“Difficult Dialogues” considers abortion rights.

Lynn Morgan, Mary E. Woolley Professor of Anthropology

On the December 10 Difficult Dialogues program, Mount Holyoke College President Lynn Pasquerella discussed recent controversies surrounding abortion rights, including the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, and efforts to restrict access to women’s reproductive rights.

Pasquerella spoke with Lynn Morgan, Mary E. Woolley Professor of Anthropology at Mount Holyoke, and Marlene Gerber Fried, professor of philosophy and faculty director of the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program at Hampshire College.

Morgan sees the June 2014 Hobby Lobby decision—which said that some corporations with religious owners could be exempted from providing their employees with insurance coverage for contraceptives—as part of a larger strategy by conservatives.

“The Hobby Lobby decision isn’t about abortion per se, but it shows that some conservative activists are trying to push back not just on abortion, but on a range of other services, including something as basic as contraception,” said Morgan. “This was a battle that we as feminists thought had been won a long time ago, but it’s clearly not the case now.

In the half-hour segment on Amherst Media, Pasquerella, Fried, and Morgan also discussed efforts to characterize emergency contraception as a means to abortion, and why both sides consider the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision a weak one, among other topics.

Morgan characterized the complex societal debates around abortion as fundamentally “a discussion about rights—who owns them and whose rights are going to take precedence.”