The Disconnect Between the Reproductive Justice and LGBTQ Movements


During OUTober, I am often reminded of the chasm that exists between the LGBTQ spaces and pro-choice spaces on campus. If I had a nickel for every time someone — specifically white, cis, gay men — questioned my participation in H*yas for Choice because I’m a gay woman, I’d have 10 cents and zero f*cking patience left. It is extremely unfortunate for me to see a blatant disconnect between the LGBTQ movement and the reproductive justice movement, both on this campus and in the greater public discourse in this country. I attribute this distance to a misunderstanding of what reproductive justice means and the way it affects Georgetown and society as a whole.

For me, reproductive justice is affirming everyone’s right to choose when, how, and if they want to exercise their ability to reproduce.

When: This includes protecting access to contraceptives for men, women, and those who do not conform to the gender binary so that they can be in control of their reproductive destinies. Male condoms, female condoms, IUDs, the pill, hormonal implants — you name it, they all need to be available to students regardless of their socioeconomic background or the religious affiliation of the school they attend. Access to contraception and other methods of protection (e.g. dental dams) that prevent the spread of HIV and other STIs is immensely important for both the LGBTQ community as well as proponents of reproductive justice.


How: This is where I believe we need to expand our understanding of reproductive justice. How people choose to reproduce (if they choose to reproduce in the first place, which we’ll cover later) should be dependent on their own decisions and that of their partner, if they have one. Fighting for reproductive justice means denouncing the coercive sterilization of women in prison, just as much as it means fighting for the right of any couple, or individual, to use in vitro fertilization to conceive a child. When we prevent certain members of society from reproducing based on racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, sexism, biphobia, and other kinds of prejudice, we rob them of their reproductive rights. Both the LGBTQ movement and the reproductive justice movement ought to work together to uphold the right of individuals to reproduce however they choose.

Another aspect of the “how” of reproductive justice is consent. An individual’s sexual agency must not be violated, regardless of whether their perpetrator is their partner. I am glad to see that there have been increased discussions on campus regarding intimate partner violence in the LGBTQ community and hope to see this expanded further in the future. These conversations are especially critical considering that bisexual women endure the highest levels of sexual violence, the stigma surrounding sexual violence, and the demasculinization that male survivors may endure. Rape and sexual violence, especially when committed against people who are able to get pregnant, violate a survivor’s reproductive rights since the victim cannot decide to participate in an act that might lead to conception.


If: Not all women want to have children! Not everyone who is married wants to have children! Not everyone in a relationship wants to get married! Not everyone wants to be in a romantic relationship! Not everyone wants to have sex! Both movements respect the right of the individual to live out their identity free from pressure to conform to societal expectations of masculinity, femininity, relationships, and parenthood — so, why not engage in more conversations about this intersection on campus!?

Unfortunately, there are shortcomings that both the LGBTQ and repro movements share, but they can be conquered together. Racism, notably in the form of historical erasure that obscures the impact people of color have had on both movements, has led to the persistent marginalization of people of color. We need to celebrate the contributions that people of color have made to both movements and ensure we are being inclusive, especially with our language. The creation of the Queer Men of Color discussion group as well as the GU Queer People of Color organization are important advancements, but more needs to be done by existing LGBTQ and pro-choice spaces on campus. Additionally, as the LGB(T!)Q movement is evolving to address the particular issues trans people face, so must the repro justice movement, including dialogue addressing abortion access and “women’s” health care; once again, language is vital to create safe, inclusive spaces.

The LGBTQ and reproductive justice movements are certainly not mutually exclusive. This is made clear by the many students active in H*yas for Choice who are also part of the LGBTQ community — students like me. If the movements did not have overlapping initiatives, they would be horribly inept at creating a progressive environment where students can feel comfortable acting in ways that are consistent with their identities. More can be done to ensure both movements work in solidarity with each other, and I urge leaders on campus to help facilitate this change.

