By Amelia Irvine
“Is it hard to be pro-life at Georgetown?” the prospective student asked. Members of Georgetown Right to Life (GURTL), Georgetown’s prolife student group, are often asked this type of question. Truthfully, it is not always easy to be pro-life at Georgetown, but much of the difficulty stems from long-standing tension between GURTL and H*yas for Choice (HFC), Georgetown’s (unrecognized) pro-choice student group. Animosities between the two groups are perpetuated by those on both sides of the issue. As president of Georgetown RTL, I wanted to mitigate this tension however I could. Over the past seven months of my term, I have attempted to seek reconciliation, find common ground, confront the facts, and engage in dialogue.
The opportunity to seek reconciliation came early in the fall. Georgetown RTL wrote chalk messages in Red Square at Georgetown, only to find them scribbled over and vandalized the following morning. Of course, the natural target for RTL members’ resentment was H*yas for Choice. Georgetown RTL Vice President, MyLan, and I decided to reach out to HFC’s co-presidents to have a chat over coffee about the incident. MyLan and I started the conversation by offering apologies and seeking forgiveness for past grievances and problems between RTL and HFC. This act of seeking forgiveness formed the basis of our relationship with the HFC co-presidents.
After seeking reconciliation through forgiveness, we discussed possible areas for collaboration: pregnancy resources and increased access to feminine hygiene products for Georgetown undergraduates. Simply by discussing these issues, we found some common ground. Unfortunately, these discussions did not lead to any actual collaboration. However, RTL still sought to facilitate some sort of interaction between prochoice and pro-life people around the issue of abortion through confronting the facts and engaging in dialogue.
First, we decided to host a screening of HUSH, a new documentary with a pro-choice director who wanted to seek the truth about the health risks of abortion, because facts matter. This documentary intends to start a conversation on college campuses about abortion and how it affects women.
Second, we attempted to host a pro-choice/pro-life dialogue on campus between pro-life activist Stephanie Gray and a pro-choice activist. H*yas for Choice declined to participate in our event because they felt it was not appropriate for them to “facilitate anti-choice speakers and dialogue.” However, GU College Democrats (GUCD) agreed to cosponsor and search for a pro-choice speaker. Disappointingly, GUCD was unable to find a speaker for the event.
I began my year as GURTL president optimistic about the possibility for true dialogue on campus about abortion, but I have learned that reconciliation takes time and a lot of energy. We cannot hope to change the campus community in only a few months. Rather, pro-life leaders must build on the work of their predecessors and persist amid failures. In truth, life is too important an issue to abandon. The pursuit of truth and justice at Georgetown is not easy, but it is always worthwhile.
Amelia Irvine, the president of Right to Life at Georgetown University, is a sophomore studying government and economics; she is from Phoenix, Arizona