it ..Mary is twelve weeks pregnant, in her final year at University and
desperately in need of support. She
goes to her tutors and pleads for help, at the very least asking for extensions
for her work and special consideration during her exams. The response from her
teachers is cold and far from helpful. Instead
of receiving their full support, she is just told that she has two options,
either to leave University or ... Although
the word abortion is not actually mentioned, it is strongly implied as the most
satisfactory course of action. This is a true story. How
did it end?
Mary was strong-willed and had a very supportive boyfriend.
She gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, and completed her degree with an
impressive 2:1 grade. As the students cooed over her adorable baby, few were aware
of the dilemma that Mary had faced so courageously.
pregnant student, Ann, sent an email recently.
She is a second year undergraduate, three months pregnant, expecting
twins. She lives with her husband
Simon, in a house which is rent-free simply because it is unfit for habitation.
Their funds are rapidly diminishing and to keep going they rely on one
meal a day from relatives. Their
instinctive dream to create a secure and comfortable home for two new babies is
almost impossible to realise.
students, they are not entitled to any extra financial assistance before the
babies are born, and once they are born the only assistance they will be
entitled to is child dependency allowance.
The lack of financial support makes them feel, like Mary, that university
and parenthood are almost incompatible.
are not classed as unemployed, so cannot receive job seeker's allowance or
housing benefit, nor are they entitled to milk tokens, maternity grants or
are two examples of the actual reality of 'A Woman's Right to Choose' when at
University. It is likely that
there are hundreds of sad stories waiting to be told. How many students find they face the bitter options -
abortion or leave?
are supposed to have a strong campaigning voice through those million pound
institutions, Student Unions. As I
am sure most people are aware, student unions have always been the loudest at
screaming the slogan 'Woman's Right to Choose'. But the reality as demonstrated by the stories of Mary and
Ann, show the emptiness of that slogan, which only translates into a right to
abortion. Even to the extreme that some Unions are actually prepared to finance
LifeNet is currently aware of at least four Student Unions in the UK that
part-pay abortions fees. One of
these was questioned recently by a pro-life student, who was concerned that her
money was being used to finance abortions.
She received confirmation that this particular Union paid up to £200
towards individual abortions. When
she asked what sort of support was available to women who wanted to keep their
babies, the response was vague. 'Hiring
a cot or pram has sometimes been offered.'
to the President of this particular Union, they do not 'as an organisation
discriminate under any circumstances'. By
paying for abortions, the Student Union is certainly discriminating against the
unborn baby in the womb. Their
oversights do not end there; by funding half the cost of an abortion and failing
to fund half the cost of looking after a child, the Union is obviously
discriminating against those who do not have abortions and continue with their
pregnancy. By offering financial
support towards abortion, the Unions are clearly facilitating the abortion
decision. How viciously Cardinal
Winning was criticised for offering financial support to women in crisis
pregnancies. 'Paying women not to have abortions.
How awful!', the headlines have read in recent months.
Paying students to finance their abortions, while offering no real help
to support them during pregnancy, is surely the real scandal.
Either by omission of real help during pregnancy, or by the deliberate
financial support towards abortion, it is blatantly obvious that the student
environment is promoting abortion.
such a negative climate, it is hardly surprising that so many students do have
abortions. To go through pregnancy
and have a baby at University, is a heroic fight that all too few feel capable
March 1999, Serrin Foster, Executive Director of Feminists for Life of America,
came to Britain to deliver the pro-life feminist message to students at a number
of universities around the country. The
philosophy, history and work of Feminists for Life was a real eye opener to many
of us who heard her presentation. Many who listened were astounded to discover that the
founders of the feminist movement were all pro-life and viewed abortion as a
form of ultimate oppression against women.
feminists saw it as their duty to solve the root causes of abortion, i.e. the
social pressures and circumstances that compel women to abort their children.
