Maddi’s dad: “Discipline is necessary but grace and love should be more prominent”

Maddi’s dad, Scott, took to his daughter’s Facebook page on Sunday night after the New York Times story broke about Maddi’s pregnancy and how her Christian school was banning her from walking at graduation because of it.

There have been many misconceptions, factual errors, and just wrong information out there about the story. Maddi’s father eloquently explains the family’s position and why they decided they needed to go public with the story:

This is Maddi’s father and I’d like to share a few thoughts. I’m not a social media user but I understand that Maddi’s story is creating a lot of buzz (both for and against Maddi) among folks that do use it.

The first thing I want everyone to understand is that we are not out to make Heritage or it’s leadership look bad. I have dedicated more hours to Heritage over the last eight years than many of you could imagine. Heritage is a special place for me and my family despite what Maddi is experiencing.

Heritage is a good school that promotes a lot of the ideals that are important to me as a Christian and that is the reason we entrusted them with the education of our children through their most formidable years.

Second, despite what some may think, Maddi nor her mother and I have ever advocated that she not be disciplined for her actions. My daughter should be held accountable for what she did. Discipline is a necessary piece of the picture but grace and love should be more prominent…that is how restoration takes place.

Maddi’s discipline should have occurred shortly after her confession so we could all focus on the restoration and enjoying her senior year.

Putting her discipline at the end of the year has only resulted in bitterness and hard feelings.

To the detractors, ask yourself how restoration can take place when you put a students punishment at the very end of their high school career. When do you plan to show Maddi the love and grace that is supposed to take place after discipline? Your window of opportunity has unfortunately closed.

There are some who have been very supportive of her during this time and they are the ones that will be endeared to her for a lifetime. Those that have not loved her through this will likely be forgotten soon or at the very least you will be the source of bad memories. There are some who have made it clear that Maddi is not welcome there. Maybe it’s because she is a pregnant girl at a Christian school or maybe it’s because they want to send the message that this behavior isn’t tolerated, but either way these folks have failed to represent Christ effectively in this situation.

I have been on the board at Heritage for five years and have been involved in plenty of discipline issues. Unfortunately, this is the first time that I’m aware of that we have not allowed a senior to walk in their graduation because they broke a rule. I have always fought for a balance of discipline, grace and restoration but I don’t see that in Maddi’s case. Heritage has done a good job in the past about not punishing a student in a way that it detracts from their hard work academically but for whatever reason that seems to be absent here.

The last point I want to make is that this issue isn’t just about Heritage. This issue is much bigger than just this small school in Western Maryland. A number of national media outlets want to talk with us but they would not be interested if this issue were just localized to Heritage. This is a national issue and the decision that Heritage made is emblematic of other Christian schools across the country.

All too often it is easy just to focus on the discipline aspect of girls like Maddi who made the mistake of having premarital sex. Unfortunately, this sort of approach inadvertently contributes to abortion and even worse, suicide.

Maddi briefly considered abortion because of the attitudes from others that she correctly predicted but thankfully she made the right choice in the face of those dire prospects. We are doing all that we can to take Maddi’s story to a national level so that Christian schools are more thoughtful in how Christ would want us to handle these situations…especially with girls like Maddi who have so clearly demonstrated a repentant attitude.

A few last thoughts and I’ll leave you alone.

1) Dave Hobbs and the board at Heritage are good people. I know there are some who want to put all of this on their shoulders but that would not be the Christian way to handle this situation.

In the face of my family begging for grace and love for Maddi I will not be hypocritical in calling for anyone to blame all of this on them. I know that deep down they care for Maddi and our family.

2) Lets not forget about the prospective fathers in these cases. In our situation, the father of the baby is very much involved and I’m proud of him for stepping up to this challenge. My advocacy for grace and love extends to these young men too.

3) I hope that this issue causes all of us to think twice about the roles that discipline, grace and restoration play in our lives. All of them are necessary components and they can be extremely effective when used correctly, but as we can see they are very divisive when not used correctly.

4) Most importantly, please pray for Maddi, our family and the rest of those impacted by all of this that we grow from it and above all, we give God the glory for the blessings that we hope this will yield.

 

SFLA Response to Heritage Academy Statement on Maddi Runkles

Heritage Academy’s principal David Hobbs posted a statement on the school’s website today, which was also delivered to families at the school (a pdf is here). 

