Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Will the Pro-Choice Advocate Please Stand Up?

On Wednesday, March 30, at 7:00, we will be hosting bioethicist Scott Klusendorf at Rackham Amphitheatre.  We tried for weeks to find a pro-choice speaker to have a forum with Mr. Klusendorf, but the dozens of professors, Planned Parenthood representatives, and student groups we contacted refused to participate in the event. 
Smells like fear to us - or a case of pro-abortionists doubting their own arguments.  Events Chair Joe Lipa drew up a press release detailing the dilemma:

Pro-aborts Decline En Masse to Debate Pro-life Bioethicist at U-M Abortion Forum
ANN ARBOR, MI—Despite its reputation as one of the most liberal universities in the country, the University of Michigan and surrounding Ann Arbor community has failed to produce an opponent to challenge pro-life bioethicist and author Scott Klusendorf at a public abortion awareness forum. The on-campus event, to be hosted by U-M Students for Life (SFL) on March 30, was originally planned to be a co-sponsored debate-styled forum in which each side would present its view on abortion. However, the absence of both a co-sponsor and speaker for the pro-abortion side has resulted in the transformation of the scheduled debate into a pro-life rally.

UMSFL had contacted dozens of pro-abortion individuals, groups, and organizations—including the local Planned Parenthood—over the course of a month and a half, according to president Claire Levis. While a few individuals expressed initial interest, in each case the invitation to participate in the forum was ultimately declined.

“We exhausted the list of every influential pro-abortion person we could find,” Levis said. “In a place like Ann Arbor, that’s a lot of people.”

University clubs contacted included Students for Choice, F-word, and FemDems of U-M College Democrats. Individuals contacted were members of the university women’s studies program, philosophy department, and stem-cell research lab. UMSFL indicated that each speaker would be given equal time and promised a “civil, unbiased setting” because “our club and indeed the movement itself has nothing to fear and nothing to lose from an unbiased event.” Some of those clubs and individuals who did respond to the invitation apparently felt otherwise.

“We are under no illusions about the event’s intent or the speaker’s bias,” one response email stated. “We certainly won't legitimize the event with our time, financial resources or members.”
Another reply stated, “We are not interested in participating in this event…Understand that we are confident in our beliefs and we are not too ‘scared’ to discuss them. There's really just no point in us getting together to fight, as it will do nothing but make people upset and further divide us.”

To aid the search, the club posted flyers around campus seeking “pro-choice advocates who can passionately and intellectually defend the merits and strengths of the pro-choice position.” Ironically, the only responses received were from concerned members of the pro-life movement. UMSFL Events Chair Joseph Lipa reported receiving an email from the coordinator of the area’s 40 Days for Life spring campaign who was worried that Klusendorf would not have sufficient support at the debate.

“He was relieved when I told him that it was actually the other way around,” Lipa said. “The dedication of the pro-life movement here is really incredible.”

Klusendorf, author of the book The Case for Life, specializes in defending the pro-life position from a philosophical and scientific point of view. He will still speak at the event and address any challenges from the audience afterward, but Lipa says he expects the atmosphere to be more conducive to a pep rally than to a debate.

“You can’t really have a debate without two debaters,” Lipa said. “Nevertheless, it’s still an opportunity for people of both sides or in the middle to further explore the pro-life position.”

While Levis also has high hopes for the revised event, she expressed regret that so many university abortion advocates were so reluctant to discuss such an important issue.

“We are disappointed that those who support abortion in private will not stand up in public and give an intelligent account of why they believe what they do. Perhaps it’s because they question if a convincing rationale exists.”

The Abortion Forum will take place on Wednesday, March 30, at 7pm at Rackham Amphitheatre on the University of Michigan Central Campus. There is no cost and everyone, regardless of opinion on abortion, is invited to attend.

U-M Students for Life welcomes any comments, questions, or clarifications.

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