When Americans talk politics, a bloodbath usually ensues. We have been trained to take up one of two polarized camps, even though our beliefs are much more nuanced and moderate than those of our politicians. For some reason, we don’t seem to understand that our hateful battles helps politicians, especially around election time, and only hurt us year in and year out. One of the causes that has been most politicized, and the most wronged in the political ecosystem, is abortion. UChicago Students for Life is showing that we’re not what politicians tell you, and we’re not who you think we are. To help foster a loving and productive conversation, we brought a compassionate, feminist speaker to campus. Her name is Serrin Foster, and she talked about all of the ways UChicago could be a supportive community, for pregnant students, giving them more resources and liberating them from the coerced choice of picking pregnancy or their futures. This speaking event, with 80 attendees, could have been a beautiful opportunity for The Maroon to break the media’s cycle of dismissing a really important issue. This wonderful speech encouraged pro-choice and pro-life students to support their pregnant classmates, asked for clear policies online, and looked for point-people who pregnant students could use as resources. Rather than seizing this opportunity to support scared students who don’t know where to go or how to handle their unplanned pregnancies, The Maroon decided to title the story as “Talk attendees question president of Feminists for Life” [10/31/14], and further marginalized the people who were trying to help.
Do you believe that women who are being abused by their partners for being pregnant should receive protection and be relocated to a safe environment? Do you believe that poor women with little children should have resources that help them finish school and take care of their kids? Do you think there should be adoption reform to help childless couples and mothers of unplanned pregnancies have happy endings? Believe it or not, you could be pro-life or pro-choice and believe in any of these things. Most of what pro-choice and pro-life people believe in is the same, yet we as Americans are so politicized by a system that feeds off the counterproductive debate over what we don’t agree on that we do not look around and make the country better for these women. Rather than actually doing things that matter, we react the way the media has taught us to react, and we fuel a system whose sole purpose is to keep us divided for its own gain.
Here on campus, we have an incredible opportunity to enact great change. We could start changing the conversation from “Which box did you check off at the polls” and “I think you’re an idiot for having a different opinion” to “What do we have in common?” and “What can we do to help?” The media would like you to believe that all pro-lifers care about is that the fetuses are born. They don’t care about the mothers. They don’t care about how terrible their situations are. They want to repress women. We’re here to tell you that’s not true.
Students for Life is trying to reduce stigma around unplanned pregnancies, help students finish their degrees so they aren’t doomed to poverty, provide resources that help student-parents in both the graduate schools and college, and alleviate other factors that make women feel like they have to have an abortion or drop out of school. We want pro-choice students who care about how we—as a society and a college—ostracize women who become pregnant to take up this banner with us. For some women, going through with their pregnancy, while staying in school, is the right choice, and we should support them. Pro-lifers and pro-choicers are not so different in this regard, so don’t let the media, or The Maroon, blind you from actually helping women. Unlike politicians, we can actually change our micro-environment, so why don’t we?
—Lucia Bower, Class of 2015
Founder of Students for Life