Opinion | Op-eds

Barnard College commencement speaker alienates many in community

On May 18, Barnard’s commencement speaker will be Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. For some, her speech will be an inspiring moment from an admired hero. For others, it will be an experience of profound alienation.

While I do not question the efforts and intentions of the administration in choosing the commencement speaker, it is truly devastating that Barnard chose a speaker who bears the banner of abortion—one of the most polarizing, impassioned subjects of morality in the history of modern civilization. For an event that is supposed to be celebratory, uniting, and joyous, why must the school choose a speaker who is so deeply divisive?

I am not writing to convince or sway opinion as it relates to any of the services or affiliations that Planned Parenthood and Richards represent. I am writing to give voice to the deep struggle that Barnard diminishes and disregards by choosing her as a commencement speaker.

I doubt that Barnard would ever consider a Palestinian social justice crusader to speak at commencement, just as it would never consider an Israeli political champion. The clashes in ideology and beliefs are simply too schismatic for Barnard to approach. Similarly, if the school were to choose Condoleezza Rice, a woman of groundbreaking accomplishment and great esteem, major protest would be instigated by students and community members who vehemently disagree with her policies.

By choosing such a controversial figure, Barnard implies that students who take deep offense to this choice do not have valid concerns, and their beliefs do not matter. Choosing a speaker of such moral and political controversy seems to assume that the opposing minority will be shamed into silence for their beliefs and will take this decision more or less sitting down. Perhaps Barnard, in whatever calculus it is doing, does not care about offending and isolating students like me, families in attendance like mine, or beliefs like the ones I hold.

It is true that Planned Parenthood offers accessible health care to millions of underserved women in America in the form of cancer screenings, birth control, and other gynecological services. However, in 2009, it also carried out more than a third of the nation’s abortions. Though abortions are a minority of the services rendered by Planned Parenthood, Richards’ role there has been largely focused on fundraising for and endowing abortion operations of the organization. 

It would be perfectly appropriate for Richards to speak to interested students at another event on campus. But because she represents an issue that many from Barnard’s community find morally reprehensible at the most fundamental level, her presence at Barnard’s commencement cannot be justified. Her presence will cause nothing short of polarizing estrangement and offense for a significant population of the Barnard community—students, family, friends, and employees. 

For a school, that in my experience, has been so embracing and promoting of pluralities in religious, feminist, philosophical, professional, ethnic, and educational ideologies, it is shocking to see such a blatant dismissal of moral and political perspectives. Barnard chooses Cecile Richards to represent the culmination of our class’s time here at the peril of its own integrity. A speaker who so harshly alienates a significant population of people will only deter them from joining our Barnard community in years to come—whether as future students, professors, or affiliates. This will only contribute to the existing lack of ideological diversity at Barnard. With this choice, Barnard participates in a brain drain of intellectual diversity, and our student body suffers for it.

I have always been grateful that Barnard is a community that is open to honest discussion and debate of all issues. However, next time, I hope that Barnard considers in its choice a speaker who will truly unify and celebrate the diversity of perspectives and accomplishments that the graduating class represents. I call upon the officers of the College to recognize the long-term potential for damage that this choice has on the Barnard community. 

I hope Richards is able to give us meaningful encouragement and life advice as we gather together one final time before departing Barnard, drawing upon her experience as a leader, as a spouse, and as a parent to inspire us to aim high and help others. Barnard needs to holistically consider the emotional collateral it places on students when making decisions like this in the future. As a community, I hope we can proceed with consciences more acutely aware of the diverse ideologies and opinions that need protection and support.

The author is a Barnard College senior majoring in political science. She is the president of the Columbia University College Republicans.

To respond to this op-ed, or to submit an op-ed, contact opinion@columbiaspectator.com.

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Anonymous posted on

Great article! Totally nails it. Anyone who writes this well has a great future waiting for her.

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McCain-Palin posted on

I have to agree. Anyone whose prose can capture that feeling of faux-outrage, moral self-righteousness, and false equivalence—all while imposing their own religious beliefs on the rest of society—certainly has a bright future in the Republican Party.

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Sad for your embarassed parents posted on

What is faux about this, other than the fact that you wish that it was insincere, and apparently disagree (though you're apparently too busy to explain what the logical basis for your disagreement might be)? Although it is cute that you manage to be maximally condescending in a mere three lines of text, it is sad for anyone who hoped you'd amount to much.

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McCain-Palin posted on

"what is faux about this, other than the fact that you wish it was insincere." I'm glad we can agree that the "fact" that I wish "it" (whatever that means) was insincere is indeed faux. I also believe I stated, "I have to agree", in my original comment, so I don't see why a logical explanation of my non-existent disagreement is necessary (nor am I certain of what you think I'm disagreeing with). Kate is clearly a talented writer, and her ability to give voice to the concerns of those hoping to control the behavior of others will carry her far in her chosen political party.

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Barnard≠Columbia posted on

Just another reason...

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Demo posted on

I'm a pretty standard liberal, not religious, pro-choice, and I agree. Commencement is about coming together, not leaving parts of the class feeling unwelcome.

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Anonymous posted on

She would be a great speaker to have anytime, and we would welcome her, just not for commencement.

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JoAnna Khan posted on

These are opinions without any factual base. I am a former employee of Planned Parenthood. Less than 3 percent of all Planned Parenthood services are abortion related. The majority of what Planned Parenthood does is seek to provide affordable and preventative health care. Furthermore, if Barnard seeks to encompass a variety of view points, emphasize the importance of diversity and equity, and challenge current opinion, Cecile Richards is the perfect speaker to represent these values. I respect your views as a pro life individual, however you should respect the views of others and realize that there will never be a commencement speaker the entire community of Barnard gets enthused about. While you may equate morality with preventing Ms. Richards from speaking, it is actually quite immoral to silence the perspective of a woman who is simply trying to prevent incurable disease, provide health care to those who have no access, and provide birth control options in a safe and supportive environment.

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Class of 2013 posted on

She mentioned that it was less than 3% in the article. But on a day that is supposed to be a celebration and a uniting event on campus, this is a poor choice because of the sensitivity of the topic - which is why she advocates Ms. Richards speaking on campus, just not at commencement. Did you even read it?

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Sure, but posted on

That excuse only works in a world where a surplus of good deeds erases one's bad deeds. The large number of abortions that Planned Parenthood facilitates can't be ignored simply because the organization does non-controversial things as well.

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Anonymous posted on

wow who made you the moral police? You realize in places like most of western Europe abortion isn't even an issue?

also by your logic, the large number of child-rape, murder, etc that religion facilitates can't be ignored simply because the organization does non-controversial things as well.

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Umm posted on

So you're trying to have it both ways?

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Get OUT posted on

Move to Western Europe then you ignorant twit. Your "religion is evil" argument is nothing more than a fallacious, tired old leftist trope with little thought or research put into it.

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SEAS '15 posted on

Umm... no. The church does not officially support child-rape or murder (please do not bring up millennia-old disputes). Members of the church may commit these crimes, or use the churches name to justify them, but unless the church, as an organization, supports these crimes you cannot make that comparison.

If an employee (or even a bunch of employees) of Planned Parenthood were performing abortions without the expressed consent or support of Planned Parenthood, sure, it would be a comparison. But because it is officially one of the services PP provides, you can't.

Also, please stop finding any excuse to vilify religion. It's old.

