Looking at both sides

Some people come to understand the humanity involved only when confronted with graphic evidence.

Much negative criticism of the graphic abortion display outside of Coffman fails to coherently address the content and purpose of the presentation. Andy Mannix, Jon Collins, Christopher Howe, and Hannah Heidt all contributed articles in Thursday’s Daily, in which they repeated several points made by pro-choice activists who protested the event. As I considered this dialogue, I made sure to speak at length with the pro-life students, as well as with the pro-choice students, and to study the materials distributed by both sides.

Howe seemed to be using ad hominem attacks when he suggested that the pro-life display “is another thinly veiled, faith-based attempt to vilify sex as sinful abomination.” If Howe had considered the material actually presented, he would have realized that nowhere in the Genocide Awareness Project display were there any references to faith or religious pronouncements about sex. Similarly, Heidt belittled GAP as a group that merely “propagated falsehoods.” The accusation of dishonesty appeared in several published comments, including those by Kaitlin Sergenian. If Ms. Heidt and Ms. Sergenian think the images were somehow distorted, they would benefit from taking a few minutes to page through an embryology textbook. When asked by a passerby about who put on the display, a lone protester named Amanda described them as, “a bunch of angry white people spreading bulls–t.” She proceeded to make further remarks to anybody who would listen about the “white people” with “too much money” trying to scare others.

Other pro-choice students offered a slightly more substantive response, repeating the words of Ellen Kennedy, who had been quoted in the article by Mannix and Collins. She accused Students for Human Life of committing a “horrific moral injustice” by allowing GAP to compare abortion to more traditionally recognized forms of genocide. A number of pro-choice students caught on and began distributing flyers or holding signs that condemned the use of the word “genocide” as a descriptor of abortion. As Kennedy had done, every pro-choice student with whom I discussed the issue quickly pointed to a definition of “genocide” created by the UN Genocide Convention, which described genocide as violence against a “national, ethnical, racial, or religious group.” Because these categorizations do not mention “age,” the pro-choice activists declared the nature of abortion is so completely unrelated that examining potential similarities between the two is “a horrific injustice.”

Instead of discussing the similarities or dissimilarities between abortion and death campaigns popularly deemed “genocide,” the pro-choice side simply scoffed at the terminology. Evidently, their opposition to GAP was no deeper than an argument over semantics. Even on this level, one can effectively counter their point. Looking at a different definition of genocide, we see that the word also means “the mass killing of substantial numbers of human beings, when not in the course of military forces of an avowed enemy, under conditions of the essential defenselessness and helplessness of the victims,” according to George Andreopoulos. Abortion easily fits into this definition and gives just as much credibility to GAP as the pro-choice activists sought to remove by citing the UN’s definition.

It seems to me that the Genocide Awareness Project wished to highlight the parallels between the devaluing of human life seen when the Nazi government approved the abuse of Jews and when our own government sanctions/supports the victimization of the unborn. Obviously, there are differences between the two cases, but the topic deserves more thoughtful consideration than what was given by the pro-choice group.

It is intellectually absurd to deny that the fetus is a living human being. The only relevant question that must be answered is whether our society will grant the unborn the status of “person,” along with the accompanying protection of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness guaranteed to all persons in America.

Benjamin McDonald is a University graduate student. Please send comments to [email protected]