Story by Clement D.
In the early afternoon of March 4th, students gathered around Bruin Walk to watch a debate between the Revolution Club of UCLA and members of a Christian fundamentalist church. The topic of the debate, or rather shouting match, ranged from politics, to economics, to abortion. As entertaining as the spectacle may have been, the exchange was a sorry display of the rift in American culture. The Revolution Club drowned out the Baptists with megaphones calling for an all out communist insurgency while the Baptists were armed with signs reading, “Ask me why you deserve hell.” The argument was intriguing, but neither side moved towards common ground.
“It is always wrong to intentionally take an innocent human life... Abortion takes an innocent life…. Therefore abortion is always wrong.”
Later that evening, Founder and President of Live Action, Lila Rose, came to campus to give a talk entitled “Abortion: Exploitation or Empowerment?” in Kerckhoff Grand Salon. Lila Rose has been involved in the pro-life movement since she founded Live Action as a teenager. Since then, she and her organization have investigated the illegal practices of Planned Parenthood and have sought to educate the public about the reality of abortion. The talk touched on many of the issues that had been debated earlier in the evening, but had a unique tone.
“I will begin with a logical syllogism,” said Rose. “It is always wrong to intentionally take an innocent human life... Abortion takes an innocent life…. Therefore abortion is always wrong.” The real sticking point, Rose noted, is the second premise, that abortion takes an innocent human life. This is because activists on both ends of the spectrum are already united in their belief that it is wrong to take life. In fact, pro-choice activists are generally motivated by the defense of the rights and dignity of women, but claim that an unborn child does not have those rights. Rose responded to this objection by noting that the scientific consensus is that life begins at the moment of conception, and thus a fetus deserves the same rights and protections of a grown human being: “Abortion kills. There is no way around that fact,” she said.
Abortion is often promoted as empowerment for women, but, Rose argued, abortion has failed to empower anyone, but has instead exploited both women and her unborn child. “Every women who has been told that abortion would help her … That women, and every girl that has been told that, has been lied to,” she said. With the prevalence of abortion today, there are no serious consequences for a young man getting his girlfriend pregnant. For a woman in crisis, Rose said, being told “your body, your choice,” instead of empowering her, communicates to the woman that the pregnancy “is her problem, so it’s on her to deal with,” and that all the responsible male has to do is “give her some money to have an abortion.”
To truly change minds, abortion must be presented for what it is: an attack on human life, an insidious lie to desperate women, and the sign of a perverted society.
According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 56 million abortions committed every year, roughly 150,000 daily. Given its magnitude, abortion points at a much deeper societal crisis, according to Rose: “It is a sign of a very sick and a very brutal society when killing an innocent human life is seen as an act of empowerment and we have to do better for our women, for our girls, and for our families.” True empowerment begins when we respect all life, “When we encourage men to take responsibility, when we encourage responsibility and love.” Rose pointed out that today, children and families are often portrayed as a nuisance, as an obstacle to personal fulfillment, and condemned that attitude as a sign of a selfish culture, willing to take life for the sake of personal advancement. “We should not view children as a way to get in the way of our dreams,” Rose said, “Children are some of our best dreams.”
Both sides of the abortion debate appeal to human rights to make their case. Pro-life advocates insist that a fetus deserves the same rights that any other human has, while abortion advocates argue that ending abortion would enslave women. It can be difficult to remember that both sides are essentially arguing the same thing. The common ground is human rights and empowerment, despite confusion about what they actually entail. To truly change minds, abortion must be presented for what it is: an attack on human life, an insidious lie to desperate women, and the sign of a perverted society. According to Rose, advocating for the rights of the unborn “should be where left and right come together. This should be where progressive and conservative come together.”
In the Q&A session following the talk, one of the audience members, who identified himself as “extremely pro-choice and an anarchist,” acknowledged, “It is surprising to me how many things I agreed with you on.” Shouting for fire and brimstone or for the end of the bourgeoisie might generate a crowd on Bruin Walk, but it doesn’t promote constructive dialogue. While there are always some who will try to shout each other down, Lila Rose’s talk empowered many UCLA students who aim to bridge America’s cultural divide.