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Fish on Fridays posted on

I do recall anti-semitism was official church doctrine well into the 1960s, and the Pope himself signed not one, not two, but three treaties with Hitler despite the horrors of the Holocaust being made explicit.

As for your child-abuse claims, I have to ask you why Tim Dolan, archbishop of New York and a contender for the recent papacy (not some rogue extremist, but a prominent, respected member of the church), actively covered up abuse, hid church funds, sheltered and reassigned abusive priests to other districts where they abused again and again, and has lobbied the New York legislature against a bill that would lengthen the statute of limitations for cases of child sex-abuse? Why the same feet-dragging from the Vatican, if this abuse was so condemned?

To cast these disputes as "millennia-old" is disingenuous and ignorant of history.

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Anonymous posted on

You clearly haven't read the percentage or done your research. Less than 3% of ALL services are abortion related. If you do the math, this leaves 97%, most of which, is going to preventative care and family planning, ensuring that abortion is less common. Also what exactly do you mean by "bad deed"? Just because you do not condone abortion does not make it immoral or "bad" based on a completely subjective and I'd argue probably religiously based perspective.

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Stand up posted on

Yeah, you know that whole Nazi thing last century, I mean yeah they allegedly had those concentration camps, and allegedly hated the Jews, queers, gypsies and mentally handicapped, but look at all the GOOD that the Nazi's did. Restored national pride to Germany, ignited a booming economy lifting millions out of poverty, made incredible technological and engineering advancements and beautiful as well as functional public works projects. You see, they really did more good than bad! It's a shame that ol' Adolph is not still alive, he could join Ms. Richards at the commencement and they could discuss all their like-minded philosophy.

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Anonymous posted on

Playing the Nazi card, except in reference to actual Nazis and/or Hitler, means your argument is invalid.

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Anonymous posted on

Did you really just equate Planned Parenthood with the Nazi's? ...Really?

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Stand Up posted on

You're damn right I did, and it is absolutely valid. State sponsored, systematic mass murder of innocent human beings, with a high percentage of an ethnic minority! If you deny it, you are a liar, plain and simple. Your happy ass, touchy feel crap about what abortion is all about is pure BS. Abortion is a sad, sick ugly thing, and you shitheads dress it all up in frilly bows and celebrate it! You're morally reprehensible as well as evil. If there is any justice in the world, you and your ilk will suffer the same fate as Hitler, Goebbels, Goering and their crew, and I will be more than willing to have a front row seat for that.

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Finally posted on

Finally someone stands up for what is right in this world! Fetuses are precious human beings whose lives have been brutally taken from them by loose women with no morals, and blood should be shed for them!

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Stand Up posted on

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhZHCx0Lw0E&list=PL8EFD92381B996609

PROOF!

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SEAS '15 posted on

Honestly, it's not REALLY that far off if you think about it.

Hitler's reign did wonders for Germany. When Hitler fired all of the Jews from government positions, Germany rejoiced. The newspapers published that Hitler created thousands of jobs, not that he destroyed them.

At the time, Germans were brainwashed into thinking that Jews were subhuman. They drew some arbitrary line between Jews and the rest of the world. On a hierarchy pyramid of ethnicities, Jews weren't even INCLUDED, because that would imply that they were human.

So the murder of Jews was totally okay, because they weren't human. Does that ring a bell to anyone? There have been very different definitions of what defines a human life throughout our history, and Hitler made his widespread. Planned Parenthood is also supporting their own definition.

In hindsight, what Hitler did was horrible. At the time, it was confusing for those living in Germany. The same idea could very well be applied to our lives today. Our understanding is limited to our environment, and it's very possible that in fifty years we will look back on this time as the mass slaughter of children.

There are obviously differences. No one wants to annihilate all children ever, and Hitler wanted to completely exterminate the Jews, not just contain them.

But if you consider a life at the start of conception, not after X time, this could easily be paralleled. But ONLY if you consider an embryo (or a fetus, depending on where the line is drawn) to be a life.

Well, I hope this made some sort of sense. I really don't think the connection to Hitler/Nazis is as extreme as you might think. Remember, pro choice people, pro life supporters believe they are preventing murder. That's a pretty intense thing.

BTW, I identify more strongly with the pro choice movement than pro life. I just think it's important to understand both sides.

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Catholic posted on

As a pro-lifer, you make a poor "choice" by wading into the Nazi controversy, given that the Catholic Church was quite supportive of Hitler and his anti-semitism.(The Third Reich's first international treaty was with the Pope, in fact.)

Also, if all pro-lifers see abortion as murder, why do some permit abortions under certain circumstances?

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Stand Up posted on

You understand that there are many Christians that are not Catholic and in no way connected to the things that the Catholic Church has done, right?

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Anonymous posted on

Oh don't even go there!!

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Anonymous posted on

Goddamnit, the post above was supposed to have "Pope Leo X" as the username.

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Stand Up posted on

You understand that there are many Christians that are not Catholic and in no way connected to the things that the Catholic Church has done, right?

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Anonymous posted on

It really saddens me that this community is more concerned with vilifying abortion--a tiny fraction of Planned Parenthood Services---rather than to be concerned with your growing rates of sexual assault on campus, the gentrification of Harlem by Columbia University, the institutionalization of students without consent, etc etc. I'm really very thankful I'm not a student here.

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Stand Up posted on

None of which result in the mass death of innocent human beings, you are part of what's wrong with the world.

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Luke Foster posted on

Thank you for saying this, Kate.

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um posted on

You don't even go here

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Anonymous posted on

Sure don't. Quite glad after seeing this thread.

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Anonymous posted on

Shouldn't your community be far more outraged at the lack of oversight concerning sexual assault or perhaps the lovely ladies of Columbia claiming hysteria, filming a porno and completely trashing a library, leaving a mess for some poor janitors to clean up? These are things I would assume the Barnard community would want to confront........

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SEAS '15 posted on

What's wrong with "lovely ladies" filming a porno? Would it be okay if it was macho men? I can understand your interpretation of the rest, but it's totally fine if adults want to film themselves doing something consensual, male or female (however, so not okay if it's in a public place without permission and they leave a mess! yuck)

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GOPP posted on

Are you kidding? She's a republican! Sex Assault is a feminist conspiracy and those janitors are only stuck in their station in life because they didn't work hard enough.

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Anonymous posted on

This argument could be applied to so many important leaders--Obama, Hilary Clinton, Gloria Steinem was honored last year...

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Nope, sorry posted on

None of those people, with the possible exception of obama, are responsible for the slaughter of millions of innocent children, and even obama with all his drone strikes has not even come close to the body count that Ms. Richards is responsible for. But ok, how about we have Condi Rice or sarah Palin? Because all the single minded, militant, femi-nazi leftists would scream bloody murder (because tolerance only matters when it applies to your twisted, anti-American political agenda) that those two really GREAT and truly STRNG women don't share their hateful, racist baby-killing values.

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False Equivalence posted on

To utter Condi Rice and Sarah Palin in the same breath is a travesty. One is a former Sec. Of State and Dean of Stanford's political science dept., the other is a half-developed homophobe who was stumped when Katie Couric asked her: "what do you read?"

I'm actually shocked Republicans are willing to lump together their politicians like that. As an ardent leftist, I would never combine Alan Grayson with John Kerry.

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Anonymous posted on

Thank you Kate for saying this.The double standard demonstrated in this case by Barnard is disappointing and I know it is capable of doing better.

