Now serving cupcakes at the gym!

Should pregnancy resource centers be forced to provide info on abortion? We don’t force weight-loss clinics to post where someone can get fried food, nor do we force drug counseling centers to direct people to where they can buy cocaine. People go to pregnancy resource centers because they are choosing life. No one goes to a pregnancy resource center because they want an abortion.

Imagine this. You finally decide to go to the gym because you know you need to be healthier. You know getting in shape is the best thing for you. You walk in, expecting to be given some weights or a jump rope, but instead they hand you a giant piece of chocolate cake, and a large fizzy coke. They also give you a binder of recipes for future use. Cookies, donuts, lasagna.

This doesn’t fit. This is counterproductive. This goes against the whole belief system and culture of a gym. It directly opposes their message and their goal for the people who walk through their doors.

Now imagine this. You are dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. You walk into a local pregnancy resource center to get some much needed support. As you wait for your turn to be seen, you read the flyers on the bulletin board. The most prominent flyer provides abortion information. This also doesn’t fit. And is extremely unfair that the pregnancy resource center is being forced to share about abortion under threat of punishment.

This is why the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) is arguing in front of the Supreme Court about an October 2015 law that requires pregnancy resource centers to post a disclosure to inform clients that “California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services, prenatal care and abortion for eligible women.” The law also allows prosecutors to penalize clinics with a fee of $1,000 for the first offense and $500 for the second offense if they don’t comply.

“The Reproductive Fact Act…mandates that medical pro-life pregnancy centers post a notice in their waiting room in 22 point type or provide written or digital information to their patients on how to obtain a state funded abortion. Non-medical pregnancy centers must also post in 48 point type a statement saying that they are not medical and that they have no physician on staff”, according to NIFLA.

NIFLA claims that the law violates their First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion. But the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the argument and upheld the law — arguing that the state could regulate professional free speech and the law protects public health interests. On November 13th, the Supreme Court agreed to review NIFLA’s case.

Thomas Glessner, President of NIFLA asks, “Can the government impose and compel a faith-based ministry to proclaim a message that they are fundamentally opposed to with the risk of being fined or shut down?”

If NIFLA wins this case, it would mean that the government cannot force people to share a message that directly goes against their conscience. We should, as Americans be free to speak, or not speak about our convictions.

If  NIFLA loses, then more states will begin to force pregnancy centers to clearly post flyers that provide abortion information.

NIFLA will be represented by the nonprofit, Alliance Defense Freedom. Denise Harle, legal counsel for the ADF, said: “It is unjust for the government to force anyone to speak a message they disagree with — and to punish them if they don’t.” This seems pretty clear cut. This is about abortion politics, yes. But the underlying message here is freedom of speech. And our Supreme Court values that, so hopefully they will overturn this law that wrongly squelches that freedom.

Thomas Glessner stated the following: “This Act is an outrageous unconstitutional violation of the rights of free speech and freedom of religion for our California members. The Act unconstitutionally forces pro-life pregnancy centers, on pain of government penalty, to engage in government disclaimers that they would not otherwise provide, and to provide abortion referral information to their patients/clients. It further violates the federal Coats-Snowe Amendment, which prohibits requiring medical clinics to make referrals for abortion.”

Much like chocolate cake at a workout class, abortion information is out of place and harmful to the cause and the goal of pregnancy resource centers across our country.

#SockIt2PP Rally Recap

By David Cordaro, SFLA’s Upper Midwest Regional Coordinator

Having recently participated in two #SockIt2PP Truck Tour allies, it is clear to see that Americans don’t support Planned Parenthood.

As the Regional Coordinator in Illinois and Iowa, the first rally I attended was outside of the Planned Parenthood in Aurora, IL, the third largest abortion facility in the country. The city of Aurora did not want abortionists to move into their vibrant community, so Planned Parenthood knew they had to keep this on the hush. Planned Parenthood set-up numerous phantom, for-profit companies that slowly purchased the land where the mega-facility now sits. They told Aurora city council that they would be a basic health center, and none of their practices would be considered controversial. Soon after the building was completed, the signs went up and multiple video cameras were installed, and the abortion facility opened shortly after.

