An open letter to Ola Switala

By Josh Schukman


I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my essay in the Mac Weekly, but I was disappointed that you answered my essay in an overly personal way. I do respect your views, but I ask that you respect mine, too. Nonetheless, I will respond to your critique as thoroughly as space will allow.

Your claims that my essay represented “na’ve anti choice moralizing” and that I was some “clueless dude” were offensive and unfounded. I’ve taken great care to ensure that I’m both educated on this topic and that I defend my views accurately. Not only did I engage in a great deal of research for this essay, I also had several of my pro-choice friends read it and offer criticism. In the end, my essay (the complete one, not the one that I cut for the MacWeekly) was the product of 4 revisions, countless discussions among my friends and me, and hours of research at such sites as NARAL, the American Medical Association, and the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform. Rather than na’ve sermonizing, I used my essay to offer my beliefs and supported those beliefs with research.

You then went on to state that my only concern for women’s health regarding abortions is to “prevent back alley abortions.” .That is absolutely false. Women should have the right to choose what happens to their bodies, unregulated abortions should not occur, women should not be made into criminals, we should staunchly support reproductive freedom, and men should be held accountable for any child they father. However, I also believe that an unborn child is endowed with a right to life – and this is why I hope we can put all of our effort into finding alternatives to abortion.

Your claim that I avoided research into birth control is untrue, but I had to cut that section from my original essay due to size constraints. Here it is: “The number of abortions can be reduced in many ways: promoting adoption, more effective sexual education, family planning, access to affordable and readily available birth control (excluding drugs, such as RU-486, that amount to abortion drugs) and, most importantly, placing more accountability on any potential father. Finally, it cannot be denied that affordable access to basic healthcare is a critical part of the solution. We must ensure that every person in the United States has ready access to family planning, birth control, and many forms of sex education.” You’ll notice this addresses your point about health care as well.

You called an unborn child a “parasitic embryo” – this was quite unsettling for me. Looking to history, it is clear that the process of taking away groups’ rights is quite simple – you take away their humanity (e.g. slaves were “property” and therefore not endowed with the same rights). I understand that we can have differing views regarding the beginnings of life, but I think you are walking a very dangerous (and, sadly, well traveled) road when you call an unborn human a parasite.

As for Amy Richards, my primary issue is that she is in a position of great influence and wrote off her decision as a matter of convenience. By characterizing abortions in this way or promoting them as a way of restoring “female body image” I believe we will see a drastic increase in the number of abortions. One million, three hundred seventy thousand abortions already occur in the U.S. each year – do we really want that number to continue growing?

I have and always will take responsibility for my own sexuality. When I father a child, I will be an active part of his/her entire life. I will not do a quarter of the work, I will give everything I am to my child, and if my partner decided to abort our child, it would devastate me for the rest of my life.

I’ll conclude by making it clear that I have yet to support a law banning abortion outright (e.g. South Dakota’s attempted ban). I truly hope that we can all work together to drastically reduce the number of abortions in the United States.

Josh Schukman

P.S. How on earth does the statement “stop thinking with your cock” move us forward on this issue?

Josh Schukman ’08 can be reached at

[email protected]