As a part of Undiscussed’s new lecture series, Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America (SFLA), came to speak at the College last night. She delivered a presentation about the merits of being pro-life. The presentation was followed by a question and answer session.

Before Hawkin’s presentation,  a group of about a dozen students lined the steps of Sills Hall holding pro-choice posters and  messages about Hawkins’ visit.

Hawkins lecture was funded by the Student Activities Funding Committee (SAFC). According to Director of Student Life and the David Saul Smith Union Allen Delong, the funds the committee allocates are made up of student contributions including tuition and the student activity fee all students pay at the start of every semester.

Although Delong was unable to provide exact prices, he did acknowledge that the amount of money used to bring Hawkins was more than SAFC is planning on using next week to bring the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) speakers to campus.

“We did pay a disportionate amount to Kristan,” said Quinn Rhi ’15, co-president of Undiscussed.

Delong and Rhi both said that this was due to the structure of the organizations.

“She’s the president of a national organization; she’s flying around. The ACLU has a Maine chapter,” said Rhi, “I think the circumstance of the two speakers are different and the appeal, or lack thereof, is different.”

Although the SAFC reports funding allocations for every student organization, no records of the funds distributed for this event could be found by press time.

Hawkins said she was interested in the College beause of its “rich history” and good reputation and reached out to the College about speaking on campus.

“We looked at Maine and we said, Bowdoin, we want to go there. It’s an academic institution. It has a great reputation. We can get a group started there,” she said.

Hawkins also said that her main reason for coming to the College yesterday was to educate and spark discussion.

“I didn’t really come here to convert,” she said. "I came here to make people think tonight.”
SFLA is currently looking to spark a similar discussion at Bates and Colby.

Rhi said that she was approached by Delong about Hawkins. She and Undiscussed had already been thinking about starting a lecture series.

Some students said that Hawkins viewpoint is extreme even among pro-life activists, adding that Undiscussed could have chosen someone more moderate and less expensive.

“I do think there is something to be said about whether the Undiscussed could have done a better job of picking a pro-life speaker that would have appealed to Bowdoin students,” said Rhi.

Rhi said Undiscussed may have been approached by Student Activities about hosting the event because of the recent controversy with former Bowdoin Christian Fellowship.

“I think my interests in the Undiscussed aligned well with [Student Activities’] interests,” said Rhi, “They were interested in bringing this controversial, conservative viewpoint to campus to show that Bowdoin could accept conservative values.”

Rhi said that she thought the administration was interested in bringing Hawkins to campus to broaden students’ perspectives.

The students who held signs outside the lecture said that they wanted to respectfully share their own opinions about abortion and reproductive rights.

Marisa O’Toole ’17 held a sign stating “I can’t believe we are still debating this.” She said that the students were “here to peacefully express our points of view on this.”

“[We’re] not trying to do anything but let people know how we feel about it and that we stand with all women about the choices they make about their own bodies,” she added.

The protestors said that students were not unwilling to hear what Hawkins had to say.

“I think it’s good to represent both sides of these things so I commend Bowdoin for bringing someone of a different viewpoint than my own,” said O’Toole.

Jonah Watt ’18 said that he agreed with O’Toole.

“I think that it’s important to bring up diversity in our beliefs,” he said. “I think sometimes we take for granted how liberal our campus is and it’s really important to not only see the views of the other side but also engage in more open discussion.”

Hawkins framed her presentation around three ideas: biology, circumstances, and bodily rights/autonomy.

She said that all unborn babies are human and therefore have rights, and asked students in the audience when they felt humans rights began.

Hawkins used popular culture, including a reference to the movie “Up” to explain various aspects of the pro-life movement.

Following her presentation students had the opportunity to write down questions for Hawkins to answer.

Students asked questions ranging from what a woman should do in the instance of rape to whether making abortion illegal could be more detrimental to the health of many women.

Hawkins said that she understands that rape is a terrible thing, but countered with the question “Will abortion un-rape her?” She said that the right person to punish was not the unborn child but rather the rapist.

Hawkins also said that the SFLA believes abortion should only be allowed in the event of an ectopic pregnancy, which puts the mother’s life in danger.

The presentation was followed by a reception at Burnett House. Students were able to sit down with Hawkins and have a conversation about her views.

Although they may not have agreed with her, many students approached Hawkins at the reception and thanked her for sharing her views with them.