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Anonymous posted on

Cowards! So what if she challenges some of your beliefs, thinking is tough but good for you. "She is welcome, just not at commencement" is a BS excuse. I'm glad your administration showed more insight and courage than this author. Equating planned parenthood with abortions is ignorant, biggoted, and shows you believe the rhetoric on TV instead of thinking and fact checking for yourself. Sad this kind of thinking passes for "American," pathetic day people...

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Real courage posted on

Aside from the fact that your comment amounts to a baseless insult of the author's intelligence, therefore reflecting your own bias, you actually don't handle any of the facts or arguments presented in the op-ed, so congratulations on your own ignorance and bigotry. The fact that the author is standing up for her own beliefs, despite the choices of the College administration, is the definition of courage, and to assume, as you do, that someone who opposes the activities of Planned Parenthood, has not thought deeply enough about her or his beliefs just because they do not align with yours is the definition of ignorance and bigotry. Once again, congratulations.

The author does not, in fact, equate Planned Parenthood with abortions, but acknowledges the fact that the organization provides a breadth of services for women. The point the author makes is that the speaker's primary professional activities have been to raise money specifically for abortions, which is the divisive issue at hand. This article is not about whether or not abortion is morally correct, but rather that it is such a sensitive and divisive issue at the most fundamental level for women and men that it is an inappropriate issue to highlight at graduation through the choice of the commencement speaker.

The only pathetic day in America will be when people stop speaking up for themselves. Today is, in fact, a great day.

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Matt Andersen posted on

I'm not sure someone posting as "Anonymous" has any place to call someone a coward.

Anyway, did you read the article? She's basically saying there's a time and place for everything. She wasn't showing any disrespect, ignorance, or bigotry. Whether you agree or disagree with her perspective, you should be able to express your own perspective like an adult. So do it.

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Run and hide posted on

Pull your ignorant head out of your filthy ass. This was a well written, well reasoned article. Your comments only serve to show how far from the facts your head is (because it's up your ass). Celebrating the slaughter of innocent children is not something that we need to think about much past the fact that it is WRONG, get a clue idiot. Coward? Not according to the U.S. Army and the fellow soldiers that I served with. Now get the hell out of my country, you are no longer wanted or welcome here.

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Anonymous posted on

So the Army only fights for your view point. Ok, note to self..... *scratches head and looks for passport*

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Curly Bill posted on

Well…bye.

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Barnard alum posted on

All speakers who stand for anything are controversial. Not everyone is going to agree. Each year there are differences in opinions. While I understand where this author is coming from, this isn't really a good argument.

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Anonymous posted on

Few issues come as close to being as controversial as abortion. I mean, those who oppose it see it as murder -- legalized murder -- that the commencement speaker works hard to provide funds for. It's true that every speaker will have things people can't agree with, but I'm hard pressed to think of a more potent issue about which there is such extreme disagreement in this country.

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Hypocritical posted on

Funny isn't it, how pro-lifers of the liberal strain believe abortion to be legalized murder, but will gladly, in the case of rape, incest, or health of the mother, allow for this murder to be committed.

Why the selective logic?

Women who oppose abortion are overwhelmingly 1) past childbearing age or 2) wealthy enough to not only afford consistent contraceptive services, but also for financial concerns to be a non-issue when deciding to keep a child. In other words, women whose means and position allow them to plan their families and to afford "mistakes", precisely the women who are never faced with the difficult circumstances that lead many other women to choose abortion.

These same pro-life women, however, will certainly allow for abortion in the cases of health of the mother or rape, as they could actually find themselves in such a situation.

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OLD LADY posted on

Let’s break this down. I am one of those middle aged women—did it ever occur to you that we too were once undergraduates at prestigious colleges—often among the first women accepted to previously all-male campuses? Imagine that! Despite what you may think, pregnancies occurred pretty frequently then too. Young women had three choices at that time:
-Marry the father because they were in love (imagine that!) and put her wants on hold. This choice also meant the father had to grow up and act like a man (imagine that!) , the mothers often returned to school and career later—usually with much success. The women I know that opted for this are for the most part still married have a number of kids and many of them have wonderful careers.
-Give the child up for adoption—heart wrenching and selfless for sure, not to mention an interruption to studies—but no more so than a gap year. There were all kinds of agencies and organizations willing to help then as there are now (just ask). The women I know who did this too are well adjusted, often married and have families and careers. Of course they wonder and miss their child but know they gave the child a life better than they could have at the time. Of course now single motherhood is more of an option—as are open adoptions.
-Abort. Of course in the short run this seemed like the best option. Only your closest friends knew, you only lost a couple days of your life—the classes, parties, and job searches resumed. It was ok --your little secret. But not so in the long run, as the years go by your little secret gnaws at you. It gnaws at you when you fall in love. It gnaws at you more when you see a cute baby or a little kid that would be the same age as the fetus you aborted. It gnaws at you even more when you try to have a family and learn it may not be possible—believe it or not now you are infertile—and ironically adoption is so difficult. My experience with the friends I had that aborted is that they have suffered more than you can imagine-- most often with guilt, anxiety and depression. Over the years some of these women have turned their suffering into bitterness and anger and often in an attempt to relieve their suffering they have become militant defenders of abortion. Some women, on the other hand, who aborted and suffered as much have forgiven themselves and turned their suffering and guilt into advocating against abortion to prevent the same suffering from visiting the next generation of young women.

So long story short—they may be middle aged women—but once they too were undergrads at good schools with bright futures and choices. Sometimes we old ladies made mistakes and regret our choices and hope to protect others from making the same life altering mistake.

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Hypocritical posted on

Thank you for so ably demonstrating the mindset I was describing! Did it ever occur to you that a woman may not have the first two choices you and your privileged friends did? In this country, a pregnancy can get you fired from many jobs, not to mention the fact that women without health insurance can't receive the same level of support throughout a pregnancy that your friends had. These women in need live day to day, paycheck to paycheck, and an unintended pregnancy can seriously disrupt their chances of earning a steady living, much less of supporting a child.

Once again, the anti-choice stance is promoted by someone who has been extremely lucky in life and can't comprehend that the abortion choice is not always one between having a child and getting back to a life of "classes, parties, and job searches". Some women aren't so lucky, and perhaps you could empathize with these less-privileged women for once.

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RLTW posted on

Then they shouldn't be having sex. Celibacy is such a SMALL sacrifice to make when the life of an innocent child is at stake! It's called making grown-up decisions and conducting oneself as an adult, which is what you SHOULD be learning in college. I watch you here in MoHi, staggering down the streets in mini-skirts, drunk like monkeys, cursing like sailors, trying to light the wrong end of a cigarette, smh. Being able to curse, drink, smoke and have sex does not make one an adult, regardless of age, sacrifice of pleasure, dedication to work, modesty, humility and responsibility do. Wake up, you are not the only person in the world, and you "fun" and "pleasure" should not be so recklessly abused, youngster.

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No Tang for lil Timmy posted on

You sir, need to get laid, ASAP!!

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RLTW posted on

Just did, your Mom was great, but your Dad got a little irate, nothing he could really do about it though. I enjoyed it so much that I'll be moving in, don't bother coming home anymore, we're turning your room into storage for my gun collection. Give me your email, I'll shoot you some photos!

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No Tang posted on

Oh the irony, given that I was raised by two gay dads

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RLTW posted on

Well, that would explain your deviant worldview, and a perfect example of why that type of filth is ruining America.