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Annie Mason (COL’ 18) is the Historian of H*yas for Choice.


SAC, Vaginas, and Free Speech at Georgetown


This year, I was a producer in Georgetown’s production of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues.” We had just over 60 actresses, performed in six shows, and ended up donating a few thousand dollars to My Sister’s Place, a local domestic violence shelter. Overall, it was a large, successful operation that went relatively smoothly — that is, until members of the cast attempted to design and purchase T-shirts for themselves to commemorate their experience.

Let me start by showing the design. Here it is, in all its glory:

VM shirt design

This is what happened: I designed the shirts, drawing from designs that the V-Day Foundation sells as part of its One Billion Rising campaign. According to Custom Ink’s requirements, the shirts had to have the words “Georgetown University” on them. Additionally, the shirts were being entirely funded by club members — SAC money was not being used to purchase them. After I submitted the design to SAC, I received an email saying the design had been “narrowly approved.” Wary but optimistic, I accepted the decision.

Unfortunately, the following day, I received an email saying a member of the commission had moved to rescind SAC’s authorization because they believed the matter needed further consideration. I was urged to attend the SAC meeting the following week to present the shirts if I wanted them to be approved.

Thus began the saga.

I want to say explicitly that I am not attempting to vilify SAC. They eventually did the right thing — they passed the design 7-4. The reason I waited a few weeks to discuss the incident was to avoid any uproar over something that SAC (eventually) did right. However, that does not mean the situation was not concerning. It demonstrated the persistence of deeply held, frankly misogynistic beliefs regarding women and their sexuality. The ordeal that was required to pass the T-shirt design needs to be discussed because the attitudes some SAC commissioners displayed are also the underpinnings of anti-women, anti-choice, and anti-sexual health legislation and movements at Georgetown and across the U.S.

There were two major arguments some of the SAC commissioners made that warrant special attention. The first was that if members of Take Back the Night wore the T-shirts around campus, small children might see them and parents might find them inappropriate. Let me reiterate that, as you can see, this is not an anatomical depiction of a vagina. It is an abstract representation of a concept of femininity — the very concept the Monologues tries to espouse. Heaven forbid a 6-year-old girl would look at the shirt and see something vaguely reminiscent of what she, herself, possesses. Further, there are metaphorical phallic images everywhere we look — all one has to do is peek out the window of some New South dorm to catch a glimpse of the Washington Monument. There is a double standard, and, as is so frequently the case, the double standard works against women.

GU cast members of "The Vagina Monologues"

GU cast members of “The Vagina Monologues”

The design is simply not pornographic. To say that the design is inappropriate requires a two-step thought process. First, it assumes that the vagina is automatically sexual, an idea that borders on objectification. Second, it indicates that a woman’s vagina is dirty and shameful. It is this kind of thinking that fosters the slut/virgin dichotomy, catcalling a woman as she walks down a street, and — perhaps most seriously — the stigma surrounding a woman who chooses to speak about her sexual assault or to have an abortion. These cultural norms hurt women, and by deliberating for over two weeks about the shirts, SAC perpetuated the existence of these norms.

Additionally, several SAC commissioners likened the image to a T-shirt design they had refused to approve earlier in the year that prominently displayed a beer stein, which they felt promoted underage drinking. Because, clearly, possessing a vagina is a similarly illegal activity.

It makes the university look good to have an active women’s center. It makes Georgetown look good to have a chapter of Take Back the Night and to put on “The Vagina Monologues.” It is something tour guides can point out as they bring prospective groups through campus. However, by threatening to reject the design, SAC, acting in its role as an advisory commission to the university, said that these are important issues to discuss in a very small, enclosed theater for a few nights a year. Carrying on the dialogue for more than a few hours every February by wearing shirts that symbolize the essence of the show would clearly be too much discussion, SAC implied. It’s a free speech issue, and H*yas for Choice has always contended that the university pays lip service to free speech, but frequently fails in their implementation of it. Unfortunately, this debacle with SAC epitomizes that constant struggle.


