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.