WA students immerse themselves in an abortion debate

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WA students immerse themselves in an abortion debate

Students discussing the topic of abortion

Students discussing the topic of abortion

Students discussing the topic of abortion

Students discussing the topic of abortion

Anushka Patil, Staff Writer

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On Tuesday, March 19, 2019, a debate on the different perspectives of abortion was held in the lecture hall at Westford Academy from 2:00 to 3:00 pm. At the debate, students from all grade-levels gave their opinion on how abortion should be addressed in society. Advising the debate was Lynn Bonakdar, an English teacher at Westford Academy.

The debate started as a project for the Transcendentalism unit in Bonakdar’s English 11 Honors class. In her class, projects based on social action ranged from an anti-vaping campaign to an Instagram campaign for mental health advocacy.

“I actually let my students control the organization of the debate. It was their project, so I wanted to let them pretty much have complete autonomy. So, my role as the teacher was to sit back and step in if they really needed the support, but otherwise, the students organized it,” Bonakdar said.

The abortion debate was organized by three of her students named Conor Bellone, Tassie Cimini, and Allison Wakefield. The project was assigned to them around a month ago, and since then, the students have been researching whether abortions should or should not be allowed.

Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy. There has been many debates and controversies as to whether a woman should or should not have the option to abort. The controversy divided many into two major groups based on how different people view abortion.

People who belong to the pro-life side of the debate believe that unborn children have rights. Many of these people believe abortion is a form of murder and that abortion is unethical.

On the other side of the debate are the people who belong to the pro-choice group. Pro-choice believes that women have the right to decide to have an abortion based on whether they can take care of a child or not.

Bellone, Cimini, Wakefield had organized their debate by breaking it up into sections based on the subtopics associated with abortion.

“They gave an introduction by introducing themselves, the purpose of the debate, and what sides they were each going to be representing. Then, they did about ten minutes of debate and after opened it up for free discussion. After some discussion, they came back to more debate between the three of them on a different subtopic and then opened it to the audience once again,” Bonakdar said.

For the hour that the debate was held, different approaches to abortion were brought up and discussed by Bellone, Cimini, and Wakefield, as well as other students.

“You should not be punished for destructive behavior. The baby should not bear the punishment to be alive. The baby is alive and has a life. There is a life in there,” sophomore Micah Smith said.

Cimini shared her feelings on how a mother reacts to her baby once the child is born.

“I remember my mother telling me that when she first saw me it was love at first sight. I think when a mother gives birth to her child, she will realize that she wants to keep the baby rather than destroy it,” Cimini said.

People participating in the debate shared their opinion that a mother has the right to choose what to do with her baby before the baby can feel the pain or be considered a child with rights. Junior Kavya Desikan felt that an abortion should take place before the twenty-three week mark.

“At twenty three weeks, they don’t need their mother to provide the nutrients from the amniotic. They have lungs and a fully functioning brain. They have limbs they can control, even if they have dementia or a terminal illness they are still able to perform two basic processes that determine someone alive such as breathing and blinking… It doesn’t need to be attached to a human in order to survive,” Desikan said.

At the end of the debate, Bellone, Cimini, and Wakefield ended with a concluding statement.

“No matter the side that you are on, you can still work with the people who are opposing you to build a better perspective of your own point,” Wakefield said.

Bellone was proud of the end result of the debate and felt that it was successful. He believes that the audience was respectful of all the opinions present at the discussion.

“I am glad we were able to get people to come and discuss. I am happy that there was no fighting. For me, the main point is when does life begin and when the government should regulate it […] I enjoyed the amount of passion present and how there was never a point where someone was being mean-spirited,” Bellone said.

Audience members also felt that the debate was effective. Junior Meghna Vasiraju enjoyed the abortion discussion.

“I thought it was a really interesting conversation to have because we don’t usually talk about that kind of stuff at school. I like being able to talk about controversial topics with people in this type of environment […] I thought it was organized well. I liked how the three people at the front were monitoring the discussion […] I loved how respectful everyone was while discussing the varying opinions,” Vasiraju said.