Emily Stephens (SFS ’17) is the secretary of H*yas for Choice. 

Being Pro-Choice at Georgetown


Many of our peers — some accusatory, some simply curious — have asked us, “Why would you, somebody who claims to be pro-choice, come to Georgetown? Don’t you know that this is a Catholic institution?” A few of our members have chosen to address this so-called “quandary,” and their voices serve as our humble response.

Yijin Yang (COL ’17)

As a pro-choice individual, I chose to come to Georgetown for a number of reasons — the academic and extracurricular opportunities, the Jesuit ideals, the location, and the community’s commitment to reflective and relevant dialogue. I did not choose Georgetown because it was perfect. I came to this school knowing that there would be policies with which I would not agree, people with whom I would not share the same views, and things I would like to change. This is the case with any place that values positive change and healthy debate, and Georgetown is no different. We are all working to make Georgetown the best place it can be, and change and discourse are natural for any community that shares this goal.

Abby Grace (SFS ’16)

My decision to come to Georgetown was largely motivated by the Jesuits’ remarkable tradition of academic inquiry. Georgetown’s focus on the whole person, and its subsequent emphasis on professors that not only produce great research, but also are invested in their students’ individual growth, drew me to this campus. Boiling down the Jesuit tradition to a blind acceptance of the Catholic Church’s stances on reproductive health is simplistic. I’m thankful that I have had the opportunity to be a part of this tradition, and I know that my educational experience has been enriched by Georgetown’s Jesuit identity.

Sarah Rabon (COL ’16)

My personal religious beliefs inform my pro-choice advocacy. As a prospective Hoya, I was always told that my religious convictions would be tolerated and respected at Georgetown.

Lily Westergaard (COL ’15)

I came to Georgetown because, to me, it is evident that cura personalis is in line with my pro-choice views. In a perfect world, “care for the whole person” would extend to sexual health, reproductive justice, and bodily autonomy. Our Jesuit identity should serve to bolster these principles, not as a reason to repress an important part of the human experience. Reproductive rights are human rights.

Paige Bradley (COL ’17)

Although I knew Georgetown was Jesuit, that facet of the school’s identity did not factor into my decision to come here. I did not believe it fair to have the religious affiliation of the student body play a significant role in my college choice. Thus, I had to come to terms with the fact that Georgetown is a Catholic institution and that I would have to respect the choices and beliefs of many peers with whom I would not see eye-to-eye. That being said, I think groups like H*yas for Choice serve an especially important purpose here. Not every Georgetown student — or even a majority (I believe) — is Catholic, and even students who are Catholic need adequate access to sexual-health resources. If the school cannot provide this — an unfortunate reality, but an understandable one, considering Georgetown’s strong religious affiliation — then it is the job of the students to fill that important void. The health, safety, and happiness of our peers depend on it.

Gabi Emma Hasson (COL ’17)

I chose to attend Georgetown because of — not in spite of — its Jesuit values. Georgetown was not originally my top choice, and I was pretty ready to submit my deposit to the University of Pennsylvania two years ago — until I actually visited Georgetown during a GAAP Weekend. I was completely inspired by Georgetown’s core, Jesuit values, and I remain wholly unconvinced that Catholic doctrine and pro-choice feminism are fundamentally incompatible. Specifically, Georgetown’s ethics of cura personalis and being “men and women for others” support the logic of reproductive justice. Seeing H*yas for Choice members commit themselves to upholding the sexual health of their community and to clinic escorting on a weekly basis further vindicates me — that is truly caring for the whole person; that is truly dedicating yourself to the good of others.

Emily Stephens (SFS ’17)

Silly me for thinking I could choose a school based on the merits of its international relations program rather than based on its antiquated policies on contraception and birth control! I chose to go to Georgetown for the same reason I’m choosing to study abroad in China next year, even though its government routinely and systematically censors the Internet and news: because the benefits outweigh the injustice of free-speech repression. That doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to criticize the Great Firewall, and it doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to put condoms on my door and table in Red Square.