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Backdoor posted on

Yes, because nothing screams "moral rightness" like a guy who bangs other peoples's wives!

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OLD LADY posted on

I apologize for the sarcastic comment--it was wrong. Abortion is a difficult decision and it wasn't a return to all fun--classes, parties and job searches.

My point is this-- abortion has long lasting and life changing ramifications--it is not the solution you may believe it to be. I was directing my response to women of Barnard and Columbia all of whom are privileged by virtue of their opportunities.

I am very well aware of how difficult other women's lives are. Most of my adult life has been focused on serving poor women and their children.
That said, lack of privilege in no way precludes marriage or adoption--explain this to me. A marriage license in nyc is $35. Adoption costs nothing for the mother.

Unlike the seventies there are laws against discriminating against a pregnant woman.
http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/pregnancy.cfm

Additionally, regarding health care and support of unwed mothers the government and society have never been more accommodating.

My point, privileged or not, abortion hurts all mothers more than is acknowledged

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RLTW posted on

Amen OLD LADY!!! Your response is full of wisdom, experience and logic! I think we may be around the same age, lol. I just hope some of these young women take the time to peruse and ponder your remarks, I support your point of view 100%, it sounds like you know what you are talking about.

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RLTW posted on

Amen OLD LADY!!! Your response is full of wisdom, experience and logic! I think we may be around the same age, lol. I just hope some of these young women take the time to peruse and ponder your remarks, I support your point of view 100%, it sounds like you know what you are talking about.

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RLTW posted on

Amen OLD LADY!!! Your response is full of wisdom, experience and logic! I think we may be around the same age, lol. I just hope some of these young women take the time to peruse and ponder your remarks, I support your point of view 100%, it sounds like you know what you are talking about.

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ree4@columbia/edu posted on

My friends who had abortions as young women went on to have full and successful lives, with loving friends and mates. None of them made the decision lightly. None of them kept their abortions secret. None suffered emotional damage of the sort described here. None of them became fanatics about abortion, although they obviously support the right to choose. So this writer and her friends live in a world unfamiliar to me, if it is a real one.

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Lion posted on

Oh, give me a break. Stop be spoiled and embrace the challenges you must face in life. The argument you set forth can be altered and used against any prospect, and past, speakers. The ideas the speaker believes in do not take away his or her achievements in life.

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Matt Andersen posted on

"The argument you set forth can be altered and used against any prospect, and past, speakers."

That would be a logical fallacy: Appeal to Tradition. Or Two Wrongs Make a Right; take your pick. You're basically saying, "It's been done before, so it should be okay to do it again."

But besides that, it depends on the issue. Abortion is a particularly divisive issue these days, while commencement ceremonies should be celebratory and unifying.

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Anonymous posted on

Like one of the above commenters, I'm a generally liberal, pro-choice Columbia student, and a part of me strongly agrees with what Kate has to say. However, I wonder whether this kind of argument couldn't be applied to a host of other speakers in more uncomfortable ways. Last year, for instance, the Columbia College graduation speaker was a gay, renowned playwright, who spoke about being in the closet during his time at Columbia and touched on some of his relationships. Should that also be considered offensive and divisive, because of the (surely small) fraction of Columbia students who believe that homosexuality is immoral? In other words, where do we draw the line between respecting the beliefs of all students and selecting graduation speakers who are so completely inoffensive as to be utterly uninteresting?

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Lion posted on

No. I'm not saying that only because it was done in the past, it should done in the future as well (but nice try distorting my words). What I am trying to argue can be summed up in a couple of words - so fuc*ing what?

A number of reasons to support my concise yet insightful argument..

1. Just because some kids in Barnard, justly or not, are offended by the speaker doesn't mean the rest of the students are. I don't exactly what does it stand between Barnard students, but I'm sure there are a lot of barnard/cc/gs/seas students out there who support of it (or any other subject for that matter). It's not brainwashing. It's academia, allowing different perspectives, even those you don't agree with, or do not consolidate with your very liberal viewpoints, to be heard and challenged. And I'm sure Barnard can bring someone who would say what the students want to hear. but if they really believe in the students and in their skills, challenging could not hurt but only can be appreciated.

2. Give her some credit. I am sure that she's going to talk about her agenda, or some politics (don't be naive, any speaker does that). That, however, should not serve to dismiss her accomplishments. And she has a lot of them. Essentially, she's gonna talk about women empowerment, and given her position and influence she has a lot to say and to teach barnard students about.

So, relax guys and stop be so "oh, he/she got into my comfort zone, i don't feel comfortable, hence it should stop." Find a better way to deal with that, and to consider the good parts would help you further in life.

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Aristotle posted on

How nice for you that you find yourself insightful. And how unfortunate for us that you stopped being concise.

It seems you believe that if the minority of any group finds something objectionable, they should just suck it up, or something to that effect. And, if "there are a lot" of people who support a view, then everyone should be freebasing the Kool Aid. Parallel logic to the argument you would have championed throughout history as other divergent minority opinions had their beliefs or opinions shouted down or trampled on. Most likely, your small mind will feel that I'm "distorting your words". Truth is, I'm showing you a mirror. Good thing you weren't on the Supreme Court in the 50's and 60's.

If this were a matter of allowing different perspectives, then the speaker would be coming from some anti-abortion group, or Fox News or something (the author rhetorically suggests Condolezza Rice - an actual former academic), not Planned Parenthood. If you had taken the time to consider the audience (your fingers were apparently too busy mumbling on the keyboard) you'd know that this is a liberal student body. Richards will be preaching to the choir. Hardly a "different perspective".

But a commencement speaker isn't about fostering dialogue at all. This isn't a debate forum. It is a monologue - perhaps even a diatribe (certainly more likely with someone as politically loaded as Richards). Commencement isn't about anyone's "agenda", and the message to the graduating students and their families shouldn't be larded with someone's policy points. The fact that commencement speakers often violate that notion is disappointing and that we would expect them to be respectful of the occasion isn't naive.

Finally, the fact that someone is invited to by the College to represent the College in celebrating a graduating class is an implicit endorsement of their words and deeds. What the author is saying in her article is that for a place that claims (aspires?) to foster diversity of all kinds, this choice of representative is the depressing climax of a failure to foster authentic debate and respect for differing and divergent views. In that vein, I say shame on Barnard College. Hypocrites.

Lion, sadly, the tooth fairy took away the logical teeth of anything you had to say when you were in grade school. In fact, precisely the opposite of what you've asserting is in fact the reality. This isn't about anyone's "comfort zone". The punchline here is that the College chose someone to speak at Commencement who doesn't represent a different perspective, and the party line here isn't being challenged at all. Richards, more than likely, will be telling the majority of Barnard students exactly what they want to hear. After shilling her agenda (80%), she'll offer some perfunctory platitudes (20%) to the nodding graduates, she'll head home, pleased that she's notched a win for her cause. Barnard has turned the graduates hard-earned Commencement into a soap box for a cause that some of its students find morally objectionable, without any apparent regard for the collateral damage to its own community. That's sad for everyone, including those of us who agree with the things that Richards is working to achieve.

