Guest speakers address abortion debate

by James Kile | Staff Writer

Whitworth’s provost and executive vice president Carol Simon hosted the “Civil Dialogue on Abortion” in the Robinson Teaching Theater on Feb. 24. A crowd of around 150 students and faculty members attended the event to hear guest philosophy professors Jack Mulder, Ph.D., and Bertha Alvarez Manninen, Ph.D., discuss why they support their respective positions. 

Mulder is from Hope College and represented the pro-life values, while Manninen is from Arizona State University and stood for pro-choice.

Simon started off the discussion by asking the speakers what aspects of their worldview contribute to their positions.

Mulder said that his response correlated with his beliefs.

“At the core of my beliefs, I recognize that a direct act against a vulnerable party [the unborn fetus] is morally wrong,” Mulder said.

Manninen’s response to the question came from her experience as a mother.

“The value of human life is priceless and should always be respected with regards to what we choose to do with our bodies,” Manninen said.    

During the event, both speakers made it clear the importance of an open dialogue with regards to not only the topic of abortion but also other issues society faces.

Mulder stated without open dialogue in which people can openly present their views, the debate on abortion will “be difficult to find compromise and reach a solution.”  

“Open dialogue can play an important role in coming to a better solution,” Mulder said. 

Later in the night, Manninen stated her support of the idea that forming an open dialogue can be an important catalyst for reaching a solution.

 “When we begin to form an open conversation on issues, we begin to see them from the perspective of the other side. If we can do this, we can move toward creating a better compromise,” Manninen said. 

At the end of the discussion, students were encouraged to present their own questions to the speakers. All such questions were openly accepted by the speakers who provided a welcoming attitude towards the attendees.

Junior Taylor Meredith is a member of Whitworth’s Students for Life club. Meredith stated prior to the event that she was excited to hear the speakers present their arguments to the audience and listen to different perspectives. 

For Meredith, her Christian values have been very important to her regarding to her in regards to her stance on abortion.

“As a Christian, I believe God formed us in our womb and that life begins at conception,” Meredith said.

Mulder and Manninen co-authored a book titled Civil Dialogue on Abortion. The book is available on Amazon and through other booksellers.