Professor Maggie Little, abortion and censureship at a Catholic University

The evening before the decision on the Federal Abortion Ban came down (which is why it has taken me until now to post this) I attended an event hosted by H*yas for Choice, the Pro-Choice student group at Georgetown University. Note the star in their name–it’s the result of Catholic censureship at the university, who refused to allow a pro-choice group to affiliate itself officially. They can’t get money from the University, and they can’t use their mascot–the Hoyas. Nevermind freedom of speech, or preserving an academic environment that fosters dialogue and dissent. This is the same university that won’t stock birth control or condoms on its campus, and that is threatening to pull financial aid from law students affiliated with the law students for choice group. But I digress.

Luckily though the University’s efforts have not stifled pro-choice activism on campus. A really committed group of students continues to try and promote dialogue within an extremely hostile environment. The event I attended was part of a “Choice week” and the students brought together a panel of people to talk about abortion within the broader context of reproductive justice. Speakers included Marissa Valeri from Catholics for a Free Choice, Kierra Johnson from Choice USA, Emily Goodstein from Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and lastly Professor Maggie Little of the Georgetown Philosophy Department.

It was the arguments of Professor Little, who focuses her research of questions of ethics (particularly within Bioethics), that really resonated with me. Here are a few highlights from her presentation, and her answers to some really irrational and irritating questions from the almost entirely white & male anti-choice students who showed up at the panel.

  • The law has no place in regulating a woman’s continuance of gestation. There is a really strong equality based argument that pregnant woman are being treated unequally by being forced to continue gestating.
  • It is precisely because women take motherhood seriously that they might want to make the decision not to mother.
  • The law shouldn’t oblige me to provide my body for the use of another citizen. No other individual is forced by law to do so (for example in the case of a child who needed his father’s kidney to survive).

She rocks–and in a really radical way. She’s also currently writing a book about abortion, which I am really excited to see, because her arguments really cut through a lot of the emotional and political aura around the abortion issue and talk about the things that are really at stake: ethics, morality and what the government should and shouldn’t be allowed to legislate (particularly when it comes to an ambigious issue like abortion).

You can read more about her work on her website.


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