Matt Healey (SFS ’18)

Reproductive-rights issues are among several topics that I knew I disagreed with Georgetown’s administration on when I chose to attend the university. However, I believe that the many benefits of a Georgetown education are worth pursuing. Ultimately, I know that my own opinions will be respected and listened to here — as long as I speak up. I hope that my voice can help move Georgetown forward over time.

Why I Didn’t Attend the Conference on Life


H*yas for Choice’s rally Saturday in opposition to the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life received some criticism. Some people posted comments online and others beseeched us as we tabled and rallied outside. Instead of “rabble-rousing” in Healy Circle, some argued, some members should have gone into the conference, listened to the speakers, and “politely stated” our objections in Q&A sessions to gain a “richer experience”.

Members of the group may have independently attended the event, but HFC did not make a concerted effort to send individuals to ensure the group’s representation. Here is my attempt to justify that decision.

H*yas for Choice members outside Saturday’s conference

First, to co-opt the rhetoric and argumentation so often used to criticize HFC — e.g., “How egotistical to believe you need to provide information about sexual resources! The internet exists!”; “You do realize students can walk a few blocks and buy condoms from CVS, don’t you?” — the internet exists. These speakers do not exist in a vacuum. They have published books, given interviews, written articles, and teach at Georgetown. Cardinal O’Malley even has a regular podcast. Their opinions and values are not a secret, and neither are their bigotry and bias.

Indeed, HFC members posted an article every day leading up to the conference, laying out specific complaints about speakers at the conference by drawing on this information. To argue that I needed to go to the conference in order to fully understand the perspectives and arguments of these individuals is simplistic. In fact, this logic is dangerously close to blatantly contradicting other arguments HFC is used to hearing. “Why did you come to a Jesuit university if you disagree so strongly with their values,” we’re told time and time again. “What, exactly, did you expect? You made the choice to come here, so to protest the administration’s policies is to rage pointlessly against the machine.”

I can only imagine that if dedicated HFC members attended the conference and asked truly probing, substantive questions, the group would be met with the same criticisms: “Why did you come to the conference if you’re just going to aggravate the speakers and attendees? What did you expect was going to be said? Why bother challenging something you can’t change?” The argument that if I went, I might learn something is tinged with superiority — if only I could understand what anti-choice people are really saying, this argument seems to implore, there is no way I could remain so aggressively in favor of reproductive justice.

If the university — or rather, the students organizing the conference — truly wanted a richer experience for everyone, they would heed Hoyas United for Free Speech’s call for a more diverse population of speakers. It would not require abandoning their faith, or bringing in a radical choice activist. Catholics for Choice, for example, is based in Washington, DC. In fact, a speaker who challenges some long-held beliefs of members of the conference would truly uphold the ideal of the conference, “An End to Intelligent Debate?”

It is not the responsibility of H*yas for Choice to provide the sole dissenting voice, or to agitate hopelessly where they cannot and will not be heard. Perhaps it would be in the best interest of the concerned students and participants who wanted HFC to attend to meet the group halfway. Even if those students are unwilling to do so, the ultimate inequality of the situation is that if HFC had wanted to organize a similar conference, speaker, or even discussion, they would never have been able to use Gaston Hall and John DeGioia would never have sent the student body an email about it.

It’s an old argument but an important one: HFC does not have access to any university resources simply because Church officials do not agree with what they say. I’m not arguing the university shouldn’t have allowed the Conference on Life to occur, but I feel no need to attend a conference that was institutionally designed to not even take my beliefs into account. H*yas for Choice has a much more vested interest in protesting outside the event than in going in and listening to tired arguments and anti-choice rhetoric. The event is not live-broadcasted. The only people who are going to see the event are people who pre-registered beforehand and plan to give up an entire Saturday to attend. These dedicated people will not change their opinions because of some “pointed questions” we direct toward speakers. It’s a generous assessment of the average participant’s open-mindedness to even say they would objectively listen to our arguments, as we are expected to do by attending.

