Students on both sides of the debate about the legal abortion attended the event, which was limited to the first 150 students who picked up tickets. As of Wednesday night, four thousand people had watched The Gavel’s Facebook livestream of the talk.
The event sparked controversy across campus over the past week and a formal protest was organized on Facebook. Students encouraged peers in the Facebook event page “Speaker Protest: Lies Feminist Tell,” to protest by wearing pink colors and speaking out during the Q&A portion of the event.
Hawkins kicked off her talk, which lasted about 70 minutes, by giving some background on her childhood. She described growing up in a small town in West Virginia and her close relationship with her father who was the main “driver” in her life, pushing her to get a college education.
Hawkins said she self-identified as a feminist in her younger years, but made it clear that she does not feel the same way now, stating that the feminist movement does not want her because she is pro-life. To demonstrate her point, Hawkins pulled out a model fetus and large needle to model what she described as a “heart attack abortion.”
Following this point, Hawkins began to describe the five lies that she accuses feminists of telling to the general public. The five lies were:
#1. Sex is without consequences.
#2. Contraception is necessary for the advancement of women.
#3. Abortion is needed for women to attain goals.
#4. Abortion is safe and easy.
#5. The Equal Rights Amendment will make women equal to men.
In her explanation of the first two lies, Hawkins emphasized that pregnancy is a natural consequence of sex. She also condemned the use of birth control on the basis that it is a chemical carcinogen and that it is making women more like men, thus supporting a male-dominant society.
“I reject the fact that I have to take carcinogenic drugs for decades to prohibit a natural function of my body in order to be equal to my husband,” said Hawkins.
This statement prompted a response from a member of the audience and from those commenting on the live stream, questioning why Hawkins feels forced to take birth control pills.
In addressing the third lie, Hawkins said that when someone says “your body, your choice” to a pregnant woman who is considering her options, they are actually saying get an abortion. Hawkins also stated that women choose abortion because they feel they have no other choice, not because they feel empowered.
Throughout the speech, Hawkins continuously returned to her belief that feminism promotes the idea that birth control and abortion is necessary for equality or empowerment.
When talking about the final lies, Hawkins proclaimed that abortions are an economic industry, with Planned Parenthood holding the spot as leading vendor, and refuted the Equal Rights Amendment. Hawkins stated that the ERA, which would guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex, would cement Roe vs. Wade and thus truly means “Everything Related to Abortion.”
In concluding, Hawkins stated that more often than not, she does not feel like a feminist, although her life is a testament to what first and second wave feminists wanted.
The highly anticipated Q&A portion of the event lasted 40 minutes. However, there was still a long line of students waiting who did not have a chance to voice their questions.
Some of the questions included: Why the use of the term pro-abortion in place of pro-choice? If you found your daughter using birth control, would you think of her as less of a woman? If made illegal, should women be punished if they have abortions?
Hawkins' responses left the majority of the audience unsatisfied. She did not directly address or answer many of the questions and turned the questioning onto the student speakers in multiple instances. At least one student became emotional during her exchange with Hawkins.
One distinct example of this type of exchange occurred when Hawkins responded to a question on how she reconciles her pro-life beliefs with President Trump’s anti-life policies, such as family separation of immigrants arriving at the border and failure to act on gun control legislation.
Hawkins, who served on President Trump’s Pro-Life Advisory Council, did not address how she reconciles these conflicting beliefs. Instead, Hawkins intensely questioned the student about why she cares about the danger of an immigrant mother and child crossing the border, but does not care about a fetus being aborted.
Another question asked about a controversial topic within the pro-life community: is there an exception for survivors of sexual assault? Hawkins believes there is no exception, commenting on the importance of remaining consistent in her philosophy. She said that abortion in cases of rape only creates more violence.
The final question asked was on how Hawkins stays so firm and positive in her beliefs when there is so much hate and disrespect. Hawkins answered that she gets through it all by knowing that she is fighting for justice and is a part of the largest human rights movement our world has ever known.
“Victory is coming, but we just have a lot of work to do,” said Hawkins.
No further questions were allowed.
Several students were lined up outside of the lecture hall holding signs in protest. Although there were some open seats, they were not allowed into the room without tickets. Tickets were free, however, access was limited to the first 150 people who picked them up from the box office prior to the event.
The Boston College Police Department asked several students who did not have tickets to clear the area outside of Higgins 300, the lecture hall in which the talk took place.
One student, Cam Fisher, MCAS ‘20, refused to leave after BCPD told her they had to clear the space due to security concerns. A video was posted in the “Speaker Protest: Lies Feminists Tell” Facebook page showing her exchange with BCPD officers and Dean of Students Tom Mogan from a distance, without catching their dialogue.
In a conversation with The Gavel the next day, Fisher said that she refused to leave because there was no evident security risk and as a student, she had a right to be present in the building. She said that BCPD asked to see her student and government identification, which she provided.
According to Fisher, students were informed that staying in the hallway risked a note on their permanent school record that would impact future housing and graduate school applications. Although several students left following this exchange, Fisher said six students remained, including a couple of students from Boston University who heard about the talk. At the end of the event, a few people held up small signs in support of abortion rights as attendants exited.
“I’ve taken a lot of thought as a consumer about where I’m putting my energy and funds to,” said Fisher, explaining that she did not try to get a ticket for the event. Although it was free, she was not interested in hearing Hawkins talk and did not want to indirectly support the event through her participation.
The organized protest has created a feedback form that will be presented to the Office of the Dean of Students one week after the event.
Those interested in learning more about reproductive health may find research-based information and available resources at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Planned Parenthood websites.
News editor Maura Donnelly also contributed to this article.