Harvard discussion of abortion after Roe omits pro-life perspective

On Oct. 24, the Harvard Radcliffe Institute opened an exhibit titled 'The Age of Roe: The Past, Present, and Future of Abortion in America.'

One panelist said that a focus on the disproportionate number of Black people aborted is 'incredibly dangerous' and based on 'problematic stereotypes.'

On Oct. 24, the Harvard Radcliffe Institute opened an exhibit titled “The Age of Roe: The Past, Present, and Future of Abortion in America,” showcasing documentation of events, protests, campaigns, and other related items surrounding the Supreme Court’s landmark decision Roe v. Wade and its subsequent overthrow. 

Associated with the exhibit, which will run through Mar. 4, was a Nov. 1 panel discussion moderated by Mary Ziegler, Martin Luther King Professor of Law at UC Davis. 

Ziegler was joined by Kimberly Mutcherson, law professor at Rutgers, and Andrew Lewis, political scientist at the University of Cincinnati.

“A huge part of our conversation about abortion access in this country has been about how difficult it was for lots of women in this country to access abortion care,” Mutcherson answered when asked about the exhibit and what viewers should know.

She went on to emphasize that “Black women are overrepresented in the number of women who have abortions in this country…which of course has then been used as a way [by pro-lifers] to try to sort of drive a wedge into communities, and talking about abortion as, you know, a form of eugenics.”

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Mutcherson called this focus on the disproportionate number of Black people aborted “incredibly dangerous” and based on “problematic stereotypes."

Mutcherson then referred to abortion bans as “criminalization of activities during pregnancy.”

Lewis attributed the “demise of Roe” to “religious conservatives” getting involved in federal courts. 

“One of the things that happened in the age of Roe…is this coalescing among what you might call the Conservative Christian movements,” he explained, citing in particular the coalition between Protestant and Catholic Christians on the issue of abortion.

In response to a question about the role of scientific evidence in arguments over the ethics of abortion, Mutcherson said that “this is one of the things that I find most frustrating in the discussions we have about abortion in this country…that the narrative, in a lot of ways, has been dictated by folks who make up their own science.”

“Quite frankly I think if you are a person who fundamentally believes that a fetus at six weeks is no different from a six year-old, it’s not going to matter if I show you a picture or tell you what anatomy is.”

That a majority of scientists agree human life begins at conception was not discussed.

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The guests were also asked about voices they wished were heard more in the abortion conversation. 

“I definitely wish that the voices of not just abortion providers but also folks who are running clinics were heard a lot more,” Mutcherson replied. “These are folks who are deeply committed to women and women’s equality and ensuring that folks have access to care that they deserve, and that they get to make decisions about what their family looks like.”  

Lewis answered, “I’m glad that an exhibit like this is bringing some of these things from different people from different places and different eras and bringing them to the forefront for us to be able to see and encounter, because the history is complicated, and that’s okay.”

Campus Reform reached out to all individuals and institutions mentioned for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.