Making Myself Available: Volunteering at the Women’s Care Center

Written by: Alaina Fortkamp 

“What should I do with all my free time?” I kept finding myself asking this question in my head, and I decided it was time to actually do something about it. This is my first year in Bloomington (and in general) as a non-student, a wife, and a full-time professional. The hours I used to spend doing homework are now devoted to laundry, washing dishes, cooking (sometimes), and, well, free time. 

I was looking for a way to integrate myself more into the Bloomington community, but more than that, I wanted to take part in the pro-life movement. No, not by posting about it on Facebook—rather, something that would actually make a positive impact on others. 

I had heard about the Women’s Care Center (WCC), but all I really knew was that it’s right next to Planned Parenthood (and that it’s kind of the opposite of PP). I looked into the organization more, and I fell in love with their life-affirming message. I spoke with my friend Alexandra, who explained that WCC helps women make pro-life decisions for themselves AND their preborn children without being “preachy” or overtly religious. The staff and volunteers just help the ladies and their kids feel safe and loved.  

I felt that immediately as I walked through the door with Alexandra on my first visit as a volunteer babysitter. Rather than immediately pushing abortion access and birth control onto women when they enter a cold, sterile building, the ladies at WCC kindly greeted me in the warm, inviting lobby and talked with me about how I could help the women they served. There were no pamphlets about abortion or birth control or safe sex. Rather, all the material I saw was geared toward pregnant women who were in a tight spot but wanted to give their babies a chance. I loved that. 

To be honest, I was a bit outside of my comfort zone during my first babysitting shift. I think most of that was due to still learning about the organization and meeting the kids (and their moms) for the first time. My second shift went even better, and this time, I brought Nicole, an IU student, with me. She and I fell in love with the little guys and gals we got to watch while their moms (and a few moms-to-be) had a post-Valentine’s Day pampering session.  

I was so glad I got to play with those kids and love on them. At the same time, I felt so humbled and grateful that I could give their mothers just a few minutes of well-deserved quiet time and relaxation. My only regret is that I didn’t volunteer sooner! I’ve had the time for a while; it was just a matter of figuring out a way to encourage others to choose life and making myself available to serve. 

Guest Post: Our Victory at Liberty University

Guest Post from Kyle Eisenhuth

I am a student at Liberty University, and our pro-life group changed campus policy to allow pregnant students to stay in the dorms if they so choose.

Previously, our code of conduct was ambiguous; all it said was that students who engage in sex that results in pregnancy should “self-report their wrongdoing.” When I looked for clarification, everyone I contacted ignored me or sent me to a different office.

Fast-forward six months to Fall 2017 at a university-wide townhall. My question was: “What is Liberty’s policy if a student becomes pregnant in regard to discipline and housing?” After 10 seconds of awkward silence, I was basically told pregnancy is handled case by case.

Afterwards, two individuals high up at Liberty privately explained that women cannot remain in a dorm room once they discover they are pregnant, as to “protect the health of the women and the unborn baby.”

There were families set aside from Thomas Road Baptist Church who were willing to take in pregnant students. However, not everyone wants to leave their hallmates and go live with strangers. I began to realize that at the world’s largest Christian university, it is easier to have a secret abortion than to choose life.

After more calls, visits, and emails that went nowhere, I did some research. I realized that Title IX made it illegal for colleges to prohibit pregnant students from living in the dorms.

I read the letters between Liberty and the Department of Education which I found on SFLA’s website. I am not a lawyer, but it seemed Liberty is only exempt from the abortion parts of Title IX (which is awesome).

On my second visit to the Title IX office, after several calls and emails, the head of the department told me that “my concerns had inspired conversation higher up than her.” In hindsight, this was encouraging information. However, at the time, it seemed like another cop out.

With another townhall on the horizon, I gathered the letters between Liberty and the Department of Education, read the Title IX regulations, quoted what the letters said, and explained our current policy. Afterwards, I asked, “In light of all this, doesn’t Liberty’s policy discriminate against pregnant students?” The panel answered that they cannot discuss legal issues.

