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Stanford Students for Life’s annual protest is shameful

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To the editor:

I am angry and sickened and saddened by the protests by the Students for Life in White Plaza. I am of course angry at the wider anti-abortion access movement that has cut access to a medical procedure no more complicated than a root canal, but my fullest, most vivid anger is directed against those people that feel the need, in the middle of campus, to shame and demean the women for their choices that reflect their body autonomy.

This was not the first time that I have seen and been disgusted by the protest, nor was it the first time that I have counter-protested by standing in their space with an affirming message, but I feel compelled to say something about it now. Two years ago, my friend Chloe English ’13, came up to me and said, “Well, at least you’re here.” She had recently had an abortion. She refused to feel stigmatized by the protest, but it is unconscionable that the Stanford community has to see this odious demonstration in the middle of their home. How can the Students for Life behave like this? How can they justify shaming women like this? There are no words. The best I can do is to sit there with a sign saying that women have the right to do whatever they want with their body, they should exercise this right without shame, and no one should be able to take this right away from them.

We live in a society that has aggressively limited body autonomy. It is easy to forget this because we live in the Bay Area, but I think back to the rural Indiana women I went to high school with whose lives were ruined because they lacked access to abortions because of income or social shame. Abortion is an unfortunate, ugly and sometimes necessary thing. This protest is an uglier thing still.

I overheard one of the Students for Choice’s arguments in conversation: Because women of color are more likely to end their pregnancy, it “decreases their genetics,” the “black Einstein” may have been aborted, and they will continue to be minorities in this country. This is an outrageous, racist statement. What planet do these people live on? What about the lives that have been saved by free and legal access to abortion? What good is being done by this protest? I am glad to live in a country where free speech, however repugnant it may be, is protected and sanctioned in public. I would hope, however, that my Stanford community would move to make the Students for Life as uncomfortable as they make the people of this university. And I hope that their behavior makes people reflect on the importance of free abortion access to the women that need it.

Aaron Gettinger ‘15