• Kelly Blanco

The Woman's Voice at the Mount

I constantly hear my peers talk about how women on campus feel afraid to speak their minds on abortion and women's rights. We all know the Catholic school won't agree with it, however, whether one adheres to the beliefs of pro-life or pro-choice, we should feel the comfortability to speak on the issue without feeling ashamed. We are entitled to our opinion, yet we don't say them out loud because we don’t want to be looked at wrongly by the general population. This is the exact moment where people need to learn how to separate church and school and not guilt shame people for having their difference of opinion. There is this inequity that pro-lifers are able to put up posters while avoiding conflict. However, it appears to be problematic when considering the idea of awareness regarding womanhood. This institution has to widely open up to accepting and advocating for different groups. Saying, “I’m Catholic and I can't stand for it” is not enough to not support the empowerment of women.

There are many conclusions where individuals assume that all women who are pro-choice or advocate women’s rights and are pro-women have abortions. Women are pro-choice because they understand that the United States has a failed reproductive education, failure of access to contraception, and failure to birth control. As a result, one can understand that this is also a health care problem. What I just mentioned is everything women on campus would appreciate having a safe spot to share these opinions, likewise The Mount’s Campus Ministry. If we are allowing one group to vocally and freely talk about their opinions, it is evident that to provide sufficient equity towards women’s rights, the other side must be able to do the same. Since a lot of people on campus are not Catholic they, of course, may have different opinions towards this issue. Mount St Mary’s University's statement is to live significantly, however living by this notion is not ideal if I'm limited and not accepted in my own community because of the separate opinion that the majority of campus has.

While interviewing a woman on campus I was able to see their different opinions on how constricted they feel to have this belief in a conservative school. As a passionate feminist myself, it is extremely disappointing that women's voices are not being heard and advocated for. Since these beliefs are not widely accepted, individuals may undergo these feelings of shame for having and sharing their beliefs.

A student at The Mount disclosed an extremely uncomfortable and distressing event at Patriot Hall during the fall semester. During breakfast, the student was abruptly disturbed and disrespected for having a separate opinion. It all started when another student placed a toy baby into another student's hand without their consent. A Campus Ministry student approached the student and said “Imagine, all of a sudden you find out that you are pregnant with a beautiful child”. The student felt extremely uprooted and they continued, “What are you going to do?”. The student answered and said, “I know what you want me to say but I would abort this child because of the stage of my life I am in”. They then responded to the student by saying“Well let me tell you why you shouldn’t choose abortion”.

The student vividly explained to me how she felt like she was being lectured as to why she couldn't hypothetically have an abortion. They were giving the student numerous options that she should have for her own body, not theirs. The student felt constrained as if she couldn't walk until they agreed with their pro-life views. The student discusses with them that even if she had this baby she would not want to put it up for adoption because the system is broken. The Campus Ministry Student responded back and said, “this baby could save your life one day.” and I said “or it could ruin my life and grow up in a bad environment”. They then said “You wouldn't love the child?” with a disturbed tone. The students poured their emotions into me and expressed that they made them feel like a bad person just because of their personal opinion. Finally, after numerous times the student was left alone and could finally breathe.