The statement below is from Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, which is in response to Mr. Hobbs. Read the entire background of the story in our blog post here.

Being a school administrator in today’s world is no easy task. Our children are faced with challenges and social pressures that many could not have imagined 10 or 20 years ago. I do not envy the task of these leaders who serve to mentor students in both educational and personal pursuits. Balancing care for individual students while also preserving the interests of one’s educational institution is a daunting task, and addressing issues of discipline is a duty that no administrator takes lightly.

I do not doubt that “countless hours in prayer and discussion” were engaged in prior to deciding Maddi’s discipline. I don’t doubt that the administration cares deeply for each of its students. I agree that I do agree that the “conduct of your children is not everyone’s business” and even more so, that discipline is “not the absence of love, but the application of love.” However, the conduct and disciplinary measures of your school does become “everyone’s business” when such actions will likely influence the behaviors of others within the community (i.e. in the model set as to how to treat a pregnant student and the real potential to influence students away from the church and pro-life values) as well as will impose a public example of one student (by banning Maddi, and only Maddi, from walking at graduation).

With any private or even public institution, there are rules to which students must be held accountable. In a Christian school, those rules must respect the school’s faith traditions and ideally lead students towards a deeper understanding of their faith.

Disciplining Maddi is not the issue. Her discipline was decided, communicated, and executed.  For the most part, this was done so with care for the family’s privacy and with fair response to the pledge broken (i.e. “abstaining from sexual immorality and from the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs”).

However, my primary and continued complaint is that the disciplinary actions of the administration has extended far beyond accountability for the broken pledge regarding premarital sex. That accountability was served justly and humbly in Maddi’s confession, her suspension, and her removal from leadership positions. What was initially a punitive and learning moment has transformed into a public lesson (before this even was announced to the media). By banning Maddi from walking at graduation, the administration and board collectively decided on a disciplinary measure of an obviously public nature.

By banning her and her alone, the administration and board collectively decided to make a public example of one student and has either intentionally or unintentionally communicated to the school community that pregnancy (not simply premarital sex) is a shame and should not be observed within our school community.

To some observers, walking at graduation may appear to be of little importance. In fact, some students even willingly choose to abstain from graduation events and ceremonies. However, in this situation this honor is notably being given great importance in that the administration and board has decided that it is too great of an honor or too obvious of a platform to present on which to present a pregnant girl with her earned academic achievements.

In the past five years, no other student has been banned from walking at graduation for failing to abstain “from sexual immorality and from the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs.” From what we’ve learned thus far*, the last known cases of this happening occurred in the 70s and 80s. Currently, Maddi is the only student banned from walking at graduation. In a class of only 15 students, her absence will be obvious and can only be explained in that her immorality is visible (unlike the errs of past and present students).

Maddi has been disciplined and humbled before her school community, her teachers, and her peers. She has already faced months of ridicule and criticism, and she continues to confront the scorn of peers and strangers. Her decisions to publicly share her story came only after her family’s unsuccessful attempts to reason with the administration and the board regarding this final matter. She has repeatedly defended the school, even today posting “I, in no way want to see Heritage Academy fail. I love my school.”

It appears that the school is not satisfied that she has repented of and been held accountable for her initial offense, and that satisfaction of such only comes at a public cost (i.e. not walking at graduation).

To be clear, I called Mr. Hobbs to privately discuss this matter, to explain our position, and to come to a compassionate understanding and resolution. Certainly all involved (including myself) would have preferred a private, internal resolution to this very difficult situation [his letter to me available here]. It did not have to be this way, but here we are. And in this light, all will be judged in how this situation has been handled.

 

*This post has been edited to reflect new information. According to a Heritage Academy student (who attended in the late 70’s and early 80’s), there were 3 students who were banned the right to walk at graduation. We believe that this information does not change the concern that banning visibly pregnant students from graduation is excessive and does not encourage a life-affirming culture within the student body.

Autumn’s response to Maddi: “I support you 100%”

Students for Life – and our many, many supporters who have emailed Heritage Academy in Maryland in support of Maddi Runkles – aren’t Maddi’s only fans. You can send Maddi a message of support if you like through this link.

