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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
The Observer

There’s living blood on ‘pro-life’ hands

I’m guessing this title will generate a lot more hatred than Francine’s title, “There’s innocent blood on pro-choice hands,” published earlier this week.

Unfortunately, the recent piece “There’s queer blood on homophobic hands” was hijacked by the pro-life movement and transformed into a piece attacking the pro-choice position. How is this related to the experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals on this campus, you may ask? I don’t know either.

There’s a lot of deep-rooted irony in this situation. It seems as though care for the unborn has begun to supersede all care and compassion for the human person and our fellow students at Notre Dame. Rather than listening and learning about the experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals on campus and the ways in which they experience exclusion, hatred and non-acceptance, we had to turn this into another fight “for the unborn.” Once a baby is born, do we stop caring about their life? What if they’re born gay — do they still matter?

It seems like the response from the pro-life position is a clear “no.” It is a rarity that our campus engages in a real, honest dialogue about the experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals on campus. The bravery of those individuals who shared their personal experiences was extremely important, and yet somehow this was taken as an assault on the pro-life cause deserving of a parodied response.

Is it only the unborn who matter? Francine, do your fellow students here at Notre Dame matter? Do they deserve to have a voice, share their experience? Do they deserve respect?

Notre Dame’s pro-life movement claims to come from a standpoint of pure love — love for the pregnant woman, love for the fetus, love for abortion care providers — but that’s not what I saw this past Saturday when they went to an abortion care center in South Bend. I saw hatred. I saw anger. I saw shame.

I don’t see the love. I see radicalism, militancy and exclusion.

Visiting an abortion care center. A “pilgrimage.” I don’t believe Christ envisioned his believers taking a “pilgrimage” to shame individuals in the midst of a life-altering and extremely challenging decision. What change are you really creating? It has been widely acknowledged time and time again that shaming women trying to access not just abortion services, but basic reproductive health care does little to change minds, but can have a negative effect on the mental state of some women.

The majority of Americans support some form of available abortion. Perhaps, rather than organizing at a clinic, where women receive a variety of important services, the Right to Life club could channel their energy into more fruitful efforts: protesting at the Capitol, compiling statistics that support their cause and organizing protests that affect those individuals they should be trying to reach: the general public. Not women who are experiencing an extremely challenging life-altering situation and have already made up their minds.

In this midst of this hijacking of the brave stance taken by Notre Dame students supporting the inherent rights and dignity of LGBTQ+ individuals, we hosted several controversial homophobic and transphobic speakers on campus. The groups who brought them on campus have the right to invite them, the same way that students should be allowed to respond and have their grievances heard.

Still, it’s important to recognize that the type of “medicine” preached for in SCOP’s recent anti-hormonal therapy talk this past week risks young lives. LGB youth contemplate suicide at a rate three times of that for heterosexual youth, and there is an even stronger correlation with family rejection. LGB youth coming from rejecting families are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide than LGB youth coming from accepting or low-rejecting families. The statistics are even more staggering for transgender individuals. More than half of transgender males attempt suicide in their lifetime, and 29.9% of transgender females report attempting suicide. On the whole, 40% of transgender adults report attempting suicide at some point in their lifetime.

To disregard the experiences of LGBTQ+ students on this campus and across America, who face rejection and fear every single day, is to ignore the humanity of their lives. To be pro-life should mean being pro-LGBTQ+. To be pro-life means that you recognize the inherent dignity of every single life, not just those who haven’t yet been born. By refusing to engage in an honest and open conversation about what it means to be LGBTQ+ at Notre Dame, we are perpetuating those statistics. We are contributing to the problem. We are rejecting members of our University family and we are telling them a fetus matters, but you don’t.

To all of the pro-life individuals on campus, good on you for being impassioned and fighting for what you believe in, but maybe take a second to think about the other people on this campus and consider the ways in which you might fight for them, too.

I don’t think I’ve ever been this angry during my time at Notre Dame, which is my fault, not Francine’s or anyone else’s on this campus. I’m angry because we continue to exclude members of our own Notre Dame family at the expense of our Catholic identity. An identity which I believe preaches for love and inclusion, not for hatred, shame and parody. It’s honestly a shameful day to be a student here, where I walk this campus alongside peers who recognize the humanity in a fetus but fail to see that same humanity in their fellow students.

Love thee, I guess.

Jackie O'Brien is a Notre Dame senior studying political science and peace studies, originally from the Chicago suburbs. When she’s not writing for Viewpoint, you can find her attempting to complete the NYT crossword, fretting over law school applications or watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. She can be reached at or @im_jackie_o on Twitter.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.