HENRY: For an open abortion dialogue

Welcome to Yale, a university that values tolerance and diversity. Well, as long as you have the correct beliefs, that is. If you’re like me — an adamantly pro-life woman — expect incredulous and angry stares if you mention the fact that a fetus is an unborn child, and expect to be labeled hateful if you suggest in any way that women should not have access to abortion on demand.

As someone who believes in God, I firmly believe that babies — even ones in the womb — are endowed with human dignity. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” God knew intimately each of the over 50 million baby boys and girls who have been aborted since Roe v. Wade.

But even for someone who doesn’t believe in God, the case against abortion is sound and reasonable.

Let us leave aside for a moment the beginning of personhood or citizenship to consider that most basic origin of human life. Human life begins at fertilization. At that moment, the embryo contains every bit of the genetic material it will need, and if the embryo develops normally, there will be a human baby born in nine months. Every human is endowed with certain inalienable rights, both before and after birth.

Beyond the moral argument, scientific research has strengthened the case against abortion. More and more research suggests that fetuses feel pain much earlier than once thought, and a study recently published in the peer-reviewed British Journal of Psychiatry found that, compared to women whose unintended pregnancies are delivered, women who have abortions are 55 percent more likely to experience mental health problems.

Yet our college community, which strives to be a place of frank and open exchange, is closed-minded to the point of absurdity when it comes to arguments from people like me, who believe that abortion is wrong.

Women like me who question the value and morality of “reproductive freedom” are not welcome at the Women’s Center, even though its constitution claims that the Center seeks to provide a “safe space” to all Yale women and “openness to intellectual dialogues amongst the various schools of thought.”

Women like me who oppose abortion are forced to support a health plan that provides unlimited abortions to all Yale women. Women like me are horrified during Freshman Orientation when abortion is promoted as a means of birth control. Women like me are accused of opposing women’s rights just because we support basic human rights.

And you know what? Women like me are not that rare in the real world. Surveys have found that women are more likely to oppose abortion than men, no matter who takes the poll or how the question is asked.

I am calling for change on this campus. Yale should value the diversity and tolerance of pro-life views. The Women’s Center should welcome all women, not just women who share their narrow views of femininity. Yale Health should accommodate pro-life students in the health plan by offering policies that do not cover abortions — just as Yale Dining accommodates vegetarian students by offering tofu in the dining halls. Freshman Orientation should advise students of the repercussions of unsafe sex without encouraging abortion as a legitimate form of birth control. And, most importantly, the people of Yale should recognize that a reasonable person can be both pro-life and pro-woman.

It seems to me that the way to go forward and to have open dialogue on this campus is through love and education, not through pro-lifers demonizing pro-choicers or vice versa. A little tolerance of the opinions of pro-life Yalies would go a long way.

Pro-life Yalies merely recognize that most babies have a beating heart before the mother even knows she’s pregnant. Abortion stops that beating heart. I don’t see what’s complicated or inflammatory about that.

Elizabeth Gray Henry is a sophomore in Calhoun College and vice president of media for the College Republicans.

Comments

  • Branford73

    If Jeremiah is the authority for the start of a human life then it must be when an ovary produces an egg and when the lustful thoughts of a male starts semen a-boilin’ and therefore any contraceptive practice would be against the laws of God. Under that evidence or reasoning, your estimate of killed babies is way low. Perhaps you do believe that and you are certainly entitled to that belief and to that practice for yourself.

    I respect your beliefs of the immorality of abortion, or of pre-marital sex if your beliefs go that far. If you don’t want an abortion or to have sex before you’re married don’t have them.. I do not respect any anti-choicer’s attempt to limit the rights of women to the abortions they feel they need and are entitled to as part of their right to control their own bodies and reproductive decisions.

    I reject the axioms you use to swallow the arguments in favor or abortion rights. I do not believe that human life begins at fertilization. I believe it’s a continuum that starts long before fertilization, including follicles as precursors to eggs developing in the ovaries and testicles descending from the abdomen. Once you assume an embryo is a person it would arguably have rights. Thankfully, American law has never accepted that assumption, which the Court, among other things, recognized in Roe v. Wade.

    Your argument that you are forced to support abortion through the health plan is specious, just as specious as an argument that non-drinkers are forced to support drinking behavior because the Yale health plan would cover alcohol poisoning treatment. I doubt very much that “abortion is promoted as a means of birth control” at orientation.

    Embryos and fetuses do not have basic human rights. That is the law of the land. No doubt you and your party would like to remold the Supreme Court to reverse that status. Whatever Obama’s weaknesses are as President I will never vote for a Republican as long as that party insists on anti-choice as a litmus test for becoming its nominee.

    My respect for your religious and moral beliefs ends when you try to force them on other people.

    • ElizabethGrayHenry

      First let me say that this piece is about abortion, not premarital sex. I don’t know why you brought that into the discussion.

      Second, I’ve never understood the argument “if you don’t want an abortion…don’t have [one]“. If abortion is morally wrong, then no one should have abortions. I have a feeling a lot of slaveowners in the nineteenth century would’ve responded to abolitionists by saying “If you don’t want a slave, don’t have one.” Just as slavery is the immoral treatment of a human being, so no one should have slaves, so abortion is the immoral treatment of a human being from a pro-life perspective, which means someone who really is pro-life should believe that no one should have an abortion.

      Concerning your last sentence, once again, I feel like a lot of slaveowners in the nineteenth century would’ve told abolitionists, “My respect for your religious and moral beliefs ends when you try to force them on other people.” How was it okay for abolitionists to force their moral beliefs on other people when slavery was at the time the law of the land and the Supreme Court of the United States, no less, said that slaves had no human rights (I assume you do believe slavery should be illegal??) but not for pro-life advocates to promote their beliefs in the public sphere?

      And you seriously misread this article–I am not calling for my pro-life views to be forced on other people by any means. I am just calling for other people’s pro-choice views not to be forced on me. Whether you like it or not, a pro-choice agenda is pushed at Yale onto pro-life and pro-choice students alike.

      • alsoanon

        Just popping in to say the slaveowning argument is a little rich coming from someone who blogs about how Robert E. Lee was — and I directly quote — “one of America’s greatest Southern gentlemen and one of America’s greatest Christians.”