Teen Autumn Lindsey, whose viral video in response to Teen Vogue’s abortion gift guide went viral earlier this year, adamantly supports Maddi as well. She filmed this awesome video that not only encourages Maddi but rightly raises valid points about the school’s actions towards a pregnant teen who chose life, saying “When Christian schools respond like this, they are promoting abortion.”

The transcript is below:

The New York Times recently released an article about Maddi Runkles, a senior at Heritage Academy in Maryland, who in January found out she was pregnant. She is an excellent student, played on the soccer team, and served as president of the student council. Sadly, when she courageously shared the news of her pregnancy and her choice for life, her school did not respond with love and grace. They punished her. She stood in front of her student body and shared her circumstance and the school board did not show grace to her. Didn’t they know that she could have had an abortion and nobody would have known? Instead she chose life, and publicly shared her struggle. In return she received consequences, not compassion.

 She was told she could not walk in her own graduation, and was removed from her student council position. She wears a coat so the other students aren’t uncomfortable with her growing belly.

When I heard about this, the first thing I thought was, “What about the next girl who isn’t as brave as Maddi? What will happen to her baby? Who is going to willingly stand in front of the school and tell everyone that she is pregnant when result is punishment not praise for protecting the life of her baby?”

When Christian schools respond like this they are promoting abortion. How many countless girls have been too afraid to ask for help and end up aborting their baby? Its no wonder Maddi thought to herself that it might have been easier to just have an abortion. Because as she said,  then people would have just forgiven her instead of having to deal with the visible consequences. Had she done that, the school would also be responsible for that baby’s life ending. We have to change how we treat pregnant students. We have to offer more than an iron fist, or a conduct code. We are called to love. And love supports, forgives, and lifts up. We need to come along side of pregnant teens and ask what we can do to help.

Thankfully Maddi’s parents offered her grace and love. She was able to reach out for help. Their support is priceless.

Maddi, I am so proud of you for choosing life. I can’t imagine how difficult this must be for you. Your courage is a voice to other girls. Not only do I support you, but thousands applaud you because you put your baby’s life above your own convenience. I am sorry for the way you were treated, and I am behind you 100% percent. And I can’t wait to see your sweet baby boy. I am excited for your future together.

Maddi is right when she says that “some pro-life people are against the killing of unborn babies, but they won’t speak out in support of the girl who chooses to keep her baby” Of all people, pro-life Christians should support, encourage and love pregnant teen girls who decide to keep their babies.

I am so happy to hear Students for Life is supporting you and cheering you on. All life is precious and should be celebrated and protected. You did what was right Maddi, and we thank you for being an example to others who might find themselves in the same situation.  

Planned Parenthood video: You can’t go to school and have a baby

Planned Parenthood is pulling out ALL the stops to make sure that no one finds out how little actual healthcare they provide and that they are the nation’s largest abortion vendor. Why? Because the half a billion taxpayer dollars they get every year is on the chopping block in Congress (about time).

In their latest propaganda video, celebrity Joss Whedon features a student who gets a full scholarship to college but can’t go because she is pregnant and couldn’t get birth control at the nation’s largest abortion vendor.

This is the MO of the abortion industry: tell women they can’t do it, that they can’t have a child and continue their education, that they can’t have a career and become a mom, that they can’t fulfill their dreams following an unplanned pregnancy.

They are wrong

Dear Planned Parenthood & Joss Whedon, please let us introduce you to some superheroes who didn’t buy into your lies:

University of Iowa track and field sprinter Alexis Hernandez, who is graduating this weekend and has a 20-month old child. She said: “I’ve accomplished a lot of things in classroom and in track but being a mother is the most rewarding thing of all.”


Kamaria Downs, who took her Christian school to court when they kicked her off campus for getting pregnant, citing Title IX. She had her child, won her lawsuit, graduated, and became a second-grade teacher.

Kamaria Downs. Courtesy of Public Justice.

Sade Patterson, who unexpectedly became pregnant at the end of her sophomore year at the University of New Mexico. She credits Students for Life of America’s Pregnant on Campus program for helping her learn her rights and stay in school. She graduated in December.

Liz McNitt, who had not one, but two little ones, in school and completed her degree in THREE years.

