Students for Life of America, a national pro-life organization of which Hopkins Voice for Life (VFL) is a chapter, recently published an article on its website that assailed Hopkins Voice for Choice (VFC) and their latest fundraising event.
Though no members of VFL contributed to the article, Andrew Guernsey, president of VFL, does agree with the opinions expressed.
On April 4, VFC held a bake sale to benefit the DC Abortion Fund. Among the baked goods sold was a cake in the shape of male genitalia.
According to the article, at VFC’s bake sale event, participants “sold yummy cookies and cupcakes to Hopkins students in an effort to make sure thousands of babies in D.C. never had the chance to try them.”
The article claims that VFC degrades women by promoting abortion and that it trivializes the issues surrounding the topic. “We’re talking about life and death issues,” Guernsey said. “I think that their choice of using the imagery of male genitalia is poor and does not add to the debate, and in fact detracts from the seriousness of the issue of abortion. I believe that women deserve better than being offered an abortion as an alternative.”
Vinitha Kumar, president of VFC, challenged this assertion.
“We made the cake to promote taking the stigma off of sexual health. We don’t think it trivializes the debate; it’s a big issue in our society and should be discussed,” Kumar said. “The point of making that cake wasn’t to mock it.”
Kumar emphasized that the mission of the group is to promote and educate others on sexual autonomy and reproductive health.
“I don’t think that when we fund women who need abortions, we degrade them,” Kumar said. “We encourage a conversation and healthy debate; the problem with the article is that it just attacks an event we had and isn’t productive. We in no way want to stop Voice for Life from saying what they have to say.”
Guernsey mirrored the article’s condemnation of VFC for promoting abortive practices.
“I believe that abortion hurts women physically and emotionally,” he said. “I will not comment on the fact that the article states that abortions degrade women.”
He believes that abortions are harmful to women and that they need and deserve better, particularly from men. He stressed that he believes that abortion is a cop-out for men.
“Abortion facilitates a culture of men getting out of the responsibilities of fatherhood,” he said.
Kumar asserted that VFL believes that the choice to abort a child is a choice that the woman alone can make.
“Men can be in this discussion, but ultimately it’s the woman’s decision,” she said.
She acknowledges abortions as a culmination of struggle and emotion, but she does not believe that the abortion is the catalyst of trauma.
“I don’t think that the abortions cause emotional damage; usually it helps them,” she said. “In many cases, botched abortions can be harmful but that’s because of poor access or methods. That’s why we have promote resources where there’s no judgment or stigma and you can get real help.”
The goal of providing safe care for women motivated VFC’s choice of the DC Abortion Fund as the recipient of the bake sale’s fundraising.
The DC Abortion Fund is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that makes grants to women and girls in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia who cannot afford the full cost of an abortion.
However, Kumar did stipulate that VFC is not pro-abortion.
The Students for Life in America article labeled VFC as a pro-abortion group.
“I think ‘pro-abortion’ was used to make the pro-choice side look more extreme,” she said.
Kumar said that their efforts have and will also benefit organizations such as Planned Parenthood; however, she understands that giving funds to an organization that has abortion in the name can carry a stigma.
“As a club, we stand for pro-choice, not pro-abortion. We believe that it’s your choice and you can have an abortion whenever you want,” she said. “Both the DC Abortion Fund and Planned Parenthood have the goal to make sure people have safe care.”
Guernsey shares the desire to help women, but wants to do so through education about their resources as expectant mothers.
“We want to promote pregnancy resources on campus and create an environment on campus in which women don’t have to choose between their career and their child,” Guernsey said.
When asked to consider other situations in which women elect to abort — such as rape — Guernsey maintained his stance.
“However, we also recognize that there are many circumstances that factor into why women often feel pressured to have abortions,” Guernsey said. “We believe that abortion is wrong, regardless of the circumstances, due to the fact that the child has the right to live, but we want to do what we can with expecting mothers they need and deserve.”
He did emphasize that VFL respects all women on campus who might have possibly had an abortion.
“We have been absolutely respectful of individuals who have shared their testimonies, but at the same time, we wish to promote healing,” he said.