Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania sophomore Eric Hoover was attacked on Facebook after voicing his desire to start a campus club. Why? Because the club is a pro-life Students for Life of America chapter.
Apparently, to The Daily Pennsylvanian, forming a campus club is big news — that is, when the club has a desire to spread a pro-life message and “reach out to women facing unplanned pregnancies.” The DP’s Rebecca Tan certainly wasted no time using Hoover’s story as a platform to make pro-lifers look as unreasonable as possible.
Tan makes her stance crystal clear when she writes of the group, “The group said their stance is that life begins at fertilization. They believe that a zygote is equivalent to a new-born baby after it has been delivered….”
Hoover’s pro-life group — comprised of about 15 other students, according to Tan — is in good company in stating that life begins at fertilization. “[W]elcome to the middle ages,” Tan quotes one Penn student as remarking on social media to Hoover’s appeal. Indeed… but who, exactly, is in the middle ages when it comes to the science about preborn human life?
Live Action News writer Sarah Terzo stated in an article on the science behind life at fertilization:
… [E]mbryology textbooks are unanimous: life begins at fertilization. And the life that begins is not simply a continuation of the life of the sperm or egg cell. Rather, it is the life of a distinct, unique, new individual which has never existed before in history and will never exist again. Nothing will be added to the new organism except nutrition, and it will continue to grow and develop until death occurs due to injury or illness.
Tan’s statement that the pro-life group believes “that a zygote is equivalent” to a newborn was clearly meant as a slam. But the truth is, “equivalent” does not mean “same” — it means “equal in value.”
The human zygote is no less (or more) human than a human newborn. That same human zygote (embryo) will eventually develop into a fetus, then into a newborn, then into an infant, and then into a toddler. These are merely stages of human life — the key word being “human.” Therefore, Hoover’s group is not the least bit radical or illogical in their position on when life begins or on its value.
But does Tan respond by consulting medical experts or embryology textbooks? Of course not. She pivots, at least three times, in order to make pro-lifers look unreasonable:
Pivot #1: Bodily autonomy
Instead of attempting to rebut Hoover’s argument that life begins at fertilization, Tan consults a staunch abortion advocate, who — not surprisingly — also does not address whether the human in utero is, in fact, human. Instead, she trots out the bodily autonomy argument: “The legal question is does the government get the right to make that decision and have that kind of control over a woman’s body. The answer is: no, they do not,” said one abortion advocate.
But is that really the question? If the being in utero is human, then why is she not entitled to rights as well? Why is she not equally entitled to a right to life? Why does the government grant only women the special ‘right’ of snuffing out other human beings at will, due to their size, level of development, degree of dependency, and first and foremost, their temporary environment?
Pivot #2: Rape
According to a widely-cited study by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, approximately 5 percent of rape victims between the ages of 12 and 45 become pregnant following their rape. Hoover said that his group advocates against abortion even in the case of rape.
To Tan’s credit, at least she included Hoover’s response, which was that it is “absolutely vital that the pro-life community shows compassion for these women” because “[r]ape is a horrific act of violence… possibly the worst crime imaginable. I don’t think that you’re not going to solve the act of violence like that with another act of violence.”
Then Tan posts a comment from another college sophomore, who claims Hoover’s position “shows a fundamental ignorance of the emotional and physical toll of pregnancy on women, especially when it is brought about by force.”
But does Hoover’s position show any sort of “fundamental ignorance” about the “emotional and physical toll” of rape (the force Tan mentions)? Hmm, let’s recap what he said: “compassion for women… horrific act of violence… can’t solve violence with more violence.” I guess I’m just not seeing this “fundamental ignorance” of which she speaks. Clearly, rape is a horrific situation, and a woman who finds herself pregnant due to rape needs to receive the best care possible, both physically and emotionally.
So, the question is, is abortion really the best care possible for a woman who finds herself in this situation? And is the assumption that pregnant rape victims desire abortion a correct one?
In a Live Action News article about rape victims who chose life, Sarah Terzo writes:
Statistics about rape victims and abortion are surprising to many people. There have been two studies done about pregnant rape victims. In each study, 70% of the women chose to keep their babies. This defies the stereotype that all raped women want abortions…..
The second study, conducted in 2000, revealed that 78% of the 30% of women who had abortions after their rapes felt that they’d made the wrong decision and said that “abortion is not the answer for women who were raped.” In contrast, not a single one of the 70% who had their children regretted it. Some of these women had given up their babies for adoption, and some of them had kept their babies – but the unifying factor among all of them was that none of them regretted giving birth.
I’ve often wondered if the societal attitude toward children of rape victims (calling them “rape babies” and “the rapist’s child”) is a factor in rape victims choosing abortion. What would happen if we showed these women support in their time of greatest need? Well, some amazing things, actually.
Pivot #3: Evil pro-lifers “shame” and “trigger” women.
Tan writes how Hoover “previously worked with the pro-life group Created Equal,” which has a project exposing abortionists and also uses “signs showing graphic images of aborted fetuses,” which is, of course, a “shame tactic” which could be “very triggering and alienating” to women, according to an email interaction between Tan and the Penn Association for Gender Equity.
Then, immediately after quoting Hoover as saying, “our goal is not to shame women,” Tan quotes another abortion advocate saying women “aren’t ashamed” of abortion.
Please make up your minds, abortion fans. Are women “triggered and alienated” by pro-lifers, or are they “not ashamed”? My head hurts.
As if it weren’t enough to quote far more abortion advocates than pro-lifers in her article, Tan then consults Carole Joffe, whom she writes is “a sociologist and professor at the University of California’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences.” Sounds legit, right? Well, she’s an abortionist who trains other abortionists, too, but Tan left that part out.
So it makes sense for Joffe to say she doesn’t want Students for Life to call women having abortions “victims” or abortionists who take the lives of about a million preborn children every year “murderers.” Because, you know, “As of 2015, violence against abortion providers has killed at least eleven people in the U.S.” (emphasis mine)
I’m just going to leave that incredibly ironic statement there so you can read it again.
Kudos to Hoover and Students for Life of America for articulating the pro-life position extremely well in the face of pressure and a one-sided article meant to make pro-lifers look bad.
We can only hope that students on Hoover’s campus (and other campuses) will be open-minded enough to truly listen to the logic and compassion of the pro-life position, and honestly think about the real question: if the child in the womb is human (and science says she is), then who are we to deny her rights?