And then all of these students who support pregnant and parenting students – this is just a sample of the thousands of pro-life students we work with on campus who are passionate about helping their peers facing unplanned pregnancies in school:

Planned Parenthood is part of the problem

OK, so back to the propaganda video and in particular, the student who is shown not being able to get her full scholarship because she is pregnant.

The girl, “Ms. Stetzler,” opens the letter from “Boyle College” which congratulates her on receiving a “full scholarship” for “outstanding academic achievements.”

The girl is noticeably pregnant in the shot. And the implication here is that as a pregnant student, she can no longer pursue this scholarship and her dreams of a college education.

However, there are two huge myths that are being propagated:

  1. She can continue to pursue her dreams! Pregnancy and parenthood does not have to change your goals. You can be a pregnant or parenting student and achieve your educational and career goals.
  1. Under the federal law TITLE IX It is illegal for a school to deny application to or admittance into an educational program for reason of pregnancy or parenting status. It is also illegal to strip a student’s academic, need-based, or athletic scholarship for reason of pregnancy or parenting status.

Planned Parenthood is perpetuating the lie that women cannot succeed unless they are childless. Stop telling pregnant and parenting women that their dreams are over and that this is the end of the journey. Stop spreading misinformation regarding educational advancement and ignoring legal protections like Title IX.

Planned Parenthood = Opposite of Empowerment of Women

Planned Parenthood, and the celebrities that blindly support them, do the complete opposite of empowering women by directly advocating anti-woman messaging and stripping vulnerable women of the opportunity to become mothers or birth mothers and still fulfill their dreams.

Planned Parenthood would rather tell a woman to have an abortion than to give her the resources she needs and connect her to support systems that would empower her to fulfill her goals.

Defunding Planned Parenthood – and redirecting that money to Federally Qualified Health Centers, that do more comprehensive care than the abortion giant ever could – would be the best thing that could happen for women.

What You Can Do

Planned Parenthood and Hollywood have teamed up again to continue the lie that young women can’t be mothers and students…that they aren’t strong enough to do both. This is feminism in the 21st century. Such a sad day.

ACTION ITEM: If you faced an unplanned pregnancy and stayed in school, post your story today on every digital media account! Use these hashtags: #StandwithPP #StandagainstPP #PPSlays to make your story go far and wide.

11 Biggest Pro-Life Wins on Campus This Semester

We love writing out these lists about all the great things that our students accomplished during the semester. Because events happen so fast, sometimes good deeds and great wins don’t get the attention they deserve. So here are our picks for some of the best accomplishments this semester from pro-life students all over the country.

#11 Choose Life Wins in Nebraska
University of Nebraska Students for Life Vice President Paige Edwards testified in front of the state legislature in favor of the state allowing a “Choose Life” license plate. She had never testified before. But it paid off! The state passed the bill and she was asked to come to the Governor’s office when he signed it.

#10 Reached 500 students at a Planned Parenthood Event
Students for Life at Western Washington University quickly mobilized when they heard Planned Parenthood was holding a rally on campus, which **ahem** only four students participated in. They grabbed 500 Planned Parenthood Project postcards and handed them all out. They even recruited a new club member! After reading the postcard, a girl came back to the group and asked what club they were with. She told them that she was on the fence about abortion, but was rethinking her position, and would like to come to club meetings.

#9 First ‘Pregnant on Campus Week’ Happened at Arizona State University
Our Students for Life group at Arizona State University threw the first ever “Pregnant on Campus Week”, where they tabled for a week in a highly-trafficked area on campus and educated their peers about the rights of pregnant and parenting students. They also collected diapers and wipes, made students aware of resources available on campus, and directed students to a local pregnancy resource center.

#8 100+ Schools Screened “HUSH”
Over 100 colleges and universities screened the abortion health documentary “HUSH” in March. The film is made by a pro-choice producer and explores the links between mental health and abortion.

#7 Protesting Barbara Bush at a Planned Parenthood Fundraiser
The Pro-Life Generation showed up at a Fort Worth, Texas hotel to protest Barbara Bush, former First Daughter, who was giving the keynote address at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser. We were all over the news and invited Ms. Bush to reconsider her support of the abortion giant.

