An Interview with UConn's Pro-Life Club

The University of Connecticut is known for both its size and diversity of student population. Like many other college campuses, UConn's student body has a tendency to "lean left" politically and works to empower its students to voice their opinions. But what happens when a Pro-Life club enters a liberal campus? This interview sits down with the President and Vice President of UConn's "Students for Life" club to address the controversy the club has brought to campus. 

What is the official title of the organization and what are your roles within it?

UConn Students for Life, President and Vice President.

 

Is this a part of a larger organization?

Yes, Students for Life of America. SFLA is simply a support for our club. They can provide us with educational resources and connect us to other pro-life clubs, but we run our club on our own.

 

And what are the goals of the organization?

Our mission is to create a loving pro-life community on campus that seeks to protect the dignity of all human life from conception to natural death. We want to expand pregnancy services on campus and work toward making our campus more life-affirming, like creating more lactation rooms, babysitting services for parenting students, and housing for parenting students.

 

There has been a lot of push-back for various activities of the club, particularly the use of its van for on-site pregnancy tests, what is your response to this?

The van that comes to campus offers free pregnancy tests and limited obstetric ultrasounds. There is a misconception that the staff are not professionally trained, which is simply is not true, as we have a licensed nurse and trained client advocate on the van. If an ultrasound is done, it is also run by a doctor to confirm the pregnancy. The Women’s Center of Eastern Connecticut is clear that they do not provide or refer for abortions, but they do have open conversations about all of a woman’s options. All of these services are free and done by trained professionals. There is no obligation for a woman to use these services, so any push-back is not appropriate.

 

There was a secondary incident regarding a film showing for the film, “Unplanned”, which I understand is based off a true story, but not a documentary. How do you feel about the accusation that this film is “fear-mongering” to college age students?

"Unplanned" is meant to be educational and not fear-mongering. I think what needs to be kept in perspective is that everything that happened is what Abby Johnson experienced as a clinic director and as someone who had multiple abortions herself. A couple scenes are definitely tough to watch, so we provided a disclaimer before the screening began. The movie is rated R, but if any part of the movie is scary, it is because the nature of the topic is frightening, not that the movie is instilling unnecessary fear. Some truths are hard to see, but that does not mean we should avoid them. Aside from that, the film has many upbeat parts to it, and, upon viewing it, I think it’s clear that the film’s intent is not to scare or shame.

 

What do you think is the main cause of the backlash and controversy that your club receives?

Here’s the thing – it’s not our club that’s controversial. Abortion itself is controversial, for sure, but we have not taken any specific actions as a club that are worthy of backlash.

Our club shows movies and has speakers, just like any other, but we’ve never committed a social faux pas beyond bringing up abortion. We believe abortion is an injustice and we aren’t afraid to talk about it. Our organization emphasizes creating a loving community, so we maintain a level of respect through our created code of conduct. We’re always civil, seek to find common ground, and encourage students and faculty to reach out to us and have open conversations.

 

Bearing both of these incidents in mind, do you feel welcome on campus?

I would say no, but it isn’t our biggest priority. Even if people don’t receive us well, that’s okay. We’re here to love and support women in difficult times, and we hope to stand with them through their pregnancy and beyond. We offer aide and help for pregnant and parenting students, and we’re always going to try to have conversations with those around us. 

 

If you could tell people one thing about your club, what would you like them to know? 

We want everyone to know, but especially pregnant students, that we have resources for unplanned pregnancies. We can connect pregnant and parenting students to a vast network of people who want to help them and their child rise above their circumstances. If it becomes a matter of finances or emotional support, we can help, and we are not here to shame anyone – no matter what. We’ve also met with a number of women who have gone on to regret their choice to abort, so if you do find yourself in that position, we’re here for you too and we can always be contacted if you need someone to talk to. At the end of the day, we are just a group of UConn students who believe in the right to life for every human.