4 Reasons to Attend a Local March for Life

By Erica Smith, student at Brigham Young University in Utah

Last month, hundreds of thousands of people attended the Washington D.C. March for Life, and many more marched across the country and around the world. The March for Life is the most important pro-life event of the year. But most of us don’t live in the DC area, so it’s up to us to find local opportunities to make our voices heard.

Abortion has a small presence in my native Utah. The state contains two abortion centers, a Planned Parenthood and an independent clinic. Still, over 3,000 abortions are performed in Utah per year. Pro-Life Utah, the state’s first citizen advocacy group focused specifically on the pro-life cause, was founded less than eighteen months ago in response to the viral Planned Parenthood baby parts videos. Salt Lake City’s first March for Life took place last year, when PLU vice president Deanna Holland discovered there was none. The night before, she gathered thirty-five friends and marched on the state capitol with signs hand painted by her children. This year, theirErica Smith BYU UT MFL second and my first, the turnout swelled to several hundred.

The Pro-Life Generation may also be the social media generation, but sometimes we have to move from Twitter to the public square.  We know the DC March is a commitment of time and money. Plane tickets are expensive and math homework is important. Come on, we’re students here. If your school has a pro-life club that will sponsor a road trip to Washington, great, but on campuses where the pro-life culture is less strong, we’re left to our own devices. Not everybody has the means to make it to the official march. But your participation is just as important-and arguably more so-at small rallies. Here are four reasons to attend (or start) your own March for Life next year.

1) Think globally, act locally

Salt Lake’s March for Life doubled as a diaper drive, raising funds and materials for a nearby pregnancy resource center. Donations went to help mothers and children in our own communities.  Of course, you can donate to national pro-life charities with the click of a button, but it’s more rewarding to hand over gifts you know will benefit local mothers.

2) Keep up with local laws

Marches for Life usually consist of two parts: the March itself, and an informative session before or after where pro-life speakers address marchers. You’ll hear stories from local experts in the pro-life world and learn about abortion issues in your home state. At Salt Lake’s March, I learned that Utah is considering a bill which would require abortion providers to inform patients about the possibility of abortion pill reversal. Attendees were instructed on citizen advocacy tactics they could take to help this law pass. Local Marches educate and empower citizens to combat abortion on the home front.

3) Make news in your own backyard

If Utah hadn’t held their own March for Life, Utah media coverage of the day probably wouldn’t have extended beyond, “Hey, look, our girl Mia Love gave a speech today. Good for her.” And most states don’t have a representative appearing at the DC March for Life. National news usually has consequences for the entire country, but it’s still something that happens “back in Washington”. Hometown marches make it relevant. Get pro-life news featured in your local papers.

4) Make Friends You Can Take Home

Finally, a March for Life is the perfect space to meet like minded people. My favorite part of the day was hearing stories from the women who marched alongside me. I was struck by their raw honesty and feminine solidarity. The question “What brought you here?” yields surprising results. I watched women who had met only minutes ago shared personal stories of miscarriages and childhood abuse when describing how protecting unborn lives became important to them. I made a friend who taught me how to shout messages of love in response to the hissers and booers we passed in the streets. And these are women I get to see again.

The Washington, D.C. March for Life is the crowning pro-life event of the year. I hope one day I’ll be able to make it back East to join the ranks of hundreds of thousands of women, children, and men raising their voices for the unborn.

But until then, I have work to do at home.



BYU Professor Tells Mom “Bring a Baby Monitor” – And It’s For a Great Reason

By Erica Smith, a sophomore at Brigham Young University, who is majoring in English.

The sculpture “Family Circle” stands in front of the Provo City Center Temple. Located a few blocks from Brigham Young University (BYU) campus, the temple is a favorite site BYU statutefor student weddings.

Like many college students, I scheduled two conflicting classes this semester and couldn’t choose a favorite by the start of the school. I decided to attend my child development class on Monday, another class on Wednesday, and somehow make up my mind before the add/drop deadline.  Part of my reason for taking child development was the prenatal unit. Worried that child development, like history classes, might move chronologically, I stayed behind to ask the professor whether I’d miss anything on fetal development if I skipped out on his next class.

I fell into line behind other students jabbering about test policies and textbook prices. Before I reached the professor, a student mother asked him for advice on balancing class and caring for her two-year-old daughter. He told her that she was welcome to bring her daughter to class, but of course, she’d have to go out into the hall if the baby grew fussy. Her face fell. But before she could back away, he told her, “Bring a baby monitor.” He’d set it on the front counter so she could listen to his lectures until her daughter calmed down.

At that moment, I knew I wanted to stay in his class. Here was a man who practiced what he preached, who knew his field and wanted to see his students apply what they learned as parents.

When I told my friends and shared this story on social media, some applauded the ERica Smith tweetprofessor’s kindness or recalled their own college parenting days, but others shrugged it off as another “only at BYU” moment.

Brigham Young University is funded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly nicknamed “Mormons”. The church instructs members to “affirm the sanctity of life”.

BYU is proud to be a child and family friendly school. [Editor’s note: BYU made last year’s Top Schools for Pregnant and Parenting Students] Part of that arises from its religious ties, but it’s also a response to the fast and furious dating culture.

Four girls from my freshman dorm hall snagged their “ring by spring” and married before they were sophomores. Non-students and those attending other Utah schools are known to take advantage of the dating climate by showing up on campus for parties, dances, and just to wander the food court in search of that special someone.

Though dating life thrives, the church-sponsored and academically-acclaimed university is far from a party school. Premarital sex is treated as just as serious an infraction as cheating or plagiarism. For nineteen years running, BYU has topped the Princeton Review’s list of “Stone Cold Sober Schools”, and in 2015 Business Insider ranked BYU as the best school to find a spouse.

Once married, BYU offers on-campus family housing, and rental agreements accommodate engaged students moving out midterm. Married housing accommodations even extend to study abroad programs. Professors check for changed last names when calling role on the first day. In large lecture classes, nobody minds if a student slips her baby into class and parks the stroller in the aisle.

Abortion is much more of a decided issue than a hot button topic at BYU. Faculty assume most students are pro-life and pro-choice students are treated with a “Don’t forget to respect their opinions too” academic tolerance. I heard abortion discussed three times over my entire freshman year. The first was in a frustratingly neutral lesson on Roe v Wade. The second came in Missionary Preparation class, where future missionaries were instructed on how to sensitively teach potential converts who’d participated in abortions. The person to address abortion most directly wasn’t faculty, or even Mormon, but a visiting Catholic archbishop discussing similarities between the two faiths at a campus wide assembly.

Though abortion awareness isn’t strong on campus, the pro-baby atmosphere definitely is. In that sense, BYU is profoundly pro-life. Fathers cradling babies in front of library computers and mothers pushing strollers to class are a common site. Young marriages and student parenting are met with an acceptance that’s hard to find on many campuses. Though I don’t think motherhood is in my near future, it’s nice to know that if I have a child before graduation, I’ll be in good hands.