Secular Student Alliance and Texas Students for Life debate abortion

Anusha Lalani

Two members of the Secular Student Alliance and two members of Texas Students for Life participated in a heated debate, Wednesday, over whether abortion should be legal in America.

Members from both organizations and the public attended the event. This debate revolved around bodily autonomy, which refers to having control over your own body, and presented various scenarios questioning the legality of abortion.

Emma Sorrell and Matthew Folts, members of the SSA, argued abortion should be legal because a woman should be allowed to choose whether she becomes a mother. Ashley Rappaport and Andres Forero, members of the TSL, said abortion should be illegal because the fetus has the same rights as the mother.

Sorrell, aerospace engineering and women’s gender studies sophomore, said a person should not be forced to undergo bodily trauma against their will. When stricter regulations for abortion clinics are imposed, women seek other means to terminate their pregnancies, Sorrell said.

“The laws against abortion [don’t] prevent it from happening,” Sorrell said. “All it does is that it makes it less safe. Between 100,00 and 240,000 women have attempted self-induced abortions in Texas since extensive restrictions have passed in 2013 that closed many of Texas’ clinics that provided those abortion services.”

Rappaport, a public health senior, said the definition of bodily autonomy becomes more complicated with pregnancy.

“Bodily autonomy: Women have the right to do with their body as they please,” Rappaport said. “But here’s the tricky fact: There is another body inside of her body. [People] have never been allowed to infringe on other people’s rights. There is another individual involved. It is a human individual, a human person thus that is an individual in itself and per bodily autonomy doesn’t take precedence over that individual’s right to life.”

Finance and math freshman Juliana Kadiasi, who is a member of the SSA, said the objective of the debate was to allow each side to express their beliefs.

“This is more of a constructive debate between two different mindsets over a topic that has been debated for a long time,” Kadiasi said. “We’re trying to get an understanding between both groups and to see how we have different beliefs, but we could still come to a similar conclusion.”

The debate concluded with a Q&A session moderated by the SSA vice president, in which members of the audience were able to ask questions to both sides.