Posted by Regina Mills (’09)
It has been rather interesting reading these responses, and I thought that, as a student myself, I might talk from that perspective.
First, I'm sure it must be difficult for a student to read the responses that Alison has had to read. It is difficult from a number of perspectives, not least of which that they have attacked her beliefs.
However, to me the main difficult is in the power differential inherent in a professor-student relationship, which can leave a student confused as how to respond. Some of these criticisms have been harshly put (whether meaning to or not) and being put in Alison's shoes, I would wonder how to respond as to not upset or disrespect those members of our community which we do respect and in some ways, search to please. Thus, in the future, realize how difficult this tightrope is to walk for students when communicating with professors. One way to solve this, is to consult other students; sometimes professors forget that we don't always (or even often) feel like your equals, as to some degree we shouldn't.
Second, I am glad that members from all sides of the debate are being invited. However, I find it difficult to view this speaking event as a catalyst for discussion outside of this E-mail chain. Each side has statistics and anecdotes to "prove" their point, and no one attends a talk in order to throw numbers around in a Q&A session. Pro-choice advocates most certainly will not be swayed by something that supposedly "proves" they're wrong because, to be honest, there are no statistics that will do that. Just as "anti-choice" or "pro-life" activists are not swayed by numbers because, honestly, your opinions are not based on those either. This talk is not a conversation but a lecture, the title does not end with the question, "A Betrayal of Feminism?" but rather a declarative statement, "Abortion: A Betrayal of Feminism." The "pro-life" organization which is hosting this is not coming with the openness of being convinced otherwise but rather to convince. This is not conducive to changing anybody. Those who feel strongly about a topic such as abortion have not come up with this with little thought, but have truly refelcted upon it.
As a young woman who's known avid believers on both sides of the debate, I have come to the solid conclusion that women should control their bodies, that there is no rational reason to believe that life begins at conception, and that constraints on abortion are put upon women by male leaders without women's input. I agree that Feminsts for Life weakens its argument by not going beyond the root of the abortion problem but rather accepting the same patriarchal values which have been perpetuated through various mediums for far too long.
Well, it seems that we all got into more than we bargained for in this E-mail. I hope that I was able to place myself in the shoes of both professors and students in this discussion.
Class of 2009