abortion

Earning respect from pro-choice groups for bridge-building activities

Pro-life students are making a difference in tangible ways, even finding common ground with campus opponents, they told The College Fix at the Students for Life of America (SFLA) East Coast National Conference on Friday.

Hosted the same weekend as the March for Life in Washington, D.C., the conference drew about 2,000 millennials, according to Kristina Hernandez, SFLA communications director.

“Abortion thrives because it is in the dark,” SFLA President Kristan Hawkins told students in her speech. She encouraged them to “light candles of hope and truth” in their efforts to stop abortion in their local communities.

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Among other campus groups recognized for their pro-life activism was Mississippi State University Students for Life, which won the Pregnant on Campus Group of the Year award for its promotion of parenting and pregnancy resources.

Anja Scheib, director of the MSU chapter’s Pregnant on Campus initiative, which produces a resource guide for pregnant and parenting students, told The Fix she has been hired by the university to promote retention of pregnant students.

The MSU President’s Commission on the Status of Women sent Scheib to the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, a pro-choice group, she said.

“What I found is that we actually didn’t have any conflict because the [Pregnant on Campus] guide that Students for Life created wasn’t necessarily seen as a pro-life guide, it was just seen as a pro-women guide” by the NCCWSL, Scheib said.

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This year’s conference featured Princeton University’s Robert George, vice chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson; David Bereit of 40 Days for Life, an annual Christian campaign to end abortion through “prayer and fasting,” “constant vigil” and “community outreach”; and Lila Rose of Live Action, which conducts undercover investigations of the abortion industry.

abbyjohnson“Their whole image, the Students for Life of America, is one candle lighting up another one and then that one can light up the entire world,” said Mirna Awrow, president of Oakland University Students for Life.

“It’s hard to be the first one to speak out about [abortion] on your campus or in your community, but you never know how [many] people you can light up,” said Awrow.

Though her group has experienced vandalism of their pro-life materials, Awrow said that the overall response on campus has been positive.

Group members have “worked so hard on our reputation and students know that we are there for the women and … for babies,” even if they disagree with the group’s message, Awrow said. “We’re not out there yelling at anyone – we’re there welcoming people into our organization and students really respect that.”

Scheib and others said they saw the conference as a way to share ideas and connect with other people in the pro-life movement.

The conference “helped me because for the past couple of months I’d been just going through the motions. Now I’m getting fired back up,” said Rueben Ainsley, vice president of Students for Life at Eastern Michigan University.

College Fix contributor Mariana Barillas is a member of Students for Life at the University of Michigan-Flint.

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IMAGES: Students for Life of America, Mariana Barillas

New website from Students for Life of America centralizes local resources for those in need

Pregnant young women on campus are almost certain to hear that they must choose between their baby and their education – a “pro-choice” message with no choice at all.

Students for Life of America (SFLA) has launched a new website that combats that prevalent falsehood by connecting pregnant students with help and resources near them.

PregnantOnCampus.org is a “huge step in terms of catering to students on each individual campus,” Beth Rahal, the coordinator for the initiative, told The College Fix.

For the past two years, SFLA focused its Web information on its campus chapters and their advocacy.

But the national organization kept getting contacted by pregnant students who didn’t realize they often had access to resources on campus or the immediate vicinity, so it created a new site just for pregnant students.

The group has 838 student groups at 530 colleges. Those chapters can now advertise the page specific to their campus as well as work with health centers and campus ministries to publicize the site and the resources it points to, Rahal said.

No more running around campus for information

Those looking for pregnancy resources can click on a map at PregnantOnCampus.org and pull up their particular campus. Each campus page includes information on local resources such as childcare, food assistance, adoption, counseling and scholarships.

SFLA chapters previously had trouble keeping track of resources, so the new site keeps track of all that information, providing immediate answers for pregnant women in need.

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“If we educate pregnant students and those who care about them and want to help about the many resources they can use, a huge burden can be lifted from their shoulders,” Kristan Hawkins, president of the group, told National Review. “They can start to prepare for the future and finish their education.”

PregnantOnCampus.org will let campus groups more effectively help students, Louis Vitti, vice president of the Boston University chapter, told The Fix.

“We no longer have to send [women] running around to different offices on campus to get further referrals or information,” Vitti said. Each chapter’s page will also help train its members to “answer questions from pregnant or parenting members of our community in a clear, concise, accurate, and prompt manner.”

Fighting the perceived shame of pregnancy

The new site addresses the problem of shame that’s common among pregnant students, Treasurer Kaitlyn Cocuzzo of Fairfield University’s chapter told The Fix.

“Many campuses have amazing resources available to students that they are either unaware of, or too ashamed to ask about publicly,” Cocuzzo said. The site will connect “students in similar situations” and provide them with “confidential resources … without having to worry about the opinions of their parents and their peers.”

