Taking a leap of faith and facing my fears paid off big time

By Paige Edwards, Vice president of University of Nebraska-Lincoln Students for Life

Two and a half months ago, I took a leap. That leap led us here, to witness the first pro-life bill signing in five years in the state of Nebraska.

In a second-floor room of the Capitol building, Alexa, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Students for Life current President, and I stood next to the governor and lieutenant governor of Nebraska, next to senators and organization leaders during the signing. We were nervously fan-girling about our invitation from the Lt. Governor to the bill signing ceremony of LB 46 into law.

choose life license plate NE gov screenshot

The media presence of cameras and reporters was a little intimidating and empowering. During the signing, I realized that we affected real change. Not by a few shining moments or luck, but by a leap of faith.

In early January, a UNL Students for Life member alerted the group to some proposed pro-life legislation in the Nebraska legislature, and he suggested we testify for the bill in front of a committee. Legislative Bill (LB) 46 allows for the purchase of a state-issued specialty license plate with the message “Choose Life” on it.

Here comes the leap.

On January 17th, some UNL SFL members and I attended the committee hearing. With shaking hands and a pounding heart, I gave the testimony I wrote to a room filled with pro-choice women in front of a committee of eight senators.

If that wasn’t intimidating enough, there was a group of pro-life senators and organization members, including the Lt. Governor, who were surprised by UNL Students for Life presence at the hearing. After all testimonies were given, the hearing ended, and the group of pro-life senators and leaders rushed me, asking my name,congratulating me on a great testimony, thanking me for being there.

I was in shock that these amazing people, experts in the political field and the pro-life world, were interested in UNL Students for Life and me. Not your average Wednesday, I’d say.

Testifying was nerve-racking. It was uncomfortable but that’s okay. Making myself vulnerable to the scrutiny of politicians, working professionals and a pro-choice crowd in a very real way is probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever done.

That leap, and all the accompanying doubt and fear, was absolutely worth it.

The group is now in contact with our governor, lieutenant governor, state senators, lobbyists, and other pro-life organizations regularly. UNL Students for Life is involved in testifying for other pro-life legislation since LB 46.

Most of all, it is worth it because UNL Students for Life helped to bring LB 46 into law. REAL LAW!

UNL SFL students with gov

A reporter asked during a Q&A portion of the signing ceremony “What difference do you anticipate this will make for the pro-life cause?” and here is my answer: there are thousands of pro-life individuals who are silenced by fear or who are shamed by others. Maybe some are silent because they don’t want to make themselves vulnerable to the scrutiny of others. My hope is that those silent individuals will be compelled to share their views, inspired by something as simple as a license plate.

If we can set aside our doubts and fears, if we can show others even in small ways that we are proudly pro-life, we can inspire the silent to join the choir of advocacy for unborn human rights.

That is what LB 46 means, and that is what making a leap of faith can do.

How Pregnant on Campus Changed My Life

By Sade Patterson, SFLA Correspondent

I was finishing my sophomore year of college when I found out I was pregnant. My husband and I had only been married for 11 months, but we were unsure about the future of our relationship at that point.

Getting pregnant while in college was not part of my plan and it certainly wasn’t in the plan at that point in our marriage either. Like many young adults, I hoped to finish my undergraduate education and start a family after working for a couple of years and traveling.

“Do you need to talk about abortion?”

I remember the day I found out I was expecting: I was in the Student Health Center on campus getting a checkup after a cold, when the nurse walked in and told me, “Well, you’re pregnant.”

It was as if she was speaking a foreign language; I couldn’t comprehend what she was saying. How could this happen? This was the worst possible time to bring a child into what seemed to be my broken little world.

At the time, I was a member of Students for Life (SFL) at the University of New Mexico (UNM) and had received training on the scientific proof that pointed to the humanity of the unborn. I knew at that moment that I was carrying a child – my child – and that it deserved life, but the words from my nurse became more clear as I woke from my daze of confusion, “Do you need to talk about abortion?”

Living my words

For a moment I considered it. It seemed like an abortion would solve my issues for just a moment. But then I remembered the women I spoke to that semester who came up to POCour Pregnant on Campus Initiative table and said they were pregnant.

They came to me with fear after facing an unplanned pregnancy and I told them they were strong. I told them they could continue their education, and that they had support to be a successful parent. I realized I lacked the same hope for myself that I had for these women. I too could be strong. I too could continue my education, and had the same support to be a successful parent. “No, I’m keeping my baby,” I told her, and she walked out of the examination room and never returned.

I choose life and accepted help

Most people expect the struggles to resolve after a mother chooses life over an abortion, but it was hard to be pregnant and continue my education. I faced discrimination on campus, which made me doubt my ability to excel in school, and my young age brought insecurities of my ability to be a good mother.

Graduation 3Despite my doubts, I had a wealth of support on campus – members of SFL who advocated for me when I faced discrimination. Through Pregnant on Campus, I was referred to a local pregnancy resource center where I could receive tools on parenting and baby items I needed. Members bought me maternity clothes, took me out for lunch, got me a crib, and most importantly became my family.

Pregnant on Campus was always there

The struggles grew after I had Daniel, as did the support I received and the strength I acquired. Over the next two years I led Students for Life at UNM as President, became a Wilberforce Fellow, began working as a client advocate at the same pregnancy center that assisted me, and was appointed to be a senator on my campus, which gave me ample opportunity to pass five pieces of legislation such as parental leave for students and other initiatives that support pregnant and parenting students on my campus.Graduation

In the midst of what seemed like accomplishments, I faced hardships along the way, but I realize that each trial made me a stronger and a more empowered individual. I had to figure out how to juggle school, several jobs, leadership positions, and a family life, while overcoming my recent diagnosis of depression and PTSD.

The honest truth is that I never figured out how to juggle everything, but I did figure out how to ask for help, and how to prioritize what was important in my life, and I owe a lot of that to Pregnant on Campus and the members of Students for Life.

The resources we offer students through Pregnant on Campus who face pregnancies and are parents on campus are not only physical needs. They include emotional support, a shoulder to cry on, a friend to call late at night, a pep talk, a shopping trip, a glass on wine (after the pregnancy of course), and someone to remind you that you are capable and strong even when you fail to see it yourself.

I graduated!

I graduated this month from the University of New Mexico with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and am planning to continue in the pro-life movement as a journalist.Graduation 2

I remember myself two-and-a-half years when I found out I was pregnant, and thought my world was turned upside down. I didn’t know what I needed at the time, but what I received was support, empowerment, and friendship from Students for Life of America’s Pregnant on Campus Initiative. My struggles are not gone; sometimes they come stronger than most days. But what I do know now that I didn’t before is that I have support through those struggles.

You can be this support on your own campus. There are women like myself and many who don’t have half the support I did. As we start a new year, commit to seeking out these students and offering the support I was offered. You have the tools; now share them.