Panel tackles tough issues of abortion, personhood, rights
Abortion is a hot topic on college campuses, one with many different opinions coming from every side.
At a Conference on World Affairs panel discussion titled “Let my Embryo Vote,” four panelists offered their opinions on abortion, citing everything from personal experiences as parents to opinions on selective abortion and connections to the death penalty.
“We’ve really only begun to have the entire debate in this country,” said Clara Jeffery, panelist and editor in chief of Mother Jones magazine. “Technology is vastly complicating all of our moral dilemmas over abortion, choice and fertility.”
One panelist spoke out against the idea of an embryo having rights.
“I don’t think an unborn person is a child, and I don’t think that they have rights. I think it’s an exercise of imagination to think of a potential life as a person,” said Sue Swenson, panelist and mother.
Swenson gave birth to a child with severe disabilities and questions whether she would have had the courage to give birth to her son, Charlie, if she had known he would be disabled.
“Many Americans are in favor of abortion if the child is severely disabled,” Swenson said. However, she views this as a form of genocide, citing high rates of abortion when children are found to have Down Syndrome.
“Can we really imagine a world where only those deemed perfect have the right to be born?” Swenson asked.
Another panel member brought in his experiences with the criminal justice system to explain why he understands the pro-life argument.
“Many people feel that we have to abolish the death penalty because there is a possibility that we will end an innocent life,” said John Hewitt, a criminologist. “We execute about 50 people a year in this country. Since Roe v. Wade, we have had about 45 million innocent lives who have not been allowed to join us in this wonderful world.”
The panelists discussed the importance of providing for the mother rather than focusing on the child.
A child needs a mother, Swenson said. “If you want to protect the rights of the child, you will provide the mother with good nutrition, safe housing, a decent job and good health care.”
Another argument was the importance of life before an embryo comes to term.
“Life after you are born and before you’re dead is infinitely more important than life before you are born and life after you are dead,” said panelist Mark Levine, the host of the radio show “Inside Scoop from Washington.”
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