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Lecture on society and abortion opens Respect Life Week

| Tuesday, October 1, 2019

On Monday in LaFortune Student Center, Professor Helen Alvaré of George Mason University delivered a lecture exploring the concept of women’s liberation in the context of abortion and the right to life movement. The lecture, titled “Women’s Liberation: Authentic Feminine Freedom in a post-Roe Era,” was the opening event for ND Right to Life’s annual Respect Life Week.

As well as teaching family law, law and religion and property law, Alvaré writes articles about religious freedom and the First Amendment. She is also a chair of the Catholic Women’s Forum.

During her talk, Alvaré examined common arguments by pro-choice advocates, which she claims have no evidence.

“The arguments, the verbiage, the statements from interest groups and the legislature, they sound very much like the formulas coming out of the Supreme Court,” she said. “They’ve got this language, the Supreme Court opinion, that says, ‘This is what the Constitution says,’ and they tend to repeat them.”

The first pro-choice argument Alvaré addressed was that abortion saves women’s lives. She said the rhetoric of life-saving has no “empirical evidence” to back it up, citing numbers from a pro-choice, non-government organization, the Guttmacher Institute.

“Guttmacher acknowledges that over 90% of abortions women say are for social, personal, familial — not health — reasons,” she said. “Only 3 to 4% of all abortion patients list health as their primary reason.”

Alvaré also challenged claims that late-term abortions are safer than childbirth, instead saying the leading cause for late-term abortions was unawareness of pregnancy.

“The idea that abortion is primarily a matter of health, it just isn’t there,” she said.

Alvaré said the numbers of medical complications from abortions are often incorrectly reported. One reason she highlighted is that further medical treatment is covered by hospitals, not the clinics themselves.

“They do abortions. They don’t do the aftermath,” she said.

Alvaré then shifted her focus to mental health and abortion. She said abortion does not alleviate stress associated with an unwanted pregnancy, contrary to the research of the American Psychological Association.

“Those who perform [abortions] seem to have a drastic lack of curiosity about whether it hurts or helps women,” Alvaré said. “Shouldn’t everybody be interested in the question of the effects on women of a surgery performed 3,000 times a day?”

Alvaré said the 1992 Supreme Court Case Casey vs. Planned Parenthood established a link between abortion and female empowerment, a claim which she says has no evidence.

“There was absolutely no relationship that you could draw between women’s resort to abortion and their position in the educational and economic labor market,” Alvaré said. “You couldn’t even draw a graph of correlation, never mind causation.”

Overall, Alvaré stressed the importance of understanding evidence in fierce political battlegrounds such as this one. She advised students and professors alike in the audience to check sources, check footnotes and always substantiate arguments with facts. Her parting advice: “Be the most educated person in the room on this topic.”

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