Two weeks later, the Dean of Students came up to me randomly and asked if I was with Students for Life.

He then proceeded to tell me that the policy regarding pregnant students would be changed. As of Fall 2018, pregnant students are permitted to stay in the dorms, should they choose. Further, they can also be automatically approved to live off-campus.

When a young woman faces an unplanned pregnancy, Christians should support her, not evict her from her housing. Thank you, Liberty University, for supporting women who choose life.

Recruiting For Your Group

By David Cordaro, Upper Midwest Regional Coordinator (IA & IL)

Located just a ten-minute walk from the University of Alabama, the West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa is the largest abortion facility in the state. They commit about 70 abortions per week out of their misleadingly wholesome-looking façade amongst real medical offices.

Georgia Gallagher is the President of Bama Students for Life, a group with over 200 members on their email list and recently described as one of the most “tight-knit” groups on campus.  Bama Students for Life shifted the focus of their group this semester to making abortion in Tuscaloosa obsolete, hitting hard on our Industry Impact pillar. The students set up a table every other week in their student center to both educate the student population on pro-life issues as well as recruit new members. A typical display includes a tri-fold with the bi-weekly theme, a contact sheet, and numerous SFLA drop cards. They host the table from 10:00am to 3:00pm, hitting the late morning and lunch traffic. They always have at least two students present, with no more than five.

Rather than continue with this basic tabling routine indefinitely, Georgia decided to get intentional with their work and collect hard data each time they were out tabling. She wanted to find the most effective way of recruiting through tabling, as well as determine which method students most preferred. Her group recorded how many names were received at the end of the day and what percentage of those students attended their meeting the following week.

During the weeks that followed, they collected names and emails using the following methods: laptop with Excel spreadsheet, iPad with Google Form, and the classic paper and pen method. Regardless of the sign-up type, they followed up with the students or faculty within 24 hours. The group even had pre-set messages ready for those who identified as pro-life and those who identified as pro-choice.

Keeping the tabling time and the response emails a constant, Georgia and her group found that the iPad method was the most effective way of both collecting the most contacts and having the highest turnout at the following meeting. At their highest, they collected 18 contacts in one day, and had six of them show up to the meeting the following week- a fantastic 33%!

Because of bi-weekly tabling, using iPad technology, and always following-up within 24 hours, their group has grown to a typical meeting attendance of about 20 people each week. While tangible data from the West Alabama Women’s Center won’t be revealed until they release their annual report, we don’t yet know the impact this has made on local abortion rates. But we do know the group on campus is growing, with more and more individuals are lighting the candle and igniting the flame for life and growing the movement one person at a time.

Read Georgia’s Full Paper Here

Two Students for Life Groups Raise Nearly Thousands of Dollars

They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and there seems to be no exception when it comes to scholarship fundraising for pregnant and parenting students. As part of our 5 Pillar Program, Students for Life heavily promotes aiding mothers in need through Supportive Services. How this is carried out can vary greatly and may include anything from diaper drives and baby showers to babysitting during finals week. Students at two Texas universities have taken their Supportive Services duties to heart after noticing a number of student mothers in need and have sprung into action in a huge way.

When we imagine fundraising efforts initiated by a student group, we typically think of a few hundred dollars to buy textbooks or baby items (an incredibly helpful endeavor, we might add). But in true Texas fashion, the Pro-Life Aggies at Texas A&M University took it a step further. Over the course of a school year, they raised over $30,000 for scholarships for 15 pregnant and parenting students on their campus. This group worked tirelessly to make a life-changing difference for these women. The key to their success was a 5K they named “Run for Their Lives.” The race was hugely lucrative, as well as heartwarming when the group ended the event by awarding the scholarships to the women in person. They also raised additional funds by speaking at their local churches and putting ads in their church bulletins.

