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February 13, 2019

Stand for Life, All Life, Every Life: Resisting the Throwaway Culture

By Therese Perby Señal (C'19)

The latest Dahlgren Dialogue focused on some of the most divisive topics in American politics: abortion and the right to life. Co-hosted by the Initiative for Catholic Social Thought and Public Life as well as the Office for Mission and Ministry, the panel featured four pro-life women: Serrin Foster, the president of Feminists for Life and the creator of the Women Deserve Better campaign; Julia Greenwood (C’19) a Georgetown undergraduate and the co-director of the 2019 Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life; Gloria Purvis, the creator of the EWTN show Authentically Free at Last, host of the EWTN radio show Morning Glory, and editor of the African American Catholic Youth Bible; and Aimee Murphy, the executive director of Rehumanize International, a secular human rights organization dedicated to creating a culture of peace and life that seeks to end violence against humans through education, discourse, and action. The dialogue was moderated by Kim Daniels, associate director for the Initiative.

Throughout the dialogue, I wondered if people would barge through the chapel doors to demonstrate against the event. After all, the abortion debate has long reverberated throughout campus. The Right to Life group consistently squares off with unrecognized campus group H*yas for Choice and have seen their chalk messages defaced. Reciprocally, when Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, spoke at the school, pro-life groups not affiliated with Georgetown protested outside the front gates. Specifically, panelist Julia Greenwood declared that she had received hateful emails from those who disagreed with her.

Yet despite the intense polarization of the topic, I found that the panelists echoed many of the sentiments shared by my pro-choice friends. For example, Aimee Murphy condemned the use of violence in the pursuit of equality with men. The panelists also discussed alternative measures to prevent abortions, such as supporting pregnant women considering abortions which I think many pro-choice people would agree with. Even Serrin Foster, who has spent years fighting abortion, noted,“What’s so shocking about right and left on Capitol Hill … is that both sides really care about women. They are about the poor. You can meet people where they are.”

This acknowledgement that both sides of the aisle care about the improvement of and care for the most vulnerable among us, as well as the similarities between pro-life and pro-choice arguments, gives me hope that there is a way to move forward. As the Trump Administration and Supreme Court seek to overturn Roe v Wade, I can only hope for my country to engage in dialogue, not dispute.

Therese Perby Señal (C'19) is a senior in the College studying computer science.