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RLTW posted on

Your open mindedness sounds appealing, but there is a major problem here. What do you think would happen if Condi Rice, Sarah Palin, Michelle Malkin or Megan Kelley were invited to speak at a graduation ceremony? All the femi-nazi's and their limp-wristed male sycophants would be wailing, gnashing their teeth, pulling their hair, making of abhorrent signs etc. It would be an end of the world scenario to the duplicitous left, regardless if there were many students who liked those women. It would be a problem that only Ted Nugent could solve, in his own All-American way. (I plan on proposing Ted for an upcoming GS graduation ceremony, we might even let him wander the Barnard campus to give the girls a thrill). So your argument about listening to other points of view fails, because the left refuse to be reciprocal. Stay tuned for news on Ted. If we ask him, he will come!!! With GUNS!!!

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RLTW posted on

Your open mindedness sounds appealing, but there is a major problem here. What do you think would happen if Condi Rice, Sarah Palin, Michelle Malkin or Megan Kelley were invited to speak at a graduation ceremony? All the femi-nazi's and their limp-wristed male sycophants would be wailing, gnashing their teeth, pulling their hair, making of abhorrent signs etc. It would be an end of the world scenario to the duplicitous left, regardless if there were many students who liked those women. It would be a problem that only Ted Nugent could solve, in his own All-American way. (I plan on proposing Ted for an upcoming GS graduation ceremony, we might even let him wander the Barnard campus to give the girls a thrill). So your argument about listening to other points of view fails, because the left refuse to be reciprocal. Stay tuned for news on Ted. If we ask him, he will come!!! With GUNS!!!

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Alternative Universe posted on

Please don't place Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, or Michelle Malkin in the same category as the honorable Condi Rice. No matter your opinion on her political views, a former Sec. of State and chair of Stanford's political science department does not deserve to be denigrated by an association with three racist ideologues.

Can't the right come up with some better names? How about Andrew Sullivan or Richard Grenell?

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Lauren Ely posted on

Thank you, Kate, for this article! As the former president of Columbia Catholic Undergraduates, I am completely in agreement with you. This would have been such an alienating speaker for all students with pro-life convictions.

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Omri posted on

Maybe Catholics shouldn't be undergraduates at Columbia if their pro-life convictions and other dubious values are so unyielding as to be incongruous with the spirit of inquiry and intellectual pursuit that makes Columbia one of our global society's preeminent universities. The speaker is a courageous leader and an admirable humanist, fighting the good fight for women's health and an enlightened culture. I suppose the university could have invited a middle-aged man who dresses in draperies, masturbates all the time for lack of any sexual enlightenment either, lives off of other people's money, and every once in a while... well, I won't go there, but absolutely everyone knows where there is. Someone like that, now, truly would have capped off my Columbia education.

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Well posted on

Look at Columbia and Barnard. Whose opinions are "unyielding," exactly? A homogeneous thinking pool isn't in "the spirit of inquiry and intellectual pursuit" just because you're on the majority's side.

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Anonymous posted on

The only "intellectual pursuit" you're interested in is your own echo.

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Anonymous posted on

If Barnard is choosing Richards to "challenge the beliefs" of some students, I would think they should have no problem asking the president of the NRA to speak next year. He would definitely challenge the beliefs of more students at Barnard than Richards. As someone who's spent a lot of time at several very liberal college campuses, I can attest that most administrations are very interested in superficial diversity (race, sexual orientation, etc.) but do not welcome ideological diversity. I agree that the commencement speaker should be someone who unites the graduating class, not someone who is known for presiding over 300,000 elective abortions every year.

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Lawyers, Guns, Money posted on

Ahh yes, because death by gun>>> abortion, any day, amirite?

As someone who has spent plenty of time on very liberal college campuses, and on incredibly conservative ones, I can tell you administrators of both find guns to be ridiculous outlets for white rage and racism.

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A Counterpoint posted on

As someone who is personally against abortion rights, I understand the author's thesis; however, commencement is never about the speaker. It is a celebration of the graduating seniors and the work that they have done. The speaker does not matter in my honest opinion.

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Katherine posted on

I've been thinking about this same thing. But, I think there's also value to choosing Richards in that she's an example of a woman who's career path has identified her as a resilient leader.

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Anonymous posted on

The choice of Cecile Roberts as commencement speaker represents not only a political issue but also, and more importantly, a human issue.

Regardless, it is a reflection of the college's leadership that she was chosen to speak - Deborah Spar has written a book about "the baby business."

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Anonymous posted on

Richards*

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Anonymous posted on

I totally agree with this article! I would be very upset if she was speaking at columbia college class day!

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KRYSTYNE FOX posted on

I whole heartedly agree that Cecile Richards is the wrong speaker for Barnard's commencement.

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Ben Sweetwood posted on

A perfectly constructed article. Thanks for standing up and saying something Kate. You eloquently expressed why Cecile Richards is not an appropriate figure to speak at commencement. The choice to have Richards speak is the choice to neglect and alienate the Barnard students whose beliefs are in stark contrast to hers.

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Anonymous posted on

Barnard is a feminist school with a political agenda. It makes perfect sense that a speaker supporting a feminist agenda would be chosen. Students, prospective or otherwise, need to take that into account.

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Anonymous posted on

Feminism is extremely broad and need not always include abortion as an inaliable right.

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Laura Quinn posted on

Kate I could not agree with you more.

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Tyler Dratch posted on

Wow! I completely disagree with the politics here, but this article is really well written. I think that there is a bigger issue here, though. Instead of us trying to white wash the list of potential list of commencement speakers, shouldn't there simply be a way for us to listen to a speaker without endorsing their political views. Perhaps this is more difficult because Columbia/Barnard has more liberal speakers than Conservative.

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Anonymous posted on

If you don't believe in abortion, don't get an abortion. Just because some Planned Parenthood locations have this procedure available, doesn't mean that Richards would get one herself. You seem to be equating a small portion of the work of her organization with her individual morality. Who knows what she would do personally. She simply believes in choice. A woman's body is her own. Hopefully Richards will give an inspirational speech free from politics - simply encouraging all Barnard graduates to pursue their dreams and find happiness in this world.

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Anonymous posted on

Richards surely can't think that abortion is immoral if she raises money to enable them. But that's not the point: Richards is free to think and do as she choses. The trouble is how much work she has done to enable an act that Kate and other students consider reprehensible: the equivalent of murder to some students! That's a tough pill to swallow and much tougher than a politician who's spent her time on a variety of causes. Richards has made availability of abortion one of the central focuses of her career.

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Anonymous posted on

It's sad that you think that abortion is one of the central focuses of Richards' career. Like this article states, Planned Parenthood provides all sorts of health care for women - abortion being a very small part of their work. Yes, she believes in choice - because no one should tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body - but more importantly, her mission is to give all women the tools to stay healthy. That should be the focus of this discussion.

You state, "Richards surely can't think that abortion is immoral if she raises money to enable them." This comment is jumping to conclusions without any basis of knowledge. I am a woman who would never have an abortion. I don't believe it's right. But who am I to judge another woman's decision? It's completely personal and circumstantial. This procedure should not be controlled by the government. Richards may (or may not) feel the same about the procedure itself, but she certainly knows that a woman's body should not be under the control of old white men in Washington. None of us know her personal opinions and as a result, type of judgements like yours are uncalled for.

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Anonymous posted on

Um, terrible argument. "If you don't believe in murder, don't murder people."

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Correct me if I am wrong posted on

but she's not forcing abortion on anyone, just providing the means for women who choose to have an abortion (for whatever their personal and therefore valid reasons). Is it so wrong to provide a service? I think it's going too far to claim she is responsible for the 'massacre' of lives, without going into the semantic argument of what is a life etc etc.

