Abortion is perhaps the most contentious issue facing our country today. Despite the social progress that we have made in recent years (and there is still much more to go), the divide between those who are pro-life and those who are pro-choice remains. I do not think it is something that will ever go away.
A few days ago, the members of Undergraduate Student Government at Case Western Reserve University decided to allow a pro-life group, Students for Life, to form on campus. The student body’s reaction demonstrated their strong feelings in opposition to such an idea.
We know that the First Amendment guarantees certain rights. It is the First Amendment that prohibits the government from restricting reasonable speech. It is the First Amendment that allows us to march on Washington. It is the First Amendment that respects the establishment of all religions, and it is the First Amendment that allows me to write this, today. These same ideals of the First Amendment should also apply to the decision regarding the formation of Students for Life.
A lot of the students protesting this vote cited that the formation of a pro-life club on campus would create an unsafe and traumatic environment for some people. If this new club used their platform to generate feelings of intimidation, harm or stress for certain people, I could not agree more. There is never a place for violent action or hateful speech. However, if this is not part of the pro-life clubʼs agenda, and I believe that these are not their intentions, their club should absolutely be allowed.
If Students for Life were not allowed to form, it would set a very dangerous precedent for the future. If the student government had prevented this group from forming based solely on their ideology, that precedent could easily be applied to future decisions.
In times like these, I find that it is helpful to try and see the broader idea. In this case, I see the beauty of our country, where members of a governing body, such as USG, can vote on a divisive issue, that vote truly matters, and then a reasonable discussion between interest parties can follow..Part of the university experience is the chance to associate with those who think differently than you. A college campus is supposed to be a place where we permit all ideas to be voiced, where we come together and where we can have discussions like this one.
Personally, I am pro-choice. But, I believe that everyoneʼs voice deserves to be heard.
The world is filled with people with differing opinions. Outside of a college campus, you cannot limit someoneʼs free speech simply because you disagree with it. Shutting down a club like this one robs everyone of the opportunity to prepare themselves for life outside of college. Allowing Students for Life creates an environment where people may be exposed to different viewpoints in a peaceful and respectful manner.
In the United States, there can be a pro-life student club on a mostly liberal college campus. Letʼs use this as an opportunity to tolerate, instead of eliminate, a viewpoint with which we donʼt agree. In a time where we are more divided than ever, it is important for us to at least acknowledge one another.
I wrote this knowing that it would be an unpopular opinion. If you know me well, I hope you think of me as someone who is always up for debates like these, but only if they remain civil, respectful and productive. If you want to talk about this further, I welcome any and all viewpoints. Obviously, we have some time on our hands to engage in meaningful discussion.