While the facility doesn’t sit within Cook County, many women travel to this center from Chicago and Cook County. From the latest CDC reporting in 2015, there were over 22,000 abortions in Cook County alone. Fast forward a few days later when I traveled to Saint Louis for the #SockIt2PP rally outside of the Saint Louis Planned Parenthood, the only abortion facility in the state of Missouri, it was reported that fewer than 5,000 abortions were performed in the state in 2015.

22,000 or 5,000, abortion hurts and betrays women, and we don’t need to look any further than the Saint Louis Planned Parenthood. 67 women have been sent to the hospital via ambulance from that facility in a span of a few short years. 67 women, all having complications from their surgical abortion procedure, being rushed into the emergency room to receive real healthcare to counteract what the abortionist had done to her. Any other medical facility in the United States that had 67 individuals rushed to an emergency room due to complications of a “safe and legal” procedure would be shut down, or at least questioned, but because Planned Parenthood has an extremely large lobby arm and millions of our tax dollars, they can afford to slide this under the table to pad their pockets.

Women are hurting, and preborn babies are dying. We can no longer be silent when it comes to the atrocity of abortion, and I am so thankful that Students for Life of America has been proudly taking a truck filled with over 328,000 baby socks across the country, and making a rally cry that we must Defund Planned Parenthood, and do it now.

Pro-Life Censorship at Christian College

By Brenna Lewis, Appalachian Regional Coordinator

On Saturday, November 18th, Berea College kicked off its BereaFest Homecoming weekend and played host to many visiting alumni from various graduating classes. Berea is a small Christian college about 30 minutes south of Lexington, Kentucky. It’s school motto is: “God has made of one blood all peoples of the Earth.” By virtue of its size, location, and Christian foundation, most objective observers would probably assume Berea is a welcoming place for Christian values, or at the very least, open to the free exchange of ideas.

Quite unfortunately, this was not the case when our “Stop the Violence” display visited the school this past Saturday. In order to reach the largest audience possible, our student leader decided to host the display during their Homecoming weekend. All appropriate procedures were followed, and the space was approved by the administration. About five minutes after finishing setup, an older couple stopped in front of us and asked, “Is this an anti-choice display?” We explained why we were there, to which the woman responded, “This is disgusting. I am a labor hall nurse and I am very pro-choice.” We invited her to dialogue with us, requests which she rudely shot down repeatedly until angrily stomping away.

This behavior was dishearteningly common throughout the day. Not long after this altercation, two administrators approached us, pulled our student leader aside for about 10 minutes, then returned asking us to move our entire display to a back hallway. At a private school, students basically check their free speech rights at the door, and we had no choice but to comply. One of the administrators even helped us move our things.

During the few hours we spent in the back hallway, we had a number of interesting conversations. A current Berea student confronted us saying, “I don’t understand why you’re doing this when so many African-Americans are killed by police every day. And there are women who are here who have had abortions, and you’re telling them that it was violent?” Again, we asked if she would stay and have a conversation with us about it, but she was intent on getting us removed and took pictures of the display to show to “someone in charge.” By the end of the day, we found it refreshing yet incredibly ironic that one of our most productive conversations was with the student leader of the Planned Parenthood group on campus.

During our last half hour of the display, the Head of Alumni Relations approached us and insisted that we needed to censor the portion of our banner that depicts medical diagrams of abortion. She was far less polite than the other administrators from earlier in the day, demanding to know who exactly we all were and questioning our student leader’s right to invite outside groups on campus. She even made a remark that our presence there was grounds for them to re-evaluate their policies regarding which outside organizations are allowed to be invited on campus (can you say discrimination?). Our day at Berea was capped off by a visit by a school Public Safety Officer who was sent over to us – whether to check on our safety, or to assess whether we were threatening others, wasn’t clear.