“Our school seems to be lacking in well-advertised pregnancy resources if any at all,” the University of Northern Colorado’s chapter told The Fix. The site will help the club “provide real alternatives to abortion” and protect mothers as well, it said.

Emotional and moral support is a crucial part of the new endeavor to reach expectant students, Sade Patterson of the University of New Mexico’s chapter told The Fix.

“We see a great need on campus for women to know that they have the support they need if they are pregnant,” Patterson said.

Not only does the new site help pregnant students “in very tangible and practical ways,” said Hawkins of SFLA – it “shows the college campus that the pro-life movement is very much pro-woman and that we all could do more to support women in crisis.”

The effects of the project are profound, according to Lauren Galvan, president and founder of Brown University’s chapter.

Beyond pointing men and women to local resources, the site is “helping to change our culture’s attitude toward pregnancy from one of impossibility and shame to one of empowerment, support, and love,” Galvan told The Fix.

Or as Rahal put it: “Yes, you can.”

College Fix reporter Mairead McArdle is a student at Thomas Aquinas College.

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IMAGES: Trevor Bair/Flickr, PregnantOnCampus.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Hundreds of thousands of people converged Thursday in the nation’s capital for the 42nd annual March for Life – and nearly two-thirds of them appeared to be under the age of 30.

Young people took part in the world’s largest civil protest against abortion in droves, showing that millennials stand strong against the 1974 U.S. Supreme Court decision that has led to more than 55 million abortions.

This year’s theme was “Every Life is a Gift,” and an estimated 500,000 attended.

One of the largest swaths of demonstrators were high school students who had been bussed in. College students and families were a close second. Moms pushed strollers. Teens held signs. Chants about the sanctity of life rang out over the mall. The metro was clogged with young faces wearing March for Life shirts. Young people excitedly cheered as they held large banners declaring their support of life.

During an intense moment of the rally, a group of pro-choice women who crashed the event chanted out “you are the brainwashed generation” as the marchers chanted back “we are the pro-life generation.”

Another popular chant among the youth in the crowd was: “Hey obama, thank yo mamma, she chose life.”

Some of the pro-abortion women who attempted to disrupt the march wore white pants with pink and red stains that covered their crotch areas and traveled down their legs. One pro-life teenage girl yelled at them incredulously: “You’re sick.”

Pro-choice protesters also attempted to block the road and halt the march. However, the incident seemed to only motivate the pro-lifers, who continued marching and chanting toward the steps of the Supreme Court.

“The young people showed that they were peaceful and stood strong in the face of adversity,” said Lauren Castillo, Rocky Mountain Regional Coordinator for Students for Life of America.

“The voices of the dozens of protesters did not and will not intimidate our ever growing and courageous pro-life generation,” she added. “The protesters did not stop the March for Life today and will not stop our efforts in the future. We will march on.”

Showing their dedication to the cause, some students drove through the night to attend the rally.

Sara Silander, a 21-year-old senior from Jacksonville, Florida, who is president of Georgia Tech Students for Life, told The Washington Times that “I have always been taught that we should respect the dignity of everyone, including the unborn. We’ve always been told to protect the minorities, the impoverished and everyone, and that is so important, but we have also include the unborn.”

Young people took to Twitter in droves to express their excitement of being part of the rally in a “pro-life tweetfest.” In addition to the pro-life hashtags, many also used #AllLivesMatter.

“Pro-life youth are not afraid to tell the world that abortion is wrong and will be ended, today we proved it!” Tweeted out ProLife Youth.

College Fix contributor Sade Patterson is a student at the University of New Mexico and vice president of its Students for Life chapter.

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Here’s more evidence that the demand for due process cuts across all political persuasions and unites those who can’t agree on anything else.

Embattled Marquette University professor John McAdams is getting support from his nemesis: a liberal theology professor that he’s called “heretical” and a “darling of the secular left.”

McAdams says at his Marquette Warrior blog that his nemesis, the pro-gay marriage/abortion/euthanasia Dan Maguire, emailed university officials and himself to protest McAdams’ treatment.

According to Maguire’s email, lawyers told him that Marquette’s punishment of McAdams for his blog post against an intolerant graduate student was a “blatant violation of due process legal requirements that exposed the university to unnecessary liabilities and risks.”

Banning McAdams from campus is “not just a ‘severe sanction'” under American Association of University Professors’ policy, Maguire wrote:

In almost half a century in the academe, I have never seen a similar punishment imposed on a professor in this “blunt instrument” fashion. The banning of the professor from campus unless he gets permission from the dean strikes me as bizarre, demeaning, and unjust. It announces on the public record that Professor McAdams is some sort of threat to the persons in this academic community…..leaving volatile suspicions in the air as to what that threat could be. …

I believe you owe us more explanation that you have given on your decision on this matter. … The incident has a chilling effect on all members and staff since it implies that due-process protections may be brittle and uncertain at this university and specifically under your presidency. It is certainly not an aid in recruiting quality faculty.

