On Thursday, February 13, the Republican Club held an event entitled “I Am Pro-Life, Change My Mind” in Fireside Lounge from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm. The event was structured to be a debate on the topic between students and professors, allowing for audience participation. About 15 were in attendance, including the club itself.
The event was moderated by Republican Club President, Nicholas Turner, who is double-majoring in computer and digital forensics and networking and cyber security. The debate itself was led by another member who spoke from the side of Pro-Life and requested to remain unnamed. The rules of the event were simple: keep it to respectful and professional one-on-one conversations.
One of the first arguments brought up by a student was the idea of abortion when it comes to pregnancy from nonconsensual sex. The Pro-Life speaker answered with, “The child didn’t ask to be born into this situation… while they [the situations] are unfortunate, they are not reasons to terminate another life that is not responsible for how it got here,” This student then suggested the creation of better systems for the children born from these circumstances.
Another student later brought more attention to the mother’s aspect of this debate. “People don’t understand how much of your life you’re giving away the second you are pregnant. I think it’s fair for someone to recognize that this will ruin your life. I think it’s fine if you want to have an abortion.”
Professor April Howard then offered their own opinion, introducing the idea of abortion throughout the rest of the world. This was countered by both the speaker and the moderator as off-topic since the debate was based only on the United States.
The professor responded with one last point, explaining, “In El Salvador, where abortion is illegal in all cases (including rape, incest, and the health of the mother), women are being sentenced to 30 years in prison for having a miscarriage because they are being charged with homicide. This is a context we need to understand because, if we make abortion illegal, these are the kind of stories we’ll start to see in the U.S..”
Four other students spoke with the club, debating the topic with various arguments on when life begins, what rights mothers and children have, as well as what trimester abortion should be legal until.
As for the results, no one had their mind specifically changed, but a discussion was held, and it was a successful one according to some attendees.
“It was definitely the best event for Change My Mind so far. The one-on-one structure led to a more equal conversation rather than a debate. It was as civil as this kind of conversation can be,” said SGA President, Molly Aldrich.
As for the Republican Club’s thoughts, Nicholas Turner said, “The event went great. Everyone was respectful, for the most part stayed on topic, and everyone enjoyed it. I hope we have more discussions like it.”
Correction notice 02.19.20: April Howard’s title and quote updated.