Anti-abortion activist voices perceptions of movement

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Dannenfelser currently serves as president of the Susan B. Anthony List, which aims to elect anti-abortion politicians throughout the United States alongside its Super PAC, Women Speak Out. PHOTO / DAISY GARNER

Oct. 28, the College of William and Mary’s Tribe for Life organization hosted the event, “Restoring Life in America,” featuring prominent anti-abortion political activist Marjorie Dannenfelser.  

Dannenfelser currently serves as president of the Susan B. Anthony List, which aims to elect anti-abortion politicians throughout the United States alongside its Super PAC, Women Speak Out. 

In addition to her involvement with the Susan B. Anthony List, Dannenfelser was named the chair of President Donald Trump’s anti-abortion coalition. 

She is active in numerous other political organizations like the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission. 

Tribe for Life specifically wanted to welcome Dannenfelser to the school because of her unique background, as she used to support abortion rights. 

“We thought she would be a good person to bring and kind of opening up discussion and encouraging questions and discussion among people who are pro-life and pro-choice because she has seen both sides of each argument,” Tribe for Life Public Relations Chair Savannah Orsak ’22 said. 

Dannenfelser began her talk by speaking to students about the evolution of her stance on abortion during her undergraduate years at Duke University. In her college philosophy class, Dannenfelser said she was called to challenge her ideas.  

Dannenfelser disputed the common perception that supporting abortion rights is an expression of feminism. 

Dannenfelser informed the audience how many members of the American suffragist movement, including Susan B. Anthony, were adamantly anti-abortion.  

Dannenfelser discussed the landmark Supreme Court cases Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, which overturned abortion laws in the United States, and illustrated how the women involved in the cases never actually received abortions and ended up advocating against abortion for the rest of their lives.   

“Experiences of these two women help explain why the pioneers of the Women’s Movement understood abortion as the ultimate exploitation of women,” Dannenfelser said.

“Experiences of these two women help explain why the pioneers of the Women’s Movement understood abortion as the ultimate exploitation of women,” Dannenfelser said.   

Dannenfelser then shifted gears to discuss the scientific implications of abortion. She referenced evidence suggesting that life begins at fertilization.  

“We always hear, ‘no one can say when life begins,’ but this is simply not the way that science discusses it,” Dannenfelser said. “There is a scientific consensus. Every one of us is a human being distinctly from the beginning from the very moment we have our very own unique DNA footprint that is established at the beginning.” 

Upon the conclusion of the event, Dannenfelser held a question and answer session, during which she was questioned about her website’s endorsement of an anti-abortion pill which some doctors and medical professionals have labeled as dangerous. 

“Progesterone is the drug that is used, FDA approved, certainly,” Dannenfelser said. “It is used in fertility treatments and is used in many other obstetric and gynecological situations, so, it is FDA approved. There is no reason that it can’t be used in such a situation, if it is used without question.”  

Dannenfelser’s talk resonated with Anna Kemma ’22, especially when she talked about the foundational beliefs of the anti-abortion movement.  

“I think the last comment on the pro-life movement coming from a place of love and care for women and for children, and for speaking up for those who do not have that voice and who aren’t cared for or paid attention to, I think that was probably the thing that resonated with me the most,” Kemma said.  

Dulguun Myagmarsuren ’22 said that the talk relied too heavily on moral positions rather than on concrete facts about abortion.  

“She had a lot of info, I think she tried to make a whole story behind her opinion, with moral opinions and ‘medical facts’ and looking from historical figures,” Myagmarsuren said.

“She had a lot of info, I think she tried to make a whole story behind her opinion, with moral opinions and ‘medical facts’ and looking from historical figures,” Myagmarsuren said. “But I also think, that are a lot of things that were her own opinions and then she intended it as facts.”   

Social Media Manager Lucy Greenman ’22 of VOX, the College’s reproductive rights group, provided a statement from the organization concerning the event. 

“VOX respects freedom of speech and Tribe for Life’s right to bring a speaker to campus,” VOX’s written statement said. “We are glad to see their invitation to engage with this issue, and we agree that civil discussion can be a productive way forward. We respect Marjorie Dannenfelser’s right to appear, but we strongly encourage any interested parties to make themselves fully informed of the Susan B. Anthony List’s influence in nominating pro-life judges such as Brett Kavanaugh, anti-LGBTQ loyalty to the Trump/Pence administration, and dangerously misleading promotion of the ‘abortion reversal pill.’”  

Both Dannenfelser and Tribe for Life encouraged students to promote a discussion. They also recommended posing questions moving forward. 

“Tribe for Life encourages all different kinds of people to ask questions about the pro-life movement because I know that there are a lot of misconceptions about it and what we believe in as a group: we believe in both supporting women and providing resources for them in their pregnancies,” Orsak said.