This semester’s campus tour display, Heart to Heart, will visit dozens of campuses before its conclusion in April 2020. Last week, it made stops across the Midwest, in Kansas & Nebraska. SFLA Regional Coordinator for the Midwest, Connor McCarty, shared some stories from his time on campuses with the tour so far.
Monday, February 17
Leading up to this stop, it was difficult. The University was not responding to us, they did not give us a final decision on if our group could be inside or not, effectively limiting us to doing the display outside in a “free speech zone”. So we set the display up right outside the student center on what has turned out to be the best day of February – it was almost 70 and sunny! I imagine the University thought they could discourage us by forcing us to go outside. It was super windy and I had to stand on our bases most of the day, but that did not stop students from coming up and talking to us! The group garnered a lot of interest on campus with about 10 new sign-ups and a lot of general support.
Student leader Mariah was approached by a pro-abortion student who was non-militant, but intimidating. She started the conversation with, “Alright, gimme your schpeel,” and said she anticipated our “Jesus talk”. Mariah jumped right into the dialogue and said, “Well, our question today is: when do you think a baby’s heart begins to beat?” This disarmed the student as she was not expecting it. She re-grouped and went on the offensive a few minutes in, and I stepped in to help Mariah with pro-life apologetics.
Eventually, I discovered this student works with foster children and is devastated daily by the hurt and pain these children go through because of bad parents or lack of resources. Her solution is abortion. However, this led to a conversation about SFLA’s recent foster care reform in VA and our Pregnant Student/Student mother resources. I shared with her that we are not only here for the preborn, but for the mothers and the children who are born. I shared with her that no matter how difficult a situation might seem, how much pain it causes, or how dark it is, life is precious and abortion will not make the pain go away. While her mind was not immediately changed, she was visibly affected by knowing we are working for foster care reform and we gave her a positive experience with a pro-life group (something she had not had before). We gave her something to think about, that abortion is not the answer to pain, and that was a win.
Kansas State University
Tuesday, February 18
We had a lot of community support here. Employees of the student center were walking up to us and other adult vendors were intrigued by our display. A local Pastor came up to our booth, thanked us for being there, and asked us to be a part of a survey he was doing. We said yes, then invited him to answer our question, “When does a baby’s heart begin to beat?” And he got it wrong! We educated a Pastor about fetal development! He thanked us again and continued to direct students who took his survey down to our display throughout the day.
At one point, there was a student who disagreed with us and “invented” a new pro-choice argument. He said he was interested in philosophy and loves Kantian ethics, but is more of a utilitarian, so that means he believed it’s not his place to tell a woman what to do. A philosophy nerd myself, I asked him some pointed questions. Anyone who subscribes to a Kantian philosophy has to ask the question, “Can I [reasonably] make everyone subscribe to my belief/action?” When confronted with abortion, this could not possibly be true, because women choose life every day and abortion is illegal in some instances. He had no response and decided to call it a day.
Kansas State Capitol
Wednesday, February 19
This was a great day! We had the display set up while supporting another pro-life event. What was especially cool at the Capitol was to see all the little kids coming up to our display throughout the day. They just loved the fetal models and could not get enough of them; it was hard for them to believe that at one point they were that small! It was great to provide awareness to the parents and adults in general; even pro-lifers have a lot to learn.
The biggest statistic that hit home is that 91% of abortions happen in the first trimester. Women who came to the booth knew first trimester development, but the men were often clueless, so we made a lot of headway there. We really only had one militant pro-choice person unwilling to listen to reason. She said that if we defund Planned Parenthood, then we will kill women. During the midst of her storm of yelling, I slipped in there, “Actually, Planned Parenthood kills babies AND women,” and she did not appreciate that. More people began to crowd around the table and she left.
My second favorite conversation was with a woman who asked me, “Have you ever thought about mandatory vasectomies for men?” I said, “No, that’s not what I’m talking about at all.”
