“The question of whether abortion is right or wrong begins with the question: What kind of thing does abortion kill?”

An Abortion Debate titled, “Is this ‘Reproductive Right’ a ‘Moral Wrong?’” was held on Nov. 16 in the Community Arts building.

The debate featured pro-life advocate Scott Klusendorf, the founder and president of Life Training Institute, and pro-choice representative Nadine Strossen, a New York Law professor and former president of the American Civil Liberties Union. 

“Many religious leaders of many faiths have not only supported this legal right, but moreover they have done so expressly on religious and moral grounds. They maintain that abortion is a moral choice for women, and in some circumstances it is actually a moral duty,” Strossen said. 

She said people can be assured that abortion is a constitutional right, as established in the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade.

“Government officials should not be able to impose their moral or religious views on any of us. That’s exactly what the first amendment to our Constitution protects us against,” Strossen said.

Klusendorf said that he agrees with everything Strossen believes except her definition of when life begins. Life begins from the earliest stages of development in the womb, he said. 

“This is not a debate between those who are pro-choice and those who are anti-choice,” Klusendorf said. “The question of whether abortion is right or wrong begins with the question: What kind of thing does abortion kill?”

He said to answer this question, students must turn to the science of embryology.

“This is not religion, this is science that we are looking at,” he said.

Klusendorf said the level of development of an individual should not define their personhood compared to how race is not a measurement of a person’s value. 

“We are all human beings,” Klusendorf said. “You’re valuable because you’re one of us.” 

The debate included an open dialogue portion, where each representative asked the other questions and each representative had the opportunity to rebuttal their opponent’s answer.

Strossen started the dialogue by asking Klusendorf if he believes there is any situation where a woman would have to get an abortion, such as if having the child would render the woman infertile. 

“In that case, the mother stands to lose one good [whereas] the child stands to lose an ultimate good,” Klusendorf said. “The mother loses her fertility, the child loses its life. Being killed is immeasurably worse than losing your fertility.”

Klusendorf then asked Strossen about the morality behind partial-birth abortions.

“Let’s talk about the part of the analysis that’s always missing from your perspective and that is what about the pregnant woman. What if this was necessary to save her life?” Strossen said.

In her closing remarks, Strossen said, “This has to be decided according to personal, moral, and religious values of individual women.”

Klusendorf said, “It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being. Abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being. Therefore, abortion is wrong.” 

Anthony Pomilia, a sophomore studying public health and biological sciences, said he believes in pro-life. “

The debate just reinforced my beliefs. [Klusendorf] thinks just like I do, every single thing he says is on spot,” he said.

Pomilia said he is an aspiring neurosurgeon so he values logic and science. 

“I really encourage students to be open minded and not biased,” he said. 

Pro-choice advocate Shay Matmanivong, a sophomore majoring in communications studies, said this debate didn’t affect her much because she already has a stance on the issues that were discussed.

Matmanivong said, “I feel a lot of your views should be developed on your own, through your own personal research. Not somebody telling you their views because each person has their own experiences.”

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