Articles fail to present holistic perspective

Two recent articles in the Cynic, “The Right to Choose in Trump’s America” and “Abortion in Trump’s America,” focus on abortion.

Although the authors of each article effectively deal with this critically important issue, the first article contains information that needs clarification, while the second article contains a statement that is both unfounded and dangerously inflammatory.

In “Right to Choose,” the author details that the failure rate for people who use condoms to prevent pregnancy is 18 percent and birth control pills are “only 91 percent effective.”

It is true that in common usage of male condoms and the pill, unwanted pregnancies occur at “undesirably high” levels. But if standard medical guidelines (“perfect use”) are followed, the combined hormonal contraceptive pill is 99.7 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, and the male condom can be as high as 98 percent effective.

The male condom has the additional advantage of preventing STD transmission, an important aspect not shared by (most) other contraceptive methods.

Further, if the female diaphragm is used in conjunction with “perfect” usage of the male condom, the 2 percent failure rate of the latter is significantly reduced.

Yes, compromised spontaneity may diminish the intimate experience, but it should be balanced against the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy.

In “Abortion in Trump’s America,” the author states that “Republicans do not care about the unborn.”

I know of no factual basis for such a statement and I think it likely that many Republicans would argue that they care more about the unborn child than those who advocate for abortion without restriction.

But the real danger of this statement lies in the fact that it pours fuel onto the flames of division in America at a time when the level of polarization nationwide is already at epidemic levels.

Respect for alternative viewpoints will never be achieved by adopting the attitude that “my view is 100 percent correct and all other viewpoints are either stupid or naive.”

Although there is no guarantee that trying to find common ground with those who hold different viewpoints or beliefs will succeed, the wisdom of the respected American novelist James Baldwin is worthy of consideration: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

If UVM students graduate without obtaining a holistic understanding of the great social, biological and political issues of our times, one of the University’s most fundamental missions will have tragically failed.

Gerry Silverstein

Former UVM Lecturer of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

Former Chair of the Faculty Senate and the Student Affairs Committee