Down the road at the University of Texas, Texas Students for Life was working on a similar project. Where A&M impressed with their quantity, UT impressed with their speed. The group raised money for five scholarship applicants in under 24 hours after they couldn’t just choose one of the deserving women for the one scholarship they had raised. They said:

“Originally this semester, we had planned to give out one $1000 scholarship to a pregnant and/or parenting student on campus. Last year, our biggest problem was finding people to apply. This year, we had FIVE absolutely deserving women apply. Our president, Alicia Torres, after interviewing one of the applicants, decided that we were going to raise an additional $4000 so that we could give a scholarship to all the applicants. We called everyone we knew, shared posts on social media, and did everything we could. In just under 24 hours, we raised the $4000. In total after the 24 hours had passed, we raised additional money through the campaign totaling over $8000 in scholarship funds. Not only were we able to give a scholarship to all of the women who applied, we were also able to get a head start on next year’s scholarship.”

This is what being pro-woman is all about. Being awarded these scholarships could very well have made the difference between a diploma and dropping out for any of these women. This type of loving community support is exactly what needs to be in place nationwide in order to make abortion unthinkable. With this network of compassionate help, no woman would ever feel like abortion was her only option. Way to go, guys!

To learn about how you can make a difference for pregnant and parenting students on your campus, contact your SFLA Regional Coordinator. 

Managing Pregnancy and School Schedules

The following article was originally posted on The Daily University on  by Erynn Kerrigan. See article here.

Kassi Van Vleet tries to balance her pregnancy with her schoolwork. (Whitnie Soelberg, The Daily Universe)

Wake up, rush to the restroom. The joys of morning sickness. Wobble off to class and sit uncomfortably. Head to work. Come home exhausted for a good night’s rest.

Being a pregnant student can be a difficult task, but many are up to the challenge.

Laura Black, a BYU senior, mother of an 18-month-old and also 31 weeks pregnant with her second child, described her feelings of juggling pregnancy and school.

“It’s harder than I thought it would be,” Black said. “I don’t think I could’ve done it at another school.”

Black and other pregnant students said dealing with morning sickness and early morning classes is difficult, and they often have trouble getting to early morning classes. Black also has another child to take care of while experiencing morning sickness.

“I can’t be sick with another child,” Black said.

Despite the difficulties and the desire to be a good mother and a good student, Black is realistic with her school work and prioritizes.

“I can’t put as much effort as I would like to,” Black said. “I need to be okay with a B.”

Finding time to do homework is not the only difficulty associated with pregnancy and attending school. For some women, food cravings during pregnancy have been hard to manage with classes and crazy schedules.

Kassandra Erickson, a BYU senior who is 22 weeks pregnant, said having food cravings and being so tired — two of the several effects of pregnancy — can be challenging while going to school.

“I am always craving carbs — like pasta and things like that — and so going to school makes it hard to find time to give into any cravings,” Erickson said in an email.

Erickson also said that simply staying awake while studying is difficult.

“When I go to study for an exam, I find that I am so tired and I can just fall asleep studying,” Erickson said. “I have a harder time being motivated to get my homework and studying done. I fall asleep studying a lot and then when I go to take my tests, I don’t feel nearly as prepared as I should, and I don’t do as well.”

Finding the time to eat is also difficult, because hormonal changes in a woman’s body usually amount to the need to eat every two to three hours.

“It is hard to make time to eat,” Erickson said. “I just make sure that I pick something up on campus or come home and eat when the time is right. I work at the MTC at night and will usually not eat dinner until about 8:30 or 9 p.m. But I just have to do my best with the time I’m given.”

Stephanie Wilson, a BYU senior who is 30 weeks pregnant, brings snacks such as grapes, crackers, broccoli and carrot sticks to school. She tries to snack in classes where she is allowed to eat. Wilson also mentions another aspect of pregnancy: a kicking baby. Feeling her baby kicking her ribs or stomach during class can be quite distracting.

“Now more than ever, she’s moving and alive and kicking,” Wilson said. “Anytime she wants to.”

Aside from all the morning sickness, tiredness and food cravings, going to school at BYU while being pregnant attracts attention.