Receiving this type of treatment from any educational institution that prides itself on being a safe haven for the exchange of ideas (which is to say, all colleges) is disappointing enough without the school also being Christian. One conversation we had informed us that the administration is trying to decide whether or not to remove Christianity from the school’s platform – not surprising considering the school hosts abortionist (and alumnus) Willie Parker annually. We pray for the angriest of the dissenters we met that day who may have been hurt by abortion at some point in their lives, and that the leadership at Berea will respect the free speech of the students on their campus.

The school did not immediately respond to requests for contact.

BYU Unveils New Family-Friendly Study Center

By Erica Smith

Erica Smith is a junior at Brigham Young University pursuing a major in English and a minor in editing.

After months of noisy construction, the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University unveiled a new, family friendly study center. Though the sign outside labels it as a family friendly study room, “room” is an understatement. This multi-room study center contains chairs and tables for studying parents, kid sized tables and chairs, two family restrooms, a nursing room, a giant wooden play castle, a low-fenced play area, a rack of picture books, a dollhouse, several brightly colored cushions, and a lost and found bin for toys. Inside this complex are two group study rooms, walled off from the play area for quiet, with full length windows allowing parents to keep an eye on their children.

The best thing about this study center isn’t its amenities, but its location. No, I’m not talking about the study center being situated right across the hall from the library’s vending machines, although that’s yet another perk. The room is on the main floor of the library, almost at the front of the building, making it easily accessible and highly visible. Before this center was built, nursing mothers had to maneuver strollers into an elevator or bounce them up the stairs to reach the nursing room on the second story. Now it’s one of the first things students see when they walk through the library. While studying outside it the other day, I watched two campus tour guides point it out to visiting high school students. BYU has put student mothers front and center. It’s impossible for any student, be they pregnant, parenting or otherwise, to go to BYU and be unaware of the study center’s existence.

In addition to the amenities in their friendly study center, Brigham Young University has sixteen nursing lounges and eight diaper decks on campus. A new science building, currently under construction, will include a nursing room with a fridge for mothers who use breast pumps. BYU is going above and beyond to encourage student mothers to stay in school, and setting an example for colleges that are not yet doing the same.

The study center sends a message to student parents that they deserve to be accommodated. BYU is proud to be a pro-family school. In 2015, SFLA ranked them among the best school for pregnant and parenting and students, and in 2016, I spotlighted my family studies professor after he told my classmate to bring a baby monitor to class. But not all student mothers get the accommodation they need.

2017 October Group of the Month: Loving Activism

Roe v. Wade will be overturned in our lifetime, and when that happens our college campuses need to be prepared to help pregnant and parenting students. A fantastic example of what this would look like is at Central College, in Pella, Iowa.

Located in a city with cultural roots to the extremely pro-abortion Netherlands, it is a beautiful surprise to find such a deep-seeded culture of life flourishing within their community. Central College, a private college loosely affiliated with the Reformed Church of America, has a strong sense of tradition and community. When administration wanted to refer students to Planned Parenthood for health services, our students kindly reminded the college of their Christian roots. Noelle, their President, and Grace, their Pregnant on Campus Director, put together a training and resource binder for all Resident Advisors, and held a special meeting to train RAs on how to work with pregnant and parenting students.

In addition to this fantastic, loving activism, the group hosted the Stop the Violence Tour, having over 60 conversations with students, and received 15 new members in their group within just four hours. They have spent countless hours in trainings, either Plan Your Year, 5 Pillar Trainings, Equal Rights Institute Apologetics Trainings, or attending the Des Moines Leadership Workshop, and will soon be heading to Washington D.C. for the March for Life and the SFLA National Conference.

Central College Students for Life is a fantastic example of what it means to love both mother and child, ensuring resources are present for before, during, and after birth. They aren’t afraid to go onto campus and have the difficult conversations, dealing with controversy for the sake of justice. They are the #ProLifeGen.

