An unbalanced and unfair debate causes a lot of tension.
More than 50 students and community members gathered in the CMU lounge at 6 p.m. Wednesday to watch and participate in an abortion debate held by Collegians for Life.
Matthew McKinley, a campus missionary at FOCUS, in Phoenix, led the debate for the pro-life side. Tim Mosser, the adviser for Collegians for Life at Concordia, and Nicole Hunsicker, a philosophy junior at MSUM, made up the rest of the pro-life team.
On the other side, Brandon Smith, a psychology sophomore at NDSU, argued for pro-choice with Kathryn Lucero, a philosophy and women’s and gender studies junior at MSUM.
Aside from the numbers – two versus three – the unbalanced qualifications of each team were also clearly displayed.
John Goerke, a philosophy junior at MSUM, was in charge of putting together the pro-choice team.
He said he contacted the Red River Women’s Clinic, Pro-choice Advocacy and several other pro-choice organizations, and he had assembled a team of professionals for the debate.
“They all backed out last second,” Goerke said. “Brandon and Kate were the back-ups. It was unfair, but we already signed paperwork with Matt and Tim.”
Smith said that despite the unbalanced teams, he did his best to present his argument for pro-choice; however, it was difficult at times.
“I don’t want to bash my partner,” he said, “but I think we got way off topic.”
The pro-choice side made it clear in their opening statement that the real disagreement was whether or not the unborn is a human.
“Before we can know what we can do with it … we have to know what it is,” McKinley said. “We believe everything focuses down to what is the unborn and is it valuable.”
Smith agreed: “It is a women’s right to get an abortion. The true argument lies with what is life.”
However, when Lucero took the microphone, it was clear that she had a different agenda for the debate.
She addressed two main points in her opening statement:
- A woman should be able to control what happens to her body.
- Regardless of whether they’re legal, abortions are going to happen.
“You need to think about the women who die from unsafe abortions,” Lucero said.
After opening statements, much of the debate was spent trying to turn the discussion off of “back-alley” abortions and the oppression of women and back to what defines a human.
“We shouldn’t form a law on what will happen if it’s made illegal or not,” McKinley said. “I think all of us here agree that poverty is really awful and oppression of women is really awful … I think the real disagreement here is what the unborn is and what abortion does to the unborn.
“If abortion prevents something from coming into a really bad existence than we should probably have an abortion; however, we see abortion as killing something, a child, which is already in poverty the same way that we’d be killing a 2-year-old, which is in poverty.”
Although Smith never had the chance to fully explain his side, he said that the unborn does need certain parts before it’s considered human life.
“It’s really difficult to figure out when a person begins,” Smith said. “Limbs don’t make up a person … I personally don’t believe that life exists until there is a brain.”
After the debate, audience members were encouraged to ask the panel questions regarding abortion. Many students took advantage of the opportunity to test the pro-life team’s knowledge, asking about everything from their views on contraceptives to their stance on abortions after rape, to the economic outcome if abortions were made illegal.
Despite the unbalanced teams and getting off topic, many agreed the event went as well as it could have.
“I think it was just good to finally get this out in the open and dialogue is what really needs to happen,” said Jeffrey Lorsung, a biological science and environmental science junior at NDSU. “I think people just right away go to emotional arguments and how they feel … we totally lose sight of what it’s all about: this issue of defining life.”
Lorsung said the pro-choice side kept bringing up their strong feminist argument and didn’t stay on topic like the pro-life side did.
“It’s a controversial topic and when your blood gets going it’s hard to remain logical and polite,” Hunsicker said. “I think it went as well as it could in this stage of the debate.”
BY JASMINE MAKI