“It’s a good conversation starter,” Wilson said. “It’s funny when people say, ‘What, you’re that far along? You don’t look like it,’” to which she laughs and says, “Yeah, I do.”

Not only does a growing stomach attract attention around campus, but dealing with the stereotype of being pregnant at BYU is another concern.

“When people accuse me of being a stereotype, to be honest, I feel like it’s what I should be doing right now. It’s God’s plan for me,” Wilson said. “This is what we (Wilson and her husband) were supposed to be doing. So if I fit into a stereotype, then so be it.”

All three women emphasize the importance of prioritizing, keeping it simple and not getting too overwhelmed.

“It’s definitely possible,” Black said. “But don’t kill yourself. Make sure you take care of yourself.”

Single Parent Gets Financial Aid Reinstated – Thanks to the Pregnant on Campus Initiative!

An appeal for help

The phone rang. It was a 10:35 am, and I didn’t recognize the number, although it had a Colorado ID. On other end was a desperate sounding young mom of an 11-week-old baby.

“I was given your number and told that you could help me with my rights as a single parent and student,” the young woman on the other end said hurriedly. (We’ll call her *Esther.)

Esther’s story rapidly unfolded. She goes to a Colorado community college (where we just started a Students for Life club), and she received my number from someone I gave it to when I clipboarded with the Students for Life leaders in November. Esther had to miss class when she gave birth to her son in November. Unfortunately, Esther had not been informed of her Title IX rights by her professors, academic advisor, or school administration. She did not know that necessary pregnancy-related absences (like childbirth and recovery from childbirth) are protected under Title IX. She should have been allowed excused absences from her classes as well as accommodated with enough time and information to make up any missed classwork, assignments, and exams.

Her professors and school staff failed to provide this critical information and support. Esther ended up dropping out of a class and taking an incomplete in another class. She was later informed that she did not complete enough credits to be able to qualify for financial aid this term.

I texted our National Pregnant on Campus Director, Beth Rahal, and we worked together to come up with the information and steps that Esther needed to take in order to effectively resolve her situation. We sent Esther an email explaining her rights under Title IX and why her situation should be deemed a Title IX violation. We provided her with the name and contact info for the Title IX Coordinator at her college, as well as a detailed explanation of what questions to ask and how to explain and defend her situation.

Esther texted me that evening – February 1st – letting me know that she appealed her appeal. Within two days, Esther had recovered her financial aid. She told me recently that she feels so empowered to be a mom and finish her education. “I was about to have a mental breakdown before I called you,” she said.

When people around the country heard about Esther’s story, they offered to donate to a baby shower for her. So on Thursday, March 9th, our Students for Life club threw Esther a baby shower as their first official event! Esther’s face lit up as she opened a package with a baby gym and boxes of diapers for her little son.

A Change of Heart

I thought I knew what love was. Then I had my son,” Esther said. “It’s like, ‘No! I’ve got to hold him!” Esther exclaimed.

But like many students in her position, this wasn’t always Esther’s perspective when she thought of having a baby – just one year ago. “I made an appointment for an abortion. My town’s Planned Parenthood was booked out several weeks. So I made an appointment at a Planned Parenthood an hour or so away.”

“When I asked my friend to drive me to a ‘doctor’s appointment’ out of town, she said, ‘Why are you going there for a doctor’s appointment? What’s up?’”

“A stomach bug, you know,” Esther lied.

“Come on,” her friend replied. “What’s really going on?”

At this point, Esther told her friend the truth. Her friend responded, “You’re trying to hide that you’re getting an abortion because you know you’re going to regret it. Let’s tell our youth pastor….”

Esther never showed up for her abortion appointment.

A Community of Support

Esther’s church and community surrounded her with the love and help that she needed to succeed as a new mom and a student. They provided babysitting and tangible support when she needed it most. Esther is also especially grateful for the rapid response of the Students for Life of America team. “I thought I was going to have to wait for weeks,” Esther said. “But you picked up the phone and gave me the contact information for who to talk with within a couple hours. Within two days, everything was resolved.”

