As I walked toward the meeting room in UConn’s Chemistry building, I saw a young woman seated alone on a hallway bench. I thought to ask her if she knew about UConn’s pro-life club and if she would be interested in hearing my talk. I was scheduled to speak to the newly formed club with a message titled, “Scheduled to be Aborted: My Fight for Human Rights”.
I told myself the girl was likely busy and I should just let her be. I walked past her, into the meeting room and began chatting with the energetic students. The room started filling up and soon 20-30 people had gathered. It was a good crowd for a pro-life meeting on a Thursday night. As I got ready to speak I noticed the woman from the hallway had come into the room and was sitting in the second row.
I shared my mother’s powerful story of walking out of Mt. Siani hospital after changing her mind about aborting me. I discussed abortion primarily as a human rights issue. I encouraged the students to keep fighting against an industry that uses violence to destroy and dehumanize unborn children. I shared the good work pregnancy centers in Connecticut are doing to aid women and families in need. I spoke of the abolitionists of old and how their courageous example encourages me to fight injustice in this day.
The students were attentive to my message and their alert expressions revealed their engagement. I recalled a time I attempted to connect with pro-life students at UConn in the past. Less than five years ago I couldn’t find a single pro-life student on campus. Now thanks to the work of Michelle Reinert and others, a growing group has formed.
After the talk, I approached the woman I’d seen in the hallway. She was excited to speak with me and expressed her gratitude for my presentation. My talk was the first event she attended with the pro-life club. She’s part of a reproductive health program where the majority of her classmates and teachers are openly pro-abortion. She saw a flyer on campus announcing my talk and it drew her in. She often feels alone but coming to the group allowed her to hear views that reinforced her own. “You said the same things I think”, she enthusiastically told me.
Later that night I talked to another student who has not identified as pro-life but is leaning that way. She told me that attending pro-choice events with her friends leaves her feeling out of place. She felt her presence at those events was inauthentic because pro-choice views don’t truly align with her beliefs. The club has provided a place for her to grow in understanding and appreciation of the pro-life perspective.
The work that UConn Students for Life does is important. Their club offers students a choice in thought by accurately presenting the pro-life position. College should be a place where students explore different ideas, engage in debates, research positions and form their own opinions. Sadly many campuses are hostile to positions that don’t line up with the mainstream point of view in society. Pro-life students at colleges in New England tell me how they struggle to voice their opinions in class or speak out on campus. The fear of voicing an unpopular opinion has caused students to remain silent, hiding their deepest beliefs and convictions. This type of environment leads to viewpoints being stifled and students remaining ignorant of different worldviews.
The UConn Students for Life group, along with groups at Yale (CLAY: Choose Life at Yale) and Wesleyan University (WesWac: Wesleyan for Women and Children) among others, provide students with a place to hear the pro-life position, ask questions and discuss their opinions without judgment. UConn Students for Life club encourages respectful dialogue through outreaches on campus. They aid pregnant women by volunteering in their community. They are a bright shining light at their university. When I left campus I knew my words made a difference in the lives of students who needed it. I’m grateful UConn Students for Life is making a difference daily as they work to promote pro-life values at their school.