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Right to (an unchallenged) life

| Thursday, October 4, 2018

As Right to Life Week kicks off, students are reminded of yet another thing that separates Notre Dame from most schools around the country. In an increasingly secular nation, very few schools have a greater pro-life presence on campus than a pro-choice one. Respecting human dignity is an important tenant of the Catholic faith, one that has become a rallying cry for religious to become politically active in supporting the life of the unborn. Even so, there is something peculiar about the pro-life movement on campus: Its lack of opposition undercuts its message.

A university is supposed to be a market place of ideas, a setting where we can question our most steadfast beliefs and either reaffirm them after due scrutiny or abandon them on the basis of faulty logic. That’s why we have philosophy courses whose curriculums seriously question the presence of God. It’s why we require theology courses that address the historical inaccuracies and inconsistencies of a sacred text that was composed and edited by countless people over hundreds of years. If we hold our beliefs to be true only because they have been unchallenged and unquestioned, then they are not beliefs at all. Thus, the lack of platforms for pro-choice speakers and activists on campus is concerning. An issue as politically and morally divisive as abortion deserves sincere debate, debate that should be welcomed by pro-lifers. And yet, repeated attempts by several clubs to have pro-choice advocates have a platform on campus have been thwarted.

Not only are pro-choice speakers unable to liven the discussion on campus with a different perspective, but even the presence of people who are publicly pro-choice is controversial. When former-President Barack Obama gave his commencement speech in 2009, the backlash from the administration and alumni caused the creation of a “Task Force on Supporting the Choice for Life” to strengthen pro-life presence at Notre Dame. Sheltering from dissenting opinion is deeply un-American and un-Catholic. Hearing out opposition allows us to see what we have in common with those who disagree and properly challenge beliefs. As Pope Francis recently said, “getting the resistance out into the open … it’s very healthy.”

It is with that spirit that I encourage the Right to Life Club, as well as the entirety of the student body, to join me in inviting Ellen Malcolm to come speak at Notre Dame. Malcolm is the founder of Emily’s List, a political action committee dedicated to electing pro-choice women to office. Since the election of 2016, Emily’s List has exploded in support for female pro-choice candidates and in the number of women registering with them as candidates. Over 10,000 pro-choice women contacted Emily’s List to help fund their campaigns in the five months after Trump’s election. Any movement this large deserves an arena to be debated, and there is no better place for these ideas to come to head than at the most prestigious Catholic university in the world. The voices of the unborn are not the only ones who deserve to be heard.

Sophia Sheehy is a sophomore from Cavanaugh majoring in Economics and ACMS with a minor in Constitutional Studies. The viewpoints expressed in this column are those of the individual and not necessarily those of BridgeND as an organization.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About BridgeND

BridgeND is a bipartisan student political organization that brings together Democrats, Republicans, and all those in between to discuss public policy issues of national importance. They meet Tuesday nights (starting Sept.8) from 8-9pm in the McNeil room of LaFortune. They can be reached at [email protected] or by following them on Twitter @bridge_ND

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