In the words of Mattie Brinkerhoff, a women's rights campaigner;
"when a man steals to satisfy hunger, we may safely conclude that
there is something wrong in society - so when a woman destroys the life of her
unborn child it is an evidence of the fact that either by education or
circumstances she has been greatly wronged." (The Revolution, 3(9): 138-9 September 2,1869)
its uncompromising pro-life philosophy, Feminists for Life's major initiative is
to find practical solutions to unplanned pregnancy within the student
environment. They encourage
students from different backgrounds to put aside their differences, and
recognise and solve the real dilemmas that students face.
liked this message. Inspired
by Serrin's visit and realising that there are many pro-life students scattered
around the UK, some of us met last year and decided to form a pro-life student
coalition. The name of the
coalition is Student LifeNet. It
hopes to provide pro-life students with a sense of unity and a national
identity. As most students are
fortunate enough to have access to the Internet and e-mailing facilities, we
have set up a web-site where there are regular news updates and articles
contributed by students. E-mail
allows us a facility to exchange ideas, respond rapidly and support each other.
preliminary findings of our research into the situation at Universities
demonstrate that there is enormous pressure on students to abort their babies,
while little is known about alternatives, local support groups and so on.
Student LifeNet has started a research project encouraging pro-life
students to investigate all available resources. The next step will be to
negotiate change and try and improve the situation.
Feminists for Life in America have had huge success in some Universities,
establishing real rights for pregnant students, even facilities for them to have
video link-ups with lectures when the baby is crying!
As Serrin said during her British tour, how many Universities are even
the year 2000, we are surrounded by technological progress supposed to make our
lives easier, yet we have failed to change the social environment, so that a
woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant can both keep her baby and
continue with her life. This is
what we hope to achieve in the student environment, and I have no doubt that
with hard work, commitment and a sensible strategy, we will achieve our aims and
will reduce the abortion rate.
LifeNet is predominantly concerned with pro-life initiatives within the student
environment, and our main focus will remain there. However, our mission statement, "to work together to
protect and defend human life from the moment of conception to a natural
death", also leads us to contribute and participate in the wider pro-life
environment when we feel it is necessary.
are always looking for new ideas and new approaches to promoting pro-life
opinions. To give you just one
example, last October (1999), we discovered that Marie Stopes International,
Population Concern and IPPF, along
with the misguided Clare Short MP, were using the birth of a baby (supposedly
the six billionth child) to promote and perpetuate abortion. We could not let their message go unchallenged, so in
conjunction with their balloon releases and photo shoots, we held a party to
celebrate the baby's birthday, draped banners around Trafalgar Square, sang
Happy Birthday and distributed leaflets.
can see a report of that event on our website, as well as the graphics from an
anti-cloning Valentine Card which was sent to MPs as one of our most recent
are in the very early stages of development.
We have lots of ideas, enthusiasm and a desire to act.
If you would like to get involved with the work of Student LifeNet or
would just like to know more, then contact us at the address below, or through
our web-site at www.studentlifenet.org.uk.
is our hope to train speakers, to send representatives to debates and to
organise protests. Later this year
we are planning a conference aimed at students with an interest in prolife and
student welfare issues. It will be
an opportunity for students with a common interest to get together and build a
strong pro-life youth movement.
are, of course, aware that there are in the UK already many wonderful pro-life
groups who are tirelessly committed to helping women facing crisis pregnancy
situations. We look forward to
learning from these friends, and working with their groups.
we have very limited resources and our activities to date have been backed by
the very generous support of a small number of individuals through gifts of time
and money. Student LifeNet is
eternally grateful for all that we have received so far, but with greater
financial backing we would be able to expand our activities and develop a really
effective pro-life student movement. Hope
you get the hint!
you feel that you would be able to contribute towards the work of Student
LifeNet, you can be assured that your donations would be very gratefully
received and put to good use.
can be sent to:
PO Box 30304
020 8830 2086