Author’s Note: This column is a continuation of the previous column, hence the phrase “Part II”. The first part was the beginning of my recent speech to the second annual Minnesota Youth for Life Conference in Robbinsdale, MN. The speech was meant to give six pieces of advice to nominally pro-life students who wished to become pro-life activists. The first three pieces of advice are geared towards all pro-lifers. The last three are geared towards those who find themselves advocating for the unborn on a predominantly pro-abortion-choice campus.
3. Master the tougher arguments by taking on hard cases.
Pro-abortion arguments are not all equally bad. Some are tougher to respond to than others. The so called rape exception to a total ban on abortion is one that is difficult for many to handle. But handle it we must. Last year at this conference, I talked about cases where a woman is raped and impregnated. We also discussed the Kennedy v. Louisiana case that bans capital punishment for rapists, even when the victim is a child who is severely raped and tortured but doesn’t die as a result of the attack. We noted that the rapist has a right to life and that the rape victim has a right an abortion. This leaves the child who is conceived in rape as the only one in the situation who is without rights. That is the status quo in our current constitutional jurisprudence. I believe this is a morally indefensible situation.
Nonetheless, some people try to defend the status quo by arguing that a child conceived in rape is a "problem" for which abortion is the only "solution." I believe this problem/solution dichotomy is deeply misguided. Our world is not governed by problems and solutions. It is governed by trade-offs. Please allow me to explain.
If you are a believer and read your Bible carefully, you will notice that early on, in the third chapter of Genesis, we are presented with a bleak view of human nature. Indeed, we still live in world of fallen beings, which means that utopian solutions are impracticable. I think most non-believers would also have to reject the idea of basic human “goodness” - simply by reflecting on their own experiences dealing with difficult people. People aren’t saints. Consequently, we live in a world of trade-offs. We are constantly trading one very bad outcome for one that isn't so bad. We must remember this whenever we analyze difficult cases.
When we ask a woman to bear a child conceived in rape we are asking a lot. It is a very bad thing she is asked to endure. But when we seek to ban abortion in cases of rape we are trading an even worse outcome in exchange for that bad outcome. We are recognizing that it is better to suffer evil than to inflict it. We are not denying that the rape victim will suffer. We can concede as much without giving in to arguments about the worthlessness of the life of a "rapist's baby." The child conceived in rape is not a rapist's baby. She is an innocent human being. She is a child of God, not a “problem.” Killing her isn’t a “solution” that will make a victim forget about a rape. She’ll never forget. To suggest otherwise is foolish.
Last summer, a young man approached me asking whether I would have the courage to look a pregnant rape victim in the eye and tell her that she must carry her child to term - even though the baby would remind her of the painful circumstances under which "it" was conceived. In response, I took my phone from my pocket and asked if he knew the number of someone who was indeed pregnant as a result of rape. I offered to call her and meet her so I could make my case for her having the baby. Unsurprisingly, he said didn't know of anyone facing that difficult and painful circumstance. Then I held out the phone and asked if he would call a friend of mine who was conceived in rape. I wanted them to meet so he would have an opportunity to look her in the eye and explain why she should have been aborted.
My point resonated almost instantly. He declined the offer and admitted he was wrong to defend the rape exception. You can read a summary of our conversation in a column I wrote for Clash Daily last summer. It is called "Look Her in the Eye." We will post a link on the Minnesota Youth for Life Facebook page later this week. It might help you prepare for the next time you are in a tough conversation about the rape exception.
In addition to the three recommendations we have just discussed, which can be used by anyone, I want to offer three more, which are aimed at students who might find themselves in a hostile pro-choice environment at a secular university. They follow in no particular order of importance:
4. Get a foot in the door.
When my university started a Women's Resource Center (WRC) back in 2001, pro -lifers knew it was going to be "centered" on pro -abortion politics. After all, 68% of the student population was female. It's not like co-eds needed a place to escape from patriarchal oppression. Professors just needed another budget line to help them promote their pro- abortion agenda. Since its inception, the WRC has been relentless in pursuit of that agenda. They've held events selling "I had an abortion" tee shirts - actually encouraging college age women to boast about having an abortion. They've invited the lawyer who argued Roe v. Wade, - for Roe, of course - to speak here on campus. From the outset, they have also sought to promote the services of Planned Parenthood while keeping a distance from local crisis pregnancy centers.
When I found out that Planned Parenthood had its address, phone number, and website link posted on the WRC website, I asked the WRC director to post the address, phone number, and website link of a local crisis pregnancy center, Life Line, right next to it. The WRC director refused saying that there was a “non-duplication policy” preventing them from posting information for more than one counseling service.
Upon further examination of the web site, I noticed that they had posted two different sets of contact information for rape crisis counseling - one for the Rape Crisis Center and the other for Coastal Horizons. In other words, there was no “non-duplication policy.” Apparently, there wasn’t a “non-mendacity policy” either. The interim WRC director simply lied to us just to keep pro-life information off their website. It was a blatant act of viewpoint discrimination on a publicly-funded university website.
Sadly, when we tried to get Life Line to fight back, they capitulated. So, for years on end, women who were pregnant and went to the WRC website’s community resources section found Planned Parenthood – and only Planned Parenthood. I'm sure lives were lost as a result of the capitulation. This is a good example of why we can’t just be nominally pro-life. We must be activists because the other side is actively trying to suppress our cause.
You can't let that happen at your school. You have to get a foot in the door. Go to the Women's Resource Center at your secular university. Bring pamphlets with you and ask the WRC to keep them on hand. I'm sure they do the same for Planned Parenthood. In addition, ask them to post links to the local CPC on their website. Keep pressing. Don't take “no” for an answer. Demand equal representation. If they refuse then call the Alliance Defending Freedom. They can do public records requests and find out if the centers are using mandatory student activity fees to promote abortion while refusing to fund the other side. And they can take legal action, if necessary.
… To be continued.
Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don't Understand.