Opinion: Let’s talk abortion and the Indiana bill

Two events shook both campus and the rest of America this past week: the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) at OU and the signing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) by Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana. Both of these events are seminal moments for us college students because they deal with issues that we care about strongly: abortion, gay rights and religious freedom. As usual, I’ll give you the background on both, then my opinion. I do realize that this week, even more so than usual, I will be touching on some extremely sensitive subjects. As always, I am only talking about the issues at hand; I will never, for any reason, make personal attacks.

Here’s the story on GAP

The pro-life group on campus, Students for Life, brought in an organization called GAP which shows graphic images of aborted babies next to pictures of Holocaust and other genocide victims. GAP draws parallels between the two, claiming that abortion is genocide.

Here’s the story on RFRA

Indiana’s RFRA is the state version of a federal bill signed into law by President Clinton in the 1990’s. The original was put into place to protect Native Americans who wanted to smoke a certain drug as part of a religious ceremony. Pence’s law, like Clinton’s, states that the government can’t impose on religious freedom unless there is a compelling reason in the government’s interest to do so. In other words, the government can’t interfere with people’s free exercise of religion unless the government has a national interest in interfering.

Here’s my perspective

The basic argument that GAP is making is that abortion is genocide. That’s an extremely strong claim. Whether it is true or false relies entirely on an underlying assumption about the unborn. If the unborn are completely, fully, 100% human just like you and me, then abortion is genocide. Why? Because genocide is the targeting a specific group for destruction, according to the Oxford Dictionary. If, on the other hand, the unborn are not fully human, than GAP is wrong and abortion is not genocide. The question is, then, are the unborn human? I believe yes (according to science, not religion, by the way).

The other point about GAP is that many students were angered or affected by the graphic nature of the images presented. This I understand: the point of the pictures was to shock people, after all. (Kudos to SFL, then, for putting signage up to make sure people knew exactly where the pictures were so that they could avoid them if necessary.) However, some people made the disturbing argument that if they personally didn’t like the images, SFL didn’t have the right to show them at all. There are a lot of things that I don’t like hearing. Does that give me the right to shut up whoever is saying them? Absolutely not. Whether we like what’s being said or not, GAP is protected by the First Amendment, just like we are.

The controversy was surrounding a bakery that served everyone who came into their store but refused to serve a gay wedding on the grounds that this violated their Christian religious convictions. RFRA protects their right to do so. Think about it from this perspective: if we don’t have RFRA, Christians must serve gay weddings. Some people would be happy with this. However, that would mean that bakeries would have to cater everyone’s wedding or event. What if a Muslim was asked to cater a traditional Jewish wedding? What if a vegan was asked to cater a barbecue? What if an African-American chef had to cater a KKK meeting? All of these would be mandated, if RFRA didn’t exist. Think about it.

Well my friends, I hope you’ve enjoyed the Student Statesman. As you may know, I was just elected Student Body President; I start Monday, April 13.

Given this, I can no longer write opinion pieces for the Post or continue my talk show for WXOU. It has been a privilege and an honor to write this column and host my show; I’ve loved every minute and I’m very sad to have to bring them to a close.

You can always reach me at [email protected], find me on Facebook, or drop by the Student Congress office in the basement of the OC. For the last time, this is Nick Walter, the Student Statesman.