      • shannondoherty

        So, here you are comparing African Americans to unborn fetuses to make your point. Keep digging that hole deeper, sister.

        • ElizabethGrayHenry

          How is that a hole? All humans–regardless of their historical legal status–have rights that transcend the law of a nation. A nation can make a law against a human’s rights, but that human’s rights are inalienable. Just as African Americans were historically denied their human rights through the law of the United States, so unborn children of all races have been denied their human rights through law. Just as African Americans’ human rights were eventually recognized by the United States government after many years of tribulation, it is my hope that the rights of unborn children will also be recognized by our government one day.

          • alsoanon

            I’d love to see you and Aliza Shvarts do a point/counterpoint one day.

          • shannondoherty

            Just one question: Is the reparation money for these oppressed fetuses going to come out of MY tax dollars?

      • Branford73

        > “First let me say that this piece is
        > about abortion, not premarital sex. I
        > don’t know why you brought that into
        > the discussion.”

        Because many anti-choicers, particularly those who base part of their rationale on religious beliefs, are anti-premarital sex and anti-contraception. And many who do not explicitly say so reveal these beliefs by promoting policies that have nothing to do with reducing abortions or in fact increase the number of abortions which will occur. For example, are you in favor of abstinence-only sex education in American high schools or are you OK with comprehensive sex education that includes contraception?

        > ” I am not calling for my pro-life
        > views to be forced on other people by
        > any means. I am just calling for other
        > people’s pro-choice views not to be
        > forced on me.”

        Can I take this to mean you do not advocate reversal of Roe v.Wade and do not advocate election of a president who pledges to appoint Supreme Court justices who will reverse it? And you do not advocate the various anti-abortion legislation which restrict women’s ability to have abortions?

        • BR2012

          I’m sure she does advocate the removal of Roe. v. Wade. But that’s not her point. Her point is that, at places like Yale, where “diversity” and “tolerance” are supposedly prized, there is in fact intolerance towards certain positions, such as being pro-life. And she’s right. To be openly pro-life at Yale is often to be stigmatized by other Yalies.

    • roflairplane

      Does a fetus qualify as life? Yes. Is it human life? Well, it sure isn’t dolphin life. Does human life have intrinsic dignity? Yes.

      Doesn’t the whole “you do your thing as long as you let me do my line” line fall a bit flat when the act involves ending what is, by definition, human life with human dignity? Say, instead of killing a three month old fetus, we consider killing a one-day old baby. Must we respect your right to kill the one-day old baby?
      Also, with regard to “my respect for your religious and moral beliefs ends when you try to force them on other people” bit–don’t we legislate morality all the time? “Fair” income taxes, redistributive government takeovers of health insurance markets?

      Your final line strikes me as either naive or intellectually dishonest, and your choice of the term “anti-choice” for those opposing the abortion of fetuses makes me lean more toward assuming the latter.

      • Branford73

        > “Does a fetus qualify as life? Yes. Is
        > it human life? Well, it sure isn’t
        > dolphin life.”

        This is an old, repeated and empty argument. A fetus is human life just as a human egg and human sperm cells pre-fertilization are human life and just as a finger or a toe is human life. The anti-choice argument assumes axiomatically that the fertilized egg is a person with all the rights of a person, which I reject. American jurisprudence leading up to and beyond Roe v. Wade also rejected this notion. The argument that abortion can be outlawed because it destroys living human tissue would also justify banning contraception.

        > “Must we respect your right to kill
        > the one-day old baby?”

        No, particularly since no such right has ever been recognized in American history or jurisprudence. For me viability outside the womb is a reasonable place to draw the line in a continuum of human life, and I would accept state restrictions on abortions after that time.

        > “. . . don’t we legislate morality all
        > the time?”

        Thankfully and mercifully, no we do not and should not. Adultery may be immoral but I think only five states still have criminal laws against it. Fair taxes and government interference in free insurance markets to control spiraling health costs are not moral issues to me. I favor them out of a preference for the kind of society I want to live in. (I do recognize that some “progressives” see those issues as moral ones, though.)

        As to my final line I insist without apology that I am a liberal, which means to me a tolerance and respect towards beliefs of others as long as coercion to those beliefs is avoided. I use the term “anti-choice” because I believe it to be more accurate than “pro-life” or “anti-abortion” for those expressing beliefs like those of Ms. Henry’s. Most “pro-lifers” are in favor of the death penalty (as am I) and oppose stem-cell research and use. Most “anti-abortion” folks favor public policies the net effect of which increase the occurrence of abortions or tolerate abortions for rich people while preventing poor people from having them.

        • KeeblerKahn

          *”This is an old, repeated and empty argument. A fetus is human life just as a human egg and human sperm cells pre-fertilization are human life and just as a finger or a toe is human life. The anti-choice argument assumes axiomatically that the fertilized egg is a person with all the rights of a person, which I reject. American jurisprudence leading up to and beyond Roe v. Wade also rejected this notion. The argument that abortion can be outlawed because it destroys living human tissue would also justify banning contraception.”*

          Apparently you have not heard of the ‘Unborn Victims of Violence Act’ which is part of the United States Code. Within that act, a ‘child-in-utero’ is a legal victim if injured or killed in over 60 different acts of violence. The code further defines the ‘child-in-utero’ as ‘a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.’

          So apparently the United States government believes that an embryo (even as a zygote!) is alive as long as it is in the uterus (ectopic pregnancies excluded).
          (Citing my source: http://www.nrlc.org/Unborn_Victims/UVVAEnrolled.html)

          • Branford73

            Yes, I am aware that the so called “pro life” movement has succeeded in elevating fetus status in legislation over the past 20 years or so. Roe was decided in 1973 in case you forgot, so my statement “leading up to Roe v. Wade and going forward” is accurate. The act you cite was passed in 1997.

          • KeeblerKahn

            I thought that 1997 was “forward” from 1973. My apologies.

  • thunderchickens4eva

    Elizabeth Gray Henry, you’re awesome! I am also a pro-life woman at Yale, and I agree with what you’re saying.