Students for Life supports pregnant and parenting students on campus every day through our Pregnant on Campus Initiative. If you would like to learn more, please contact Beth Rahal at brahal@studentsforlife.org

Sockit2PP Tour Baby Save: “We’re Gonna Raise the Kid”

Bethany Janzen, SFLA’s Rocky Mountain Regional Coordinator

It was a sunny Colorado day. After speaking at the Denver #Sockit2PP Rally outside of the Aurora, Colorado Planned Parenthood – which won an award for increasing abortion visits in 2013 – I jumped in the Sockit2PP truck for the next leg of its journey to Phoenix, AZ.

It was the late afternoon when we pulled into a gas station in southern Colorado. A car pulled up next to us and began filling up. As I got back in the truck, a guy named Dillion asked if he could sign the bright pink and blue mobile billboard. While he was signing it, he asked what the it was about. I explained to him that Planned Parenthood did 328,000 abortions last year and that we’re calling for their defunding.

Then Dillion told me that his girlfriend is six weeks pregnant and wants an abortion. Dillion was distraught. He wanted his baby, but felt like there was nothing he could do. He was ready and eager to raise his child, but was afraid his girlfriend wouldn’t listen.

I calmly listened and asked questions to find out the whole story. Why does she want the abortion? Has she scheduled it yet? Does she know that you want the child?

Then I looked a up a pregnancy resource center near where his girlfriend was moving to. Our driver and I encouraged Dillion to write a letter to his girlfriend reassuring her that he is there to support her, whether that means choosing to parent or placing the baby for adoption. We also prayed with Dillion and gave him our contact info so that we could stay in touch.

That night, I asked our team and my Facebook friends to pray.

And I waited.

I doubted that I’d ever hear back from Dillion.

But on Sunday night, I got a text from a number I didn’t recognize. A moment later I realized that it was Dillion! His text read:

“We’re gonna raise the kid.”

Do you know a pregnant or parenting student that needs help?
Find help at www.pregnantoncampus.org

Appalachian Region Update: Kentucky and Tennessee Pro-Life Groups Competition!

Brenna Lewis, Appalachian Regional Coordinator

October in the pro-life movement is known as Respect Life Month, and this year, high schools in the Appalachian Region decided to dedicate their efforts to supporting local mothers in need. Holding diaper drives and fundraisers for surrounding pregnancy resource centers is plenty reward in and of itself, but we decided to make a competition out of it for added fun. All high schools in Kentucky and Tennessee were challenged to collect as many parenting resources as they could throughout the month of October. Now that it’s come to a close, we are excited to announce our big winner (and the runner-up!).

Congratulations to St. Benedict at Auburndale High School in Cordova, Tennessee for collecting 306 baby items last month and taking first place in our contest! St. Benedict facilitated their diaper drive by using a “Giving Tree” with tags noting the items most needed by local pregnancy centers. Students took these tags and returned with the necessary items, including everything from shampoo and pacifiers to diapers and clothing. All of the materials collected will be distributed between two local Memphis pregnancy centers. For their victory, SBA will receive a $50 gift card and ten Students for Life of America t-shirts!

Memphis definitely put on their supportive services hats this semester, as our runner-up school is also located in Memphis, Tennessee. Congratulations to our second place winner: St. Agnes Academy! The Stars for Life held a monetary fundraiser instead of a traditional diaper drive, which is helpful all the same to pregnancy centers. They raised $130.25 for local mothers in need. For their hard work, St. Agnes will receive a $25 gift card and ten Students for Life of America drawstring bags!

Thank you to all the groups who participated in such a worthy cause. Being pro-life is a many-faceted thing, and a big part of living our beliefs is supporting parents who find themselves facing unplanned pregnancies. A lack of resources or funds should never be the reason that drives a mother to the abortion facility. We never know whose life may be changed by a simple package of diapers and a warm word of encouragement. My high school groups truly showed what it means to be pro-life.

Students for Life Wins Free Speech Case with Settlement in California

Fresno State Professor Ordered to Make Restitution and Undergo First Amendment Training

“College campuses should be a place of vigorous and respectful debate, but instead we often find people like Professor Greg Thatcher who abuse authority to block pro-life speech,” said SFLA’s Kristan Hawkins.

Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins called the settlement announced today in Fresno State Students for Life v. William Gregory Thatcher “a victory for all students who have the same Constitutional rights as professors. As our interactive map illustrates, nationwide we are seeing incredible opposition to pro-life speech as our student leaders and volunteers speak for the defenseless, reach out to pregnant women, and educate on the violence of abortion. But as this case illustrates, we are not going to be silent, even if it takes going to court. I want to thank Alliance Defending Freedom for fighting to protect the rights of our students who bravely speak up for preborn children every day. Right now, Students for Life is engaged in an Abortion = Violence campaign that is going to more than 90 college campuses, so let this case put college administrations on notice that we expect students’ rights to be respected and that the free market place of ideas include college campuses.”

In May, Bernadette Tasy, the president of Fresno State Students for Life, received permission to chalk pro-life messages near the school library. The messages expressed support for pregnant and parenting students and presented information about the development of an unborn child. Tasy observed and recorded students destroying the messages, telling her that they were instructed to by Dr. Thatcher, a public health professor.

Thatcher then proceeded to give Tasy a lecture on free speech that misstated both the law and university policy, claiming that the group could only speak in a speech zone the university eliminated two years ago. Eventually he said, “You had permission to put [the chalkings] down … I have permission to get rid of it,” as he used his sneaker to scrub over what was written. Thatcher also said, “College campuses are not free speech areas.”

In the settlement, Thatcher will pay $1,000 to Tasy and $1,000 to another student, Jesus Herrera, along with some attorneys’ fees. The professor is also required to undergo some First Amendment training to be provided by ADF.

When the lawsuit was filed, ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom observed: “Today’s college students will be tomorrow’s legislators, judges, educators, and voters. That’s why it’s so important that university professors model the First Amendment values they are supposed to be teaching to students, and why it should disturb everyone that this Fresno State professor, like so many other university officials across the country, is communicating to a generation that the Constitution doesn’t matter.”

As Hawkins’ recent column “Shouldn’t Pro-Life Students Have the Same Free Speech Rights as Millionaire Athletes?” illustrates, SFLA has been engaged in protecting students’ rights nationwide. For interviews, e-mail khamrick@studentsforlife.org

STUDENTS FIGHT FOR FIRST AMENDMENT FREE SPEECH RIGHTS NATIONWIDE

News of continued violations of High School and College Students’ First Amendment Free Speech rights doesn’t completely capture the pattern of abuse that Students for Life of America is observing. So we created a visual to illustrate the oppositions students are facing when they try to speak to their peers about the violence of abortion to women and their unborn children and offer both encouragement and information about options other than abortion.

To create the visual, SFLA compiled a map of vandalizations against pro-life speech that have occurred since 2012. The map covers over 40 incidents and counting, including destroyed chalkings, stolen pro-life signs, and vandalized crosses. Some schools, such as Northern Kentucky University, have been repeatedly vandalized.

SFLA President Kristan Hawkins observed: “Not only does this map show the kind of opposition our students face daily as they speak up for the humanity of a preborn baby and the life-affirming options that women have, it is a testament to the courage and commitment of the pro-life generation. They will not let the radical abortion lobby prevent them from doing the right thing and encouraging their peers to choose life for their children. That’s why we have programs like ‘Pregnant on Campus.’ And we promise you that even when abortion activists destroy our peaceful message, we will be back, more determined to let women know that we are here to help them and their children, born and preborn.”

Some of the recent instances include:

Northern Kentucky University: Vandals tore up a “Cemetery of the Innocents” display on campus in 2017, and other years prior. The display commemorates lives lost to abortion, and includes a number of crosses. Even though this has been happening since at least 2006, the school has yet to come up with a clear solution for ending these heinous acts.

