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Response to ‘Chalk wars for life or choice’

| Monday, November 9, 2015

Hello from the other side, a side whose voice is not being heard. Last week was “Respect Life Week” and the Belles For Life group wrote their views across the Saint Mary’s campus. I want to make it clear that I respect people’s right to state their opinions; however, social change is not reached through hearing the stance of a single group. Different perspectives are beneficial to discussion and progress; there are always at least two sides to every issue. I do not agree that the ideas of a single group should represent the entire campus community, even if it is a Catholic institution. This led me to take matters into my own hands. I identify as pro-choice and I was involved in writing on the sidewalks. Why? Because even though I am not pro-abortion, I support the right for others to have the option to receive an abortion if they so choose.

Let’s remember that this is an all-women’s college. Women should empower each other. We pride ourselves in being educated, well rounded and informed individuals. I believe this includes being supportive of every aspect of women’s rights. It is evident that there is plenty of information and even entire weeks dedicated to the pro-life movement in our community. Recently, there have been wonderful displays of activism in support of Planned Parenthood and their services. However, pro-choice events are significantly disproportionate in comparison to pro-life events. There should be opportunities for equal representation of each side on campus; this includes the opportunity for the pro-choice side to have a week in order to showcase their own perspectives on campus. Until then, I will feel as though pro-life ideas are being forced upon the campus community. We should not force our stances upon each other. Especially if these stances include information that are skewed and inaccurate. During the Respect Life Week, the Belles for Life group brought in individuals that provided information based on slanderous accusations about Planned Parenthood’s services. They presented this organization in a negative light instead of focusing on the many positive services they provide which are only meant to benefit us.

Based on what has been presented by the pro-life side, I believe this movement will eliminate many of our rights, the same ones we have worked so hard to receive. Taking these rights away will surely cause more harm than good. How does the pro-life movement plan on stopping women from doing what they want with their own bodies? Women will continue to seek out abortions whether it is legal or not. It would be better to provide a safe and healthy environment for these procedures than for women to perform them on their own and harm themselves in the process.

As for the criticism I have received in the article “Chalk wars for life or choice” written by Jennifer Vosters, thank you and I appreciate your input. However, I do not believe that women’s rights are defined solely by our right to choose. The pro-choice and pro-life issue is just the beginning of a long list of adversities we face. This is one particular subject at Saint Mary’s that has recently been in the spotlight, which is why we responded in the way we did. I would love if both sides could find a way to compromise. In order for this to happen, not only the students but also the entire Saint Mary’s community must be willing to be open to each other’s views. An email sent by a Saint Mary’s staff member, Janielle Tchakerian, stated that we must “… be civil and respectful of others, their opinions and work. … What is not acceptable is to harass or deface another person or their work simply because it is different than yourselves.”

But how can we respect each other’s opinion when only one opinion is being actively promoted? Pro-choice viewpoints need to be represented as well. I found this to be very contradictory and hypocritical. For the record, those who were involved in writing the pro-choice chalk messages did not vandalize, personally attack individuals or erase any existing pro-life messages including what was written on the windows of the dinning hall. All we did was exercise our freedom of speech by writing positive messages and logical arguments on sidewalks in addition to what was previously written by the Belles for Life group.

Whoever helped me write opinions on the sidewalk would like to stay anonymous at this moment, but I choose not to because I take pride in taking a stance. In order for positive change to happen, we must challenge the issues that we believe need to change. In the words of my partner(s) in “crime,” “How can one be pro-life but support capital punishment, oppose helping the hungry, the poor, minorities and the LGBTQ community? That makes absolutely no sense.” How can you identify as a feminist if you don’t support the right for individuals to make their own personal choices?

Finally, in the response to “Chalk wars for life or choice” by Gabrielle Jansen, she mentioned that “Pro-life does not equate to anti-abortion.” If that is true, then why wasn’t that written on the sidewalks in the first place? She also wrote, “Being pro-life means supporting the dignity of all human beings from conception to natural death.” Again, why was that not written on the sidewalks? If “Being pro-life is being for women,” then why was this not stated on the sidewalks by the Belles for Life group? If “Pro-life includes being for women during crisis and difficult pregnancies while still supporting them and their unborn children,” then why wouldn’t you also support them with the choice of having an abortion in a difficult pregnancy if it means saving her life? Jansen stated, “Yes, women should support other women so long as they are pursuing the good, but I have no obligation to support another woman promoting something that violates my conscience.” How do you know that receiving an abortion is not for the good of the woman? What if an abortion is the best option for her situation? What if her life is in danger? The objective of women having the right to choose does not revolve around violating other people’s conscience, it’s about choosing what is best for them and their situation. People make it seem as though these decisions are easy, but it is far from the truth. It could be one of the hardest choices they ever have to make; that fact alone deserves support and respect for their brave decision. With that being said, I am open to hearing different perspectives on the issue including those from the other side of this issue.

Denisse Mendez Bautista
political science and Spanish
Saint Mary’s ‘18

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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