  • DebbieDowner

    “Yale Health should accommodate pro-life students in the health plan by offering policies that do not cover abortions — just as Yale Dining accommodates vegetarian students by offering tofu in the dining halls.”

    So would tofu apple crisp be like a health plan that doesn’t cover abortions, but crunchier?

    In all seriousness, this article seems very, barely slightly valid. I just think that hitting the more-moral-than-thou actually directly contradicts the stated ideals of “tolerance of opinions” and “open dialogue”. Perhaps the same is true of Yale Dining, where our opinions on cereals are tolerated but where there is no open dialogue about the closing of Commons for dinner. Though I guess Commons dinners, with its huge buffet and crucial role in extracurricular and social life at Yale, might be the “unlimited abortions” Henry is talking about.

    • GeoJoe

      Also, if Yale were truly accommodating vegetarian students as you suggest, there would be two meal plans. One would allow you to eat meat. Another, probably less expensive, would only allow vegetarian options. I bet most people would find this ridiculous.

    • LtwLimulus90

      This is stupid. Also, what she is saying does not directly contradict either of those things. People always think their opinion is correct, that’s why they hold it. They can still be open to changing that opinion once further information is available. Because she thinks abortion is wrong, that also doesn’t mean that she thinks she is “holier-than-thou”. She doesn’t say pro-choice individuals shouldn’t have a say because her opinions are better or more morally correct, she says that a pro-life voice should be allowed at the women’s center. And no, it is abjectly not welcome, as evidenced last year when the Women’s Center rejected CLAY’s application to become an affiliate organization.

  • alsoanon

    So Yale is pushing some kind of radical dogmatic pro-abortion agenda by:

    1) Offering a legal medical procedure through its OPTIONAL health plan.

    2) “Promoting abortion as a form of birth control” during Freshman Orientation — can you back this up with ANY kind of evidence? Oh wait…

    3) Supporting the Women’s Center, which allegedly won’t let pro-life women through the door. I’d like some evidence of this, as well.

    This article is really great and totally convincing! I especially liked your Bible quote :)

    • LtwLimulus90

      The Women’s Center, as I said above, DOES NOT tolerate pro-life opinions, as evidenced last year when the Women’s Center rejected CLAY’s application to become an affiliate organization.

      • CrazyBus

        What were the stated reasons for rejecting CLAY’s application?

  • dolphinfetus

    @alsoanon: your sarcastic and ad hominem attacks are particularly ironic in light of the title of the article: “For an open abortion dialogue”

    @shannondoherty: the comparison the author draws is clearly not between a slave and a fetus, but between the act of banning slavery and the act of banning abortion. Indeed, if one judges an act immoral, why shouldn’t one call for it to be banned? Why don’t you respond to the author’s arguments instead of making what I can only assume to be a deliberate misinterpretations of the author’s metaphors?

    I can only assume that both of you resort to such methods because you can’t think of any actual arguments in favor of promoting abortion.

    • alsoanon

      You’re absolutely right; I really shouldn’t have included that last line in the above comment. Nevertheless, the rest of it still stands. The author’s claims in this column are remarkably flimsy, and I feel it’s valid to point that out. If these are the only things she can point to as evidence of a “closed” abortion dialogue at Yale, then I fail to see how it’s anything but open.

    • River_Tam

      I like the username of this account.

    • slanglicanist

      *Applause*

    • slanglicanist

      Applause *for good measure*

  • The Anti-Yale

    *the fact that a fetus is an unborn child*

    This is where the argument grinds to a halt.

    NO ONE KNOWS THAT THIS IS A FACT: Not the pope, not the Supreme Court, not Mary Madeleine O’hare, not Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann, not Hilary Clinton or Barack Obama, or me.

    No one KNOWS when life begins: they can only ASSERT.

    Paul D. Keane

    M. Div. ’80

    M.A., M.Ed.

    http://sexandabortion.blogspot.com

    • LtwLimulus90

      wouldn’t the absence of said knowledge morally require us to ban abortion, given the chance that the fetus we’re killing is an unborn person with rights and human dignity?

    • Catherine08

      When do you believe that life begins, Mr. Keane?

      • The Anti-Yale

        I wrote a maddeningly irritating paper on this VERY question at Yale for a religious ethics course and my opinion remains the same: It can be read (if religious ethics is your bag) at
        http://sexandabortion.blogspot.com

    • yayasisterhood

      Actually, my dear friend Mr. Keane, it’s defined in 18 U.S.C. as “child in utero.”

      • The Anti-Yale

        That is an assertion. It is not knowledge.

    • River_Tam

      The fetus is an unborn child by definition.

      Whether it’s worthy of rights as a person is another – more interesting – matter, but to say that a fetus isn’t alive or isn’t an unborn child is just silly.

      • KeeblerKahn

        It helps those that believe it sleep better at night.

    • RexMottram08

      Funny… my biology textbook contradicts you.

      • LtwLimulus90

        to whom are you replying?

    • KeeblerKahn

      Not all truth is known and not all knowledge is truth.

      I believe that I will err on the side of humanism.

      • Branford73

        You are a humanist? Really? Which type: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanism

        • KeeblerKahn

          This kind http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_Humanism
          “human beings are capable of being ethical and moral without religion or God, it neither assumes humans to be inherently or innately good, nor presents humans as “above nature” or superior to it. Rather, the Humanist life stance emphasizes the unique responsibility facing humanity and the ethical consequences of human decisions.”

          • KeeblerKahn

            For some reason the site won’t let me make an addition to that last post, so I will just make a supplement here.

            My thinking is that if no one knows truly when “life” begins, should I concur with the non-viable argument and possibly be wrong and therefore have condoned the murder of millions of innocents or should I choose the fertilization argument and not worry about the later. Ethics can be considered independently of religion, and I hope that someone smart enough to look up “Humanism” on Wikipedia can grasp that.

          • Branford73

            I hereby put away my snark generator for you, since this is the first time in my decades of reading and listening to your side of the argument that the proponent comes from a non-religious based viewpoint.

