H*yas for Choice E-mail Statement to Georgetown University Right to Life
The following is an e-mail authored by H*yas for Choice co-presidents Annie Mason and Michaela Lewis, sent on September 20, 2017 in response to an invitation extended to HFC by Georgetown University's Right to Life Group (Vita Saxa) proposing a co-sponsored or co-hosted on-campus event:
Dear Havens Clark and Melvin Thomas,
Thank you for taking the time to reach out to us. While we certainly can agree that attitudes on campus have gotten increasingly hostile and charged, we think our organizations' visions on what to do with that anger and where to go from here differ fundamentally.
In the face of proposed cuts to Medicaid, the defunding of Planned Parenthood, attacks on RHNDA, the reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule, the pardoning of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the reversal of the DACA program, forthcoming changes to the birth control mandate, the perpetual devaluation of sex workers, the normalization of sexual violence, the emboldenment of Nazis and white supremacists, the vilification of trans folks, the appointment of executive officials who dismiss the gravity of violence against women, and the privatization of healthcare—all within the past 8 months—we recognize the severity of the loss and fear experienced by every single member of our organization. As an organization comprising women, queer people, Black and Brown people, trans people, indigenous people, and low-income and working class people, our members seek out H*yas for Choice as a space for refuge, empowerment, healing and action.
We acknowledge the likelihood that our organizations hold overlapping views on certain issues such as the death penalty, which your group's past leaders have repeatedly indicated as a point of common ground. We cannot in good faith, however, address one seemingly relevant social justice issue at the risk of decentering the ways in which a lack of agency and sovereignty over one’s body contributes to experiences of oppression and suffering. Systems of inequality rob marginalized people of their autonomy. Just as classism and white supremacy guide power structures to target historically antagonized populations, culminating in the disproportionate use of capital punishment against these bodies, it is these same systems that deny vulnerable communities their right to comprehensive reproductive healthcare, including safe, legal, and affordable abortion.
You have proposed that H*yas for Choice and Right to Life work to create a "more respectful relationship.” We implore you to consider the ways in which Right to Life’s mission and values disrespect the lives and humanity of our members, members of the Georgetown community, and all those whose right to agency is continually and systematically challenged and disregarded. For these reasons, we decline your request to collaborate and ask that you reflect on the ways in which your organization's annual campaigns and actions provoke pain and stigma for various communities on campus.
Annie & Michaela HFC Co-Presidents