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Your Speech Is Not Free If You Are Pro-Life

by Sarah Nahrgang

Every day in America, 3,000 innocent lives are taken. That is ¼ of our generation. Our brothers. Our sisters. Our friends. Our peers. Nearly 60 million children have been killed by abortion since 1973. They have no voice. They have no rights. When a group of pro-lifers dared to stand up for these rights on Monday, they were shouted over and forced to leave. This is just another case of conservative viewpoints being shut down on campus.

A group of Catholic laymen from the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property spoke out against abortion across from the HUB on Pollock Road. These men were there to “defend the unborn,” as one of their signs read. They were promptly met with hostility from counter-protesters, who claimed they were oppressing women and should not have the right to speak. This is not surprising. Free speech is all too frequently viewed as the freedom to agree and not the freedom to oppose. TFP voiced an unpopular opinion on a college campus: life begins at conception, and that life should be protected, same as our own. The added notion of praying to end the atrocity of abortion must have been especially triggering, considering the title of a Daily Collegian article on the protests: ‘Keep your rosaries off my ovaries’: Religious group leads to protests in front of the HUB, by Mikayla Corrigan. In the article, the pro-life arguments were poorly represented, while the comments of the pro-choice counter-protesters were favored. Both groups had every right to voice their opinion, but the counter protesters went further than that. Their goal was to shut down TFP and prevent them from speaking.

Here, you can find a description of the pro-life arguments presented by TFP. Many of these are religious arguments, as they are a religious group, but this does not represent the whole pro-life movement. Penn State has a secular pro-life organization, Students for Life, that similarly advocates for the rights of the unborn. Free speech is often limited on our campuses, especially, if not exclusively, for conservative viewpoints.  To address some of the arguments that TFP was shut down for voicing, here are some common myths coming from the pro-abortion side:

1. “My body, my choice.”

No, actually, your child is not your body. She has been a separate human person since the moment of her conception, with separate blood and DNA and everything else.  Your child does rely on you for sustenance, but this does not change after birth. It does not negate her personhood, as no person is self-sustaining. We all need food and water to sustain us, and what about someone in a coma, or someone dependent on dialysis? Her dependency does not invalidate her right to life. Everyone should have the right to say what they do with their own body, but with abortion legal, the unborn child is stripped of this right. She has no say in whether she lives or dies; she has no bodily autonomy. One of the counter-protesters proudly displayed a sign that read “abortion is a civil right.” Abortion is the intentional killing of an unborn human child; where are her rights?

2. “Her body, her choice.”

Abortion is often framed as a “women’s issue,” with anyone opposing unrestricted abortion being labeled as “anti-woman.” This allows men to be shut down for daring to be against abortion. Their maleness invalidates their argument. And women who are pro-life? They must have been tricked into it or be internally misogynized. They couldn’t possibly have an opinion different from the hivemind; that would just make women independent thinkers. That can’t be right. Abortion is of course a women’s issue, but not in the way it’s framed. In America, half of aborted children are female. In other countries such as China, sex selective abortions kill more females than males. Where are the rights for those girls? Abortion is also seen as some saving grace for women, when in reality, it has many physical and psychological side effects, which are worse than if the mother were to give birth. No matter how much abortion is trivialized and the unborn are dehumanized, many mothers still feel guilty, heartbroken, and depressed after aborting their child. Abortion has also shown to increase the mother’s chance of having uterine scarring, infertility, miscarriages, and cancer. This is no choice for women.

3. “It’s just a clump of cells.”

Your child is not a parasite or some amorphous blob; she is your child, your own human child. After fertilization, the child begins life as a single-celled zygote, a completely new and unique human person. We all began this way. The “clump of cells” statement only really holds true in the first week or two after conception, before most women know they are pregnant. By week 3, the child is classified as an embryo, and her heat begins beating. Her organs continue to form and take shape until she becomes a fetus at week 8. So the term “fetus” is not dehumanizing in any way; rather, it is merely a stage of human development, no different from baby, toddler, teenager, or adult. Regardless of the stage of development, your child is still your child, and they are human. This manipulation of language used to dehumanize others is what has led to genocide in the past, and it is a main contributor to the genocide of the unborn today.

4. “A woman should be able to have an abortion in cases of rape or incest.”

First off, less than 1% of abortions are performed because the mother was raped. Should all abortion be legal to allow for this exception? Does being born out of undesirable circumstances make you less of a person? Even in this circumstance, the child is still a human person. She played no part in her conception, and she is not guilty for her father’s crimes. While most pregnancies are the result of consensual sex, the lack of consent here does not strip the innocent child of her right to life. This is a difficult situation for the mother, and as such, she should be helped through her pregnancy, not pushed to end the life of her child. Children are a gift, and in the case of rape, they can help the mother make the best out of a terrible assault. If she cannot bear to raise the child herself, adoption is always an option, killing the child is not.

5. “Abortion is ok if the life of the mother is in danger.”

Issues around the life of the mother account for about 4% of abortions. Similar to rape, should this justify abortion for any reason? Late-term abortions are never medically necessary, because it takes too long in an emergency and because the fetus has a good chance at life. Emergency C-sections are often the medically appropriate response to save both the mother and child. These procedures can be performed in an hour, while fully dilating the cervix for an abortion can take a couple days. Viability at this stage of the child’s development is generally very good, especially with advances in neonatal care, so there is no reason to kill the child. As for first-trimester scenarios, most are to save the mother from ectopic pregnancies, which typically occur in the fallopian tube. On rare occasions, ectopic pregnancies can carry to term, but they usually carry a significant threat of death to both mother and child. For this reason, a salpingectomy can be performed to remove the fallopian tube. The child often dies of consequence, but she is not aborted, which would be the direct killing of the unborn child. To let both die would not be pro-life. With greater medical advances, such as artificial wombs and uterine transplants, these children could have a greater chance of life following a salpingectomy.

6. “If a mother knows she won’t be able to provide for her child, it’s actually more responsible to have an abortion.”

Killing your child is never responsible. While this argument might sound practical, it is probably one of the most disturbing. This places worth on children based on how ideal we think their life might be, and it sounds an awful lot like euthanasia. Should we get to decide for someone else if their difficulties are too much to bear? Is it up to us to decide if death would be better than suffering or inconvenience? If a child may grow up in unideal circumstances, the solution would be to improve their circumstances, not kill the child. There are up to 36 couples waiting for every one baby that is placed for adoption. If a mother cannot care for her child, there are plenty of couples who would give the child a loving home. If a mother cannot afford the cost of pregnancy or cannot bear to part with her child, there are Pregnancy Resource Clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and numerous charities that are ready to help. You are not alone.

Abortion can be a tempting choice, but it is not the answer. It does not help women, and it takes the life of a child. Every person has worth. Worth is not determined by whether or not you were planned or wanted. Worth is not determined by your size, level of development, environment, or degree of dependency. Worth is inherent, and it belongs to each of us by the nature of our humanity. It is endowed by our Creator and reaffirmed by our Constitution. The right to life should be applied to all, born and unborn. Be a voice for the voiceless. In the words of former President Ronald Reagan, “There’s one individual who’s not being considered at all. That’s the one who is being aborted. And I’ve noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born.” But hey, he probably just hates women, right?

Sarah Nahrgang

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