Letters to the Editor

Poverty, abortion on different levels

To the editor:

I am disturbed to read the column by Tom Barrett explicitly criticizing the pro-life movement as one that focuses only on the issues of abortion and capital punishment (the latter is news to many) as opposed to global poverty. I find his logic to be inherently flawed.

It can be inferred from his column that he believes that those who publicly oppose abortion weigh that particular life issue at the expense of another more pressing life issue: poverty. Perhaps this is true of many pro-life people, which is unfortunate.

Where Barrett goes wrong is the fact that in the very act of attempting to equalize all life issues, he simultaneously grants more credence to the issue of poverty, thereby destroying his own thesis that all life issues should be viewed on the same plane.

For those who believe that abortion is singularly the most important issue of our generation, the nature of abortion as an intrinsic moral evil places it on a different plane from poverty.

Poverty, although itself absolutely evil, is not the snuffing out of a life by the one person who should love and protect it most: its mother. This is the voice of the Catholic Church, for those of us at Villanova who still seem to care. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s the 2,000 year old international spiritual organization we like to pretend we somehow belong to.

His pejorative use of the term “pro-life brigade” is insulting. Furthermore, his cute little alliteration “freshly fertilized fetus” is biologically incorrect and trivializes the nature of a human life.

So what will it be then? Is a human life a human life?

– Michael Notaro

What about speciesism?

To the editor:

In his column last week, Tom Barrett lucidly presented a case for the reevaluation of the pro-life stance. Instead of expending most of our moral energy on outlawing abortion, he argued, we ought to redirect some of that focus to the lives of those without enough food, shelter and medicine to survive. From my perspective, the basic principle guiding his analysis could not be sounder. But is simply extending the sphere of pro-life concern to more people enough? In other words, is it ethically consistent to care infinitely more about the future life of an unconscious collection of atoms than the lives of billions of non-human animals who are frequently subjected to the inhumane conditions of factory farms?

Despite all of this newspaper’s coverage of racism – defined as discrimination based on an arbitrary characteristic like race – not much consideration has been given to the idea of speciesism – defined as discrimination based on an arbitrary characteristic like species. At first the comparison seems too drastic, and this reaction evokes sympathy especially when our culture is founded in the moral teachings of a god who grants humans full dominion over the rest of the animal kingdom. But if this deity’s approval of genocide in the Old Testament (Noah’s flood, 1 Samuel 15:3, Numbers 31:17, etc.) is systematically ignored, why should the same not be done for his approval of speciesism? The logic is accessible – suffering is bad, non-human animals suffer when we raise them in factory farms, we can nourish ourselves in ways that minimize the suffering of these beings, so we ought to become vegetarians.

It has been argued that Jesus was a vegetarian, and it is hard to imagine that the creator of the universe could be otherwise. But whether the reasons for animal rights are derived from the moral authority of Jesus or the eternal authority of logic, it is now time for the human race to consider an expansion of its moral community. To adapt Barrett’s conclusion: “Those who do not have a voice to protect themselves should be defended, but this group includes more than just fetuses and convicts. If the sanctity of life is to be defended consistently, it must be done for, all” beings with the capacity to suffer, not just humans. In the not too distant past, ethical reasoning has been used to liberate a wide range of suppressed people – from women to slaves. If we follow through with this reasoning to its logical conclusion and then act on it, the result would be a world with much less suffering.

– Michael Mannix

Thanks to all for helping us reach our goal

To the editor:

The Villanova Habitat for Humanity Steering Committee would like to thank both The Villanovan and the Villanova community for their support of our program this year. Our group is excited that we have met our goal of sponsoring a Habitat home in Norristown that will be completely built by Villanova students, faculty, staff and alumni starting in the fall. We thank the Villanova community for your support of our fundraisers, advocacy events, and for enthusiastically working with Habitat for Humanity. To The Villanovan, we thank you for the coverage of our exciting events this year, which has helped us spread our mission throughout campus. We are excited that together we are working to end substandard housing in our area.

– Denise DiMeglio, Joanna Bowen

and the Villanova Habitat for Humanity Steering Committee.

Pro-life viewpoint does not ignore issues of poverty

To the editor:

I am writing in response to Tom Barrett’s “reevalution” of the pro-life position. Barrett’s article is an unfair portrayal of the pro-life position and ignores much of the good work that is accomplished by people who are pro-life. First, Barrett makes it sound like it’s crazy for anyone to defend the right to life of every human being, no matter what stage of life they are in. I would like to remind everyone that this country was founded on the principle that everyone has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Is it wrong to defend these principles? Second, Barrett has no evidence that pro-life people neglect to advocate for an end to global poverty. Many pro-lifers, including myself, also work to end poverty. One way that pro-lifers work to overcome poverty is through pregnancy resource centers which provide resources and support for pregnant women. Barrett’s assumption that pro-life supporters ignore the issue of poverty is false and unfounded.

– Clare Oven