“Okay, you’re right. But, but…”
“So you are abandoning that argument?”
“It’s not the same thing, but we are just going to disagree on abortion.”
Her: *walks away* Me: *confused*
At one point, Senate President Susan Wagle came down from her office to join us for a picture and to promote what we are doing! It was great to know that our presence in the Capitol was well received and people responded. It shows that when we show up some place, people take notice.
Fort Hays State University
Thursday, February 20
This group was so well organized and responded well to the display training. They had 117 conversations! I attribute this to them having 10 students at the booth at one time, all focused on having conversations and being well versed in what our goal for the day was. They generated the most interest in gathering 23 new sign-ups for the group and are branching out past just the Catholic Center on campus. They were awesome and are on fire! It also helped that we were right outside Starbucks and the cafeteria from 10 – 2.
The biggest ire we drew was from the Starbucks employees. One student was in line getting coffee before coming to the display and overheard the employees saying, “Did you see that display? Ugh, it’s pro-life, gross.” Anyone who claimed to be pro-choice and came to the table said late-term abortions are unthinkable and they are pro-choice because abortion (in their minds) should be legal only in the cases of rape and incest. This is always a battle for our students, but they managed well.
The last conversation of the day was with a girl who described herself as pro-choice and was posing challenges to the pro-life students. Our group leader handled the conversation very well. There did come a point where he tagged me in and asked for help on explaining things. Come to find out, she and her family have a history of hard pregnancies with lots of medical complications. She was open about how she chose to have sex, but was going about it at the advice of her Pastor in a safe way and using contraception. She had been counseled by her family AND Pastor that if you are going to have sex and (her words) “experiment,” then it is best to use contraception and Plan B. She saw no issue with the advice she was given.
Then, she got pregnant and was not ready for it. Her mom encouraged her to take RU-486. Her Pastor encouraged her to take RU-486. Her doctor said, based on family history, it would be best to take RU-486, so, she did. This led to our conversation about how we are here for women on campus who find themselves in these situations. With our Pregnant On Campus Initiative, we educate about the different options, we connect them with doctors who can help, with help them find the resources they need, and even provide a listening ear if that is all that’s needed. She did not know any of this. She was sad to know that there could have been another option. She did not think she would be able to have children in the future, but we assured her that there are other options. She thanked us for our time and promised to join us in our Pregnant on Campus work because women deserve to know and not be lied to.
University of Nebraska-Omaha
Monday, February 24
Back to the city! The support for the display was still there, but we faced a lot more people who held that abortion is morally fine. A good number of people were willing to talk about it, though, mainly because they had not thought about it the way we were presenting it. One of the first people we encountered was offended that we asked if she wanted to listen to a baby’s heartbeat. She wanted to talk about Planned Parenthood, claimed we kill women because “abortion is safe and birth is not,” and just refused to believe that Planned Parenthood sends women to the hospital. Her argument was, “Breast exams cannot send that many women to the hospital!” To which my response was, “You are correct; abortion does.” She was not happy. She then yelled, “I’M DONE WITH YOU! I’M DONE WITH YOU!” in the Union lobby and stormed off.
One lady brought the vasectomy argument up again (but kept with it better than the other woman’s attempt) and justified it by saying, “Well, men should just stop getting women pregnant.” Which was new. We had other good conversations, as well. One gentleman asked if our goal was to make abortion illegal, insinuating that it would not be safe for women because of back alley abortions and women will still have them. I explained how black markets will still exist, but murder is illegal and it still happens. Outlawing it will not make it go away completely, but it will make it extremely rare and put the necessary protections in place for women and babies under the law. He accepted that view and changed his position.
More to Come!
Augustana University, March 2
South Dakota State University, March 4
Concordia University, March 6
Creighton University, March 11
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, TBA
Benedictine College, TBA
Wayne State, TBA
Black Hills State University, TBA
Chadron State College, TBA
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