Three weeks ago, I, along with other students from the University of Mary Washington’s Students for Life chalked the campus. Everyone used nine designated slogans from which we were not to deviate.
We chalked to raise awareness. We chalked to inspire conversations about an issue we fear has been swept under the rug because it is, at times, unpleasant and divisive. We chalked to show the campus that there is another position on the issue, and that we are the voices and faces of that position.
In the subsequent weeks, many arguments have been leveled against the anti-abortion movement. A Viewpoints article last week claimed several things. The first was that we associate abortion rights with being pro-abortion. The second was that anti-abortion activists have assassinated doctors and bombed abortion clinics. The third was that anti-abortionists often use graphic images, and that “conservatives need to tone down the rhetoric so a more honest dialogue can be engaged.”
The members of Students for Life understand that no one is truly “pro-abortion.” Everyone wants to reduce the amount of abortion procedures that occur every day.
I hope it goes without saying that every member of the UMW chapter of Students for Life and every true anti-abortion activist strongly condemn these hypocritical acts of violence. However, claiming that they make the entirety of the anti-abortion movement violent and radical is fallacious, deceptive and offensive.
While it is true that some anti-abortion activists utilize graphic images, the majority, including UMW Students for Life, does not support their indiscriminate use.
“Conservatives need to tone down the rhetoric so a more honest dialogue can be engaged,” wrote Sacha Brenac in a recent Viewpoint article. Firstly, not all pro-lifers are conservative. A recent forum on campus, hosted by Students for Life, included a member of the group Democrats for Life, an entire organization for – guess – pro-life Democrats.
Secondly, the “rhetoric” was also referred to in the article as “fiery” and “violent.” I have already addressed such actions regarding extreme members of the anti-abortion movement, the slogans used by the UMW chapter of Students for Life were anything but.
The actual word “abortion” was used only in one slogan that we chalked, and in the presentation of a statistical fact. The other slogans cited social justice, love, babies, the Declaration of Independence, adoption and a children’s author. These things can hardly be considered “violent” or “fiery.”
Most importantly, however, is the request to “tone things down.” Let us take a communal step back for a moment. Anyone who believed that a child was being abused in their neighbor’s house would vehemently object to such an incident, and act out against it. We, anti-abortionists, believe that children are being killed. Anyone in his or her right mind who thought a child was going to be killed would do something about it. You understand, then, our logic. You do not have to agree, but please make an effort to understand. Argue with us, disagree with us, but, if you have any respect and understanding of the issue at hand, do not ask us to “tone it down.”
We didn’t expect to convince anyone. We wanted to spark conversation, and we did. Rather than demanding silence on a crucial issue, making sweeping generalizations, and mocking our cause, let’s allow that conversation to bear intellectual fruit on our campus.
Tracy Frelk is a UMW student.