BY TUMA HAJI
A new pro-life group called Students for Life was approved by a Drake Student Senate vote of 15 to 5 to join the plethora of Drake’s student organizations. The organization said its mission is to advocate against abortion as well as educate the general public, particularly women, about alternative options. Students for Life claims to not affiliate or identify with any religious groups or political parties but commends the national Students for Life for guidance.
Co-President Lizzy Dowd said that inclusivity and a representative demographic is crucial to the group’s mission.
“The big goal of mine is to get people of different backgrounds, all religions or no religions, to come to our club and realize their place in the pro-life movement,” Dowd said.
Dowd encouraged students to “come with all of [their] beliefs and values and unite with this one core value of protecting life.”
Co-President John Altendorf also said that he hopes Students for Life will include a “spectrum of different backgrounds and political affiliations.” He acknowledged that the pro-life movement is generally associated with both conservative ideology as well as political affiliations with the Republican Party but can be mutually exclusive from those two ideologies.
“It’s really important to know that you can be pro-life and not Republican or Republican and not pro-life,” Altendorf said.
The newly formed organization has faced some opposition from the student body, including some members of Student Senate, as well as Drake organization Voice of Choice. Co-President of Voice of Choice Clio Cullison was quoted in the Senate meeting expressing opposition to the group’s formation.
“Students for Life, in its national form, is pushing misinformation intended to encourage people to join their organization and discourage them from making a safe, legal, medical decision that should be no one else’s choice,” Cullison said.
Dowd and Altendorf said they both expected opposition because abortion is a highly controversial topic in the United States. Nonetheless, both Dowd and Altendorf said that it was unfortunate that Students for Life had to fight for a place on campus.
“I hope that’s what our campus is supposed to be about – open dialogue and being able to have these discussions and have clubs based on [student] interest,” Altendorf said.
Dowd commended Student Affairs Sen. Kollin Crompton for encouraging students and senators to vote about the group’s right to have a voice on campus rather than being guided by their personal beliefs about abortion.
Altendorf expressed appreciation for the Student Senate and the student body’s comments and challenges. He said that he plans to take those concerns into consideration and address any issues that may come forth.
“[Letting] young women on our campus know that they are strong enough to handle situations like unwanted pregnancies because we believe in female empowerment” is a goal of the organization, Dowd said. “We want to create open dialogue for women to come and ask questions.”
Students for Life may continue facing opposition, but the group is intent on keeping an open dialogue and solidifying their place on campus.
Drake Students for Life’s first meeting is scheduled for Mar. 21 at 8:30 pm in Meredith 238.