Ultimately, an institution is going to do what they will. Some student input must have been taken into the consideration of the speaker, I doubt this was completely done by the administration.

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Daniella posted on

Great article Kate!!

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Anonymous posted on

To anyone saying this is a bad argument that can be made for any speaker are you kidding? Look at who the Ivy's invite to speak they are clearly "leaders" without the inherit political bias or issue bias of this speaker. Perfect examples include Oprah Winfrey at Harvard last year or the famous playwright who spoke at Columbia.. the president is the president hahaha come on how is that even a valid point he's not even supposed to represent "party" rather "the public will" which is how the founders intended his role to be thats why he is so embedded in public ceremony and speaks at events from town hall opening ceremonies to other things so that argument is so stupid this is obviously a special case.

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Anonymous posted on

Thanks for this op-ed, Kate. This needed to be said. I'm politically moderate and pro-choice, but I'm very disturbed by how blindly everyone has embraced this speaker. The simple fact is that abortion is an incredibly divisive issue (regardless of all the other work Planned Parenthood does). But everyone seems to ignore simple consideration for their classmates and has self-righteously rushed to champion Richards. Very disappointed with my peers, as well as with dspar and Hinkson.

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Moderate, Schmoderate posted on

Claiming to be a "political moderate" is the distinguishing mark of a Republican attempting to appear reasonable, and as your comment progresses, this disguise gets thinner and thinner. Considering only 15-20% of the general US population thinks abortion should be banned in all cases—much less the far more educated and all female student body of Barnard—the issue is hardly divisive. Rather, the pro-life crowd has done its best (which, for them apparently, includes taunting women on their way into clinics and plastering graphic photos of fetuses throughout public spaces) to make the issue appear that way.

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BC'12 alum posted on

fetuses aren't people. women in crisis are. nobody is making anyone get an abortion. planned parenthood provides options. having options and access to better your own life is a basic human right. cecile roberts is in a position to protect and preserve human liberty, and that should ALWAYS be celebrated.

by your logic, barack obama, my commencement speaker, has "massacred" considerably more people, seeing as he has facilitated massive military operations against civilians. using drone strikes, i may add, which is possibly the most cowardly way possible to wage war. and lets not forget about the implied support of the syrian and egyptian regimes that murder their own people every day.

not everyone is going to agree, but everyone's beliefs should be challenged. a healthy dialogue is essential to this, something which barnard provides for all of its community. as long as that forum is there, no one should be alienated. be proud of your school for all it has done, including giving you a strong voice that you are not afraid to use (which is very evident from this article).

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Dialogue posted on

The author of this article clearly is open to a dialogue on the subject of abortion, but argues that graduation is not the time for that dialogue. Indeed, as others have noted, commencement speeches are monologues with no structural room for response or discussion. Barnard facilitate more dialogue and seek to broaden its ideological diversity to foster more lively, rigorous debate over key issues.

Your comment, for example begins with the assertion that "fetuses aren't people" - this in and of itself is the crux of the abortion debate that has been raging since before Roe v. Wade over 50 years ago. If you simply change the assertion that a fetus is not a person, your entire argument becomes reversed with very little mental effort. This is such a fundamental assumption that it deserves rigorous debate, but commencement is a poor forum for the discussion.

It is also unfair to implicitly characterize those who oppose abortion as opposing women in crisis. Pro-lifers care greatly about both the life of the unborn child and the woman who is carrying the child, and there are numerous organizations which provide a broad array of support programs for women surprised by pregnancy who have decided they cannot keep the child for themselves but are not willing to terminate the pregnancy due to personal beliefs.

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wrong posted on

a fetus is effectively a parasitic entity until about 3 months before it is born. it depends on the mother for any chance of survival, and if the mother does not want this thing, then she should have the right to get rid of it.
furthermore, a fetus does not have any conception of what life is, and therefore cannot have the will to survive. as such, it is not unethical to have an abortion. (ethics being the consciousness not to violate others' will/ right to live).
summary: this whole debate is stupid, and there are too many unwanted kids in the world as is.

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Anonymous posted on

a parisitic entity??? How do you live with yourself, gosh I'm just as pro-choice as most people on this campus but I'm not going to deny that my dad who is an OBGYN is pretty sure of the fact that at five months into pregnancy it definitely can FEEL and respond and looks like a baby hahahaha soo whatever. Yes its a choice,yes in certain situations its a valid one but really?

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Real Human Being posted on

I don't know if you get the chance to look around when you aren't navel gazing, but by most standards, we're all parasitic entities well into our teens. We all depend fundamentally on others (usually our parents) well past the time we can first walk and talk for our existence. For you to draw a line in the sand a 3 months (why not 2 months, or 3 years?) is completely arbitrary, though I hope it is safe to assume that you're uncomfortable with the idea of parents clubbing their toddlers when "they don't want this thing" anymore.

Science and medicine are in the process of finding ways to make life viable from ever earlier stages of gestation, so basing your argument on some rapidly deteriorating notion of when someone starts being a person will deliver you to where most people already are: a person is a person when they have their own unique DNA, which is at conception. The ethical and legal case for abortion therefore needs to be made on another basis.

And, in spite of whatever you might have learned in your intro philosophy class, having a "concept of life", does not define whether something is living, or that whether or not it has a will to live. That your concept of life is, "gym, tanning, laundry", for example, isn't something that we hold against you.

Summary: Your argument has not even achieved the level of being specious.

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RLTW posted on

You are why the world is going down the road it is going now. You have no sense of right and wrong, beyond what your controllers want you to think. There is NO scientific data that supports the asinine comments that you made, they are merely your OPINION> Guess what shit-sucker, I have an opinion too, and that is that people that are as abhorrent as you should be locked away for scientific "study" for the good of the world and all those in it that have the ability to think clearly. Rot in hell shitbag.

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Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster posted on

You're in for a big surprise at the end :)

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Anonymous posted on

Although I do agree that it would be much more pleasant at commencement to pick a less polarizing speaker, I question what it might say about the intention of commencement to 'censor' (there may be a better choice of word here) the selection of a speaker based on that speaker's ideology. Ms. Richards is an influential woman and in the world, people who are influential are those who have challenging ideas that have at one point or another pushed boundaries and displaced people from their comfort zones. Be these ideas for the objective better or worse of society, or these boundaries and comfort zones founded and reasonable, I cannot definitively say, but I do not think it should matter. Every year we should hope to pick an influential person to speak at our commencement to testify to the power of education in his or her life and the power it will have in ours to lead us down a road so passionate and equipped that we too might be influential -- or at least that we might have the faculties to handle critically and effectively the influences around us. And so, as commencement is a celebration of our education -- our development of critical thinking and reason in approaching uncensored information and ideas of the world we have purposefully sought out during our four years here -- and the arrival of a time when that education is to be put into action, it seems strange to me that on the day of commencement, the very beginning of the call of our education into action, we would ask that we be spared the struggle of confronting a difference in ideology. I too find it unpleasant and off-putting that such a divisive and charged figure is going to be uniting Barnard's class of 2014, but I also feel that the true unity of the class of 2014 is in the education each member has received and now has at her disposal to critically encounter ideas, not in the choice of speaker. Further, we might see not where Ms. Richards differs from us, but rather how she might be similar in her passion, ambition, and employment of her education to carry the former two out. These similarities are the qualities we might see on the pedestal speaking at commencement, not her ideology. Beyond this, it is our responsibility as those celebrating our education to reconcile our ideas with those of the speaker, to be as open minded and welcoming to a woman with a cause as this piece asks Barnard to be toward an audience, to recognize that her influential ideas and actions are a sample of those we will face in a world beyond the walls of Barnard, and that of all days of our college career, commencement is the day we might be most called upon to do so. I understand and empathize with the opinion held in this piece, but I respectfully disagree.

