It’s time to leave anti-choice in the past

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Campus discussion has been reignited recently after a decision by the LUCC General Council to overturn a decision by our Steering Committee to deny club recognition to Appleton Pro-Life Students (APLS; sometimes LUPLS). The details are in Joey Davis’ news article from last week, but this decision was passed contentiously on multiple levels with LUCC President Malcolm Davis ultimately breaking a tie in favor of recognition. 

Since then, Appleton Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) petitioned, getting 10% of the students and faculty to sign on in protest of APLS’ recognition, triggering a campus-wide referendum. We await the results of this referendum, but even if faculty and students vote to deny APLS, it is ultimately the decision of university president Laurie Carter. 

I wrote my own article weeks ago about why I felt APLS had no place on campus which went into some nitty gritty about why I felt APLS was not in line with LUCC bylaws. In response to this, my fellow student journalist Luther Abel referred on the Shoutbox to my “[being] happy to bludgeon with pedantic quibbles” which he further expanded upon in his article last week “The art of illiberalism”.  

I will admit that discussion of LUCC bylaws is pedantic; something that, while important, I’m dispassionate about. However, I am by no means happy about this. It’s not a game to me, Luther.  

In his article criticizing what he sees as the victimization of APLS, Luther also ironically bemoaned the “small minority of the student population which is an activist/lobbyist class,”, seemingly oblivious that this is exactly what APLS is. The only difference is that APLS does this through advocating a blanket disenfranchisement of anyone with a uterus instead of advocating in favor of the personal choice of the individual pregnant person. Luther also states that the advocacy group SDS’ recognition should pave the way for APLS since SDS has foreign policy stances Luther disagrees with and also apparently is opposed to “the American way of life.” (I’ll admit my ignorance to you all, I’m not sure what this is.). 

In my article, I did not go in depth about my feelings of the inherently discriminatory nature of what we ironically call the “pro-life” position. What’s better called the “anti-choice” position should have no place in our society and it’s far past due that we left it in the past. Do I understand that a large number of people think that the anti-choice position is either permissible or in a moral gray area? Yes. Do I agree or care? No, not really. 

I don’t think I need to run down the amount of horrific violations of civil rights that were commonplace and accepted by majorities for long periods of time in our history, but we’ve since decided are inherently unacceptable (or “illiberal,” to use Luther’s word). I see the anti-choice movement as just another garden-variety denial of civil rights in our history and an affront to bodily autonomy that we should all be ready to leave behind. Past barring material support to this club, there should be no room for the institutional legitimacy of this group’s recognition. I want to live on a campus and in a society where denying these fundamental human rights is treated as gross and perverse. 

The only gray area that exists in terms of the permissibility of abortion should remain in the conscience of the pregnant human considering it. It should not be up to the state to go back and forth, hemming and hawing at the expense of many humans who know how they feel and hang delicately in the balance. I recommend Madison Price’s article from October, “In response to ‘LUCC v. Pro-Life,’” for a more in depth look at the struggles pregnant people face when denied bodily autonomy. Abortion should be legal and accessible, period. 

There are also worries about the point of making such a big deal about this small clique of students at this particular small liberal arts school we all attend. I was challenged with this argument on the Shoutbox by Associate Professor of Economics Jonathan Lhost who was worried that fighting this small case would be insignificant, but potentially provoke the ire of conservative media figures like Tucker Carlson, giving more fuel to large-scale profiteering for conservative causes.  

The response I offered and will repeat is basically this: have a little backbone. I don’t deny that there is always a risk with these situations, but the potential for reward greatly outweighs that risk. It is crucial that we actively build a cultural precedent, not just wait for privileged politicians to make a legal one, when that legal precedent might be swiped from under our noses on a whim, like Roe v. Wade is likely about to be by our hyper-conservative Supreme Court. Being held hostage for every instance of standing our ground is something I have no interest in. 

Lillian Thompson’s op-ed from two weeks ago, “Happy Denim Day, from LUCC,” was an exceptional and brave piece expressing the necessity of solidarity between different issues of bodily autonomy. In a similar spirit, I’d like to provide my personal perspective as to the harrowing seriousness of these issues. We’re not halfway through 2022 and more than 300 bills targeting the rights of trans people have been introduced in the US. Especially, the anti-choice movement has been perversely attacking the bodily autonomy of trans youth to even consider medical transition.  

This attack against my transgender siblings around the country is one of many reasons reason why I, as a transfeminine person privileged to be undergoing hormone therapy especially, refuse to give an inch to the anti-choice movement. I also suspect many people on the fence about APLS, would feel differently were this an anti-trans advocacy group on our campus. For many of us, solidarity is a necessity, not an option.  

Luther, this situation does not make me happy and I’d recommend you check yourself a bit on your hypocrisies. Professor Lhost, this is not the time to mimic our political system and be wishy-washy.  

Change comes from the pressure and power of the people, so we have to fight for it on all levels without hesitation. The affront to the civil rights of those with uteruses should be enough on its own, but this only further opens up the door for rolling back more and more civil liberties. We grossly and euphemistically refer to it as “pro-life,” but the reality of the anti-choice movement puts an enormous amount of lives at risk – more than it could ever pretend to advocate for.