A pro-faith and abortion-rights lecture at north campus on Thursday encouraged students to consider how these two concepts, which are often thought to be at odds, can work together.

Life begins when a fetus is able to live outside the womb, some time in the second trimester, said Frank Yates, a Protestant minister.

“In most Jewish and Protestant conceptions, breathing is the issue,” he said. “The moment you have viability — that is a breathing, living being — then folks like me say that’s when you really get excited about protecting that life.”



The lecture was organized by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Freedom and Medical Students for Choice.

Lori Lovato, of Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Freedom, said the groups planned to have a Roman Catholic priest speak at the lecture too, but his bishop told him not to attend.

College Republicans spokesman Eric McInteer, who is in the process of joining the Roman Catholic Church, said life begins at conception, so abortion is a form
of murder.

“Let’s say you abort a child one week after the egg was fertilized, and you abort a child one week before the child would be born,” he said. “The result is the same — the child has been murdered.”

Yates said the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant church have different ideas of when life begins.

“How you make a conceptual definition of an act is important in ethics,” he said. “Some would want to simply call it murder, and others would want to say it’s the terminating of an unwanted pregnancy.”

Yates said the difference in these definitions depends on when one believes life begins. He said the Roman Catholic Church believes a soul enters a fetus at the moment of conception, but he believes life develops more gradually.

“Emerging life, for me, is a better definition of what happens from conception to birth,” he said.

McInteer disagreed. He said a mother should care about her child’s life even before he or she is born.

“If a woman has an abortion, she’ll never get to see her child graduate from high school or from college or get married,” he said. “It’s so fundamentally, morally wrong. As a person, I just can’t possibly agree with someone who says abortion should be legal.”

Yates said that many religious groups say abortion is murder, but not all of these are against abortion in all cases.

“Reform Judaism and mainline Protestantism are, I think, pretty much on the same page for this,” he said. “But conservative Christians and the Roman Catholic tradition certainly would not buy my position at all.”

Lovato said many abortion-rights organizations have become less active since President Obama was elected.

“Something kind of happened after the election, where things just kind of fell apart,” she said. “I think everyone kind of feels the issues are taken care of right now, because we have a Democratic president, basically.”

Jill Oldewage, of Medical Students for Choice, said the group has done a faith and choice lecture once before, and they plan to have more events next semester. She said discussion about reproductive freedom is the best way to find common ground on the emotional issue.

“I think the whole point of our group is to encourage tolerance and understanding,” she said. “I’m not necessarily trying to change anyone’s views. I just want people to have all the information they can to make the best decisions and to give patients the best care they can possibly have.”

Yates said that abortion is not a good thing, but he still supports a woman’s right to make reproductive decisions for herself. He said women should not be forced to give birth to an unwanted child.

“The people who share my position are not saying they are pro-abortion,” he said. “What they’re saying is it may be a tragic necessity, and the word ‘unwanted’ says it all.”