Legitimate arguments are based on logic, not disgust
UB Students for Life hosts yet another anti-abortion display with no intellectual basis
For the past three years, UB students have been assaulted on Holocaust Remembrance Day with grotesque images of aborted fetuses blown up into massive photos on displays outside of the Student Union – the major center of campus where thousands of students pass through each day.
This year something was a little different. Instead of just having images, UB Students for Life brought in Created Equal – an anti-abortion protest group – and set up a Jumbotron which played a loop of videos of aborted fetuses and even the inside of a woman’s uterus during an abortion.
I’m very confused about the legality of that.
I am firmly pro-abortion rights. I am a heterosexual cisgender woman. I have a uterus so I may one day be pregnant and when that day comes, I deserve the right to choose what I envision for my future. If that future doesn’t involve a baby, or at least the present doesn’t make supporting a child a viable option, I have – and deserve – the right to make that choice.
Every person whose is biologically structured to support a fetus has the right to decide whether or not they’ll let that bundle of cells become a human child.
But that doesn’t mean people are “pro-abortion.”
I’d venture to say no woman revels in the chance to someday have an abortion. I don’t think anyone looks forward to the day when they have to make that difficult choice. Choosing whether or not to have an abortion or a child is a major life decision that can have a massive impact on a woman’s life.
Like UB Students for Life argues, having an abortion is a traumatic experience. Like the images of late-term abortions – with no date stamps attached making it unclear how old the images are – show, abortion is not pretty. In fact, it looks pretty gross.
But that’s not the point.
Open-heart surgery looks gross too, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be legal.
While standing outside of the Union listening to the so-called arguments by Seth Drayer, director of training at Created Equal, for why abortion should be illegal, I raised my hand to make a comment: “If your way to get people on your side is by showing disgusting images, that’s not logic. That’s not an argument. That’s appealing to people’s disgust.”
His response: “It’s not the logic that’s important. It’s the evidence that matters.”
He clearly never took a philosophy course.
I then asked him if he believes aborted fetuses are children, would he ever show images of out-of-the-womb children being murdered?
His response was frightening: “If killing were legal, then yes.”
The crowd erupted.
Another student interrogated Drayer about women who are impregnated through rape and about states where rapists can petition for parental rights over the baby of their victims.
Drayer said he thinks it’s “asinine” that rapists can advocate for parental rights.
So fatherhood can be revoked, but motherhood is obligatory in Drayer’s mind.
Drayer’s logic repeatedly fell apart when grilled by the angry, frustrated and offended students who surrounded me.
Every year that these displays are brought to campus it is not logical arguments that are engaged in on the side of anti-abortion protestors – their displays appeal solely to people’s basest instincts of disgust and horror.
UB’s pro-abortion rights students attempt to engage in logical, intellectual arguments with the anti-abortion protestors. But when Drayer effectively silenced their opinions by shutting off the microphone, it was clear these protestors were not interested in intellectual arguments. They’re only interested in inciting disgust.
And when they bring up a man to speak about being saved from abortion by a relative or a woman holding her baby, it’s clear these displays are not meant to engage with the intellectual “marketplace of ideas” of colleges, as Josh Bertsch, director of special projects for Created Equal, said.
Just as these protestors seek to divest women – keep in mind many of the anti-abortion protestors were men – of their right to control whether or not a bundle of cells grows in their body or not, their display divests UB students of a safe working and learning environment.
Everyone has the right to voice their opinion, but UB also has the obligation to ensure a comfortable environment for its students. These displays re-traumatize those who have had abortions and make those who have not uncomfortable. Sure, we can choose to not go to the Student Union while the displays are happening, but that’s not fair. We deserve the right to walk freely around our campus without worrying about what images and videos are going to assault us.
Aside from being forced to endure horrific, outdated and graphic images and inane “logic,” today was a show of solidarity among passionate and intelligent UB students. We engaged in intellectual arguments even though they fell on closed ears and minds.
I encourage every student, regardless of his or her beliefs, to study the subject and come back next spring ready to duke it out – with words, not just graphic images.
Once the anti-abortion protestors can engage with the rest of us on levelheaded and rational – not emotional – terms, then maybe we can work and learn in an environment that fosters debates based on logic and makes all students feel comfortable and safe. Not in a traumatic environment based solely on disgust and horror.
Emma Janicki is an assistant managing editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org