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Anti-Choice, Pro-Abortion: Our Rhetoric Defines Us

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April 15, 2016

12:28 AM

Recent letters to the editor have made it clear that The Flat Hat has not done its part in fairly and accurately representing both sides of the abortion debate as it takes place on our campus. Through articles about VOX’s activism and the screening of “Trapped,” it seems clear that some writers suffer from intense bias and are prone to portraying the pro-choice movement in a far more positive light than its counterpart. This bias is not just limited to The Flat Hat (see Slate, Bustle, Mother Jones, Cosmopolitan, Jezebel and the New York Times), but I think it’s important to address even on a local level. Activists, bystanders and members of the media alike are clothing the complexity of the abortion debate in rhetoric and sanitized language, instead of dealing with philosophical and moral qualms in an intellectually-honest way.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s philosophy, as preached in Notorious R.B.G. and displayed in countless oral arguments, is to be as charitable with her opponents as possible. Assume that they have both good intentions and intelligent arguments, and treat them as such. Otherwise, nothing can be learned or gained, and you have limited your own ability to seek more truth. Perhaps this impressive creed is why R.B.G. and the late Justice Scalia were such close friends and a valuable example of compassion and friendship crossing ideological lines.

I ask for the same in our campus discussion surrounding abortion. The pro-choice movement has branded itself beautifully, using the language of rights and empowerment, presenting abortion as mere healthcare (the same as any routine procedure, despite the clear differences in moral quandaries) on its path to being destigmatized. But to present abortion only as a right or as healthcare sells the other side short — reduces the deep and compassionate convictions of so many who see the issue differently — and doesn’t even begin to touch the complexity behind the issue.

 I expect The Flat Hat to fully represent these viewpoints and keep writer bias in check, and for members of our community to engage with more intellect and less rhetoric.

So many things are caught up in the balance — class mobility, potential partner abuse, future wellbeing of the child and ability of women to pursue their careers and desires unfettered. It’s such an important issue, but we talk about it in a way that refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of each argument. It wouldn’t be so controversial and difficult if it truly were a routine healthcare procedure, so we should acknowledge both the costs and benefits instead of pretending it is wholly one or the other.

I consider myself a secular sex-positive pro-life feminist; these beliefs are not rooted in a deep desire to oppress women, evangelize the masses, or create a less sex-positive world where you’re barred from buying condoms until you present a marriage license. To the contrary, I see pro-choice rhetoric as something that sells female strength and empowerment short. I expect The Flat Hat to fully represent these viewpoints and keep writer bias in check, and for members of our community to engage with more intellect and less rhetoric. True ideological understanding only happens when we learn where the other side is coming from — and, conveniently, many of us come from similar places of compassion for women in tough situations and yearning for good solutions that compromise neither the wellbeing of the mother nor the wellbeing of the fetus.

It’s my biggest hope that members of both VOX and Students for Life actively seek out understanding of the other side, and that The Flat Hat will thoughtfully represent our activism. If ever interested in talking about this issue further, please email or message me — there’s so much to be gained through simple discourse and genuine curiosity. Most people at our school have great intellect and even greater intentions.

Email Elizabeth Wolfe at elwolfe01@email.wm.edu

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  • Liz Wolfe

  • David Priver

    A lot of verbiage here, but not a word about the crux of the issue : In your view,
    abortion should be a crime. So who gets punished and what is the punishment?

    • Kristin

      I always get confused when people ask this question, as if they have completely forgotten that abortion was illegal before 1973. There is already a long hisory of precedent set for that, with restrictions on the abortion doctors and the women being seen as second victims.

      • David Priver

        So I guess that means that a woman who hires someone to “kill” her baby is not guilty of a crime, as she would be if she hired someone to kill, say, her husband. Do you really think this absurd belief will resonate with anyone capable of cognitive thinking? A rhetorical question, as I know the answer. But please do carry on so that we may be assured that the GOP will lose the election.

        • Kristin

          Again, this is how it worked when it was illegal. You’re forgetting that it used to be illegal. Women only get abortions when they are made to feel like it’s their only choice, sp those who prey on that and make money off of it (abortion doctors) are more guilty. And it would be great if the GOP lost the election. Many of us pro-lifers are liberals, Feminists, and Atheists.

          • David Priver

            Unfortunately, Kristin, you are conversing with someone who provided care to women before Roe v Wade (i’m no youngster), so I need to tell you that you have no idea what you’re talking about. Women elect to have abortions for a very wide variety of reasons, contrary to what you appear to believe, mostly because they are carrying an unwanted pregnancy. Also, how absurd to think that we physicians “prey”upon women. Where did you ever come up with that? The fee for an abortion is extremely low. We’d make more money caring for almost anything else. The way it worked before is entirely irrelevant. Their hysterical rantings notwithstanding, the antis, who consider abortion to be murder, would most certainly prosecute women.

          • Kristin

            Even Guttmacher, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, shows that women get abortions not because they simply don’t want their kids but rather because they don’t feel like they can be the mothers they’d like to be, due to society telling them they can’t be mothers if they are single, poor, going to school, have a career etc. And all you have to do is go to clinicquotes.com to find many quotes of abortion doctors talking about how they purposefully don’t tell the women that it is of course their child, or details of development, specifically making sure they don’t see the ultrasound because you can’t have that because if they knew they were actually killing their children, they’d never want to do it. Not to mention that they get rich off of it too. Abortions cost hundreds of dolalrs and some have become very wealthy by doing that.I mean you even said that pro-lifers “consider” it to be murder, as if it’s even possible that it isn’t murder. That’s what fuels the horrible dehumanization which leads to women getting abortions without realizing that they are killing their children, thus making them victims too. This also is what leads to women regretting it, and having depression, PTSD, suicidal tendencies, and even killing themselves over it. They think it’s “just a clump of cells” and when they pick up a science textbook and find out how very wrong that is, it’s horrifying. Because people don’t want to kill their kids. They only do it because of abortion doctors and pro-choicers making them feel that it’s just tissue of their body, that they need to get rid of in order to have full lives. So trust me, we have mad sympathy for women getting abortions, because society is mad oppressive in convincing women that they actually need to kill their children in order to be equal in society or have decent lives.

          • David Priver

            At this point, I will sign off; we’ll just have to agree to disagree on everything except that we hope the GOP loses.

  • Carley Schanck

    excellently written and solid logic…great job!