Look to civil debate on abortion, not extremism

Last Thursday, Life and Liberty Ministries, a group unaffiliated with the campus pro-life group GW Colonials for Life, came to the University and displayed posters depicting abortions at various fetal stages of human development. CFL does not support this organization’s tactics and had no foreknowledge that it would visit our campus. This event has again thrust many important questions, not just about abortion, but also the proper role of debate, to the forefront of the GW community.

CFL is a non-sectarian pro-life group. We are united in the principle that all innocent human beings have the right not to be killed, regardless of their stage of physical or mental development. This is not a belief exclusive to the fundamentalism preached by the group that visited GW or even Christianity in general. There are plenty of philosophies and religions that support inalienable human rights, the first of which is the right to life.

We believe that placing posters of aborted human fetuses on the street corner is not the most effective way to promote a culture of life. In our culture, abortion is frequently referred to as an abstract “choice.” It is not surprising that in the face of a great atrocity, this group would want to expose the grisly reality of that “choice,” dismembered corpse and all. But those pictures are so horrifying that people should be warned before seeing them. The emotional shock people experience when seeing these images in this way is likely to lead them to dismiss the rational arguments of right-to-lifers.

It would be easy to dismiss the pro-life cause because of the tactics used last Thursday, but it would be wrong to do so. If that group had instead displayed pictures of children who are being killed in Darfur today, would that make the movement to stop that genocide wrong? Unpleasant tactics do not make a cause illegitimate.

Similarly, while Lyndon LaRouche’s followers oppose the Iraq war and are viewed by most students as having a few screws loose for believing that Bush is literally a zombie or that Pythagorean geometry is wrong, it does not follow that that the Iraq war is ipso facto just and wise. Simply because someone may be wrong on a host of issues, it does not mean that they must be wrong on all issues.

What might be the most disappointing part of Thursday’s events were not the actions of abortion placard-waving protesters, but the response of some intellectually lazy GW students. Most students attending Thursday’s counter-protest to the abortion rally found it dignified to scream in mega-phones and wave signs with trite slogans scribbled upon them. Unfortunately, they were nowhere to be seen on Oct. 11, when CFL sponsored a spirited but civil debate on abortion between Cynthia Harrison of the history and women’s studies departments and Stephanie Gray of the Center for Bioethical Reform.

GW students should rise above their emotions and engage in rational dialogue. Whether you like it or not, abortion is an issue that will continue to divide this country for the rest of our lives. It is not intellectually honest to dismiss the argument that abortion kills innocent human beings just because of the apparent extremism of a few. If the students who counter-protested at Thursday’s event truly care about their cause, they should be willing to engage in debate, or they will merely endorse emotional protests as the only possible recourse for their opponents.

-The writer, a senior majoring in international affairs and history, is a Hatchet columnist.

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