Last Monday I attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C. with about a dozen other members of Choose Life at Yale. When we arrived at the Capitol we saw thousands of enthusiastic protesters. Among the groups were the ByzanTeens, whose banner bore a traditional Byzantine icon of Mary and St. Elizabeth with Jesus and John the Baptist visible in their wombs; Hare Krishna members, holding up signs that said “All life is sacred” and singing cheerful chants and banging their drums; the Cornell Coalition for Life, with whom we competed to see who could raise their banner higher for a group photo; and countless others.
Soon, a small group of pro-abortion protesters gathered to counter us, but were quickly drowned out by a horde of high school girls who chanted cheerleader-style rhymes about “loving babies.” The atmosphere was passionate but friendly, as men and women from every tribe and tongue peacefully protested the largest genocide in human history.
Perhaps I lost you at that last sentence. The typical line concerning abortion on a campus like Yale’s is rigid: we do not have a right to tell a woman what to do with her body. Abortion is a personal choice and a personal matter — so get your hands off of me. Many Yalies are against abortion in principle, but do not feel comfortable telling others what they should do in a difficult situation. Many are pragmatic; they oppose abortion, but think it should be legal so that young women can get the procedure done safely and not have to turn to dangerous back-alley abortions.
These arguments are all well-intentioned. But I believe that the stakes are far higher than all of the preceding. Neither myself nor my friends in CLAY are nutjobs who want to oppress women — in fact, many of our members are women. The agenda at the mostly-female march was to defend life, not to take away rights.
If the pro-life cause can be given a fair hearing, our community will hear an uncomfortable truth: abortion is infanticide. Although this debate is hard to have on-campus, and usually shouted down, discussion of abortion needs to be supplemented with some basic premises.
First, we ought to be clear on what we are defending or opposing. Have you ever watched an ultrasound video of an abortion taking place? If not, please do. Have you ever researched fetal development? By day 20, the heart, brain, spinal column and nervous system are almost complete and the eyes begin to form. Two days later, the heart begins to beat. By the end of the first month, blood is flowing through a vein system completely independent of its mother’s, and head, arms, legs, muscles and other organs are clearly visible. With each passing day, it looks more and more like an infant. Anybody who knows or sees this usually admits to second thoughts. Embryologists consistently voice their unease with abortion.
Whatever you may say about a fetus at these early stages, you certainly cannot say that it is “just a clump of cells.” Perhaps for a few days it does not look like a human, and has no distinguishable “personal” characteristics. It doesn’t take long before that argument becomes untenable. That “clump” will develop into an Eduardo-clump or Emilia-clump. That clump, which starts as a single cell, has its own unique, breathtakingly complex DNA code. The amount of information contained therein is equivalent to 50 sets of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. It is meant to be Eduardo from the moment of conception. My big nose, strangely shaped ears, and gangly frame all came into meaningful, organized being at the moment of my conception.
So, upon my return from the march, I invite all of our campus to calm down, lay down their arms, put aside politics for a second, and consider the abortion debate from the beginning. The pro-life cause is not out to oppress. We are, as our title suggests, there to protect life, specifically a portion of the population that many wrongly consider does not have a right to life. If we are anti-anything, we are anti-genocide.
We defend our position because there are simply some things individuals are not free to do in a liberal society. We cannot murder. We cannot commit infanticide if we decide that our kids are too much of a burden. If we look at the facts and clarify, visually and scientifically, what we mean when we talk about abortion, we will see that terminating a fetus does not fall within the bounds of personal freedom. Abortion is not a question of “choice,” but of murder — and I hope you will not take offense at me for fighting it.
Eduardo Andino is a sophomore in Trumbull College.