New pro-life club focuses on supporting moms at WU

Junior Louisa Wilkinson transferred to Whitworth from Northwest College in Powell, Wyo. less than six months ago, but has already begun to lead. Wilkinson started Whitworth’s newest ASWU-chartered club, Whitworth Students For Life.

The group is a branch of the national organization, Students for Life of America, which  is the nation’s largest youth pro-life organization, according to studentsforlife.org.

Wilkinson said there was a branch of SFLA at her last school. She said she was surprised that the club did not previously exist on the Whitworth campus, and felt called to start one. After going through the necessary steps of starting a club—such as drafting a constitution and gathering members for a leadership board—Wilkinson’s proposal was approved by ASWU on April 10.

Wilkinson said she believes that abortion is a relevant and important issue to discuss in college. She said according to the Guttmacher Institute, 45 percent of abortions in America are performed on college-aged women, and 65 percent identify themselves as Christian.

“There are women on campus getting pregnant who have no idea what to do, or who to turn to,” Wilkinson said. “There needs to be a voice on campus to reach out and help these girls.”

Senior and WSFL vice president Stephen Bolin said he thinks that this is not only an important issue for college, but it is particularly important to Whitworth as a Christian university.

“I think as Christians, we need to do something,” Bolin said. “We need to show all the love and support that Jesus first showed [us].”

The mission of the club is not to push an opinion, but to create a more “baby-friendly” campus, Wilkinson said. She said that although abortion is often a very controversial political topic, she has no interest in the club pushing a political agenda.

“We don’t believe abortion is a political issue, we believe it is a moral and ethical issue,” Wilkinson said.

Despite potential controversy the club may create, Wilkinson said that so far all of the feedback she’s received has been positive, though she expects there may be more of a mixed response once the club becomes more established.

“We might receive more [negative feedback] next semester, because this is a controversial issue, but we’re encouraging conversation,” Wilkinson said. “We want to encourage people to join us and talk.”

Sophomore Larissa Huff, East and Duvall representative on ASWU, said there was some hesitation at first among ASWU members to approve the club. However, after discussing the benefits, she said the vote was strongly in favor of WSFL.

“We understood this club wasn’t here to force any opinions, but just to provide support for people going through a hard time,” Huff said.

She said she appreciated that the club encouraged conversation, rather than being one-sided.

“It creates a space where people can feel safe to talk about this issue,” Huff said.

Whitworth Students For Life’s first meeting took place Wednesday, April 17. Bolin said the turnout was good. He said after only a single day of advertising, ten people showed up to the meeting.

Wilkinson said many students who attended are now members of the club. She said she has had 12 students commit to participate in WSFL.

Because the club was chartered so late in the year, Wilkinson said there will only be time to host a few events before the end of this semester. There will be a movie night Wednesday, April 24; the club’s second meeting on Thursday, April 25; and a prayer vigil the week before finals to commemorate victims of abortion.

Wilkinson said she is planning on many more events next year, including a potential diaper drive. She said that one of the long-term goals of her club is to install diaper-changing stations in campus bathrooms. That is part of the pregnant on campus initiative, which seeks to provide support and resources for mothers on college campuses.

Katherine Knoll

Staff Writer

Contact Katherine Knoll at kknoll16@my.whitworth.edu.

Rape and Abortion: harder, but still wrong

As the election comes to a close, there is no doubt that economic concerns are at the forefront of voters’ minds. For most of the race, social issues did not see the light of day. However, Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock recently made political headlines with controversial statements about rape and abortion. However, when properly understood, Mourdock’s main point is consistent and defensible. In a debate, Mourdock affirmed his pro-life position, explaining that he believes the only time abortion is justified is to save the life of the mother. While this statement is controversial enough in itself, Mourdock continued by stating that “life is a gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” Mourdock clarified himself following the debate: “God creates life. That was my point. God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that He does. Rape is a horrible thing.” Still, this did not prevent him from being immediately attacked by critics for implying that God intends rape.

Mourdock’s opponent, Joe Donnelly, claimed that “what Mr. Mourdock said is shocking, and it is stunning that he would be so disrespectful to survivors of rape.” However, understood properly, Mourdock meant no disrespect to rape victims. Indeed, a number of Indiana women who were born when their mothers were raped have recently come out in support of Mourdock’s statements, according to Tom LoBianco of the Associated Press.

The core point Mourdock was trying to make was that abortion is morally wrong in all cases except to save the life of the mother. Given the assumption that abortion is at least generally wrong, that is a consistent position to hold.

Traditional pro-choice vs. pro-life positions pit a woman’s right to choose whether to carry or abort a fetus against the fetus’s right to life. The pro-life position admits that carrying the child to term is a physical and psychological strain on the mother, but argues that it cannot outweigh the significance of an entire life. The fundamental equation remains the same if the pregnancy is a result of rape. Although the trauma to a mother who goes through with a rape-induced pregnancy is far greater than a mother who has accidentally conceived, it still does not equal the magnitude of a single human life.

No matter what your perspective, it is clear that rape-induced pregnancies are incredibly horrific for the mother. On the one hand, carrying the child has severe psychological implications that go far beyond physical aspects . According to Andrew Solomon of The New Yorker, “one rape survivor, in testimony before the Louisiana Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, described her son as ‘a living, breathing torture mechanism that replayed in my mind over and over the rape.’”

On the other hand, Solomon also recognizes that “there can be no question that, for some women, an abortion would be far more traumatic than having a rape-conceived child.”

Simply put, there are no good, easy or clean options. Rape is traumatic in any instance, and a pregnancy resulting from rape is even more so. Still, the damage has already been done. The question is: does the fact that one severe wrong has been done justify committing another?

Since the trauma to the mother, as incredible as it may be, still does not counterbalance the moral magnitude of an entire life, the only time that abortion would be morally acceptable is when it is counterbalanced by the mother’s life. At that point, it is one life against another, and no one would be able to fault the mother’s choice.

Admittedly, this is a terribly difficult and painful issue. Yes, it would be difficult to look a rape-victim in the face and tell her that she had no choice but to carry the unwanted child of her rapist, but it would be just as difficult to look a child of a rape victim and tell them that their mother should have been able to abort them. If it is given that abortion is morally objectionable under at least some circumstances, the moral and logical inconsistency of making exceptions for cases of rape is inescapable.

Story by Maxford Nelsen Columnist

Nelsen is a senior majoring in political science. Comments can be sent to mnelsen13@my.whitworth.edu.