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Anonymous posted on

But haven't they censored (as you've called it) implicitly? By picking Richards, and not Ann Coulter or some neo-con who's view differs from the mainstream of the student body, faculty, and administration, we've chosen to not to push boundaries or "confront a difference in ideology". In this context, seems strange to hold the idea that the small minority of students here who are pro-life are the ones who should be expected to busily "reconcile our ideas with those of the speaker", that we should be expected to "struggle confronting a difference in ideology" (as if we haven't been doing that our entire time at Barnard).

To some extent, I agree with you that there are certainly attributes in Richards' character and achievement that we can see to identify with, and even emulate (though that has limits - some earlier responder posted about Hitler, and I suppose that even the worst tyrants of history must have had some redeeming quality that we could identify with and see to emulate - but should they speak at commencement?).

Richards' ideology is not challenging within the walls of Barnard. If the commencement speaker is to challenge our thinking, then they should be challenging the thinking of the majority, not a minority. If the point of the speaker is to challenge our thinking, then she's obviously unqualified. I'm not even sure that challenging our thinking should be the aim in this context, in fact I think it shouldn't be. So ultimately, I'm with you that it is unfortunate that Richards was selected.

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Columbia Right to Life posted on

If any of you are interested in discussing this issue and a possible course of action to raise awareness with administration, come to the Columbia Right to Life meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) night at 8:00 pm in Hamilton 407. We too agree that graduation should be a time of unity rather than division. Love this article!

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ree4@columbia/edu posted on

The writer has no idea what Richards will talk about. She may not talk about abortion rights at all. The writer is suggesting that Ms. Richards be un-invited simply because of her job and political views. In fact, she should be welcomed as a woman who is spending her life fighting for what she believes in. And why not have students demand that "a Palestinian social justice crusader" be invited to speak at Barnard? The fact that one voice is suppressed should not lead us to suppress another. The idea of education is to hear and consider views different from your own so that your world view is expanded.

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Conservative posted on

If you are questioning this article as a liberal, ask yourself how you would feel if someone polarizing from the opposite perspective were to speak at commencement. Perhaps we could get the President of the NRA or the someone in the pro-life movement.

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But posted on

But at the same time, she is also an advocate of women's health and rights in general. She has a reason to speak at a women's college without ever mentioning abortion. Your examples have essentially no accomplishments that translate to being a qualified speaker at Barnard commencement. Not saying she should be, but definitely a lot more reasonable than the NRA president

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Anonymous posted on

commencement speeches are usually about facing the challenges you will encounter in the future with your head held high, something that richards has undeniably done and is therefore qualified to impart some advice about. I'm sure richards will be a great speaker considering that she is an extremely successful woman who has faced huge challenges in her chosen career path. whether or not she believes abortion is an inalienable right or not is irrelevant, just as your beliefs on the matter are irrelevant. commencement is not about political beliefs. commencement is about celebrating graduation and the future. stop being dumb and butthurt over it.

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RLTW posted on

David Duke fits that description as well, remember lefty, keep an open mind! You might not like his Klan message, but he could really impart some wisdom about holding ones head high in the face of adversity. Wake up stupid, your argument reeks of camel shit.

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Josh posted on

My instinct is to sympathize with your basic claim, but when taken to its logical extreme, it is easily reduced to the absurd. Was President Obama too polarizing of a personality to speak at Barnard commencement? Do many republicans not find a number of the policies that his administration has promoted to be morally repugnant? At the Barnard commencement two years ago, President Spar celebrated the advances in stem cell research and legislation protecting that research. Was she in the wrong in preaching in defense of a particular view about a "polarizing" political issue?

So two points:

(1) Barnard has a mission that is more politicized than you are willing to submit. Promoting women's rights and gender equality invariably involves defending some controversial moral and political viewpoints.

(2) Except for the founders of UNICEF, nearly everyone who has accomplished something in life is a polarizing personality. "If everybody loves you, something is wrong."

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Josh posted on

My instinct is to sympathize with your basic claim, but when taken to its logical extreme, it is easily reduced to the absurd. Was President Obama too polarizing of a personality to speak at Barnard commencement? Do many republicans not find a number of the policies that his administration has promoted to be morally repugnant? At the Barnard commencement two years ago, President Spar celebrated the advances in stem cell research and legislation protecting that research. Was she in the wrong in preaching in defense of a particular view about a "polarizing" political issue?

So two points:

(1) Barnard has a mission that is more politicized than you are willing to submit. Promoting women's rights and gender equality invariably involves defending some controversial moral and political viewpoints.

(2) Except for the founders of UNICEF, nearly everyone who has accomplished something in life is a polarizing personality. "If everybody loves you, something is wrong."

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Anonymous posted on

Well written, well said. Barnard is home to a diverse crowd, and it seems we are often running into issues like this one. Tonight I was walking on campus and noticed a banner hanging on the front of Barnard Hall that reads, 'Stand for justice, stand for Palestine.' Why allow such a controversial banner to hang on the front of the very first building one sees when they walk onto our campus? Should Barnard's pro-Israel prospective students, students, and faculty have to feel alienated on a simple stroll through campus? And yet, on Israeli Independence Day, Barnard certainly smiles upon decoration and celebration at school. Its hard to reconcile differing views, but the multiplicity of perspectives and thirst to learn on this campus is why many of us chose Barnard, and these are inclinations we must hang onto even when it seems inconvenient.

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oh but wait posted on

Barnard administrators have removed a banner with the words "Stand for Justice, Stand for Palestine" that hung Monday on the front of Barnard Hall.

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Barnard Parent posted on

Thank you for your thoughtful piece, Kate! I am surprised by and profoundly disappointed in the selection of this year’s commencement speaker by an institution I care deeply about. It is an insensitive choice, particularly when the issues are not just political, but moral.

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Absurd posted on

Cecile Richards's organization, as you note, first provides contraceptives and family planning advice to its patients: they actively attempt to prevent abortions from occurring in the first place. They draw your ire, apparently, when, instead of turning women away to the back-alley, they choose to ensure the safety and health of their patients during an abortion procedure.

Is it not sinisterly comical that you would approve of Cecile Richards if her and her organization, instead of providing a safe outlet for an inevitable procedure, forced women to seek out highly-dangerous and life-threatening alternative means of terminating a pregnancy?

I think the question we should be asking instead is why someone's religious beliefs give them the right to never be offended and to obligate the rest of society to act in accordance with these beliefs, which themselves are born from a church that systematized/institutionalized pedophilia and consistently supported the Third Reich before, during, and after the Holocaust.

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Nonsense! posted on

Why must you assume that the alternative to an abortion is getting a procedure done in a back alley or motel in Mexico? There is nothing "inevitable" about that at all. There are several decisions that take place that lead to an abortion happening. It isn't a law of nature. That Planned Parenthood provides contraceptives is evidence, I think, that we all basically agree that we should do what we can to avoid abortions.

What is sinisterly comical is that you are assuming that the alternative to an abortion in an abortion clinic is an abortion behind a bar next to a dumpster. Are you really that narrow?