However, tabling outside the front gates captures the attention of a much larger portion of the Georgetown community, some of whom may not even be aware of the conference. Every person who stops and asks, “Why are you tabling here today?” has an opportunity to hear the group’s opinions that they otherwise would not have had. In terms of spreading awareness, tabling outside is an easy choice.

Despite the fact that HFC seems to constantly butt heads with the administration, that is not its purpose. Its purpose is to empower the students of Georgetown to have the information necessary to make sexual-health decisions for themselves, while spreading information and agitating for reproductive-justice issues. Visibility is a clear and integral part of that agenda.

To conclude: Was H*yas for Choice obligated to attend the conference in order to stage a legitimate protest? No. Was it a better use of HFC’s time to protest where we could reach a larger, more willing audience? Yes. Does this mean, if HFC students chose to attend, that they should not have done so? Of course not. However, I, for one, am not apologetic for the protest, and I am not apologetic for not attending the conference.


Emily Stephens (SFS ’17) is the secretary of H*yas for Choice. Her views do not necessarily represent the views of HFC as a whole. 

Mary Hasson, a Secular and Pro-Choice Worldview Did Not Kill My Great-Grandfather


Beginning and end-of-life questions are deeply personal decisions that should be made within families. These decisions can be incredibly difficult and are often made in response to nuanced situations. In Christian families like mine, we often turn to God for guidance in making these decisions. This is a practice that Mary Hasson, a panelist at this year’s Cardinal O’Connor Conference, does not respect.


For example, despite what anti-choice extremists may believe, a secular and pro-choice worldview did not kill my great-grandfather. One such extremist, Mary Hasson, pens an article in which she treats a family’s personal decision as a cruel injustice perpetrated by a Godless worldview. The “injustice” in question is ceasing to provide nutrition to a dying patient. This is a common and caring practice often enacted in the final days of a patient’s life, but the uninformed extremist Mary Hasson brands it as “starving grandpa” to demonize the beliefs of families that come to different conclusions than she does.

Withholding nutrition does sound like a strange practice if you are not familiar with end-of-life care, but it is often the most loving and logical thing to do. For patients with advanced dementia, force-feeding a dying patient does not provide comfort, but in fact introduces stress and suffering. Medically, it does little to improve the nutritional status of a patient, and it does not appear to increase the lifespan of a patient. (More on this topic can be found here.)

Not a year ago, I received an uncomfortable call from my mother. Great grandpa’s health had taken a turn for the worse, and he only had days left to live. This was not a total shock. I had watched my great-grandfather’s Alzheimer’s progress for years, and I did not remember a time when his heart was healthy. As is typical with advanced Alzheimer’s, his body was no longer capable of swallowing and digesting nutrition. His daughter consented to not forcing artificial nutrition. Forced nutrition would have just added another burden to his ailing body. This decision was made with a heavy heart, not a callous, secular world view.

During this time, faith was an incredible comfort to my family members and me. We acted in accordance with our Christian values and provided love and care to one another. Personally, I prayed often and was able to find peace in my faith that his death was part of God’s plan.

This is not what I would call “starving grandpa.” Mary Hasson and the anti-choice community should make an effort to better understand the world around them before passing malicious judgment on things clearly beyond their grasp. If Georgetown continues to host the Cardinal O’ Connor Conference, surely they can do better to find panelists willing to give serious thought to serious issues.

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Sarah Rabon (COL ’16) is a member of H*yas for Choice and a dedicated feminist. 

Pro-Life Advocates Didn’t Want Me to be Born


I was conceived in a loving union. My parents were thrilled to find out they were going to have a child. My mother delivered me in Georgetown University’s Women’s Hospital just over twenty years ago. Four years later, my brother joined our family in the same manner. But to the leadership of the Catholic Church, our lives were never supposed to happen.