McAdams says Maguire is just being “consistent,” given that the school has received regular complaints about Maguire’s total lack of Catholic orthodoxy and yet the school has protected him under the banner of academic freedom:

Yes, people coming from very different ideological perspectives can support the right of free expression for those who differ.

Read the full blog post.

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Canada’s hostility to free speech isn’t exactly a secret, but British Columbia’s chief justice just took that government-sanctioned denigration of conscience to a new low.

According to LifeSiteNews, the judge “ruled that Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not apply to pro-life students seeking space on the University of Victoria campus to demonstrate.”

The school refused a pro-life group’s request to display “pictures of aborted and healthy babies,” which students called a violation of their club’s charter rights:

But the Charter only applies to government bodies and [Chief Justice Christopher] Hinkson ruled that the university, though funded mostly by taxpayers, and incorporated by the provincial government, which also appoints a majority of its directors, was acting privately when it decided to deny YPY use of its property. So even though the decision was based on the content of YPY’s pro-life message, the Charter protection of free speech and assembly does not apply.

Because the issue wasn’t trespassing, the school was just “acting as a private landlord”:

But what Hinkson isn’t getting, said John Carpay, head of the Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom, is that universities respect freedom of speech, and alternately impose censorship, very selectively.

“Universities censor pro-life students for showing graphic pictures of aborted babies,” said Carpay. “But universities allow Falun Gong supporters showing graphic pictures of members tortured by the Chinese government. They also allow those promoting use of seat belts to show graphic images of people with their heads halfway through windshields.”

Read the full story.

h/t Peter Bonilla

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IMAGE: Beth Rankin/Flickr

Students for Life at University of New Mexico tried to intervene, to no avail

It was a typical night in early January. I was feeding my newborn son and spending time with my husband and his parents. Next thing I knew, my phone rang, and my night took a drastic turn.

As a new mother and college student at the University of New Mexico, where I serve as vice president of its Students for Life chapter, things rarely slow down.

And so I found myself learning of a 20-year-old college student who had traveled with her father from England to New Mexico to abort her 30-week-old baby, which still had ten more weeks to grow in the womb. In England, late-term abortions at this stage are illegal. In New Mexico, the state lacks a single restriction regarding abortion.

At 30 weeks, the baby’s lungs and digestive system are nearly complete. It can open and close its eyes, which have eyebrows and eyelashes, and even tell light from dark from within the womb. The baby will continue to gain weight until birth, but at this point he or she is almost fully developed.

With that, the pregnant woman’s mother had frantically reached out through UK Priests for Life. In turn, its members sent an urgent message to pro-life activists in New Mexico. That’s where the Albuquerque-based Project Defending Life came in. Samantha Serrano, its director, called me and other members of Students for Life in an attempt to approach the family together and discuss other options, such as financial support or adoption.

Serrano told me she believed my current situation as a 21-year-old college student with a newborn baby might reach this young, British college student. I was asked to contact the mother-to-be – with the phone number provided by her own mother – and share my story, encourage her and give her support. She, like me, has one more year left in college.

I reached out to her several times with long, encouraging, and peaceful text messages, until I was finally blocked.

Our second attempt was to peacefully approach her hotel the day of her abortion for a peaceful conversation. However, upon arrival, we were repeatedly threatened by her father, who refused to let us see his daughter, and eventually called the police. We left.

The final stand was outside the Southwestern Women’s Options clinic. Five Students for Life members, as well as nearly thirty other local pro-life advocates, waited for the young woman to arrive. Many of us have trained with Sidewalk Advocates, a ministry that equips us to speak peacefully and tactfully to families entering abortion clinics.

Members stood outside the clinic and prayed for the family, grasping at the small amount of hope they held that this young woman would choose life. To abort a baby of that age, a lethal dose of the heart medication Digoxin is injected into their heart or into the amniotic fluid directly through the woman’s abdomen, giving the baby a fatal heart attack. Then a drug is given to the mother to induce her to expel the deceased baby. The procedure cost this family $12,000.

We eventually learned that this young woman had decided to abort her 30-week-old baby that day, and as all hope left the community, so did many among the large crowd gathered at the clinic.

Members of Students for Life stayed through the evening hoping to talk to the family after the abortion to offer them healing, love and support; however the family stayed overnight in the clinic, and avoided any confrontation. Eventually, they went home.

The battle to save this woman from a life of regret and her unborn child from a painful death has been lost, but the fight continues on for Students for SadeLife at the University of New Mexico. This experience has made it apparent that the pro-life community is steadily growing, but that the need for a positive influence is necessary more now than ever in Albuquerque, commonly known as the late-term abortion capital of America.

College Fix contributor Sade Patterson, pictured, is a student at the University of New Mexico and vice president of its Students for Life chapter.

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IMAGE: Courtesy photo* (Name blurred to protect privacy)