            I don’t see fertilization as an event any more significant on the continuum of creation of new life than ovulation or ejaculation. A line must be drawn somewhere for interference by the state with decisions of indisputably living, breathing women regarding their own reproductive functions. Live birth is pretty much universally accepted as a border beyond which the state may absolutely protect the child. Most people, me included, would draw it further back. But there are competing interests, the value of which changes as the potential new life grows. For me, to pick fertilization as the line beyond which the state can absolutely control the decisions and actions of the woman implicates way too much state control.

            I quarrel little with the moral or ethical belief one chooses for oneself to draw the line or with those people who would try to persuade others not to have abortions. Engaging the state power to prevent an indisputably autonomous woman from controlling her body before the potential life can survive outside her body is what I object to, strenuously.

          • KeeblerKahn

            I believe this is exactly the point of Miss Henry’s article. People should discuss and LISTEN to each other instead of just assuming one is wrong because of WHY they made a decision.

            It is easy to write off a belief as a wacky religious idea, but people can come to the same ethical conclusions as many religions without invoking a Heavenly Law.

            Higher education is founded on tolerance and different ideas, because one can never discover the truth without questioning the knowledge. Students at Yale and any academic institution should feel free to discuss their beliefs without fear of personal belittlement.

          • slanglicanist

            @keebler that is what I term “practical worth/value” and what I was taught to phrase as “quality of life ethic”.
            Many contradictions and vile positions emerge as a result bc the rejection of intrinsic worth is the rejection of ANY prior worth [until the baby literally pops out]

    • connman250

      So, I guess an egg is not an unborne chick?

  • greenrobeproductions

    These comments just help make your point all the more. Good article to have written; it’s important to know other views exist and that they are just as valid as the popular one. I fully respect those who believe in pro-choice, and I understand their arguments. I happen to similarly feel as you do that once a sperm and an egg have come together, life has begun and no one should play God to stop it, unless there are additional factors to take into account like the safety of the mother’s life. No matter what, I think it’s a complicated question and I am glad you were brave enough to put your own viewpoint out there.

    I also do not believe you are pushing your opinions on anyone just to be a bully — firstly, they have the choice to read this or not, and secondly, you are stating that in your book this is morally wrong, so as such you should certainly make an effort to stop it.

    When intelligent people don’t like what you’re saying, they’ll resort to attacking your method of argumentation, rather than considering the point you are trying to make in the end. This is of course fine since if your method of argumentation is off, your point could be off. But I personally think they’re just avoiding the meat of it by picking at the stupid stuff. The meat is what some people have gotten at, when does life begin.

    • willthefirst

      truth. awesome comment. this article makes a great point, which is that abortion debate in itself is a good thing. the author opened herself up to criticism when she tried to defend a pro-life view in several paragraphs, and people are jumping on it.

    • slanglicanist

      It’s almost as if we have to become god to be able to step back and be like… whoah, if I could create this, then maybe I was created as well [not in any fundamental literalist perspective of creation. Definitely pro evolution here.]

  • YaleTemp

    I was moved by the idea of life starting at a beating heart – never heard that proposal before, and it makes sense logically and emotionally. I am pro-choice although I personally would never make that choice nor advise others to do so. I consider abortion akin to hate speech – something that is legally protected but should be avoided at all costs.

  • GeoJoe

    “Women like me are horrified during Freshman Orientation when abortion is promoted as a means of birth control.”

    Abortion is never promoted as a means of birth control during Freshman Orientation. It is a legal, safe solution when birth control fails. If you wish to claim the opposite, please provide a morsel of evidence.

    Does anyone fact check opinion pieces in the YDN?

    • LtwLimulus90

      “birth control” means prevention of birth, not prevention of pregnancy

    • ElizabethGrayHenry

      I have multiple sources that have confirmed that at times during Freshman Orientation abortion is promoted as a means of birth control, listed among condoms and birth control pills as birth-control methods available to Yale College students. You have no proof that it is never promoted as a means of birth control. I have the right to protect my sources, but I assure you that they exist.

    • GeoJoe

      Clarification: Technically, yes, abortion is mentioned as a free, legal, and safe method of preventing birth. That’s obvious. Your sentence, however, may connote to some that there is an equivalence between abortion and, say, condoms promoted during Freshman Orientation. Having sat through all of this year’s orientation, I can say that’s completely false. People are told to use a conventional, effective method of birth control (the pill, condoms, etc.), but abortion is an option of those methods of birth control fail.

      • LtwLimulus90

        So you’re criticizing connotational statements that aren’t even explicitly made, yet you go so far as to say that abortion is “never” mentioned. That is not only an absolutely false statement, but devolve into hypocrisy. What do you think “never” connotes?

      • River_Tam

        “Abortion is never promoted as a means of birth control during Freshman Orientation. ”

        “Technically, yes, abortion is mentioned as a free, legal, and safe method of preventing birth.”

        • GeoJoe

          OK, so I didn’t perfectly express my point, so I admit I opened myself up to this criticism. But I hope you see what I mean? The author is frenzied over the fact that abortion is mentioned during freshmen orientation. That’s a dog whistle to people who think that abortion is suggested as a substitute for birth control pills, condoms, or whatever. I am saying that’s false and that any insinuation to that effect, however technically correct, is irresponsible.

          The alternative is that the author is upset that abortion was mentioned during freshmen orientation at all. That would be absurd, since abortion is an available, free, legal, and safe medical procedure. So, I gave her the benefit of the doubt and assumed she was making a more complex point.

        • penny_lane

          “Mentioned” and “promoted” are not the same thing. Promoting abortion would mean offering it as a preferred method of birth control, which certainly did not happen.

  • godard

    Elizabeth Gray Henry, pro-lifer and republican. i ask, again, what happened to my beloved yale? sounds more like a community college in orange county.

    • LtwLimulus90

      oh really? I guess people who aren’t liberal shouldn’t be allowed here then? Go f**k yourself

      • ElizabethGrayHenry

        Hey, LtwLimulus90–that sort of profanity and ad hominem attacks has no place in arguments in support of me. I’d appreciate it if you’d keep it intelligent and appropriate. I absolutely abhor the use of hte f word, especially in attacks such as the one you just wrote.