#6 Students for Life Groups Collected Baby Socks Like Crazy
When our pro-life students heard we started the #Sockit2PP campaign and our goal was to collect nearly 324,000 baby socks (representing the number of abortions Planned Parenthood did in 2015), they got to work. They were so creative and while our campaign is on-going – until we defund Planned Parenthood OR we collect all 324K socks – our students deserve a lot of credit for their work in collecting socks and showing the destruction Planned Parenthood wrecks every single day.

#5 We Filed a Lawsuit Against Queens College and Helped Norvilia Get Her SFLA Group Started
When Queens College denied Norvilia Etienne the right to start a Students for Life group on her campus, we immediately went into action, contacting our attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom. They filed a lawsuit on her behalf and within three days, Queens College backed down and let Norvilia start her group, which has taken off on campus! Her SFL group even won the Group of the Month for March 2017.

#4 We Helped a Pregnant Student Get Her Financial Aid Reinstated
A pregnant student in Colorado contacted our Regional Coordinator in her state after she lost her financial aid because she gave birth to her child and had to miss class. That’s illegal for a school to do under Title IX and we helped her appeal her case and get her aid reinstated. Then our student group threw her a baby shower!

#3 We Demanded Universities to Stop Their Part in the Fetal Trafficking Industry
Our team held rallies at four universities who have been implicated in some way for their role in buying or selling of aborted baby body parts. Students for Life groups signed letters to their schools asking them to stop their participation in the fetal trafficking industry.

#2 We Took the We Don’t Need Planned Parenthood Campus Tour Everywhere
This semester we took our We Don’t Need Planned Parenthood campus tour to over 60 college campuses, explaining to students that there are thousands of other health centers that don’t do abortions, yet provide way more comprehensive healthcare services than Planned Parenthood does or ever could, that our federal funds should go towards. Our students had hundreds of conversations with their peers and even turned away a Planned Parenthood donor at one stop. We even took the display with us to the US Capitol and did a briefing for Congressional staff on how to talk about Planned Parenthood defunding.

#1 Whitworth Cut Ties with Planned Parenthood
In our biggest win on campus this semester, Whitworth University, a self-identified Christian school, officially cut ties with Planned Parenthood after the Students for Life group publicly called them out on the unsavory partnership late last year.

 

Group throws Pregnant on Campus Petition Pizza Party to Collect Signatures

By Ryan Eyrich, Southeast Regional Coordinator

This semester, High Point University (HPU) Students for Life in North Carolina drafted a petition that calls for their campus to make positive, life-affirming changes.

These changes include:

  • offering special housing for pregnant and parenting students,
  • providing day care for parenting students and college employees,
  • installing diaper decks,
  • and providing at least one health care professional who is trained as a pregnancy coach.

HPU Students for Life hopes to collect 1,000 signatures on the petition before they present it to their school. In the face of this daunting task, the group came up with a brilliant way to garner support from their peers: throwing a Pregnant on Campus Petition Pizza Party.

What better way to gain support than giving out free pizza to your fellow students as they walked to class?

High Point University Students for Life had a blast while collecting signatures for their petition. The group played music, had free pizza and sodas, and talked to their peers about their initiative to make High Point’s campus more life-affirming.

The High Point community responded well to the initiative and was very excited to see that HPU Students for Life is trying to better the campus for pregnant and parenting students. They party went off with a bang and the group was able to collect 157 signatures for their petition.

They groups hopes to keep the momentum going as they collect the remainder of the petitions next semester!

From Wishy-Washy to Passionately Pro-Life

By Bethany Janzen, Rocky Mountain Regional Coordinator at Students for Life of America

On Monday, I led a Pregnant on Campus display at Colorado State University – Pueblo (CSUP) asking students what the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and solutions are for how CSUP can better support pregnant and parenting students. A guy walked by, shared his thoughts, and then I asked, “Are you pro-life?”

Student: “Well, I really I haven’t thought about it much. I mean, I wouldn’t have an abortion myself, but I wouldn’t tell anyone else what to do with their body.”csu ponc2

Me: “Why wouldn’t you personally have an abortion?” (I ask this question to men, as well as women, since they have a part to play in creating a child)

Student: “Well, if my girlfriend got pregnant, I’d support her and help her to be a parent because I believe in taking responsibility for the child.”

Me: “That’s awesome! So, you said it’s a child. Do you believe it should be legal to kill children?”

Student: “No…. But I don’t know how to answer the ‘it’s my body’ argument and I don’t want to take a side when I don’t know how to defend what I believe.”

