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MIT Pro-Lifers rally on eve of march

By Prabhat Mehta

A few hours before busloads of MIT students headed for Washington Saturday evening to participate in the Sunday march for women's rights, members of MIT Pro-Life protested outside the Student Center against the key issue in the march -- abortion.

The speakers at the rally all called themselves supporters of women's rights, but they made the distinction that abortion, to them, was an issue about the life of an unborn human being rather than a matter of freedom of choice for women. "You can't forget a whole segment of the human race," said Kelly Jefferson, a member of the Massachusetts Feminists for Life.

Jefferson rebutted critics who call pro-life advocates "anti-women." "We're fighting the movement that's lying to women," she said. "Women are being deceived," because "abortion is a lie," she claimed. "When they tell you that [an unborn child] is not a person, they're lying to you," she explained.

Jefferson also attacked claims that anti-abortion laws would destroy the lives of women who would be forced to have unwanted children. "Our concern for life is at the very moment they destroy life," she said. "No one has the right to kill another person," she added.

The other speakers also brought up the idea of rights of the unborn. "If there's any choice to be made, it's the choice of three," Robin Kurtzman, a member of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, said. The three he referred to were the mother, the father and the unborn child. Kurtzman called the legalization of abortion "the worst atrocity since the end of the civil rights movement."

Chris Papineau '90, assistant vice-president of Pro-Life, said, "We are here because ... two million defenseless children can't speak for themselves."

Even though the speakers all claimed to support women's rights, Papineau denounced the Equal Rights Amendment, saying that it infringed upon the rights of the unborn. "We do not support the Equal Rights Amendment because it gives women the right to kill their children," he said.

This statement drew fire from the crowd's only vocal pro-choice activist, Seth Gordon '91. Gordon recited the text of the Equal Rights Amendment and claimed that in no way does ERA state that women should have the right to abortion. Papineau's claim was nonsense, Gordon said.

Jefferson also invoked the notion of equal rights. "True equality encompasses all people," she said. "We've got embrace the rights of all people; otherwise, equality is a farce," she added.

While Sunday's march on Washington supported the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy, the protestors expressed hope that the decision would be reversed.

At the least, the decision on abortion should be given back to the states, Jefferson said. But the ultimate goal of anti-abortion advocates would be the ratification of a "human rights amendment," she added. "We have the power to severely restrict abortion or eventually eliminate it," Jefferson claimed.

About 12 to 14 people attended the rally. "I would like to have seen more people here," Papineau said. But he added, "We're not here to attract people." Rather, he said, Pro-Life wanted to be visible so that people could hear what the group had to say.

(Editor's note: A report on Sunday's march on Washington will appear in Friday's issue of The Tech.)