On Tuesday, March 19, Kristan Hawkins, the president of the pro-life organization Students for Life of America, gave a sold-out talk at BC, sponsored by the BC Pro-Life Club. The talk, entitled “Lies Feminists Tell,” gathered students from both sides of the abortion issue for a night of dialogue and debate.
The main theme of the presentation was to address five “lies” present in modern-day feminism and point out how those lies neither coincide with the initial waves of feminism nor leave room for pro-life women to be a part of the movement. By popular standards, both Hawkins, a working mother running a small business, and numerous historical feminists, including Susan B. Anthony herself are excluded by the definition of modern feminism. Hawkins addressed the following five lies: that sex is without consequence, that contraception is necessary, that abortion is needed for women to achieve their goals, that abortion is safe and harmless, and that the Equal Rights Amendment is necessary. She countered each of these points with statistics from the US and other countries’ abortion industries, as well as with anecdotes from her own time working in politics and in the pro-life movement.
Hawkins has extensive experience encountering with students of differing beliefs, as this is her second year touring colleges with “Lies Feminists Tell.” Though BC was the first stop on her tour this spring, in previous years she has presented this talk at universities that include Princeton, Harvard, Dartmouth, and Berkeley. Each talk has been faced with a counter-protest to some degree, and Hawkins responded that, in order for the pro-life movement to stay positive they need to remember that, “There are always small victories within the pro-life movement. It’s so important for pro-lifers to understand that when you're engaging in debate on abortion, your goal is to plant seeds that others will come along and water or that other people may see the fruit of what you've done.”
Hawkins presented for the first half of the evening, and then time was provided for students to ask questions. Though there was some controversy and emotion during the session, the students from both sides of issue often reiterated “Thank you for coming. It’s so important that we’re all in this room together.”
In line with fostering conversation on a difficult but necessary topic, Hawkins remarked that her hope was that “[students] walk away with not being afraid of controversy. It’s okay to cause a ruckus. It's okay to have this discussion. In the general pro-life movement in New England, there are so many pro-life groups that don't want to rock the boat–– thinking it’s too controversial. But guess what? Abortion is controversial. It's a human rights violation. It deserves to be talked about on the college campus, especially in the college setting when the abortion industry is targeting this generation for business.”
For the pro-life students in the room, she specifically hoped that they come away with an example of a calm, compassionate, and fact-driven response in the face of adversity. For the pro-choice students, protesters, or those undecided or questioning, she expressed that her hope is they come away with “facts and science” or a personal connection that will make an impact in later decisions. She added, “[I hope that] by hearing my story and getting to know me they'll learn a little more about who are pro-lifers and what we’re about. We’re about making sure that no woman has to choose between her child and an education.”
The event has sparked discussion in the days following the talk, with the campus abuzz with discussion about what feminism looks like. Student groups like Gratia Plena, the Catholic women’s group, dedicated an evening to processing the topic of “pro-life feminism,” and the Pro-life Club is planning their annual “Pregnant on Campus” event with renewed vigor from both sides after Hawkins' talk. Despite tension, the number of students in the audience indicated strong student interest in expressing and discussing their beliefs on this controversial topic.