Ex-abortionist Dr. Bernard Nathanson made a famous confession in the 1970s about abortion. He believed abortion was legalized by using the “Catholic card” and “[picking] on the Catholic hierarchy as the villain in opposing abortion.”
Kelsey Hazzard said she strives to mitigate this association of religion and pro-life beliefs by taking a secular position on why she believes abortion is wrong.
Hazzard, who founded Secular Pro-Life, shared her “Pro-life without God” presentation Thursday in the Zell B. Miller Learning Center to a full room of about 80 students and faculty.
After showing pictures of what the fetus looks like at each stage of the pregnancy, she showed a picture of the embryonic stage of the pregnancy at nine weeks. She said this stage is when most abortions occur with an estimated 2,052 performed each day in the United States.
“So it’s clear we are not dealing with tissue or blobs,” said Hazzard, who is also a lawyer. “We are dealing with humans. But that doesn’t necessarily settle the issue. We then have to determine if all humans have the right to life.”
Working off of her last point, Hazzard showed a slide with Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights written on it, "Everyone has a right to life, liberty and security of a person."
According to U.S. Abortion Statistics from 2009, 22 percent of all U.S. pregnancies end in abortion. It also found that women younger than 25 years old accounted for 50 percent of the reported abortions.
A student asked if there were exceptions such as rape. Hazzard said there is a false belief that all women who become pregnant from rape want an abortion.
The organization, however, does not take an official position on abortion in cases of rape, Hazzard said.
Another student wondered if an abortion would still be wrong if the pregnancy could seriously hurt the mother. Speaking on her personal belief, Hazzard said though it would be a tragedy, the abortion could be seen as “killing in self-defense” and wouldn’t be wrong.
Even 41 years after the 7-2 decision of Roe vs. Wade, the topic of abortion still generates a heated and emotional debate among the opposing opinions.
The 1973 decision, which legalized abortion up to three months of the pregnancy, found that a woman’s choice to have an abortion was protected by her right to privacy.
Americans are still divided by the issue, according to a poll by Pew Research, which found that 63 percent of Americans do not want to see the decision overturned while 29 percent did.
UGA junior Alex Haynes is a pro-choice student who came to Hazzard’s presentation, interested in hearing a pro-life argument without a religious aspect.
“I am a secular person, so I wanted to hear a non-religious argument,” said the psychology and women’s studies major from Lawrenceville. “But then I realized that this argument was basically just the same as the religious one.”
The advertising of this event did not go without backlash.
The UGA chapter of Students for Life Co-Vice President Rebecca Stapleford and others saw the controversial side of the abortion debate this week when many of their posters advertising for their event were torn down.
“I put up posters at Park Hall, and they were taken down six or seven times,” said Stapleford, who is a junior Greek, Latin, and classic culture major from Anchorage, Alaska. “It was crazy persistent. I went to class and within five minutes they were gone.”
This reaction contrasts with the peaceful anti-abortion rally held by Athens Area Right to Life and UGA Students for Life at the arch last month in conjunction with the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. However, it was reported that this rally was only advertised through Facebook.
Hazzard ended the presentation with ways the audience can help with the pro-life movement, which included donating baby supplies to local pregnancy resources center, sharing links about prenatal developments on social media, and the “obvious” one – don’t get pregnant before you’re ready.
“Being pro-life begins at home,” she said.
Rebecca Stapleford is the co-vice president of UGA's chapter of Students for Life, not the president.