Students for Life: Pregnant on Campus Initiative
The girl touches a growing bump under her violet-colored shirt and furrows her eyebrows. She is 18 years old and just started college, doing her undergrad in biology with an emphasis in healthcare. Since volunteering at her local hospital in the summer of her freshman year in high school, she’s been set on getting a medical degree. The Pregnant on Campus Initiative supports women like this and affirms that their dreams do not have to be sacrificed when they become mothers. Being pregnant and a college student is possible.
The Pregnant on Campus Initiative (PonC) was launched on September 2011 by Students for Life of America (SFLA), a nonprofit organization that has started and strengthened over 800 prolife clubs around the nation. These pro-life clubs, equipped with PonC resources, are ready to help pregnant or parenting students through emotional upheaval, financial crises, housing needs, and more.
Students for Life of America’s mission statement declares: We will abolish abortion in our lifetime, but they are focusing their game plan with this initiative.
“[…]Not just telling women to choose life, but also providing them with the resources in the end to walk them through it every step of the way,” Lisa Atkins, the Northwest Regional Coordinator for SFLA, said.
Portland Community College’s SFLA Club, or PCC, in Oregon took up the initiative in the fall of 2014. They are now able to display available resources across campus, posting flyers, and hosting a table for parenting students weekly. Already, with these resources available, two documented young mothers have chosen life instead of abortion.
“We want to empower women, give them the maximum tools to let them know that pregnancy doesn’t have to change their goals. ‘You’re strong and all you need is a little help’-- and that’s what we’re here for,” PCC Students for Life president Caleb Knezevich said.
Other clubs are handing out kits for resident advisors (RAs), customized to their location with resources from pregnancy crisis centers, educational material on adoption, parenting, pregnancy, health and more. “They [the RAs] have no idea what to do when girls who are pregnant talk to them so when we gave it to them they were like ‘yay! now we know what to do!’” Western Washington Students for Life president Katie Lodjic said.
Boise State Abolitionists for Life just began the PonC Initiative and completed a survey to find out what resources their campus provided and how their campus could be improved. They found out that there are available parking spots for pregnant women with a physician’s note, maternity coverage in the student healthcare plan, designated nursing rooms as well as scholarships and loans for mothers.
“We want to expand and pass out our information cards to students passing by so that they can give these resources to a friend who might have found she was pregnant,” Abolitionists for Life president Danielle Leon Guerrero said.
SFLA provides a survey to any interested student pro-life groups that allows them to understand what options their institution offers, and what it lacks when it comes to parenting students. After pro-life groups finish their surveys, they submit them online so that their regional coordinator can assist them in planning goals to fill needs, promote available resources, and overall promote a friendlier campus for women who are pregnant.
Online at pregnantoncampus.studentsforlife.org, people are also able to locate their school, find outside local and national resources, and get the facts on their legal rights guaranteed under Title IX. “Basically it has all the work that all the students have done. It’s campus specific. So that’s one way that (pro-life club) students have been very successful because they get the link from the website to their school website,” Atkins said.
Pregnant students are not alone. SFLA has embraced their responsibility of providing the support that pregnant or parenting women need. “I think it’s just really important, whether you’re pro-choice or pro-life, that women get the resources they need,” Atkins commented.
Photo credit: Students for Life of America