President of Feminists for Life Serrin M. Foster addressed social pressures regarding pregnancy in her speech, “The Feminist Case against Abortion,” on Wednesday. The speech was hosted by UChicago Students for Life.
She addressed a crowd of approximately 40 students, faculty, and visitors in the screening room of the Logan Center. Her speech engaged contemporary conversations about feminism and reproductive rights. Foster argued that abortions performed today are largely due to a societal disapprobation of pregnancy, particularly within academia.
“Women should not be forced to choose between their education and life plans for their child,” she said.
Foster maintained that students and professors on tenure track are discouraged from keeping a baby once pregnant. In order to ameliorate the social pressure, Foster advocates for greater resources and promotion of resources for pregnant students and faculty, including affordable child care and housing, telecommuting possibilities, and the opportunity to retain scholarships while taking classes part-time or taking a leave of absence, among other ideas.
During her talk, Foster asked attendees what services the University offered for pregnant women. Students were unaware whether affordable family housing and chil care were available for students and faculty at the University of Chicago.
Some attendees disagreed with points of the speech and brought forth concerns in discussions following the talk. First-year Tamar Gordis questioned when life begins.
“What bothered me was describing abortion as ‘ripping a child away from its mother.’ It is a fertilized egg. If you value all life equally, where do you draw the line?” she said.
While Foster did not engage in an extended discussion of when fetal life began, she expressed a belief in life following conception, saying, “40 years after Roe v. Wade, [we should] not deny humanity as it evolved in the womb.”
Second-year Charlie Salmans said the idea of giving women more resources resonated with him.
“I am pretty undecided on this issue, but the speech resonated with me because by giving [women] few resources if they are pregnant, [the woman’s] decision to have an abortion is skewed, which inhibits their ability to make a fully-informed and supported decision,” he said.