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A dare to come to Lila Rose

| Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Hello Notre Dame community. I have a dare for you.

This week is Respect Life Week on campus, part of the nationwide Respect Life Month of October. The point of the week is to highlight all the various ways how this Notre Dame community can come together and find common ground on meeting each other in love, and respecting the dignity of all people. Thursday evening will be the keystone event of the week, when Lila Rose comes to visit campus and give a lecture on the life issue.

If you don’t know, Lila Rose is one of the brightest young pro-life activists in the country. At only 29 years old, she is the president and founder of Live Action, the famed non-profit that is responsible for the controversial undercover Planned Parenthood videos that have been coming out since 2011. Lila has been on numerous media stations and talk shows advocating for life and is arguably the most articulate and passionate defender of the cause in the nation.

If you think you’re pro-choice, I dare you to come here Lila’s talk. I offer this dare not to be controversial or hard-edged, but because I want you to ask yourself the hardest questions possible about what you believe, because otherwise you don’t really have a solid or grounded belief. As a PLS major, I have to do this all the time; questioning myself and others is what I live for. Hearing the hardest possible arguments from (what you think is) the other side is the best way to understand what you yourself truly believe and to find the truth. As a passionate pro-lifer, I offer Lila Rose as the best spokeswoman for my side. She is firm and impassioned, young and energetic, but thoughtful and gentle. She responds with love and positivity, looking to fight for the woman and for the child. If you think you’re pro-choice, I’m not asking you to come to change your mind (though of course I’d always welcome that). I am asking you to give Lila Rose, and other pro-life millennials, the chance to ask you how deeply your beliefs go.

If you’re pro-woman and pro-feminism, I think you will find that you agree with Lila. One of her main talking points revolves around “fighting for them both: woman and child.” As a young woman herself, she understands the woman’s point-of-view as well as anyone. If you’re in favor of fighting poverty by directing government aid to young pregnant women, I think you’ll agree with Lila. She’ll show you how Planned Parenthood is nowhere near the best option for women or for federal spending. If you’re in favor of racial justice, I think you’ll agree with Lila. Part of her activism has been devoted to her project fighting racism in reproductive medical ethics.

I’m pro-woman, pro-government-aid-to-women, and pro-racial justice. I dare you to come to Lila Rose, and see if you really, truly, honestly do disagree with her and with me. This appeal is all-inclusive: pro-choice Catholics, pro-choice agnostics, the “personally pro-life but who am I to enforce my view on others” type, the unsure and undecided people in the middle, Hillary voters, Bernie lovers, and social justice warriors. To all of you I offer a friendly challenge — come to Notre Dame Right to Life’s lecture with Lila Rose (this Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Carey Auditorium of the Hesburgh Library), and see that you just might walk away with an oh-so-slightly different perspective.

I dare you. You won’t.


John Paul Ferguson

Class of 2020

Oct. 3

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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  • warmupthediesel

    Great letter! Godspeed!

  • Claire

    Just out of curiosity, have you ever considered the way that pro-life and pro-choice students are treated on campus and whether pro-choice opinions are heard or listened to? When was the last time that you engaged in an active conversation with a pro-choice student and considered their perspective? When will you be attending a pro-choice speaker? Have you ever felt uncomfortable or afraid to voice your opinions in a classroom filled with people who you fear will shame you for your beliefs? Also, could you tell me where you’re getting your information about Planned Parenthood or tell me what you personally know about the experiences women have who go there for general women’s health issues? Thanks.

    • warmupthediesel

      Pro-choice students opinions are heard all of the time…I remember hearing them extremely loudly when they vandalized a pro-life display on south-quad. In fact, I’ve heard more pro-choice people scream “MISOGYNIST” than I have heard pro-life people say “baby-killer”.

      The author doesn’t need to explain current events from the last six years to you. Use the power of a search engine like Google and type “Planned Parenthood undercover videos”…you might have to get through a few top-hitting leftist propaganda pages, but you’ll find the videos eventually.

      • Claire

        To first address the issue of pro-choice people screaming “misogynist,” I can’t say that I have ever heard any instances of this happening either personally or through stories told to me (not to discredit anything you’re saying, just to point out that I cannot think of a single instance in which that has happened). I also don’t think that the term “misogynist” is at all related to the issue of abortion. I understand the arguments of pro-life people, many of whom are women, and I would not even consider calling any pro-lifer I know a misogynist because that’s a word that’s pretty irrelevant to this conversation and I recognize that, much like many other pro-choice people. I will not speak for all pro-choice or all pro-life people, because that would be unfair for me to do, but I would feel comfortable betting that this is not a regular occurrence whatsoever.
        If we’re going to talk about the whole pro-life “baby killer” thing, which I think is fair to discuss since you’ve brought it up, as an additional example of how pro-choice voices are often silenced in our community I would refer to Obama’s commencement speech. For weeks leading up to his arrival, I remember seeing huge banners being flown around town or semi trucks with images on display of aborted fetuses denouncing Obama as this “baby killer.” Even as his speech began, Obama was interrupted by protesters who began chanting about how abortion is murder, which I think is a pretty blatantly clear example of how disinterested a lot of pro-life people are in hearing pro-choice voices.
        Before we get into the Planned Parenthood issue, I think it’s best we first clear the air and get some facts straightened out. The anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress released these videos in 2015 that had been secretly recorded, after posing as fake representatives of a biotech company to get access to meetings with abortion providers. All of the videos were found to be altered. The CMP claimed that the alterations were due to bathroom breaks and waiting periods and still thought that the videos were sufficient evidence that providers profit from the sale of donated tissues. Investigations in twelve states ensued, and none of them found Planned Parenthood clinics to have sold tissue for profit as the CMP claimed. In fact, in 2016, a Texas jury indicted the CMP founder David Daleiden as well as member Sandra Merritt and found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood. Though the charges were eventually dismissed, this year both were charged with 15 felonies in California, one for each of the people they had filmed without consent and one for criminal conspiracy to invade privacy. I’ll post my sources below if you’d like to read more about the trials of these two.
        My whole point really goes back to the idea that pro-choice people are not given much opportunity to voice their opinion in an environment in which they feel comfortable and able to express these ideas. Some local schools even give community service credit to students who stand outside of abortion clinics and protest or block the women trying to go in, and many more volunteers do that on their own volition. When you choose to yell at and shame these women and pro-choicers, it eliminates the platform to have a meaningful conversation and to allow both sides to be heard. I understand that the issue of abortion is an incredibly divided one and likely one that we will not come to a consensus on for quite some time, but I just wish that the environment that has been created is not so hostile toward pro-choice beliefs, especially in a country in which abortion is legal.