Anti-abortion panel sparks debate on abortion rights
BY VICTORIA MOORE
The Students for Life Club hosted their third annual “Pro-Woman, Pro-Life” panel on Wednesday, April 2. The panel consisted of four speakers. Each of the speakers gave a brief speech, and during the speeches the audience was able to text in questions that were later addressed in the question and answer session.
“The purpose of our panel is to promote a civil discussion of an important, yet controversial issue by presenting diverse viewpoints from across the spectrum of the pro-life movement,” said sophomore Danielle Zuccaro, publicity and events co-chair for the Students for Life club.
The first speakers were husband and wife Tom and Jen Hanrahan. The Hanrahans are the parents of nine children, five of whom were adopted. Shortly after getting married, the Hanrahans began opening their home to pregnant women in need of housing and offering them support.
In 2011, the Hanrahans joined other individuals in establishing an urban pregnancy resource center, the East End Pregnancy Test and Help Center, located in Richmond. The goal of this center is to enable every woman to choose life for the child in her womb and offer services to those facing unplanned pregnancies. Tom serves on the EEPC’s board of directors and Jen serves as the executive director.
“When we talk abortion, think person, think child. Each life is precious. My children have brothers and sisters, I have an extra child. Think of it for your own sake, if you had one less brother or sister out there, how that may look to you,” said Mr. Hanrahan.
The Hanrahans explained that some of the children they adopted were almost aborted. They said the first son that they adopted was not aborted by his birth mother because she saw his heart beat on the ultrasound and chose life. Another child they adopted was not aborted because her birth mother was unable to get enough money for the abortion.
“Abortion affects us all, each and every one of us. We’ve lost family members that we may never even know about through abortion. We’ve lost friends,” said Mrs. Hanrahan.
In their speech, the Hanrahans presented statistics about the frequency of abortion.
Since 1973, there have been over 55 million persons killed through abortion since it was legalized in the United States,” said Mr. Hanrahan.
The second speaker was Jennifer Gross. For the past five years Gross worked with the Susan B. Anthony List to get anti-abortion candidates elected and to pass anit-abortion initiatives at the local, state and national levels.
“Putting pro-life women into positions of power is incredibly important to the heart of the pro-life movement. Laws save lives,” said Gross.
According to statistics presented by Gross, anti-abortion advocates are on the rise.
“The number of people who call themselves pro-choice is at an all-time low of 41 percent, whereas self-described pro-lifers are at 50 percent. If I leave you with nothing else, I want to leave you with this: the women who are facing these difficult decisions of whether to have an abortion or not, deserve our love, prayers and support,” said Gross.
Catherine Palmer, a 2012 graduate of the College of William and Mary also spoke. Palmer said that when she was a junior in high school, one of her friends became pregnant, and they began researching when life begins.
“We found that the evidence in favor of life beginning at conception was just so massive and compelling that we couldn’t argue with it. What Heather was carrying was full, distinct and living. It was a whole human being, in that, it wasn’t just a combination of parts or a potential human being,” said Palmer. “But actually at the moment of conception, 23 chromosomes from the mom and 23 chromosomes from the dad come together to create a whole person with 46 chromosomes with their own distinct set of DNA that has never existed before and will never exist again for eternity.”
Palmer currently lives in New York City where she is a full-time speaker with the Philadelphia based non-profit Generation Life. Through GenLife and other forums such as CNBC, the National Catholic Register and State of Affairs, Palmer discusses topics of chastity, marriage and human dignity.
“To be pro-life is to be pro-woman,” said Palmer.
The last speaker was Dave Russell, a retired veterinarian. Russell served in the U.S. Army for 29 years with combined active service and reserve service, retiring as a full colonel.
Russell gave his own personal perspective on abortion and how it affects men, based on his experience with the abortion of his own child.
“You may think it’s a woman’s issue, you have no place in this, it’s a woman’s right,” said Russell. “Well I guess I have to disagree, if half of the people killed are going to be men, if half of the parents who are going to be affected are going to be men, then it is a man’s right and it is our place.”
Russell described what it was like to go through having a child aborted.
“No one spoke to me. No one asked my opinion as to whether my son should live or die that day. They just ignored me as though I wasn’t even there. I was embarrassed by my absolute helplessness to save my son who was dying in the next room,” said Russell.
Russell also discussed how fathers commonly feel after having a child aborted.
“No one in that abortion facility bothered to warn me that many, maybe most, post-abortive marriages end in divorce. Nobody bothered to tell me that post-abortive fathers have extremely high rates of depression and substance abuse, divorce [and] domestic violence. Nobody bothered to tell me that that single event would haunt my life and my decisions for years to come,” said Russell. “They just let me walk blindly into it. Nobody bothered to tell me that I would grieve the death of my son just like any other father, only I would have to hide that mourning because nobody wants to hear about your aborted child.”
The panel concluded with questions sent in by text being answered by the speakers.