My two mothers decided to have children by artificial insemination, a practice prohibited by Catholic doctrine. Although many have lauded Pope Francis for supposedly adopting a more tolerant stance on homosexuality and gay adoption, the keynote speaker of the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life, Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, says that the pontiff should not be understood as changing doctrine: “The church cannot change its views to suit the times,” but must rather work harder to persuade an increasingly unconvinced public that its social teachings are holy and true.

Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley is the keynote speaker of Georgetown's 2015 Cardinal O'Connor Conference on Life

Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley is the keynote speaker of Georgetown’s 2015 Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life

Not only does Cardinal O’Malley not want LGBT folks to conceive children, but he would also rather end all adoptive services than allow gay couples to adopt and care for children. I can say from personal experience that there has not been a single detriment to my life due to the fact that I was raised by lesbians.

I can say that there have been moments where the social stigma around my family’s arrangement has caused disapproval from peers and onlookers — I think my 6th-grade boyfriend (Catholic) dumped me because he found out. But my mothers cannot be held accountable for the weight of society, nor can any other individual.

Mona Charen, another conference speaker, thinks that gays and lesbians shouldn’t be allowed to raise children because male and female parents bring complementary and necessary skills to the table. Children raised by two members of the same sex are deprived. I appreciate the concern, really, but there is no evidence to support her claims. My moms offered my brother and I untold wisdom, and I respect them more for the fact that they faced judgment and adversity about their lifestyle. If anything, my life has been enriched by being raised by people who are more tolerant of others than your average parents.

So, here’s the thing that I can’t resolve about pro-life dogma: Why, on the one hand, are women who get pregnant without planning on it required to give birth, while women who want to get pregnant — despite the odds being stacked against them — are discouraged from doing so? Is it truly pro-life to tell committed and loving unions not to use the means available to them to create a new life?

I cannot reconcile pro-life ideals with bans on gay adoption, IVF, or artificial insemination: all devices with which men and women who have a desperate calling to raise and love children can make their dreams come true. I cannot support a conference hosted by a group of people who believe that my very birth was a sin while at the same time proclaiming to value the sanctity of life. I cannot respect a doctrine that spews hatred toward the first women on the planet who ever loved me.

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Marilyn Arwood (COL ’17) is a member of H*yas for Choice. 

Hey Georgetown, Your Conference is Racist!


Damon Clarke Owens, a breakout speaker who is leading the Theology of the Body: Building a Culture of Awe and Wonder discussion at this Saturday’s Cardinal O’Conner Conference on Life, is the current Executive Director of the Theology of the Body Institute and has also served as National Spokesman for L.E.A.R.N. (Life, Education, and Resource Network) — the largest African-American, evangelical, pro-life ministry in the United States.

Rev. Clenard H. Childress, Jr., the National Director of LEARN, stated that it’s purpose is to “enlighten — through activism and literature — the African-American churches and other community groups to the horrors of abortion and how it is decimating the African-American community.” Their site offensively equates abortion to both the Holocaust and slavery in the US.

The “Black Genocide” movement conspiracy theory advocates the belief that African-American populations are targets for population control at the hands of abortion providers who strategically place clinics in low-income neighborhoods, leading to higher rates of abortion among African-American women compared to white women.

This “planned genocide” of African-American babies was popularized by the former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, who stated that “[w]hen Margaret Sanger … started Planned Parenthood, the objective was to put these centers in primarily black communities so they could help kill black babies before they came into the world.” Other groups, like Georgia Right to Life and the Texas-based, anti-abortion group Life Always, use terminology like “Planned Parenthood’s Negro Project” and billboards like the one depicted below to selectively co-opt civil-rights rhetoric in order to make abortion seem like a racist, eugenic plot designed to decimate the African-American population. Instead of giving thought to the historical, societal, and cultural influences that affect the heightened rates of abortion among women of color, these groups veil their movement behind racist claims and incorrect facts.