      • connman250

        LtwLimulus90…..We know that many men like you do not want to buy a condom because there are too cheap, so of course, you rather see a women go through an abortion.

        • LtwLimulus90

          What? You don’t even know me. You’re an idiot. Say something that applies

    • PhysicsAlum

      It stopped being an old boy’s club and became an academically rigorous research university?

    • ElizabethGrayHenry

      I’m sorry. I guess you wish people like me had gone to “community college in Orange County”??? I was admitted to every Ivy to which I applied purely on my own merit and have taken extremely difficult classes now that I’m at Yale. I am an intelligent person who is both pro-life and Republican. Despite what you want to imply, a person can be intelligent, educated, and conservative.

      • silliwin01

        This is a really clear troll comment, you should probably just avoid it.

      • wtf

        and now you just sound pretentious.

    • connman250

      Most people in here don’t even know that Yale started out as a theological school that taught ministry, so those who oppose abortion should be welcome here, to discuss it.

  • PhysicsAlum

    Okay. So you’re also in favor of improving women’s access to non-abortion birth control, right? Reducing the cost of the pill and the ring? Educating women about IUDs, implants, and other extremely reliable ways of preventing pregnancy? Teaching ways beyond abstinence that they can avoid having to have an abortion in the first place (married women having sex in a monogamous relationship can have unwanted pregnancies too!)? Are you in favor of putting more money into children’s healthcare for the babies born to mothers who couldn’t afford any of the above BC methods? Healthcare for the women who keep their fetus and get crippled when something goes horribly wrong later in the pregnancy?

    If you are, I’m sure the Women’s Center would love to have you walk through their doors! No one wants to have an abortion, so the less we have the better in this country. If, however, your idea of an open dialogue is “It should be illegal, and women shouldn’t have the right to choose,” then I can see why they wouldn’t. Making abortion illegal won’t stop abortion. It’ll just kill and maim desperate women too.

    • River_Tam

      Unless Ms. Henry is Catholic, I don’t see why you’d assume she’s against promotion of effective contraception.

      • PhysicsAlum

        Because there is not one mention of those topics on the article above? And those who are anti-abortion in this country have also been fighting to defund Planned Parenthood and other clinics, while offerring no replacement?

        • PhysicsAlum

          And by anti-abortion I mean anti-choice.

        • River_Tam

          Abortions don’t happen because people don’t have access to contraception – they happen because people don’t care.

          I know *Yalies* who thought pulling out was a sufficient method of birth control. Guess what their backup plan was?

    • RexMottram08

      The Sexual Smorgasbord must never close! Ignore the horrible consequences of the last 6 years! Who needs stable and healthy families? Who needs baby girls being born? Overrated! More abortions, condoms and free sex pleeeez!

      • PhysicsAlum

        Most adults have sex. Married or unmarried. Most of that sex is not to produce children. You’re going to have a lot more success preventing unwanted pregnancy than stopping people having sex. Ignoring reality does not mean that reality goes away.

        • RexMottram08

          Funny… the only ones attempting to escape reality are those denying that abortion kills a human life.

    • connman250

      So are you are admitting that abortion is just a way for one to pratice contraception?

  • grumpyalum

    @PhysicsAlum – Having talked E.Henry in the past, the answer is definitely no.

    The GOP – Loves fetuses, but wants no institutional surpport to help them outside of the womb.

    • ElizabethGrayHenry

      Who are you, grumpyalum that you’ve talked to me? You must be a pretty recent alum if you’ve talked with me, a sophomore!

      • GeoJoe

        Haha. But you didn’t answer PhysicsAlum’s question!

    • RexMottram08

      We support mothers all the time! Instead of NOW and Planned Parenthood, I send my donations to charities that actually support mothers and children. The government is a terrible guardian for moms and tots.

    • River_Tam

      The Democratic Party – Loves fetuses but is okay with killing them.

      • grumpyalum

        To be fair, I don’t really love fetuses. I don’t think we should value the life of anything that can only exist in a potentially parasitic relationship.

        I know, I know – it’s callous. The other definition also strikes me just as callous – to imply that women should be forced into functional feudalism with another lifeform.

        • RexMottram08

          Feudal pledges last a lot longer than 9 months.

      • Yale12

        The Republican Party – loves “unborn babies” but doesn’t give a $h!t about them once they’re out of the womb and in need of food, housing, and education.

        • RexMottram08

          Absurd. Government run education, food and housing are WORSE than that provided by individuals working for even meager wages and the generous support of private charities. If you want to hurt a child, put him in a public school, feed him government cheese and lock him in a gov’t housing project.

          • Yale12

            Where are these so-called generous private charities? You honestly expect them to step in and help every poor child get food and shelter outside of gang-infested neighborhoods? Why haven’t they done that yet?

    • connman250

      This is pure bullcrap. Many large companies support the United Way who support food pantries and kids learning, so stop the liberal lies.

  • River_Tam

    Give this girl a weekly column. She “gets it” in a way that most Yalies – male or female – don’t.

    • ElizabethGrayHenry

      Oh my goodness, River_Tam! That is seriously the greatest compliment. Thank you ever so much. I’m not sure I deserve a weekly column–I’m not that sophisticated of a writer–but I appreciate your support!

  • justayalemom

    Ms. Henry, I too am very impressed and pleased with your column. Very happy to see this kind of discussion at such a liberal school. You gave a me glimpse of hope that not all Yale women are so quick to murder their “fetus”. And for all the haters chiming in, they are only showing their internal conflicts with this issue. Again, thank you for bravery and please continue the plight for equality to all, even those who cannot speak for themselves.

  • Gern_Blansten

    Ms. Henry you are very brave to write a column like this. The Liberal hate machine, which has been growing and attacking those who disagree with it since the moment George W. Bush took office is alive and thriving in the so called “university that values tolerance and diversity.” And, rest assured Yale is not alone in the Ivy League, or amongst other so-called institutes of higher learning as a foundry for the formation and production of elite, hate filled but happy drones that see the world as us and them, vote on sound-bites and skin color, and don’t give a damn about anything until it affects their wallets or livelihood. Keep up the good work because eventually we all give in to truth, no matter how much it hurts to admit it.