Me: “I’m all for human rights and bodily autonomy, but our rights stop at the front of someone else’s face. The preborn is a distinct, whole, human being whose development is self-directed.”

Student: “That makes sense.”

Me: “You know what, I teach apologetics trainings so that you know how to answer these questions. We’re restarting the Students for Life club on campus. Would you be interested in getting involved?”

Student: “Absolutely! I would love to have an apologetics training! I’ve studied biblical apologetics because I want to be able to explain what I believe. I’d love to get involved!!!”

Every day, we meet students like this on campus who are unsure of what to think on abortion. Through calm, simple dialogue, the tide of the Pro-Life Generation is rising.

#Fromwishywashytoprolife #educating #prolifegen #csupueblo

After first diaper drive failed, this Students for Life group got creative

By Seth VanHorn, president of Toccoa Falls for Life in Georgia.

Creating events that people actually want to participate in can be one of the most daunting components of running a pro-life group. Creativity is vital, yet can be very difficult to harness when exploring different ways to attract people to your events.

This challenge was something that I focused on this year as my club sought to find effective ways to reach our community. We were constantly asking ourselves how to best get our peers involved in the pro-life movement, even if the movement wasn’t their particular passion.

We tried a several events and began to understand an important concept: you have to understand the culture and audience. The importance of catering to the uniqueness of your community is crucial for successful outreach. One of the specific solutions we found to answer this question became one of my favorite events that our club has hosted.

Open Mic Night

Last semester, we patterned with our local pregnancy resource center to help them with their need for diapers. We decided to attempt a traditional campus-wide diaper drive. When this failed miserably, we decided we needed some way to attract students to participate in our event.

Our answer came in the form of an open mic night. We began by advertising for this event, promising free food and good music, with the admittance price being a box of diapers.  DSC_0402

Our signup sheets filled up rapidly. We found a local park with an outdoor amphitheater that turned out to be the perfect venue. The unique setting (including Christmas lights hung around the stage) and sound equipment provided by student government gave the event a legit, concert-like feel.

The results of the night greatly exceeded my expectations. The combination of free coffee & good music for an important cause brought out a vast number of students.

Compared to our first attempt at a diaper drive, this open mic night was a grand slam.  Thousands of diapers were donated, food and coffee was enjoyed, music was played, and most importantly, students learned about practical ways through which they could make a difference for the pro-life movement in our community.

Our next Open Mic Night to benefit pregnant students and our local pregnancy center is happening at the end of this month and I can’t wait.

Know Your Own Campus

This event helped me understand the importance of understanding culture when planning events. For my own club, the answer to a successful event was an open mic night.

However, for your campus, the solution might be totally different. Every school is going to have a unique community, and your club will be most effective at reaching others when you understand the things that make your school distinct.

If you want to reach your student body, find out what makes your school unique, what do students like, etc. and use that knowledge as you plan events.

 

Pregnant on Campus Tabletop Display Leads to Helping a Pregnant Student

By Keri Landeche, Northeast Regional Coordinator

As a Regional Coordinator, part of my job involves scheduling tabletop displays with students to engage their campus on a certain issue. Thus, I had been working with Concordia College Students for Life  to schedule the Pregnant on Campus table top to promote pregnancy and parenting resources to students on their campus since January. We had scheduled two previous dates to table on campus with pregnancy resources but for some reason the dates did not end up working out. Naturally, we were all getting a little frustrated thinking the tabling would never happen, but finally we found a date that would suit everyone.

So on the cold morning of March 16th, the club members of Concordia College SFL  and myself set up the tabletop display in the commons (school cafeteria).  We decided to include a free speech board to engage students on how they thought Concordia could better help pregnant and parenting students in addition to the tabletop.

Immediately, the president of the club fearlessly started engaging people, getting them to participate in brainstorming how to better serve pregnant and parenting students. I wanted the club members to take ownership of the display so I was letting them do the majority of the talking.Concordia College PonC tabletop3

However, spontaneously, I felt compelled to ask a particular student passing by with his earphones in if he would like to participate in our free speech board. He looked confused as to why I was interrupting him- clearly, he had his earphones in. So, I kindly explained what we were doing and asked  if he had any ideas how to better serve pregnant and parenting students.