Cain’s claim that abortion clinics are disproportionately located in lower-income or predominantly African-American communities is flat-out wrong. The Guttmacher Institute found that, actually, only 1 in 10 clinics are located in these neighborhoods. Although the claim that abortion rates are higher among women of color is true (the same study found that African-American women account for 37% of all abortions in the US, despite only making up 13% of the population), when underlying racial and ethnic factors are taken into account, the claim of an orchestrated genocide falls apart completely.

It isn’t only Black women who are having more abortions than white women — the rate of abortion among Hispanic women is double the rate among Whites, and Hispanic women are more than twice as likely as White women to experience an unintended pregnancy (the rate is three times for Black women). Is the reproductive-rights movement also trying to get rid of Hispanic babies? Probably not.

Logically, the women who tend to experience the most unintended pregnancies are also the same women who tend to get abortions. What the statistics show isn’t a White conspiracy designed to kill Black babies, but instead that women of color are getting pregnant unintentionally disproportionally more often than White women. Instead of trying to determine what racist plot is causing these women to get abortions, anti-choice policymakers should actually question what they are doing that is causing such a high rate of unintended pregnancies — and what can be done to prevent them in the future.

The Guttmacher report also found that many women of color face significant difficulties when it comes to health-care access. Many are unable to afford highly effective birth control methods that require a steep upfront cost, like the IUD. Those who do obtain contraceptive services generally get them at family planning centers, which are funded by Medicaid — a common target for Republicans. In addition, it found that “life events such as relationship changes, moving or personal crises can have a direct impact on method continuation.” When these disruptive life events occur more frequently among a certain population, the population experiences a higher rate of unintended pregnancy.

By continuing to reduce access to contraceptive services and by making it harder for the most at-risk populations to obtain the reproductive healthcare they need to stay healthy (and not pregnant), anti-choice policymakers are actively contributing to increased rates of abortion.

The anti-choice movement needs to stop painting abortion providers as racist eugenicists; it needs to stop co-opting populations’ historical struggles in in an attempt to fulfill its own agenda. Doing so is racist and offensive — Georgetown, with all its Jesuit values, should actively oppose these actions.

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Sophia Kleyman (COL ’16) is Events Coordinator of H*yas for Choice. 

Mary Hasson: Sex is Not a Minor Issue


In high school, I was a pretty good daughter: straight A’s, extracurriculars, and only a few instances of misbehavior bad enough to warrant being grounded. However, like many teenagers, I was sexually active — probably earlier than my parents would have thought or wanted. My parents knew nothing about that part of my life, and I wanted to keep it that way. Mary Hasson, a speaker at this year’s Cardinal O’Conner Conference on Life, does not seem to agree with me. Hasson wrote an article called “Youth Rights and the Shrinking Power of Parents,” in which she decries a world where youth can make decisions about their own sexual health — without their parents.


Ethics and Public Policy Fellow Mary Hasson

According to Hasson, teens are just too young to make these kinds of decisions: Their careless and uninformed ways are a poor substitute for the sound advice of their families. She actually criticizes the fact that, in every state, teens can request confidential STI testing. She also lashes out at school health centers for providing girls with IUDs and other forms of contraception without parental notice, and she is shocked that some centers want to give emergency contraception as well.

Why are these realistic policies bad, according to Hasson? She believes that they inflict harm on the family as an institution, saying, “Significant territory already has been ceded to youth autonomy, to the detriment of young people and families alike.” Is it really detrimental for a teen to make a decision about his or her own body? In high school, I was lucky enough to have parents who I know would have supported me had something unexpected happened, although I didn’t share the intimate details of my life with them. I also had access to contraception. In Hasson’s ideal world, parental permission would be required for something as innocuous as buying condoms. Even with tolerant parents, if I had to ask my parents directly to buy condoms, would I? Probably not. Would I still have sex? Probably. I can’t even imagine how high-stakes the situation would become with less tolerant parents.

