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Right to Life out of line

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, February 10, 2005

There was a talk scheduled to take place at Notre Dame about the vital issues of rape and violence against women. This talk, sponsored by various academic departments, was supposed to be by Eve Ensler. It’s cancelled now. See, according to our campus Right to Life organization, the event was basically a covert operation to promote pro-choice ideologies. Touting this unsubstantiated conclusion, Notre Dame Right to Life successfully pressured the University into to shutting the event down.

One of Right to Life’s problems with the talk is that the speaker herself is a pro-choice advocate. I guarantee many of our professors and guest speakers here at Notre Dame also have political or personal viewpoints that go against Catholic doctrine. Some may even express them on-campus. The point is, Eve Ensler is not here to talk about abortion. She is here as part of the V-Day movement, to stop violence against women. Ensler is a figure leading this very important fight for women, and regardless of her other views, there is a lot that we could learn from her.

The larger problem that Right to Life had with the event is that part of its proceeds were intended to go to S.O.S., a counseling center for victims of sexual violence, and the rest to the local YWCA.

The YWCA, also known as the Young Women’s Christian Association, helps women in times of crisis. It is also an organization that supports life in thousands of ways, such as helping pregnant women who have chosen life to find shelter and affordable housing, vocational training and the care they need. But despite its efforts to support women who chose life, the National YWCA sees a difference between crisis pregnancies as a social issue, and the political issue of abortion, in which they feel that women must make their own moral decisions. So the YWCA, a “women’s membership movement nourished by its roots in the Christian faith and sustained by the richness of many beliefs and values” (from their mission statement) is pro-choice? Especially after volunteering at a pregnancy shelter, which closely cooperated with the YWCA, I would argue that their work is in many, more important ways, pro-life.

If Right to Life nevertheless feels strongly that the YWCA is not an organization that the University should assist, why not encourage those planning this event to find other, equally needy women’s organizations? Why try to stifle an event that addresses the urgent and pertinent issues of rape and violence? Why turn the focus solely to abortion at the expense of this important mission?

I am shocked that Right to Life, an organization dedicated to protecting and respecting life in all forms, would let this opportunity to fight violence be taken away.

Catherine Schmidt


Pasquerilla East hall

Feb. 10