You cannot possibly imagine that a comparable figure from the opposite side of the abortion debate would be invited, much less received with open arms, as a commencement speaker in this community. What I bet you can imagine is that you'd be leading the charge against such a speaker. And inasmuch as this is true, it is evidence that you lack integrity.

Freedom of speech, for better and worse (and it is for both) means that we'll all be offended by things that we hear and see in our society (though freedom of speech does have limits). But while some of the people who have responded here have misconstrued the author's piece with arguments about free speech, the main point the author makes is that commencement is a place to unite, not alienate people, and President Spar and her administration seem not to have made that a priority.

You appear to have missed the point, and instead recognized this as a chance spew vindictive nonsense about Catholics - including, apparently, that anyone who holds religious beliefs is Catholic, whether they realize it or not, or want it, or not (I'm not, and don't want to be, for the record).

I'm sorry for whatever it is in you past that has made you come unhinged, but it is time to reel yourself in, and get yourself checked out. It gets better.

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Absurd posted on

Well, I'm glad you created a fictional alternative scenario, determined my behavior, and then tried my character as lacking integrity in less than two bungled sentences.

As for the "vindictive nonsense", I'd challenge you to refute the existence of Reichskonkordat, the Church's role in the spread of HIV/Aids in Africa (where the former Pope and church leaders have continually advocated against the distribution of contraceptives that would quite directly save lives), or the Church's institutionalization of child abuse.

If the mere mention of the truth counts as "unhinged" then I suppose I'm guilty as charged.

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Anonymous posted on

Well said. As a Barnard graduate and progressive, I also agree that commencement is no place for such a speaker. Another disappointment by the Spar administration.

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Nino Rekhviashvili posted on

...Abortion isn't a controversial issue, despite what you hear in the papers, and Barnard acknowledges that. I love my school.

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Nino Rekhviashvili posted on

I amend my last comment. I love my school most of the time. http://www.columbiaspectator.com/news/2014/03/11/students-justice-palestine-banner-advertising-israeli-apartheid-week-removed-barnard

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Anonymous posted on

Perfect example of someone living in a leftist bubble. According to Gallup, 58% of Americans oppose abortion in all or most cases.

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Out of the ass posted on

http://www.gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx

Here is a link to a bevy of Gallup statistics that completely refute your "claim". In fact, the percentage of Americans who support abortion in any case is consistently higher than those who oppose it in all cases, and the majority of americans support abortion in at least some circumstances.

As a Republican, I'm embarrassed by your willingness to lie to support a good, worthwhile cause.

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Anonymous posted on

Wow, seems as though you have no idea how to read your own table. Legal only in a few circumstances: 38%. Illegal in all circumstances: 20%. 38%+20%=58%. Hence, my comment that 58% of Americans oppose it in "all or most cases". Great job refuting me.

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Nino Rekhviashvili posted on

You completely missed my point, and that's my fault. Its not a controversial issue because abortion isn't an issue up for interpretation. The controversy is a result of patriarchal resistance against a woman having agency over her own body. That's not up for debate, its fact.

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Curly Bill posted on

Step 1). Place hands on butt cheeks. 2) Spread butt cheeks (wide as possible) 3) With a high level of force from neck and upper back, violently yank head that is impacted in rectum. a) repeat as many times as necessary until cranium is free from rectum, this may take some work, especially for deep impact situations as yours seems to be, but keep at it; with enough force your head WILL come out of your ass. 4) Now that you have your head out of your fat ass, take a deep breath and look around you! Now take note to what is going on in the world, you ignorant, moronic jackass!

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RLTW posted on

http://www.sunnipath.com/library/Articles/AR00000268.aspx

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Thrilled about Cecile! posted on

Apologies you feel alienated. You are probably in the very very minority at Barnard/Columbia.

Not saying your disappointment doesn't matter but, a bastion of feminist thought like Barnard, inviting a representative of one of the most necessary ideals (birth control, in the form of contraception and/or abortion) of feminism and women's progression from indentured slaves of their biology previously and, today, still in many parts of the world, is NOT an alienating experience for MOST students - abortion feels deeply divisive to you but it hardly makes the list of top ten ideas that divide the Barnard community.

Again, not invalidating your disappointment but rather helping you perspectivize this. It is natural that Barnard chooses the likes of Obama, Clinton, Steinem, and Richards.

And to the people in the comments calling abortion the "killing of innocent children" - dramatic. Do you spend an iota of your time thinking of a world where not one woman has the ability to terminate her own pregnancy?! Do you know what a world like this (hint: saudi arabia) looks like?! It most certainly does not like a place where Barnard would flourish, I promise.

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Emily Hough-Kovacs BC '14 posted on

I'm pro-choice, and a complete liberal on virtually all social topics, and I agree with this 100%. While I'm thrilled to hear Cecile Richards speak, commencement is a time to celebrate our accomplishments, and I know many families and friends of differing opinions will be in attendance. When we do have a diversity of opinions on such a deeply emotional topic, why cause unnecessary conflict on a day that is supposed to be full of joy and celebration?

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trying to understand posted on

I agree with the article. I'm liberal, pro-choice, but had this exact thought when I heard the news. I tried to imagine Barnard's reasoning (surely they know this issue is divisive!). Here's what I came up with: 1) Richards should be embraced by virtue of the fact that she is an accomplished, professional, "powerful" woman. 2) Rounding out the record of speakers; maybe we haven't had a health care leader in a while?

In regard to 1, it's pretty sad if we're taking any accomplished woman. Should be enough of them out there by now that Barnard can be selective in terms of message, etc. And regard to 2, it shouldn't be about speaker line-up through the years, should be about the day itself.
Can't think of any other reasons Barnard would have justified their obvious knowledge that people would be uncomfortable with this...

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MAC posted on

Well said and I couldn't agree more, except one item: I do not believe it's at all true that abortions are minority of services provided: it is the main service PP provides.

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MAC posted on

To clarify, PP self-reports that only 3% of services provided are actual abortions but these procedures generate 50% or more of most of their clinics income. I think I read something like 40% of the abortions done in the US are done a PP clinic. Over 320,000 abortions in 2011. NOT the same thing as handing out condoms and other birth control.
While I wouldn't exactly label Barnard a bastion of family values, this is still a shocking choice. It's as if the school is telling those who have pro-life leanings or a strong moral stance that their views don't matter or are less valuable than those who believe the opposite. I believe it would be enough to make me boycott my own graduation.

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Dr. Robert Schwartz posted on

Although our country currently festers with many immoral laws and trends, the most obnoxious to the few students and adults who think is the act of abortion. It is an abomination that all who respect the authorship of all life must condemn without restriction. Those who, like Richards, reject the moral dogma of life itself, do so ever so blithely, considering the snuffing out of a human life a mere trifle. They stomp out also their humanity, and as the women choose this option, they destroy an integral part of their humanity, viz., their own health of both body and mind. These results have been both verified and publicized, yet what have the Richardses done to offer real health to these often desperate women? Texas is one of the growing number of states that require a sonogram just before the slaughter of the innocents. It also requires doctoral access to a nearby hospital that is qualified to assist in case of emergencies. These are some of the checks and balances to protect the health of women. These are the examples of authentic concern for the health of women. Where is Richards on these? Where are the rest of the "women's health" advocates that advance abortion and contraception as "women's health issues" that mandatory health insurers must cover, a ruling included in the ACA, which, passed as it was by but one political party, reflects an anti-feminine bias, favoring destruction over construction?

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