St. Louis University: At a similar display, students at the Catholic university tore up crosses, commemorating victims of violence, such as abortion and homicide. Worse, this happened twice in two weeks. While the university has photos of what happened, there has been little progress. The university should find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

Baldwin Wallace University: Students in the group wrote down pro-life messages on the ground. The messages affirmed the love for both woman and child, and offered messages of hope for people dealing with the effects of an abortion. Pro-abortion students bragged about destroying the chalkings on social media, and used the occasion to fundraise for abortion. The pro-life students, however, raised money for pregnancy resource centers.

Other incidences of violence against our group include: Administrators destroying chalkings at Kutztown University, vandals throwing paint on a display at Portland State University, and a display of graduation cords (to highlight ‘missing students’ who were killed by abortion) at University of Miami.

Students for Life of America will continue to update the map and make known every vandalization against pro-life displays on campus. College campuses should be places where free speech and debate can flourish.

Please contact Kristi Hamrick at khamrick@studentsforlife.org for interviews.

Know Your “Rights”

By Carly Elizabeth Stauffer, Pacific Lutheran University Students for Life

I recently partook in a tabling event in the University Center with PLU Students for Life Club. The goal of our display was to educate the campus community about the violence of abortion towards not only the unborn, but also towards women. Our club is no stranger to controversy, and we know to expect everything from dirty looks to protests. The opportunity to have challenging, thoughtful, and perspective-shifting conversations is worth the potential discomfort.

There is one response to displays such as these, however, that saddens me most of all – it is the refusal to take the risk of having your opinion changed. Not long after we began to table did social media posts warn to steer clear of the UC lest our table be encountered. I think this is a most un-PLU thing to do. What happened to challenging your perspective and engaging in thoughtful inquiry, Lutes? And where does abortion fit into care for others, the community, and the earth?

The desire to avoid encountering information as disturbing as the reality of abortion is reasonable. But how do you develop a valid opinion of abortion if you refuse to investigate what it actually is? If you make a conscious effort to steer clear of any information that will challenge your viewpoint, how can you possibly be confident you are on the right side of history? I understand the temptation to don your female genitalia-inspired hat and shout “My body, my choice!” – it’s catchy, and everybody’s doing it. But I beg you to investigate what it is you are actually shouting for. I find it outrageous that a generation that likes to call itself progressive stands with Planned Parenthood and marches for abortion, not knowing the utter barbarism with which it is associating itself.

Our display included an attention-grabbing banner proclaiming “Abortion is Violent.” While many unfortunately rushed to the conclusion that the banner was intended to shame women who have had or have considered an abortion, those who took the time to converse with us found that Students for Life Club is of the opinion that there are two victims in an abortion – the mother and the child. We do not advocate shame of the mother – but we are vocal about our disgust of the deplorable actions of the king of the abortion industry, Planned Parenthood. We are outraged that this abortion mogul has lied to countless women, assuring them that abortion is the answer to their problems – and making a buck off of it.

Women are driven to seek abortion by heart-breaking situations, and, as has been voiced to me many times, the unavailability of “safe,” legal abortion has led women to do terribly tragic things. I do not claim that the question of what to do in these scenarios has a black and white answer – but I do claim that if more people were aware of the reality of abortion, it would be a tragedy vastly less commonplace. I also refuse to condone the propagation of the message that in such difficult circumstances, the ending of a life is the best solution; women (and the unborn) deserve better.

The procedure by which a baby is aborted is the stuff of horror films. Depending on when the abortion occurs with regard to the baby’s development, the procedure may involve a syringe to the (beating) heart to induce a heart attack, the tearing apart of the body, limb from limb, or the breaking of the neck. It is noteworthy that the tools used to accomplish these procedures must be inserted into the woman, and inherently pose the risk of causing her great harm. Even the least invasive procedure, the “abortion pill,” has the potential of causing a woman severe emotional trauma, and has led to the death of the mother due to excessive bleeding. Abortion is undoubtedly violent – for both humans involved.

I expect that this article has caused some discomfort – and it should. We should not be comfortable with the current abortion situation in our country. But perhaps you are angry with me, too. While this was not my goal, I will admit that, with all due respect, I was not seeking your approval or applause. This is for those who cannot yet speak for themselves – but who will someday. This is for the babies.