issues, ranging from the death penalty to what it means to be an autonomous person with rights. Hundreds of conference attendees came together from diverse backgrounds from across the country, representing multiple identities, to have these meaningful and challenging conversations.

Pro-choice voices are not oppressed on this campus. Over the course of the past year, the President of H*yas for Choice, Abby Grace (SFS ’16), has published five opinion pieces for The Hoya, decrying the perceived lack of free speech and the need for better sexual education, but she never offered a definition of life or personhood.

There’s a real debate to be had here. When does life begin? The moment after a baby exists the birth canal and not a second sooner? When a fetus can feel pain (sometime between 16 and 20 weeks)? At the moment of conception? The abortion debate is not about systematic oppression, perpetuating inequalities between the sexes, or any other socially constructed ill taught in an intro to women’s and gender studies course.

Pure and simple, it’s about when life starts and making sure this is protected. This is a deeply important question to address in order to respect the innate dignity of every life. Let’s stop the character assassination and have this conversation.

 

MalloryCarr_ColumnistPhotoSketchMallory Carr is a senior in the College. The Right Corner appears every other Friday.

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10 Comments

  1. This is an incredibly well-done piece. While I probably fall closer to the protesters ideologically, I agree wholeheartedly that there is a real debate to be had, and that debate should be about when life begins.

    As a logical matter, people that support abortion as an ethical option need to believe either (a) life has not begun when the abortion occurs or (b) the benefits of abortion justify taking the life. (Perhaps there is a more nuanced view about different stages of life beginning, but that gets to the author’s point: this is what needs to be articulated and discussed.)

  2. “‘offense to the majority of students’ … despite the fact that… 46% of americans [are] identifying as pro-life.”
    I don’t think “despite” is the word you’re looking for. 46% is not a majority, and your minority is not growing.
    Please explain to me how IVF brings life into the world only to destroy it.
    And then explain to me how the conference is promoting “real discussion” when the only so-called “authorities” are all of the same view point. Thanks in advance for the clarifications!

  3. Great piece, Mallory. I read the H*ya’s for Choice articles and was shocked they made such giant leaps of logic . . . but that’s what you get with ideologues who refuse to use reason and who prefer to demonize the opposition while spreading hate and fear, instead of participating in calm, substantive debate on the issues.

  4. “Pro-choice voices are not oppressed on this campus.” lol

  5. The homophobia statement stemmed from the fact that one of the speakers was a proud defender of “traditional marriage” and spoke out in favor of same-sex marriage bans. Pretty sure that constitutes homophobia…

  6. Annie,

    To say that everyone who does not support the redefinition of marriage is a bigot is to me an outrageous claim. By your logic, Barack Obama was a bigot until 2.5 years ago, Pope Francis is a bigot, I am a bigot, and just under half of the country are bigots. You should be careful about throwing such loaded claims around.

    • I would argue that believing that the rights of marriage should not be extended to those who choose to do so with a member of the same sex simply because of who they are and how they define themselves is pretty loaded too

  7. Homophobia is disliking gays and fearing them. I’m sure the speaker has gay friends and family who he neither dislikes nor fears, and for whom he cares. You don’t seem to know what homophobia is, Annie. Furthermore, to be against gay marriage doesn’t mean you fear or hate gays anymore than being against divorce means you fear or hate divorced people. As Mallory noted above, you don’t help society by demonizing the opposition.

    • Having gay friends and especially family members doesn’t mean you are suddenly incapable of holding prejudices against the LGBTQ community. Often times, when someone supplements an argument with “I have a gay friend” or “my cousin is a lesbian” it’s because they just said something homophobic. Being kind to gay friends and family does not make you immune from homophobia. If you are still supporting and upholding discriminative policies against all gay people, you are being homophobic, regardless of if you have a gay friend that you invited to your Christmas party.

      And denying an entire population of people a right because it challenges your personal belief of the definition of marriage is very different from not wanting any person to get divorced. It’s about who we are giving rights and why we believe they do or do not deserve those rights. Marriage plays a vital role in society, culturally and economically, and denying a group of people the right to marriage because they are in a same-sex relationship is homophobic. It is on the basis of their sexuality that you do not want them to marry. That is discrimination, discrimination is the action of prejudice, and prejudice against the gays is homophobia.

  8. Pro-choice voices are definitely not oppressed on campus; they are recognized as existing but not officially affiliated with the university because we are a Catholic institution and that means it stands as pro-life in its values. If you’re so troubled of not being able to express your pro-choice opinions and motives, you should not have chosen to come to a Catholic school. Still, there is plenty of opportunity for fruitful and civilized conversation here, and if H*yas for Choice were smarter in its advocacy strategy, it would choose to make honest efforts to engage in that conversation instead of vainly fighting against it.

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