We are so happy to be a part of Esther’s journey and to have had the opportunity to assist Esther and her family! Students for Life America’s Pregnant on Campus Initiative helps pregnant and parenting students in all 50 states complete their education and connects them to local resources including childcare, healthcare, health insurance, housing, food, clothing, and pregnancy testing and counseling.


This post was contributed by Bethany Janzen, Rocky Mountain Regional Coordinator at Students for Life of America. *The parenting student’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

2017 East Coast Pregnant on Campus Group of the Year

Through the Pregnant on Campus Initiative, Students for Life of America asks student leaders, like you, to engage your group in advocating for pregnant and parenting students on your campus. However, this Initiative must be engaged in as more than one student group effort on campus. We want you to unite your community in support of your parenting peers, and we strongly encourage collaboration between school offices and other student organizations. That is exactly what the Pregnancy and Parenting Initiative at Clarion University (PPRI) has accomplished! PPRI has brought together their whole community—students and administration—to create unique, effective solutions for the pregnant and parenting students.

Thanks to their persistent and courageous efforts, PPRI has been able to…

Moreover, this group has been proactive in responding to the needs of individual pregnant and parenting students on campus. When the group learned of 2 parenting students who needed lactation space, student leader Liz McNitt and the school’s Title IX Coordinator found an empty office space. Seeing that this need would be important for future parenting students, they opened a designated lactation room in the next semester. When a student was struggling to find and afford a babysitter, the group paired her with another member to exchange babysitting help.

When asked why she believes that the Pregnancy and Parenting Resources Initiative is important resource on campus, Tyana, a student parent at Clarion University, shared:

“I think this club is important because it helps parents like me to not feel alone. Being a mom in college is really hard sometimes, and it’s nice to talk to other moms that are going through the same thing. It’s also a great resource. When I have questions or need help with anything, I know who to go to.”

We are proud to award the 2017 East Coast Pregnant on Campus Group of the Year Award to Clarion University’s Pregnancy and Parenting Resources Initiative.

Check out PPRI’s campus resources webpage here!

Watch Liz McNitt’s presentation on our “Helping Moms Be Heroes” panel:

This post was contributed by Beth Rahal, Pregnant on Campus Director.

Title IX saves lives

Learning to Care

As a student-athlete in college, I had heard about Title IX ever so briefly during our team orientations. We were lectured on gender equity in sports and informed that our women’s teams would be just as well supported as our male counterparts. There was probably a Q&A segment, and maybe we had to fill out papers to sign acknowledging our awareness of this information. Other than that, it wasn’t a big deal. I might have also heard about Title IX in history class or in passing references to sexual harassment and assault on campus, but for the most part, I was in the dark. For all I cared, Title IX was 5 letters and 2 Roman numerals.

I find that this is the case with most students. If you aren’t personally experiencing discrimination on campus or in a position to need these types of resources, you aren’t likely to have sought out this information or learned it in earnest. Many times, we don’t bother learning critical information, like Title IX rights and accommodations or even our local pregnancy support resources, until we need it (for ourselves or a classmate asking for help). We assume that we’ll be able to access all this information when the time comes.

And while this is true in many cases, it’s not the best approach! Delays in providing information can cause more distress for your pregnant and parenting peers. As a student leader on campus (especially one who advocates for pregnant and parenting students), you need to take the time to research this information, compile it in one place, and discuss it with your group so that you are prepared to respond promptly and effectively to the concerns and needs of your peers.

Why It Matters

Title IX provides protections and accommodations for pregnant and parenting students at schools which receive federal funding. Therefore, it can be a great tool to ensure that pregnant and parenting students stay in school and receive fair accommodations and support. Unfortunately, most students don’t know that these protections and accommodations are available. This can lead to students making devastating choices (e.g. dropping out of school or getting an abortion). Lack of information can also prevent a student from asserting her rights when she is being discriminated against or not adequate support.

