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Thursday, November 30, 2023 — Houston, TX

Pro-life after Roe: an extended invitation

By Claire Druffner     11/14/23 10:41pm

Editor’s Note: This story contains explicit descriptions of abortion. This is a guest opinion that has been submitted by a member of the Rice community. The views expressed in this opinion are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the Thresher or its editorial board. All guest opinions are fact-checked to the best of our ability and edited for clarity and conciseness by Thresher editors.

Last semester at West Servery, I found my flyer, “Pro-life after Roe: Catholic Answers to FAQ’s,” vandalized. “FORCED BIRTH” was scrawled over “Pro-life” in big block letters. 

I was disappointed; these flyers were meant to engage the Rice community in healthy conversation. “Pro-Life after Roe,” like all of the talks hosted by the Catholic Student Association, provided the Catholic Christian perspective on various topics and a space for healthy conversation. With these talks, I want people to dialogue with teachings founded in truth, mercy and love.

One such teaching is that every person has inherent, immutable dignity. Human life is sacred from the moment of conception until natural death. 96% percent of self-selecting biologists, of which 85% identify as pro-choice, affirm that human life begins at fertilization, according to a survey conducted as part of the 2022 Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson. The Church upholds this living fetus as a human person in its mission to protect all persons — the immigrant, the elderly, the disabled, the convicted, the homeless, the trafficked, the unborn, the single mother: all forgotten in our “eat or be eaten” society. In contrast, the pro-choice movement prioritizes the choice of the mother over the life of the fetus; the pro-life movement values both the life of mother and child.

In addition to the Church’s position on personhood, “Pro-Life After Roe” discussed questions like, what about cases when the life of the mother is threatened by pregnancy? 

For legal, medical and moral purposes, the Church, the pro-life movement and the current law under Dobbs define abortion as the intentional killing of a fetus. In some medical terminology, an abortion can also refer to a miscarriage or procedure that saves the life of the mother like the removal of an ectopic pregnancy. I find it necessary to make this distinction to prevent confusion: The intention and action of an abortion are distinct because an abortion acts on a fetus to destroy it inside the uterus, whereas a miscarriage and life-saving medical care do not.

In a medical abortion, conducted up to nine weeks of pregnancy, the patient swallows two pills: first, mifepristone cuts off the fetus’ access to nutrients by ending implantation. Then, misoprostol induces labor of the dead fetus. In a surgical abortion, first trimester abortions are normally performed with a suction device that pulls apart the fetus and vacuums out their parts. In a second trimester abortion, medicine may be injected to induce a fetal heart attack. Then, forceps dismember the fetus. Finally, a suction device and sharp curette clears out the remaining fetal parts. 

In cases of removing a fetus to give the mother medical care, a fetus is not killed inside the womb. Instead, a fetus might be carried as long as possible and then delivered via early induced labor or C-section and immediately placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or in comfort care depending on viability. 

For example, a cancerous uterus would harm the life of a pregnant mother. Since the intention is not to kill the baby and the procedure itself does not act on a fetus to destroy it, this hysterectomy is not an abortion since it preserves the life and dignity of mother and child even if the child does not survive. These alternative procedures to abortion are protected under Dobbs because they are life-saving maternal medical care. 

The talk also addressed cases of rape and incest. These are evil and criminal acts and need to be fully punished, but no child should be punished for the crimes of their father. The mother should be supported through this difficult pregnancy and not be subjected to the “fix” of abortion, a “fix” that takes away her baby forever and does not take away the trauma of rape. Again, the pro-life movement provides women who have experienced rape or incest with the dignity, love and resources necessary to care for her already existent child. 

Pro-life organizations provide women with free resources like housing, pre-natal care and baby clothes, continuously upholding the lives of every mother, father and child. Even after an abortion, organizations exist to heal mothers and fathers of post-abortive psychological trauma.

As I witnessed from my vandalized flyer, minority views on this college campus are often shut down. I would like to see our Rice community practice critical thinking and healthy dialogue with these difficult topics so that every perspective can be considered. 

Although the Catholic Church opposes abortion, you don’t need religion to know that each human life is valuable. Do you believe that each person is worth fighting for, no matter the circumstances? How are you upholding the dignity of the forgotten in our society? The homeless, the infirm, the single mother, the unborn — they all need our care and attention. 

More from The Rice Thresher

OPINION 11/28/23 10:39pm
Letter to the Editor: Pro-autonomy after Roe: what the life debate ignores

When “Pro-Life After Roe” was published in the Thresher, we were in the midst of finalizing a semester-long report on the state of reproductive rights in Texas. We had spent the day compiling firsthand accounts of the panic, pain and trauma produced by abortion bans. It felt necessary to address the guest opinion and confront the harms of abortion restrictions. 

OPINION 11/28/23 10:36pm
We should educate ourselves on Rice’s history

Rice’s 111-year history is marked by lots of positive impact — and plenty of harmful actions. William Marsh Rice, the university’s founder and namesake, was a slave owner, and from the school’s establishment as a free institution for only white students to Ku Klux Klan meetings occurring on Rice property, the connections to segregation and racial injustice cannot be denied.


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