Oct 012006
Authors: Ryan Speaker

The signs say, “Warning! Graphic images ahead!” As if, perhaps, students could easily bypass those looming images by simply taking an alternate route.

Strategically placed in the center of the Lory Student Center Plaza, where construction fences force students to be condensed into streams and herded through to gain access to the student center, the signs do not intend to portray the message, “Turn away or it’s your own fault!” They instead serve the same purpose as a roadside historical point sign: “Here it is, and you’re going past it, like it or not.” And so, one soldiers onto the battlefield, complete with bloody imagery and impersonal, steel barricades.

I come here not to make a moral decision, or to pass judgments on others. They have likely made decisions for themselves, and while they may be willing to hear other views, differing opinions will remain. Perhaps that is how it should be.

A young blonde approaches, looking every bit the stereotypical college female. She quietly asks me what my views are on the topic, the display. She seems interested in my responses, and doesn’t mind that I am not asking her questions about her views.

I am Steve McQueen, the very definition of cool indifference.

I tell her I don’t like the questions on the posters, “Humane?” and “Human?” and others. She asks why.

“They are disingenuous. They aren’t meant to spark debate or deeper thinking; they are more like rhetorical questions. They’re trying to evoke a specific, ‘correct’ response.” I mention the idea of question marks being used not for the purpose of making questions, but to instead make suggestive statements.

And then this young lady drops a bombshell.

“I don’t want to seem fake to you or anything; I’m a volunteer for Focus on the Family.”

I stop listening as thoughts fill the void of her voice. “Focus on the Family?” The name James Dobson bounces in my mind a few times. A Christian group is participating in Justice For All’s “debate?”

I wonder if they invited Planned Parenthood, or recruited volunteers from the organization. I silently doubt it.

She wants to know when life begins, and I say, “If it can breathe and pump blood on its own, without medical interference, I believe that’s the point. If it can’t perform the most basic functions to sustain life, I personally am not opposed to abortion.” She asserts that reproduction is “a vital part for the continuance of life,” and asks why we don’t just kill 5-year-olds who aren’t having sex and reproducing. I say, “Reproduction is important for us as a species, but not on a personal level.”

Indeed, I think to myself. If having sex is equitable to breathing and heartbeats, I have been a flat liner for far too long.

After a few minutes, she quits talking to me and walks away.

I listen a while longer to the man with the microphone, thinking about that average girl who approached me. Nothing distinguished her; how could I be sure other “audience members” speaking weren’t plants, too? It seems to undermine the whole open-mic idea; I wonder how many others share this thought.

As I walk away, a young woman’s voice declares, “Free condoms! Be smart; protect yourself.” It makes me smile; perhaps instead of focusing on ending abortion, we should focus on preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

A study at Columbia University in 2005 found that 88 percent of those who pledged not to have premarital sex actually DID have premarital sex and were much less likely to use protection. The truth is, like it or not, kids are having sex; should we preach morality or responsibility? Why not both?

If we insist on abstinence-only education, we cannot be surprised when unwanted pregnancies occur. Let us take the notion that every sperm is sacred and toss it out the window, and educate our youth about both abstinence and proper contraceptive use.

Let us save lives (that would be lost to abortion) by preventing them in the first place. It’s a solution both sides should be able to agree on.

Ryan Speaker is a senior history major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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