Opinion: We are a voice for all

By Essence Contreras , Kayla Garchar and Bianca Salazar | November 19, 2018 12:45pm

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Voice for Life shares what they do and services they offer.

There are 209 recognized student groups at University of Portland. Voice for Life is one of these, and this is our story.

Who we are is in our name — we are a voice for life. We are a voice for the most vulnerable and voiceless, for the hurting, for the invalidated women, children and men of our society. We are a voice for all.

How?

We are a voice through education. It grounds everything else our club does, and is something we strive to share with others. First, we educate ourselves. We study the best philosophical arguments we can find for both pro-choice and pro-life positions. We do apologetics training where we practice articulating what we stand for, who we stand for and why. We learn about current events that relate to life such as public policy on abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, human trafficking and homelessness, and how these issues affect our communities. We study the biology of prenatal development, including when an embryo’s heart starts beating (week 3 of development), when all organs are in place (week 6) and when the fingerprints have fully formed (week 12). And perhaps most significant for college-age women, we examine the many challenges that women with unplanned pregnancies face and we research resources that are available to help them, including local centers such as Mother and Child, Birthright and Catholic Charities. We learn all these things and more by attending conferences such as the annual Students for Life of America National Conference and the Washington Bishops’ Cornerstone Conference.

Then, we take what we learn and bring it to the rest of UP. We engage people in dialogue, listening to them and learning about their point of views, just as we hope they learn about ours. These conversations are important — they demonstrate and embody the diversity of ideas on our campus, and, we hope, are a starting-off point for deeper conversations across campus. If approached with open minds by both sides, these conversations leave everyone with new perspectives and ideas to consider.

We are a voice through prayer. Each October — Respect for Life month — Voice for Life and Campus Ministry collaborate to host a prayer service for lives lost to abortion, miscarriage and infant death, for parents who suffer because of these tragedies, and for a transformation of our society’s culture into one that treasures all lives. At this memorial, we take time to remember those whose loss and suffering is so often forgotten. We dedicate one night of the year for these intentions. 

Finally, we are a voice of life through service. Our annual signature event is the December Stuff the Crib drive, during which we give all UP students the opportunity to purchase supplies for mothers and babies, and put them into a baby crib stationed in Franz Hall. We take these supplies and donate them to the local pregnancy resource centers mentioned above.

We also provide service through sharing information about resources that are available to pregnant and parenting women (students and non-students alike), such as food banks, thrift stores and centers that provide prenatal care. We provide referrals to post-abortive healing services such as Rachel’s Vineyard. Our group also has contributed to services provided on campus that may easily be overlooked. For instance, we hosted a flyering campaign that offered encouraging messages for students who might be pregnant, and directed them to on-campus resources. In addition, we worked with Physical Plant to ensure baby-changing stations were installed in every major public building on campus. Finally, we worked with Residence Life and the Health Center to make pregnancy a topic addressed in RA training.

Our group is also here to provide service in the form of attentiveness. We are here to listen to anyone who wishes to engage with us in meaningful, earnest dialogue; here to listen to anyone facing an unplanned pregnancy and anyone suffering from the experience of a past abortion. We will listen, we will love and we will do what we can to help.

We are Voice for Life. And we advocate so that all human beings can receive the respect, rights, dignity and honor that they inherently deserve. 

This was submitted by Bianca Salazar. The Voice for Life leadership team can be reached at voiceforlifeup@up.edu.

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