Senior initiates pro-life and pro-choice dinner discussion on campus
Even as the president of Notre Dame Right to Life, bringing up the topic of abortion with my friends and classmates can be uncomfortable. My perspective on the issue is pretty evident based on my affiliation with Right to Life, and I am sure that the idea of talking about abortion with me can also be daunting for those I encounter. Dialogue about divisive issues is difficult, and the issue of abortion can be not only divisive but also emotional and personal. When only spoken of in political and polarizing terms, the reality of abortion divides us—in our families, our churches, our communities, our campus, and our country.
But simply speaking, I believe it is selfish for pro-life and pro-choice citizens to decide they cannot work together to serve the poor because of their difference in opinion, even on such an important topic. Women facing unplanned pregnancies are often already in complicated and stressful situations; if we add to their problems instead of offering dignified solutions, then we fail in our human responsibility to care for the vulnerable. We must learn to work together without compromising our principles, even if it is complicated and messy and difficult—because it is worth it. They are worth it.
For the capstone project of my Catholic Social Tradition minor, my fearless co-host Natasha Reifenberg and I are organizing a dinner focused on dialogue and common ground between pro-life and pro-choice students. The dinner is hosted by Notre Dame Right to Life and co-sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Culture, BridgeND, Show Some Skin, and We Stand For. On April 4, 80 students will come together for two hours to work on finding common ground with each other and to learn how to talk about abortion in a constructive way. And if all goes well, we are hoping to spread this model to other campuses to change the way pro-life and pro-choice students interact with each other and to create opportunities for true friendships to form.
My greatest hope for “BeyoND the Abortion Debate” is that the conversations do not end at the conclusion of the event. I hope that the dialogue continues—that projects and articles and service trips result, that actions follow our words, that students make real commitments to learning to work together even when it is difficult. I think that this dinner has the potential to radically alter the encounters between students who find themselves on opposite sides of the abortion divide on our campus, especially if the pro-life majority learns to make spaces for real conversation with the minority voices on campus.
Aly Cox is a senior majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Theology and Catholic Social Tradition. She served as the President of Right to Life for the 2016-17 academic year and is a Sorin Fellow at the Center for Ethics and Culture.