    • jnewsham

      *This comment was removed by the author.*

  • mb2012

    I’m sorry…please don’t pretend to make a scientific argument about the beginning of life. I can purify all the genetic information I need to make a person in a test tube. Is that a life? Should it be a crime to dispose of genomic DNA samples in a laboratory? Should it be a crime to dispose of cell cultures, in which cells grow, interact, and need to be fed? Nope.
    You can certainly argue that life begins at fertilization, but do us the favor of admitting that it’s because of your religion, and that there is no logical scientific basis for the claim that a dividing cohesion of cytoplasm, DNA, and proteins (the state of “life” for some time after fertilization) is a life. The actual beginning of life is certainly controversial- is it consicousness, the development and function of organ systems, etc- but you cannot argue that it begins with the fusion of two sex cells without believing in some sort of religious/holy entrance into the world upon fertilization. Religious assumptions about the beginning of life cannot be reconciled with scientific truth, and our laws are secular in this country.
    Next could you write about the death penalty, now that we know your opinion about how sacred undeveloped/hypothetical life is?

    • River_Tam

      > You can certainly argue that life begins at fertilization, but do us the favor of admitting that it’s because of your religion, and that there is no logical scientific basis for the claim that a dividing cohesion of cytoplasm, DNA, and proteins (the state of “life” for some time after fertilization) is a life.

      I recommend that you take a biology class. A fetus is most certainly alive – that’s not even controvertible. What’s controversial is at what time it deserves lawful protection.

      > Next could you write about the death penalty, now that we know your opinion about how sacred undeveloped/hypothetical life is?

      Comparing innocent fetuses to violent murderers is certainly one way to make your perspective clear.

      • mb2012

        I have, thanks. First of all, I’m clearly not talking about fetuses in that excerpt. The fetal stage of development commences at the 9th week after fertilization, and I’m talking about the undifferentiated, pre-fetal stage. Also, there’s a signficant difference between “alive” and “a life.” As I wrote, a culture of cells is certainly alive, as is a zygote at the moment of fertilization (as were the separate sperm and the egg, for that matter), and I’d say a cell culture is pretty definitely not a life. Abortion is a debate about human lives, not killing living cells in your body (as is mentioned in the next comment). I think what’s controversial is exactly what you consider a life, and then when it deserves lawful protection.

        • River_Tam

          When comparing a fertilized zygote to a culture of cells, the difference is obvious. One will grow into a fully-formed human, the other will not. Simply because the difference is not apparent to your naked eye (or your scientific understanding) does not mean it does not exist.

          • mb2012

            not if you remove the zygote and prevent the stem cells from differentiating before they actually do differentiate to create an fetus:
            http://www.nature.com/ncb/journal/v13/n9/full/ncb2314.html
            then it’s a culture of cells.

          • mb2012

            how does that have any more life than a culture of bone marrow stem cells, which can be turned multipotent with the exogenous addition of some transcription factors/other proteins+small molecules

          • mb2012

            Hahahaha wait… I just looked up your username. This makes so much more sense now. “While in the hands of the Alliance doctors and scientists, River was secretly and extensively experimented on, including surgery that removed most of her amygdala”
            Is that why you’re anti-science?

      • mb2012

        and with regards to your second comment, it just seems to me that if human life is so sacred that it should not be ended for any reason after conception, then by the same moral absolutism we should not have a death penalty. no matter what the nature/goodness of the life in question.

        • River_Tam

          > it just seems to me that if human life is so sacred that it should not be ended for any reason after conception, then by the same moral absolutism we should not have a death penalty

          I don’t think anyone in this thread said that human life is so sacred that it should not be ended for any reason after conception. You’re attacking a straw man.

          Rather, what Ms. Henry specifically argued was that a fetus should not be aborted – it’s a much narrower claim, because a fetus has not committed a crime does not get access to legal defense. A fetus is innocent of a crime, not judged guilty by a jury of his or her peers.

          The rest – from the word “sacred” to your railing against some blanket statement that no one has made – is all in your head.

          (To top it off, an abortion is far more painful for the fetus than lethal injection is for the executed, but that’s not really the point)

          • bfa123

            So we can lose our “sacredness” and then murder is ok?

            And, as to your last statement, that is false. Not true. WE DON’T KNOW. Lethal injection consists of a triple cocktail of drugs, none of which dulls pain–they just make you unable to move or cry out. Scientists have hypothesized that it is unbelievably painful. Of course, we don’t actually know whether it is more painful for the fetus or Troy Davis, but I’m glad you feel comfortable enough in your ideology to promote an unprovable claim.

          • mb2012

            “As someone who believes in God, I firmly believe that babies — even ones in the womb — are endowed with human dignity. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” God knew intimately each of the over 50 million baby boys and girls who have been aborted since Roe v. Wade.”

            No, she wasn’t talking about the sacredness of human life?

            Even in her secular argument, WHY should a fetus not be aborted? Because it’s a life- and we either think that’s important for religious reasons or for moral reasons. I guess you don’t have to have an absolute moral rule about killing, but I don’t think it’s fair to put so much weight on unrealized life in one case and so little on human life in another, I guess (Troy Davis?). Especially when you can’t just lock a fetus away forever- it’s a pretty binary option. The death penalty is instituted INSTEAD of lifetime in prison, etc.

        • connman250

          Are you comparing the life of a murderer who illegally took a human life to the living cells of a human fetus?

        • slanglicanist

          Are you assuming that /sacred/ means INFINITE worth/value? If so, where did you gain that misunderstanding?

    • slanglicanist

      Universal moral principles [ethical intuitions] pre-date any organized religion; and, that, my friend is fact..
      I adamantly disagree that all that science mumbo jumbo you spoke of SHOULD NOT be a crime. IT SHOULD be a crime.

  • The Anti-Yale

    So a fetus attached to its host is totally dependent on the host for survival (until a certain stage of lung/heart/brain development.

    A brain tumor is totally dependent on its host for survival.

    If the tumor is removed, am I killing it?

    If the fetus is removed am I killing it?

    • RexMottram08

      A child in utero differs from an adult only in degree.

      A tumor differs from a child in kind.

