Tough Conversations on Campus
By Bethany Janzen, Rocky Mountain Regional Coordinator
During our Human Rights Display last Wednesday at the University of Colorado Boulder with the Students for Life Club, a girl and stopped to “make fun of our display.” A friend guy paused with her.
I asked what they thought and the girl said, “What about rape? Maybe someday you’ll be drinking and get raped…” in a very snarky tone.
“Rape is horrific,” I responded. As I shared about how traumatic and life altering rape is, I started to get emotional. I have friends who are survivors of sexual assault. I talked about how we need MORE punishment for rapists.
“Okay, so are you ok with abortion in cases of rape? ‘Cause your Display is misleading in that case,” the girl said.
“People who experience rape experience symptoms of PTSD. People who experience abortion also experience symptoms of PTSD,” I started. “The suicide rate is 6 times higher if you have an abortion…”
“Yeah, but couldn’t the societal pressure, the protestors at the clinic, the Church, and the video that you have to watch before you can even get an abortion cause this trauma?!” The guy interjected in a harsh tone.
“It may. I have friends who have experienced abortion and one of them got an abortion at 16. She was casually pro-life before, but her dad forced her to get it. Afterwards she became adamantly pro-choice. At 19, she got pregnant again with an unplanned pregnancy. She and her boyfriend got an ultrasound and she saw what her fetus looked like at the same age that she had abortion. This is what started her becoming pro-life and why she regrets her abortion. She’s an Atheist.”
“Okay, but you never answered the question about rape and people in a rough situation.”
[Thanks for giving me a chance to!]
“Right. We need to help rape survivors heal. We need to help low income moms. [I handed them our Pregnant on Campus card.]
“The Pregnant on Campus Initiative has resources for free housing, childcare, healthcare, and peer-to-peer support. We even threw a baby shower last fall for a CU student who was eight months pregnant and wanted friends!
“We also need to think about how we treat people who remind us of painful events. Our society has said in the past that our human rights depend on the color of our skin, our gender, our ethnicity, our level of development, or our disability. This is wrong. The only thing we can base our human rights on is our humanity.
“I have a friend whose mom was raped when she conceived him. He told me, ‘When someone says that abortion should be ok in the case of rape, I feel like they are saying that I shouldn’t be alive.’”
The couple didn’t have a response. But by this point, the tension had measurably decreased.
“If you know someone who has experienced abortion [I handed our post-abortion healing card to the girl], there are support groups which can really help them process it.”
We exchanged names, the couple took the info cards, and left, without hardly saying a word. But I could see that somehow their hearts had been softened.
Everyday when we are on campus, we have conversations with students like this. As we compassionately and respectfully answer their questions and show them that we care and are here to support them, they often soften their hearts and sometimes even admit that they changed their mind.