Recently, flyers posted by Students for Life at Geneseo brought the availability of the pregnancy and parenting resources—such as childcare—at Geneseo into question. In the March 31 Lamron editorial “Subtext in childcare posters promotes pro-life agenda,” the columnist questioned the motives of our club in posting these flyers and went so far as to accuse the group of manipulation and deceit.
As a representative of Students for Life at Geneseo, I wanted to take a moment to explain the motives behind our efforts and propose an opportunity for partnership and progress.
According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, over 4.8 million American college students are parents. Of these students, about 1.1 million attend four-year institutions—both public and private—like Geneseo. In fact, parenting students represent about 15 percent of the total four-year undergraduate student body and about 26 percent of all United States undergraduates.
If we were to look at this community more closely, we would find that this parenting students population is 71 percent female. Of these student mothers, roughly 60 percent are single and “women of color are the most likely students to be raising children while pursuing a postsecondary degree.” Unfortunately, parenting students are unlikely to graduate within six years of college entry—and they are more likely to leave college with higher debt than their non-parenting peers. For many, this is a time when one’s educational and career goals are underway or within reach—an unplanned pregnancy would seem to come directly into conflict with these hopes and dreams.
At the heart of every pro-life versus pro-choice debate regarding abortion, there is the question that both sides must answer: how can we better respond to and provide solutions for women in unplanned or difficult pregnancies? Our answers to this question bring us into contentious debate.
For pro-lifers, we believe that abortion is a violent offense against both the preborn child and the mother. We believe that abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women because it forces a mother to choose between her child and her circumstances; it argues against the strength and capabilities of women and it creates a society where a woman’s fertility is treated as a disease and her motherhood as an inconvenience.
Some may not agree with our position on abortion and this is certainly a subject that we will continue to discuss and debate. We can—and should—however, agree on the need for more pregnancy and parenting resources on our campus.
Agreeing on this common ground is not a bad thing—in fact, it’s remarkable. Here is a solution that we can both enthusiastically agree to pursue. We have an opportunity to actually achieve something together. We can make positive progress on our campus to create an environment where pregnant and parenting students feel welcome and supported.
Pregnancy and parenthood should not limit one’s educational opportunities and our college community should advocate for more support and resources to empower our pregnant and parenting peers to succeed.