Sometimes it is tough to be a pro-life college student. Most challenges students face are found on campus during a tabling event or with the administration, but sometimes they are inside the classroom. Far too often when pro-life students dare to speak up in defense of the unborn, professors attempt to humiliate and silence them. [Tweet that!]
I experienced this first hand in a biology class during my freshman year. The class focused on technological advances in the field of biology and the ethical concerns which accompanied the advancements.
My professor, “Dr. Nation,” covered each topic with a series of lectures, and then allowed a discussion day with groups of students representing the pro and con side of the issue for the class, followed by a Q&A portion. After the presentation on embryonic stem cell research, I excitedly got in line to ask my question for the pro-embryonic stem cell research team. They had made a case for the research on the basis that we should take advantage of the embryos instead of just letting them go to waste. This was one of the first times I had the opportunity in college to speak up for the pro-life perspective. I had just returned from my first March for Life and was nervous to challenge the students in front of the class.
Each student in front of me stepped up to ask a clarification question about something from either presentation, and a few challenged the con side. I was the first person to make any sort of case for the pro-life side in the entire semester. My turn came, and I began to ask the students if they would use the same argument to advocate for the intentional destruction of human life in other cases if it would mean biological research could progress. I was about to give a thought experiment example when Dr. Nation cut me off. He had not done this a single time with any of the students that day or in any other discussion days in the entire semester.
Unfortunately, there may be a time when threats or acts of violence against you become a reality while sidewalk counseling. It is important to know how to handle such a situation, and, in particular, when and how to involve the police.
When I arrived at the facility there were already some sidewalk counseling volunteers there. I spoke with one volunteer who said that one of the abortion facility escorts, Roy, was acting particularly aggressive that day. He was physically pushing his way in between sidewalk counselors and abortion-minded people at the facility. A couple of hours later, I saw two sidewalk counselors persuade an abortion-minded couple outside the facility to come down to talk with them.
Roy saw the sidewalk counselors in conversation with the facility’s potential customers and started marching aggressively in their direction. I could see that Roy was going to try to break up their conversation, so I walked over to them to intercept Roy. I stood with my back to the couple and faced Roy. When he was about ten feet away from me, he stuck his arm out horizontally at about shoulder height and continued to walk until he ran into me with his forearm.
The new Center for Medical Progress video shows a conversation between two undercover journalists and an abortion practitioner, Dr. DeShawn Taylor. Dr. Taylor is the former medical director for Planned Parenthood Arizona. Here are the most important points to note from this video.
#1: Dr. Taylor strongly implies that she will kill a born infant that survives an abortion if she thinks she can get away with it
This is the most damning point in the entire video.
From 6:10 in the video:
Buyer: Do you [use] dig[oxin to kill the fetus]?
Dr. Taylor: Yeah.
Buyer: Starting when?
Dr. Taylor: Uh, 20 weeks.
Buyer: Starting at 20 weeks.
Dr. Taylor: Mhm, yeah.
Buyer: Because that’s the other thing, because dig[oxin] ruins the integrity of the specimen.
Dr. Taylor: Oh, I mean, so the thing is, it’s really, and then that’s really an issue because in Arizona, if the fetus comes out with any signs of life, we’re supposed to transport it. To the hospital.
Buyer: At any gestational age?
Dr. Taylor: Any gestational age. Yeah, yeah.
Buyer: Is there any standard procedure for verifying signs of life?
Dr. Taylor: Well the thing is, I mean the key is, you need to pay attention to who’s in the room, right? And like, you know, because the thing is the law states that you’re not supposed to do any maneuvers after the fact to try to cause [fetal] demise. So it’s really tricky. It’s really tricky so, most of the time we do dig, and it usually works. And then we don’t have to worry about that because Arizona state law says if any, if there’s signs of life, then we’re supposed to transport them. To the hospital.
Defenders of Dr. Taylor will be quick to point out that she never actually said she has ever killed born infants that survive abortion, which is true. The question is, what else could that implication mean? Dr. Taylor’s response to whether there’s a standard procedure for verifying signs of life of a child outside the womb is to point out that it depends on who is in the room. Why would your response to a born child outside the womb change depending on who is in the room? The only plausible explanation is that it depends on whether you can get away with breaking the law.
We just got this great outreach story from Nicole at Students for Life at the University of Michigan!
A young man came up to our Students for Life table where we were asking people where they stood on abortion from “Illegal in All Cases” to “Legal in All Cases” He was going to put the sticker where it said abortion should be “legal in all cases.” My friend Elise and I started asking him what that meant to him. We later specified and asked about sex-selective abortions, abortions based on handicaps, and other such situations. He seemed to be surprised, as if no one had ever brought these up to him before. He then put down his sticker. I asked more clarification questions to understand his viewpoint. We discussed a variety of concerns, such as his right to speak being a man, and a woman’s right to her own choices. I used the tool of “Trotting Out a Toddler” several times and he was very interested in the questions I was asking.
I then brought out the Equal Rights Argument, which was my first time using it since taking the online ERI course. I was probably a little confusing for a bit, but we discovered his personhood argument, which depended on the organism’s ability to think. I then explained the difference between capacity/potential and its actualization, which he seemed to enjoy (I hope I’m using the right terms, I’m not a philosophy major!). He kept going back to women having choices, and so we discussed what that entailed and what should be legal and what should not be. It was a great, fruitful conversation. He was very kind and open-minded. It ended with him writing down the name of our club, and hopefully he contacts us. If you see this, it was great talking to you, and I’d love to again!
I would also like to add one thing I learned today while doing dialogue. Whenever someone came up to us and put their sticker on “legal in all cases,” I would get scared. They couldn’t tell, but I was sweating! I knew that most of the time they didn’t actually mean all cases, but I usually get nervous before conversations (although I hide it very well, I must say). And once I started talking to this man, I was so impressed with his open-mindedness and kindness, and realized that I had had a stereotype for what a pro-choicer was. It was a nice thing to be reminded not to stereotype the people who come up and assume who they will be and what they will be like.
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have discussions and impressed with how many people want to talk with us. I’m also glad to feel more equipped thanks to ERI and my club.
Almost two years ago I read about twenty-one Coptic Christians whom ISIS beheaded. One of my Facebook friends shared the list of the martyrs’ names, and, as I read through them, I noticed that one of them, Samuel Alham Wilson, happened to have the same first and last name as one of my closest friends. Somehow that coincidence strangely humanized these brave Christians for me. I wrote on my own Facebook wall, “I work full-time trying to help people humanize the unborn, and yet until I read their names, I didn’t exactly think of them as human. They were mere statistics.”
Screenshot from CNN story.
Unfortunately, there’s an ugly side to this story that I didn’t even realize until recently. I was so appalled at the evil of the people who killed the twenty-one Coptic Christians, I referred to them multiple times as “animals” and “monsters.” I consciously humanized the Christians, and then turned around and subconsciously dehumanized their murderers.
I’ve seen many others make the same mistake. We have to stop doing this.