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Paul Moreno, pro­fessor of history and dean of social sci­ences, is teaching a weekly seminar on the history of abortion this semester. About 30 stu­dents are par­tic­i­pating in the class in two sec­tions. External Affairs

Paul Moreno, pro­fessor of history and dean of social sci­ences, is teaching a seminar on the history of abortion this semester. With about 30 stu­dents enrolled, Moreno has lec­tures twice a week on Wednesdays and Fridays, and stu­dents have the option to choose which section to attend on any given week.

“The chief thing I wanted to do in this course is to give the stu­dents an accurate history of the abortion issue,” Moreno said. “That history is grossly dis­torted by law pro­fessors like Cyril Means and his­to­rians like James Mohr. Hun­dreds of pro­fes­sional his­to­rians pros­ti­tuted them­selves, signing briefs in Supreme Court cases that attested to this dis­torted history.”

Moreno requires no books and pro­vides handouts for the course but asks stu­dents to stay informed about the current events and stories around the abortion issue. He asks them to scan media sources throughout the semester, par­tic­u­larly regarding their home state, and three times throughout the semester, the stu­dents are to send him the link or pho­tocopy of the story and evaluate how the writer addresses and uses the history of the issue in the story.

“Both sides have dis­torted the history, though the pro-abortion side has done so wholesale and the pro-life side retail,” Moreno said.

Moreno cau­tions stu­dents to “believe half of what you see, and none of what you hear.”

Senior Andres Torres, who plans on going into med­icine, said he wants to under­stand the medical side of the debate.

“I want to under­stand why the practice of abortion has been endorsed by the medical com­munity,” Torres said. “As I am going to enter the medical field, I believe that I need to know about the prac­tices that I know that I will refuse to practice on a moral basis.”

For junior Megan Kerr, who is also in the seminar, the abortion issue is also extremely important and hits close to home since since she has a special needs brother.

“When I first heard about abor­tions tar­geting babies who are at risk of having special needs and devel­op­mental dis­abil­ities, I was out­raged,” Kerr said. “I feel like it is my job to fight for them and for all the preborn because the sanctity of life ought to be cel­e­brated at any and all stages.”

Kerr wanted to take the seminar to learn more about the seminal cases that have sur­rounded the issue.

“I rec­og­nized that this seminar was going to be a great way to be edu­cated on the evo­lution of the abortion debate, and I wanted to learn more about what I was fighting for,” she said.

Sophomore Bryna Destefani is also taking the course and the whole issue of abortion is par­tic­u­larly important at this time in her life.

“My husband, who is also a sophomore here at Hillsdale, and I are expecting our first child this summer. As a new mother, I am reminded that so many young women are told that abortion is their best, and almost only, option for an unplanned preg­nancy,” Destefani said.

As Destefani expe­ri­ences preg­nancy, she said she wants to be more edu­cated on the history of an issue that has been con­stantly devel­oping with new laws and under­stand how the history and debates have brought the country to this point.

“Learning about abortion prac­tices during my preg­nancy is both a chal­lenging and pow­er­fully real expe­rience. As we talk about laws con­cerning weeks and via­bility, I am expe­ri­encing these mile­stones of preg­nancy firsthand,” Destefani said. “It is such cruelty to young women to tell them that the best way to support them is to ‘ter­minate’ their child’s life, rather than sup­porting them through their preg­nancy.”  

Moreno has reg­u­larly taught U.S. history after World War II. In one of his classes when he dis­cussed Roe v. Wade, a student asked Moreno if he could teach a one-credit course just focusing on abortion history.

“And now it’s in the news every day, so it’s very timely,” Moreno said.

  • Jen­nifer Melfi

    2 things need to be answered about this class:

    1) does he teach this article: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2003/02/hitchens200302
    2) does he lay out the actual numbers of abor­tions, and the geo­gra­phies for these numbers so that people can decide for them­selves how effective par­ticular policies have been?