This sounds like a classic case of a teen exhibiting poor judgment, which is what Hasson is assuming to be true. But, what does she expect? Teenagers are able to show good judgment regarding their sexual health only if they are in an environment that is open to it. In many households, that is not the immediate family. And that’s okay. That’s why we have confidential testing, schools with trustworthy third-party adults, and access to contraception. Taking those things away will not stop teenagers from having sex, but it will decrease the number of teens who have safe sex. In this scenario, the health of everyone is at stake.

The pro-life movement focuses on preventing women from having abortions. Maybe it should consider creating an environment in which fewer abortions are necessary. Restricting teen access to birth control is not only unrealistic, but would also ultimately increase the number of pregnant teenagers forced to make that kind of decision. Conference on “life?” Hasson, maybe you should consider the lives of teenagers first.

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Zoey Krulick (COL ’15) is the treasurer of H*yas for Choice.  

Reproductive Justice: Way More than Your Everyday Abortion Rights


When I talk to many of my friends about my involvement in H*yas for Choice, most of the time, the conversation is relegated to discussion of abortion itself. Second to that (and maybe only because of my American flag made of condoms) contraception is the focus of the discussion.


Abby (HFC President) and Vincent (HFC Vice President) in front of the most beautiful piece of modern art ever created.

However, viewing reproductive justice through this narrow lens is a disservice to what the reproductive-justice movement is truly about: every individual having his or her own reproductive agency. Reproductive agency extends beyond the decision to terminate a pregnancy — it also encompasses the decision to become pregnant, to raise children, and to have the power to change the environment in which one’s children are raised.

Fortunately for many, modern medicine has made it far more possible for couples who were previously unable to have children to conceive. I am proud to be a result of these modern technologies, and I will always be thankful to my parents and the countless medical professionals that made my life possible.

But unfortunately, the anti-choice community can’t find it in their hearts to leave even one plank of the large Reproductive-Justice platform unscathed. This year’s Cardinal O’Connor Conference has found Jennifer Lahl, a speaker who is willing to oppose this seemingly all-around good cause.


Center for Bioethics and Culture President Jennifer Lahl

Lahl’s larger criticism of assistive reproductive technologies is cloaked in concern for disadvantaged populations who might be coerced into acting as surrogates or donating eggs or sperm. However, dive deeper into her writing and it is evident that her examples are homophobic (a surrogate mother refusing to give up the baby to a gay couple), overly occupied with potential failure rates, and predicated on the existence of an inherent, undeniable biological connection between parent and offspring — regardless of whether or not the parents and offspring have ever met.

Writing, “Assistive reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization not only involve serious medical risks, they also disrupt family life and commodify human beings,” Lahl misses the forest for the trees. If anything, technologies such as IVF empower individuals to have the family life that they determine is best for them. Just because an individual’s family life fails to perfectly align with Lahl’s conception, it is not any less of a family.

Perhaps what is most personally insulting to me is Lahl’s repeated assertion that children conceived through assistive reproductive technology are likely to feel loss because they are not directly connected with their biological parents.

From personal experience, I can tell Lahl that she would be far better served by asking people who were conceived thanks to assistive reproductive technologies about their opinions on the matter. Rather than lending credence to bizarre, fear-mongering, futuristic claims that within 50 years all children will be engineered in a lab, Lahl should refrain from “other-ing” individuals conceived in that fashion.

Lahl hides behind trendy hashtags like #eggsploitation and #breeders, but at the end of the day, her argument rests on the preservation of traditional familial structures that only inhibit the reproductive agency of women. Instead of opposing assistive reproductive technology all together, Lahl and her supporters would be better served by targeting systemic inequity.

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Abby Grace (SFS’16) is the President of H*yas for Choice and an IVF baby.