Over the past 3 years, our Students for Life of America staff has noted that Title IX information is one of the top resources that pregnant and parenting students request. Simple, articulate explanations of this information has yielded some amazing results! Here are some of the situations we have witnessed over the years:

After learning about Title IX …

  • Pregnant students are better able to communicate their situation, their rights, and their needs to their professors and administrations.
  • Students have been able to resolve issues of grades and class credits that resulted from improper handlings of pregnancy-related absences (e.g. missed classwork during childbirth and recovery).
  • Pregnant students have been able to stay on their sports teams and in their special programs (e.g. honors classes) without penalty or loss of scholarship.
  • Parenting students have been able to defend their right to breastfeed their babies on campus.

This past week, we had the opportunity to work with a parenting student (Ruth) at Pikes Peak Community College to resolve her financial aid situation. Ruth was told that she would lose financial aid after having not completed enough class credits in the past semester. However, Ruth had never received Title IX information or additional support to complete those classes. Thanks to some quick teamwork, we were able to explain how to address this situation with the school’s Title IX Coordinator and what information to present. It was a success!

Lives Saved

What’s more, Title IX has saved lives. About two weeks ago, our West Coast Regional Director, Reagan Barklage, was contacted by the Executive Director of a pregnancy resource center. The Executive Director had a client who was a student-athlete. The young girl considered aborting her baby because she was afraid that she would lose her basketball scholarship and have to drop off the team.

Thankfully, our Pregnant on Campus Initiative is prepared to handle these situations. Reagan and I worked together to get Title IX and NCAA student-athlete information sent to the Executive Director. After explaining this Title IX information, this brave student-athlete chose life!

What You Can Do

We want you to be able to effectively support your pregnant and parenting peers on campus. Contact our team for such resources as:

  • Title IX student group training
  • Title IX flyers and social media graphics
  • Ideas for how to advertise and share this information
  • Assistance in dealing with a Title IX pregnancy or parenting situation on your campus

Learn more about Title IX here:


This post was contributed by Beth Rahal, Pregnant on Campus Director. To share your story or your group’s successes on campus, email Beth at

2017 West Coast Pregnant on Campus Group of the Year

Located in the “Late-Term Abortion Capital” of the country, University of New Mexico students are daily faced with a community that supports and even encourages abortion. And yet, despite the challenges of this environment, Students for Life UNM have persisted and thrived in their efforts to bring life-affirming, empowering options and resources to women on their campus. The group’s Pregnant on Campus Initiative has been welcomed by the student community and departments on campus, and has repeatedly captured the local media’s attention over the past 3 years.

This past year, Students for Life UNM has hosted numerous events to support pregnant and parenting students, including:

  • Valentine’s Day, Share the Love: Passing out as many as 75 roses, pregnancy tests, and PRC information packets
  • Mother’s Day “Chari-Tea”: A classy tea party for women and mothers to raise money for their local PRC
  • Pregnant and Parenting Student Support Night: A discussion panel to address pregnant and parenting student issues
  • Give Back Christmas: Encouraging UNM students to donate to local organizations that support the community

This group has been instrumental in helping students choose life and complete their degrees. They helped save 2 babies on campus and at least 10 babies in the local community. They even worked with a local university to help a new student mom graduate a month early, and further celebrated her by hosting a baby shower!

Last but not least, Students for Life UNM is responsible for introducing and passing 5 Student Government resolutions, including:

  1. Diaper changing stations: To be installed in every building in both genders’ bathrooms
  2. Mom-to-be Parking: For moms in their 3rd trimester
  3. Parental Leave for New Student Parents: For both mom and dad!
  4. Family Friendly” Student Study Lounge
  5. Equal Access to Options: Adding life-affirming resources to their school website

This group is an incredible testament to the compassionate and effective outreach of the Pregnant on Campus Initiative. We are proud to honor UNM Students for Life as our 2017 Pregnant on Campus Group of the Year!


This post was contributed by Beth Rahal, Pregnant on Campus Director. To get your student group involved in our Initiative, please contact your SFLA Regional Coordinator.