      The ever decreasing age of viability leaves your argument naked with the tide rolling out.

  • The Anti-Yale

    It seems you sacralize the potentiality of one arrangements of cells and not the other.

  • HounShame

    Elizabeth Gray Henry: Please, I would like to hear your response to MB2012′s original and follow-up comments, specifically the idea that your views stem from and can be supported only by religious ideology and your opinion on the death penalty. Thanks.

    • roflairplane

      Why “religious ideology” rather than religion? Seems to me this choice demonstrates HounShame’s misunderstanding of both religion *and* ideology.

    • River_Tam

      When HounShame explains why we are comparing the morality of killing innocent fetuses versus guilty adults, then I imagine we’ll have a topic for conversation.

      • mb2012

        Because it’s killing- pretty big deal in every case. If human life really is sacred, why not just lock up the guilty adults for life?

        • HounShame

          exactly. I would argue that “pro-lifers” only refer to the “sacredness of human life” to argue against the specific issue of abortion, but not other issues that also clearly concern human life such as the death penalty and war… thoughts, river_tam?

        • uncommons

          How about “innocent human life” is sacred? I don’t think the anti-abortion argument hinges on the fact that “life is sacred” but instead that “innocent life is sacred.” If you’re getting the death penalty, you’ve usually done something terrible (obviously there are rare, unjust mistakes). If you’re getting aborted, you didn’t do anything at all.

  • HounShame

    regardless of how Roflairplane wants to interpret my use of “religious ideology,” I would still like to hear hear your response, Ms. Henry, to MB2012′s comments and also your views on the death penalty.

    • jnewsham

      Forgive me if I’m overreaching, but judging by the fact that she’s solidly in the Perry camp, something tells me she thinks it’s the Ultimate Justice.

    • mb2012

      me too..

  • connman250

    If I wander in the wilderness and find a nest of an endangered bird and disturb it, It is a federal offence, punishable by law. So who is protecting a living fetus?

  • connman250

    The argument, that one has to be against capitol punishment if they are against abortion is way off the charts. One would also have to equate that a person who takes the life of another illegally with that of an innocent fetus.

    • HounShame

      so the sacredness of life is subjective, am I correct?

      • River_Tam

        No one’s talking about the sacredness of life except for you, HounShame.

        We’re talking about rights here.

        • bfa123

          You mean a woman’s RIGHT to choose, right?

  • connman250

    I check into Yale Medical Center Emergency Roon and tell the tirage nurse that I want my middle finger removed. She calls in an intern and questions why I want it removed. I tell him it’s my body and it is my choice. He tells me to leave or he will have to call the phychiatrist.

  • The Anti-Yale

    *who is protecting a living fetus?*

    This is a trifle incorrect: It is a living host-MOTHER not a “living fetus”.

    The fetus, like a brain tumor, is a configuration of cells in the host-mother’s body. Unlike the brain tumor it has the potentiality to separate from the host and breathe independently from the host’s respiratory system.

    Some folks sacralize that potentiality; some folks don’t. (See : http://sexandabortion.blogspot.com)
    Until it separates from the host-mother’s body it remains a configuration of her bodies cells.

    • dolphinfetus

      How is it a configuration of her body’s cells when it has (~50%) different DNA from the mother? I don’t understand this. The cells are clearly not the mother’s.

      • Reddit

        You don’t think eggs in a woman’s follicles (which have undergone genetic recombination) are a configuration of cells in her body?

        • The Anti-Yale

          The introduction of sperm, the resulting zygotic mitosis/meiosis, are totally dependent on the activity of the woman’s body: they are a configuration of cells in her body.

          NB

          I recognize that science projects that males will be able to gestate a zygote/embryo/fetus in their lower intestine one day, a rather unappealing aesthetic vision open to scatological slurs before the infant even has peers to hurl them.

        • dolphinfetus

          Yes, because they are entirely composed of her DNA, if only part of it. But a zygote has foreign DNA, making it clearly a new being, as defined by biology.

          • Reddit

            Biology doesn’t distinguish between “foreign” and “non-foreign” DNA in the sense you’re advocating. My DNA and your DNA are structurally identical, different only in sequence. Relative to the female’s somatic cells, her ova have just as distinct of a genetic sequence as sperm do. Sure, a zygote might, genetically speaking, be MORE different than an egg is, but I’m not sure you’d want to arbitrary designate a point at which something can be considered completely “foreign” based on the % difference in base pairings.

            That said, I’m not disagreeing with you. I don’t think it’s fair to call a zygote merely a collection of cells in the female’s body. My point is simply that you can’t object to this on the grounds of genetic variation.

  • The Anti-Yale

    correction “body’s cells”

  • YalieForever

    Your logic on the following point is faulty: “Yale Health should accommodate pro-life students in the health plan by offering policies that do not cover abortions — just as Yale Dining accommodates vegetarian students by offering tofu in the dining halls.”

    Just as meat is still an option that vegetarians turn down, abortions are services that you can turn down. Yale does not stop serving meat just because some of its students do not eat it – even so they must still pay the standard dining fee. Feel free to extrapolate

  • HounShame

    please, ms henry, still waiting for you to chime in here…

  • yayasisterhood

    Has anybody seen any good movies lately? I heard Drive was good, but I don’t want to spend the money if it’s not worth it. I’ll probably just Netflix it when it’s out of theaters.

    • roflairplane

      i heard it was good, but i don’t think i would spend money on it. movies are free on the internet.

  • roflairplane

    .

  • slanglicanist

    “If humans have no soul and/or intrinsic value, then there should be no abortion for the mere fact that ‘what is being aborted’ should therefore belong to science for ‘whatever research deemed utilitarian and beneficial’. This, however, is my radical position on the consequences of a PURE quality of life ethic where the woman’s choice creates no genuine option.” — G.o.P.

  • slanglicanist

    If the human soul cannot be validated, then it is nonsense to speak about abortion being wrong.
    Since science deals not with metaphysical nonsense, then argumentation must take a different route.
    Given the above statement, ethics seems the proper arena.
    And with ethics, especially with this issue, we are restricted to basically two types of ethics.
    1. Deontological
    2. situational.
    3. Normative left the window w/ technology.
    Now these terms can be summed up in relatively easy concepts…
    If anyone is wondering where I am headed, let me know and I’ll clarify a few terms and then present a “materialistic” analogy exposing the underlying presuppositions I’ve seen in most comments.

