Most college students in America view Roe v. Wade as the beacon of women’s health and protection. Without that decision, women would be in perpetual danger of death by self-induced abortion, or so we are told.
Compassionate, winsome conservatives need to battle this misconception, along with the many other distortions our confused culture promotes. At the College of William & Mary, my peers and I are correcting the pro-life record.
When members of my pro-life group and I publicized our views on a chalkboard in the middle of campus last October, thousands of William & Mary students trapped in their dorm rooms because of COVID-19 unleashed their pent-up fury. Our small group of about 15 pro-lifers (mainly young women) became the center of controversy and the target of a brutal “cancel culture.”
The messages we wrote affirmed the dignity of all human beings—born and preborn—and advocated the support and care of women experiencing difficult pregnancies. Our statements included things like: “Give women resources”; “Size and location do not determine personhood”; and “Love the mother and her child.”
Students alleged our compassionate messages—including our use of the word “women” to describe “pregnant people”—were offensive and “triggering.” One message in particular—“NO vs. Wade”—drew anger from all directions.
Students saturated social media alleging that our pro-life group sought to “revoke human rights” by opposing Roe v. Wade, a decision that effectively endorsed unlimited abortion up until birth.
Many accused our group of racism and claimed that Roe v. Wade disproportionately “protects” women of color. About half of my pro-life group is nonwhite at a majority white institution. Conveniently, the fact that abortion disproportionately kills babies of color in the womb never occurred to these progressives.
My peers at William & Mary comfortably referenced unstudied generalizations. In individual conversations, however, they cannot name the specifics of abortion cases or explain the implications of those decisions.
My generation has been fed the lie that Roe v. Wade upholds women’s rights, and no opposing view is tolerated. I was disturbed by the unchallenged leftist liturgy on my campus, so I started a newspaper to educate William & Mary students and faculty on the views our school suppresses and the evidence behind those views.
Previously, as the opinions editor of the establishment newspaper on my campus, social pressure held me back at times from writing openly about my conservative views. When I did, my opinions were brushed aside.
After the chalkboard incident, I wrote an op-ed for the paper. Rather than include my piece alongside an aggressively pro-choice essay published that week, the staff postponed publishing it for weeks. Eventually, I withdrew the opinion and began planning to establish a new campus outlet, The Christopher Wren Journal, where my pro-life piece is now published. The campus newspaper staff did not respond to comment on this article.
Within minutes of launching the website, we were flooded with hate, threats, and explicit images. As more pro-life articles circulated, students responded with the same tired talking points. Young people are convinced, contrary to fact, that the pro-life view threatens women’s lives. Education, media, and broader society perpetuate this fallacy.
Polls show that a slim majority of Americans oppose overturning Roe v. Wade (58% in 2021) but that most Americans support some limits on abortion (70% in 2020). There is an obvious discrepancy, considering that Roe v. Wade (in conjunction with Doe v. Bolton) forced states to legalize abortion for any reason through all nine months of pregnancy.
Roe v. Wade is an extreme endorsement of unlimited, on-demand abortion made prior to cutting-edge scientific advancements that conclusively substantiate the personhood of the unborn. Planned Parenthood, aided by the mainstream media, markets Roe v. Wade as the thread that holds together women’s rights in America.
On the contrary, if Roe v. Wade were overturned, states would decide their own abortion laws. The abortion lobby skims over this fact to give the impression that abortion would be immediately and completely outlawed. After considering how Americans have been misled about what Roe v. Wade truly represents, the statistical discrepancies start to make sense.
As we anticipate the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, an abortion decision that could determine the fate of Roe v. Wade, conservatives must close the gap between those who support abortion restrictions and the confused who endorse Roe v. Wade.
When it comes to abortion, we should speak out and educate clearly and compassionately—not simply to rev up a base that already agrees with us, but to persuade moderate Americans willing to engage with other views. The numbers and the biological truths are on our side. We just need to correct the lies being fed specifically to young people.
My pro-life views have taught me the importance of acknowledging the unique image of God in every person, whether that person is preborn or yelling at me from across the aisle. Some will never be persuaded. Others will listen to the truth. Humility, honesty, and kindness win others to the side of life. My experience has also taught me that if people are not hearing us loud and clear, we need to be louder and clearer.
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