Monday, December 03, 2007

Something Interesting from Feminists For Life:

During her oral argument before the Supreme Court, attorney Sarah Weddington argued in favor of legalized abortion —in part— because “a pregnancy can completely disrupt her life….It disrupts her education.” She noted that some women are forced out of college simply because they are pregnant.

Rather than using the legal system to address inequities in education or the workplace, arguing that women are strong and capable, Weddington argued that women need "relief" from these societal pressures through abortion.

Unlike Weddington, Feminists for Life’s summer intern and pro-woman, pro-life student leader, Chaunie doesn't underestimate the ability of women to overcome complex problems.

Chaunie (pronounced “shawnee”) has asked me to share her story with you. This is the first of her letters, and your invitation to share her journey as she faces challenges, receives support, and most of all—to celebrate her unplanned joy.

Serrin M. Foster

Dear Serrin,

I left my Feminists for Life internship this summer fired up about helping pregnant students on my campus. I had no idea that in a few short weeks I would be one of them.

Four weeks into my senior year I took a pregnancy test, sure that the result would be negative, that I was just easing my mind. I looked down to find two bright blue lines staring back at me. Frantic and disbelieving, I immediately took another test. Positive again.

In that instant, staring down at the two tiny lines that represented the most dramatic change in my life, I understood how women facing unplanned pregnancies can turn to abortion. In that moment of panic and fear, it does not feel like a new life, but rather the end of life as you know it. A million questions race through your mind—what will people think, what will I do, how can this be happening? You just wish it wasn’t happening, wish you could rewind time, wish it would go away.

It’s easy to understand women in crisis wishing that the baby isn’t real, so they can make it go away.

The next day, still in denial and in a very fragile emotional state, I went to the campus health service for confirmation.

A nurse practitioner called me into her office and gave me the results of my test. There was no doubt about it, I was pregnant.

When she started talking to me about telling my parents, I broke down.

I sat in the chair, crying hysterically while the nurse examined her chart. After a minute or two, she stood up and said “I have other patients to see, you can stay here if you want.”

She left me crying and alone to see the only other patient in the center, a young man with a sore throat.

My struggles continued after my visit to health services. I gathered all the information I could find about student insurance. Not one plan covered pregnancy. In fact, all of them specifically stated that they would not cover pregnancy.

Though the university used to have daycare on campus, I learned the President got rid of it a few years ago. Housing was another disappointment; once again, the university used to have family housing but dissolved those dorms for the better-paying first-year students.

I have to tell you, as president of my college pro-life group and an active advocate for women, it was frightening to see the complete lack of resources and support available for pregnant and parenting students at my school.

I understood how women in such a vulnerable situation could feel they have no choices.

In addition to physical and material resources for myself and my child, I needed emotional support.

My boyfriend was scared and uncertain, like me, but supportive. He could offer no words of wisdom, but took my hand and told me that it would be OK. He offered his love and stood by my side.

I was absolutely terrified to tell my parents. Every day that passed without telling them was even more horrible because I so desperately needed their support too.

When I finally worked up the nerve to tell my parents, their reaction was unbelievable. They offered me nothing but love and support, and they were even happy and excited for me! Word quickly spread in my close-knit family and, incredibly, every single family member was supportive, offering to help in any way they could and reassuring me that it was right to celebrate this new life.

I am now happily engaged, planning a beautiful Christmas wedding and eagerly awaiting my next doctor’s appointment, when my fiancé and I will hear our baby’s heartbeat for the first time.

While I have received so much support and love from all of my family and friends, it has still been a struggle adjusting to my new life. There is no easy way to get through an unplanned pregnancy, but with the support I have received, I am managing, and every day brings me more happiness and excitement. As FFL’s Honorary Chair Patricia Heaton says, “Women who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy also deserve unplanned joy.”

I am so fortunate to have received love and support. Sadly, this is not the case for many women who face situations like mine.

More than ever, I realize the vital importance of FFL’s work. I not only believe in Feminists for Life’s mission, I am living it.

I am grateful that FFL is changing the way people think about pregnancy, particularly in higher ed.

It is possible for women to continue with their educations, with their career goals, with their dreams. FFL refuses to choose. So do I.

Serrin, I wanted to share my story because I believe that there is a better way for women. There is a better way for me.

How reassuring it would have been for the campus nurse practitioner to talk to me, discuss my options, offer me support and encouragement, and connect me to community resources.

Instead, she left me alone and in tears.

I can’t imagine how a woman unsure about abortion, uninformed about her resources, lacking support from those she counted on the most, feels she has a choice—what hope is there for a good outcome?

Thank you for helping mothers like me. I’m deeply grateful to the many people who support this important work.

I’ll keep you and everyone at FFL posted with photos and updates.

For women,

Chaunie Saelens
Former Feminists for Life Intern
President of campus Students for Life

PS Please feel free to forward this letter to whomever you think needs to know what is really like for pregnant students.



"Abortion is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women. Women deserve better than abortion."

Feminists for Life is a 501(c)3 organization.
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Refuse to Choose and Women Deserve Better are registered trademarks of Feminists for Life of America.
* As a personal note, I just wanted to add that I refused to choose myself, and still managed to finish a University degree, as a single mother. Women ARE much stronger than some people seem to think. Oh, and I also recieved much unexpected joy too.