    “My point being is that ‘when/if science reigns/ed supreme’ the TERM abortion itself will become increasingly meaningless until it is replaced by a NEW TERM with a NEW MEANING.” — G.o.P.

    • mb2012

      wait sorry, why can’t we use scientific facts to make conclusions about a problem that is, by natural, a medical/biological one, with serious, everyday practical consequences?

    • mb2012

      wait sorry, why can’t we use scientific facts to make conclusions about a problem that is, by nature, a medical/biological one, with serious, everyday practical consequences?

  • ignatz

    Ms. Henry bravely calls for an open dialogue on the issue of abortion, instead of the usual demonizing of those with different views. How does the Yale community respond? Most commenters (1) ignore her call for an open dialogue and/or (2) mock her views (“specious,” “nonsense,” “bullcrap,” etc.) and/or (3) launch smug (and fallacious) hit-and-run attacks on her pro-life stance, all as if to say, “There’s nothing to discuss — you’re simply wrong, and we’re right — period!” This is rather pathetic for a university with a rich history of intellectual diversity, debate, and civility. Gotta run now or I’ll be late for my 9:30 class in Ethnic Identity Grievances.

    • River_Tam

      I call fake. Only chumps and science majors (the same thing?) take 9:30 classes.

  • Yale12

    But Ms. Henry doesn’t actually call for an open dialogue on abortion. In fact, she wants it to be not mentioned at all as a legal and available option at freshmen orientation.

    • connman250

      If you can afford to go to Yale, you can afford a pack of Trojans, so stop with killing a human life!

    • connman250

      It really bothers Yale12 when someone has an opposing point of view, makes sence, and is so eloquent.

      • Yale12

        What kind of comment is that? I was making a legitimate criticism of Henry’s argument – ie, that she simultaneously wants to have an “open dialogue” and doesn’t want anybody to actually mention abortion as an option for women. I’m bothered by Ms. Henry’s hypocrisy, nothing more.

        For the record, I don’t think comparing abortion to tofu is quite the definition of “eloquent,” but that’s just me.

        And it’s spelled “sense.”

      • bfa123

        No…Yale12 is exactly right. All Yale12 said was that Henry doesn’t want it mentioned at all. She did say that. And that’s not an open dialogue.

      • roflairplane

        The opposing viewpoints in the abortion debate are not “abortion should be available for everybody” and “abortion should only be available for some people.” The opposing viewpoints are “abortion is wrong and should not be permitted in a regime founded on natural rights, the most basic of which is the right to life” and “abortion is not immoral and should be permitted.”

      • penny_lane

        Regardless of how one feels about abortion, any claim that this article is well-written, or even well-argued, is absurd.

        • bfa123

          Agreed!

  • connman250

    So according to liberals, capitol punishment is correct, because a person who commits murder is just a bunch of living cells that feeds off the host (society), and can be aborted.

    • mb2012

      Lol….please elaborate on this analogy? Not quiteeeeeee sure I follow you.

      • roflairplane

        “Quite” only has one “e.”

      • River_Tam

        Calling a fetus “a bunch of cells” is reductive since all organisms, including adult humans, are just “a bunch of cells”.

        • mb2012

          hahaha yeah, I don’t think that was what needed clarification

      • connman250

        Don’t you libs call a fetus just a few cells, comparing it to a parasite that lives within the female and it is up to her to abort it anytime she wishes? So, in effect, you can call a murderer on death row a parasite on society who can be aborted by it’s host, which is society. If your a Yalie, you should get it without any further help.

  • YLS

    This was an excellent and courageous editorial, Ms. Hendry.

  • uncommons

    You know what I haven’t had in a while? Big League Chew

  • The Anti-Yale

    No one seems in the last bit offended by the Peabody Museum exhibit I saw with my own eyes of NINE JARS filled with formaldehyde and a zygote, embryo, fetus for each of the nine months of human pregnancy, an exhibit on display for years at the Peabody when I was a child, five blocks from the RCC orchestrated Planned Parenthood protests on Orange Street.

    • River_Tam

      I’ve seen corpses of adults too. As long as we don’t trivialize death, I don’t see what’s wrong with examining it.

  • The Anti-Yale

    I was a child. I found it horrifying (and fascinating in a ghoulish way). And I also found it part of the veery dehumanization which pro-lifers object to in the whole abortion debate. It’s just dead babies. Nothing more. That was the message the Peabody was sending to this child viewing the exhibit at his mother’s hand.

  • connman250

    165 comments in only a few days? Ms. Henry is not affraid to takle a topic that the left thinks they have complete control of. Most people know that abortion, in most cases, is just a convenience, without thinking about a human life. This article proves that the issue is not (sorry) dead.

    Her professor will, no doubt, be impressed by her article and the attention it received, and hopefully, he won’t judge it as a purely political piece.

  • The Anti-Yale

    165 comments in a few days is a reassuring response. Perhaps the cultural guilt I predected in 1976 is beginning to surface after 50 million abortions. http://sexandabortion.blogspot.com

  • Branford73

    I’d hate to see such a spirited discussion end like that, Paul. I didn’t read your essay but I feel not the least bit guilty about the abortions performed since 1973 and I doubt that any pro-choicers do. I am increasingly agitated about the persistence and recent successes anti-choicers, who have always existed since the reproductive rights of women were recognized. The flaws, inconsistencies, occasional falsehoods and hypocrisies in their arguments need to be confronted and exposed whenever possible when it comes to public policy.

    • roflairplane

      Well, Paul, I for one would be pretty happy to see such a spirited discussion end with your comment.

  • connman250

    The discussion about abortion will never end as long as there are people who cherish the meaning of life. When a society loses respect for unborn human life, they have already lost respect for all life. Having a child for a women is a life changing time, so one should think about how a women feels after ending a life in her womb.

  • syfrosh11

    HOW CAN YOU CALL YOURSELF A WOMAN???

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