He looked at it intently and said, “Can I take a picture?” I was thinking to myself, “oh great he must be pro-choice and about to mock us all over social media.”  But instead I said “Sure but can I you ask why you want a picture?”

He looked at me and said, “Well there is actually a situation.”

Immediately my demeanor changed from preparing for battle to compassion for this pregnant student I realized he was taking the picture for.

Thankfully, we had the Sisters of Life resources on hand that we were able to give him. I asked him to give the pamphlets to his friend and to give her my number.

About 20 minutes later, a young woman almost in tears came to look at our table. I didn’t want to assume she was pregnant so I asked her if her friend had just come by.  Holding back her tears, she said yes and grabbed one of everything on our table. I asked her if she would like to talk in private and she agreed.

I was able to sit and listen with her for about an hour. She explained to me that she found out she was pregnant on Monday and has been freaking out ever since she got the news. She does not believe in abortion but she really does not know how she will be able to parent as a single student.

As she was venting and crying to me, I realized in that moment how providential it was that I had even met her.

Had the two other dates worked out to do the tabletop, she would not have even known she was pregnant at the time. It was providential that the tabletop kept getting pushed back and that I randomly interrupted a  guy passing by with his earphones in.

It is hard to say what this young woman will decide. She is in a very vulnerable position, but she knows that she has the support of Concordia SFL and that there are random strangers that want to help her out.

Please pray for this student. .

Single Parent Gets Financial Aid Back – Thanks to the Pregnant on Campus Initiative

By Bethany Janzen, Rocky Mountain Regional Coordinator, Students for Life of America

The phone rang. It was a 10:35 am and I didn’t recognize the number, although it had a Colorado ID. On other end was a desperate sounding young mom of an 11-week-old baby.

“I was given your number and told that you could help me with my rights as a single parent and student,” the voice on the other end said hurriedly. We’ll call her Esther.

Esther’s story rapidly unfolded. She goes to a Colorado community college (where we just started a Students for Life club) and got my number from someone I gave it to when I clipboarded with the Students for Life leaders in the fall.

She had to miss class because of giving birth to her daughter in November and ended up not completing enough credits to be able to qualify for financial aid this term. Because of this she was dropped from her classes.

I texted our National Pregnant on Campus Director, Beth Rahal, and soon we found out what information Esther needed. I sent Esther an email telling her about what steps to take to make sure that her rights under Title IX are followed (you can’t be discriminated against because you had a baby), including the name and contact info for the Title IX Coordinator at her college.

Esther texted me that same evening letting me know that she appealed her appeal. Within two days, Esther had recovered her financial aid and told me recently that she feels so empowered to be a mom and finish her education.

“I was about to have a mental breakdown before I called you,” she said.

When people around the country heard about Esther’s story, they offered to donate to a baby shower for her.esther baby shower

So last week, our Students for Life club threw Esther a baby shower as their first official event! Esther’s face lit up as she opened a package with a baby gym and boxes of diapers for her little son.

“I thought I knew what love was, then I had my son,” Esther said.

But like many students in her position, this wasn’t always Esther’s perspective when she thought of having a baby – just one year ago.

“I made an appointment for an abortion. My town’s Planned Parenthood was booked out several weeks, so I made an appointment at a Planned Parenthood an hour or so away.”

“When I asked my friend to drive me to a ‘doctor’s appointment’ out of town, she said, ‘Why are you going there for a doctor’s appointment? What’s up?’”

“A stomach bug, you know,” Esther lied.

“Come on,” her friend replied. “What’s really going on?”

At this point, Esther told her friend the truth.

Her friend responded, “You’re trying to hide that you’re getting an abortion because you know you’re going to regret it. Let’s tell our youth pastor….”

Esther never showed up for her abortion appointment.

Instead, her church and community came behind her, babysat her son, and helped in many ways.

But Esther is also especially grateful for the rapid response of the Students for Life of America team.

“I thought I was going to have to wait for weeks,” Esther said. “But you picked up the phone and gave me the contact information for who to talk with within a couple hours. Within two days everything was resolved.”

Students for Life’s Pregnant on Campus Initiative helps pregnant and parenting students in all 50 states complete their education and connects them to local resources including childcare, healthcare, health insurance, housing, food, clothing, and pregnancy testing and counseling.