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Abortion debate sparks campus conversations

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Maxwell Eness (‘20) (center) moderates Asha Aden (‘20) (left) and Shannon Baker (‘20) (right).

Maxwell Eness (‘20) (center) moderates Asha Aden (‘20) (left) and Shannon Baker (‘20) (right).

Olivia Enquist (‘19) | Chips

Olivia Enquist (‘19) | Chips

Maxwell Eness (‘20) (center) moderates Asha Aden (‘20) (left) and Shannon Baker (‘20) (right).

Olivia Enquist, Staff Writer

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The Luther College Philosophical Society hosted the year’s first Daniel H. Andreotti Memorial Debate titled “Is Abortion Permissible?” which was sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Public Engagement on Sept. 20.

The debate discussed abortion from ethical and political standpoints. Asha Aden (‘20) and Shannon Baker (‘20) participated in the debate, representing pro-choice and pro-life, respectively. Philosophy Society President Maxwell Eness (‘20) moderated.

The debate was split into three distinct parts. First, Aden and Baker began with an opening statement. Second, they engaged in crossfire questions and rebuttals. The event ended with closing remarks. The debate focused on serving as an example for academic discourse and dialogue.

Olivia Enquist (‘19) I Chips
Asha Aden (‘20) advocated the pro-choice side.

In an interview before the debate, Aden discussed the process of preparing for a debate where the subject is controversial and decisive.

“I thought a lot about why I’m pro-choice,” Aden said. “I used that in my argument to further everyone’s understanding about my decision. I also did a lot of research about the other side of the debate, the pro-life side. I looked at what their beliefs were and why they believed abortion was worse.”

Aden’s opening statement and her subsequent remarks focused largely on womens’ right to have agency over their own bodies, the argument over the time at which a life begins, and the larger argument that a person cannot be pro-life if they do not support all lives.   

Baker also described the process of her preparation. She focused on the difficulties of engaging and debating important topics in front of a crowd.

Olivia Enquist (‘19) I Chips
Shannon Baker(‘20) advocated the pro-life side.

“I would say preparing for the debate was honestly a lot more mental effort than it was physical effort,” Baker said. “For me it was more psyching myself up saying ‘this is something that needs to be discussed on campus, so you need to do it.’”

Baker’s arguments during the debate revolved around the larger moral and ethical questions within pro-life ideology. She spoke about ownership of one’s life and the human limits of knowledge regarding the future. To Baker, this will always create uncertainty about permissibility of abortion.     

Audience member Filiberto Lopez- Garcia (‘19) expressed his appreciation that both participants were willing to discuss such a  difficult issue in a respectful manner.

“I think it’s very important that we bring light to certain issues,” Lopez-Garcia said. “These are issues that most people don’t like talking about even if we know that they are there. Having these conversations make us talk about them and it makes us see that these issues aren’t going to go away.”

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