Infiltrating and Debunking Campus Pro-lifers: An Exercise in Self-Control


cropped-cropped-10460582_810942088940524_3633691378755264609_o//Ariana Karakatsanis

Content Warning: This article contains information related to abortion and sexual assault.

A couple of weeks ago my friend told me about protestors standing by Western campus for the “Pro-Life” movement. Their signs were covered in images of live and dead fetuses, impossible to miss on your way to class through the University gates. Although I completely disagree with “Pro-Life” beliefs, I wanted to further my knowledge of their perspective so I decided to sign up for their club “Lifeline,” a USC approved club, and attend their first meeting.

I am pro-choice. I believe and stand up for women making their own decisions and having autonomy over their own bodies, so you can imagine this was the last place I wanted to be. I wanted to use this opportunity to understand their side of the debate rather than ignoring their voice and beliefs. Upon further investigation however, I found the majority of their arguments were based on fallacies and subjective examples that when taken into the perspective of larger society become insignificant.


Definition of a Human Life

The first claim in the Lifeline argument was about the science concerning when a fetus becomes a human life. The President of the club explained that there was a spectrum of where this could be possible, before conception, during conception, and after conception. The examples for the three were: before the egg and sperm met, during fertilization, and when a child was two years old. It was then stated that a woman could not get pregnant without sperm (obviously), and that a two year old cannot poof into existence (no shit), so it must be during fertilization that the egg and sperm become a human life.

While I am not a science student, this “argument” is being used as a tactic in order to convince listeners to believe their message. Two out of the three examples are on extreme ends of the spectrum forcing the listener to agree with their opinion by default. They are missing multiple points in the spectrum that could possible define when a human life begins. Many claim it is when the fetus can live on its own, or when it is birthed, and many points before. The club stated that this idea was backed by science, but the debate of when a fetus becomes a human life is ongoing. These claims are more opinion than they are a scientific fact.  


A Woman’s Choice

A young man was walking past the pro-life activists and was asked if he was pro-life. He said: “No, I think women should have choices.” The activists’ response went along the lines of asking multiple questions with obvious answers in order to persuade the listener into thinking his beliefs had changed. She asked him if he would support a woman’s choice to go to the bar and drink (if she was legal), he said yes (obviously, well I hope you think that). Then asked him if it was okay for the girl to choose to drive home drunk, he said well no, of course not. These two questions produced/constructed/manipulated the argument. It was said that this woman made a choice, but the wrong choice, and while it’s amazing to support women’s rights there is a fine line to which we cannot cross. Interesting side note: the pro-lifers claim that the name “pro-choice” is propagandistic, as it makes the assumption that they are anti-choice when they actually claim to be anti-murder.

The comparison of abortion to drunk driving is a little far fetched in my opinion. Claiming that a fetus’ rights are equivalent to a human walking on the street is absurd. A fetus, especially early on in the pregnancy, cannot live on its own, it is dependent on a woman’s body.


Compassion

A young woman walked up to the pro-life booth and told the President she was raped and got an abortion, and wanted to know how she felt about it. Compassion was what she responded with. Claiming that they needed to use compassion before anything else, especially in these specific circumstances. She asked her if she was safe, and continued talking to her about their movement. I do not know specifically what she told her, but to the group she said that the goal of their club was not to make people hurt over their “bad” decisions, but help them make “better” decisions.

Most of these stories I am writing down are infuriating, but this one takes the fucking cake. I can respect the thought of wanting to be nice to someone and support them if they chose to do something you do not agree with, but you cannot be compassionate to people while still using images of aborted fetuses in order to scare people into agreeing with you. These images are real, and I do not think they need to be banned but blasting them all over campus in order to push your own agenda on students is disgusting. The shock factor is the only thing being used here. Telling a woman she made a bad decision after having an abortion is far from being compassionate. Saying “better” decisions, argues that they know right from wrong when they really know nothing about her personal experiences to make them capable of judging.


Critical Pregnancies

Another point of discussion were critical pregnancies, where either the woman’s life is at risk during the pregnancy or possible birthing defects are predicted. There were many shared stories about positive experiences of women who pushed through harmful pregnancies with support and ended up having their child and were glad they did. They were using isolated incidents and inductive reasoning to exemplify the broad possibilities of such circumstances.

Privilege is something I noted down when I was in this meeting. There were many stories about children who have a disability but are loved and cared for, and these are incredible situations, but the reality is that someone has to have resources to raise a child. This includes caregiving and monetary support. While some women are able to support their children, we cannot ignore the other women and families who are not as privileged to provide time, money and love for their children.

It was said that pro-choice activists believe that all babies with possible disabilities should be aborted. This statement is ridiculous and completely false. It is about giving women the right to decide for their own future and their own bodies; Pro-Choice, not Pro-Abortion.


I was surprised at how welcoming they were at the club, I sat and listened, but it was extremely difficult not to speak up. Although my perspective has not changed, it was an interesting experience at least. The president did offer to buy me coffee to chat another day, but it’s safe to say I won’t be taking her up on that anytime soon.

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