Rachel Hall, Pre-Occupational Therapy, ’17 and Jennifer Larson, Elementary Education, ‘19 share their perspectives on what it means to be pro-life. They further delve into their experience at the 2016 March for Life in D.C., which represents more than just anti-abortion beliefs.
What does the Pro-Life club represent?
Rachel Hall: Our Pro-Life club on campus represents a community that comes together to support life, whether it be the women on our campus who are pregnant or assisting the women in the greater community. In other words, we are for life from conception to natural death, doing anything we can to support women.
Jennifer Larson: That pretty much sums it up.
What is the club’s goal?
RH: I would say our club’s goal is educating the women on campus on what it means to be pro-life. For example, we had a table last spring a few times, and there were so many women who I would ask, “Oh, are you pro-life?” About 75% of the time, their response was, “Oh, I don’t know. What does that mean?” So based on that, I would say the goal is to educate the people on campus on what being pro-life is all about. Helping others is also a big factor in our mission, specifically the women who are pregnant or think abortion is their only option if they are single and pregnant. If we can help and assist them by engaging in activities like making baby tie blankets, babysitting, fundraising for a baby bottle drive, or providing connections to the outside community where they can find assistance, (financially, emotionally, medically, etc.) they will hopefully feel supported and feel like they have other places to turn to.
Why are you in the Pro-Life club?
RH: I would say before coming to college, I was definitely pro-life, but I didn’t know what that meant. My freshman year of college, I went to Washington D.C for the March for Life. There were literally hundreds of thousands of people rallying and participating in conferences which challenged us to stand up for this cause. I didn’t realize how huge and broad this topic was until that point, and it surprised me how many people around my age were passionate about the cause. After that event, I told my friends, ‘I’m going to start a pro-life club at St. Kate’s.’ So I guess you could say being at the March for Life conference really planted the seed. My sophomore year, it all really started coming together, and now this year, we’re in the final stages of becoming an official club.”
JL: In high school, there was a history class assignment in which we were supposed to write a letter to someone who represented us in the government about an issue of our choosing. I heard something about abortion and I thought, ‘That’s a big topic. I’ll do that!’ I read a bunch of stories about abortion, what happens during it, and stories from moms who had abortions; it blew my mind. I thought, ‘How is this happening?’ From that point on, I was pro-life. The first year I went to March for Life, the amount of people there amazed me. The event made it so much more real to me, especially in terms of knowing what actually happens. I thought, ‘We have to figure out how to stop this.’ I mean, it’s going to be a long process, but it has to end eventually.
What is the March for Life?
RH: The national March for Life in Washington D.C takes place on the day that abortion became legal(Roe vs. Wade), January 22. It is a huge pro-life rally where we march from the Washington Memorial all the way up to the Supreme Court-about 2 miles. The march itself is pretty peaceful-some people are praising, some people are singing, some people are chanting, and some are just marching. There are other events going on in D.C. that are usually surrounding this event, too. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the United States come, including high school students, families, etc. I would guess about 50-75% are people under the age of 25. As you can guess, tourism around that time really spikes.
What was the best part of the 2016 March for Life?
RH: I definitely started tearing up and getting goosebumps multiple times during the march- it was just so incredibly cool. When you’re in a crowd with 50,000+ people-and a majority of them are around your age, all believing in same thing and all passionate about the same cause, supporting each other and fighting to turn over this bill-it’s just so incredibly powerful.
I heard you were stuck on a bus on the trip home from the march. What happened there?
RH: I actually loved that part- I was laughing the whole time. Our bus was stuck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on Highway 76. The snow was accumulating when we were leaving, and apparently there was a car that spun out or got hit, and two semi-trucks that were behind the car in both lanes slowed down. Unfortunately, that was right before a hill, and it was too slippery to get up at that point, so they had to stop. After that, traffic just piled up behind, creating a domino effect for 30 plus miles; we were about 3 miles from the front. We spend the night in the bus, and when we got up, we had snow ball fights, used our signs to sled down the hills, made snow forts, brushed off people’s cars, etc. I thought it was kind of fun. At one point I logged onto Twitter and Facebook, wondering what was happening in the world. It turned out everyone was talking about the Turnpike with the 30 miles of traffic and the hundreds of people stuck and I was like, ‘Social media’s all about us! We’re actually at something that’s trending on the internet!’ We got out about 23 hours later. Oh! One of the really cool things was the snow mass.
JL: The snow mass was awesome. Another group on the bus was telling us, ‘We’re going to have mass.’ Someone packed up the snow high enough and made a little altar, and another group had bread for communion, so we had mass in the snow.
RH: There were about 500 people there. The majority of the buses were Catholic groups, so we all thought, ‘Cool, let’s have mass.’ At one point, we even sang Amazing Grace-bear in mind it was freezing out because it was still snowing and the wind was strong. But we thought, ‘If you can’t change it, just embrace it and have fun with it.’
How did the event empower your beliefs?
RH: The whole experience of being stuck for 23 hours combined with the March was so empowering to my beliefs. I realized that the pro-life community can come together not only during the March, but also outside of the March. For example, there were some guys on a car in front of us who were in a tiny car. They came on our bus, they used our bathroom, they sat in our heat, we gave them granola bars, etc. To be pro-life doesn’t mean you’re just anti-abortion; it supports humanity, and it’s about helping our brothers and our sisters. Helping other people on the Turnpike and being open to help, that’s pro-life.
Do you believe this event leads to progress on the Pro-Life issue?
RH: Yeah, definitely. I ended up traveling on a bus with a bunch of high school students, and I was so edified by them. Just hearing their perspective and the changes they have had through the experience was so amazing. Even if just one person was converted through the whole process or had a change of mind, it was worth it.
JL: The snowstorm led us to getting so much more publicity than we usually do. Usually, it’s only this one really small news station that puts it on their program. But with the snow storm and the whole ordeal of getting stuck this year, a bunch of big news groups were interviewing us. So because of the snow-storm, hopefully the movement has progressed with all the publicity; getting stuck turned out to be a real blessing.
Are you going to go again next year?
RH & JL: Yes! And next year, we’re going together with the St. Kate’s Pro-Life club.
If you would like to know more about the club or are interested in joining, please contact email@example.com
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