As Seth Gruber kicked off his “Abortion is Genocide” speaking tour at Cal Poly Tuesday night, students gathered outside the University Union (UU) in protest for reproductive rights.
Students marched through the UU chanting “Abortion is not genocide” and “Abortion is our right,” then assembled outside room 220 where the talk took place.
According to ethnic studies senior Leilani Hemmings-Pallay, the protest was a response to Gruber’s event, who was invited to campus by the club Students for Life of America.
“Assuming that [Gruber] is a cisgender white man, he doesn’t have any connection to this at all,” Hemmings-Pallay said. “Even if he was able to [bear] children, it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t get to dictate everyone else’s right to choose. It’s just not something that’s up for debate.”
Industrial engineering sophomore Hannah Lavier said she attended Gruber’s talk because she questions if a woman’s right to choose should outweigh a child’s right to life.
Though abortion can be disruptive to the mother’s life physically, emotionally and economically, it is important to consider the child, Lavier said.
Gruber argues abortion is genocide and a fetus deserves a right to life like any other human being. He added that fetuses are dehumanized for not being considered as people.
“The commonality between different forms of genocide is the dehumanization of the victim class that the power class wants to mistreat or eliminate,” Gruber said.
Aerospace engineering freshman Milo Cohen said he disagreed with Gruber’s definition of genocide.
“I don’t think it’s fair to use the word genocide. Seth Gruber at least distorted the United Nations definition of genocide to the point that any targeted killing, even capital punishment, would be considered [as] genocide,” Cohen said. “That is too vague, too broad a definition, and I think it’s offensive to all of the groups of people who have been subjected to genocide, or any form of ethnic cleaning to use that term.”
Although, Cohen said that he would have preferred if protesters attended the question and answer portion of the talk to express their opinion on abortion rights rather than protesting.
“I think that it’s more effective at creating debate and convincing people that you are correct,” Cohen said. “I don’t think they convinced anyone … I don’t think protesting is effective.”
Hemmings-Pallay said abortion is not a topic that needs to be discussed because it should be a human right.
“I don’t think that [abortion is] something that’s up for discussion. I think that a lot of these people who want to push back against human rights, whether that’s the right to exist as a black person and not get shot by the cops, the right to have an abortion, the right to all sorts of things that should just be status quo, often times it is just ‘Oh, we just want to have a discussion, we just want to have a debate,’ but it’s never about actually having a conversation,” Hemmings-Pallay said. “It’s always about stirring the pot or hearing themselves speak.”
Correction: The protest date was updated.