Right to Life Club festival aims to encourage dialogue on abortion
Jenna Wilson | Friday, October 9, 2015
For the Right to Life Club, the most important thing is conversation.
Emily Burns, the vice president of events for the club, said the club focuses on promoting an open dialogue about abortion and other pro-life issues. Burns said the club attempts to promote this dialogue through events like LifeFest, a festival that will be held Friday on South Quad and include balloons, inflatables, lawn games, a photo booth and free frozen yogurt.
Burns said LifeFest, which is open to both Notre Dame students and the surrounding South Bend community, is simply a way to include everyone in the pro-life movement.
“[LifeFest] is for anyone who wants to celebrate life. We use events like this to show that our message is really not something that should be a polarizing thing, a political thing or a religious thing. It’s very much just about the idea that life is something to be celebrated and we want everyone to be able to participate in that,” Burns said. “We hope to reach out to everyone here, no matter what their views are. We just try to encourage conversation and education. But, for those people who are pro-life, we help them understand, explain and defend [their views].”
Burns said the festival is a way to celebrate the end of Respect Life Week. In addition to LifeFest, Respect Life Week featured numerous other events, including on-campus speakers, a prayer vigil, masses and displays of support for the pro-life movement.
Burns said the club holds Respect Life Week during the month of October because it is National Respect Life Month.
“[Throughout Respect Life Week] we want to bring out the elements of our movement that everyone can agree with,” Burns said. “I think with any cause or organization there is always an underlying basis that most people agree with. We are trying to show that the basis of our organization is to show love and that overall that is a good thing for everyone to strive for.”
According to Janelle Wanzek, the president of Right to Life, LifeFest is a way for the club to promote the numerous service opportunities the club has throughout the year.
“We are not just focused on saying ‘anti-abortion,’ we are focused on providing service opportunities and ways for students to act on their pro-life views,” Wanzek said. “We want to promote these opportunities to the entire student body and show them that there are many different ways that they can put their pro-life views into action.”
According to Burns, the club provides numerous service opportunities that aren’t directly connected to the club’s anti-abortion work.
“We work with a variety of groups that just focus on defending human dignity,”Burns said. “For example, we work with Hannah and Friends, which is an organization for adults and children that have special needs. People don’t think of that as something that is a controversial pro-life issue, but it is about how these people have dignity.”
Burns said these community partners are what sparked this year’s Respect Life Week theme, “Love them both.” This theme refers to loving both the mother and the baby and is directly connected to a pro-adoption, pro-life view, Burns said.
“We were approached by someone at the beginning of the year who works for Holy Family Adoption Agency in South Bend, and they brought up the idea of bringing these speakers [on adoption to campus]. We really liked that idea, and so we built the whole week around these speakers,” Burns said.
Burns said the selection of this topic was just another way for the club to reach out and include many people who may hold different views.
“We wanted to pick a topic that would draw people in. Most people can agree that [loving them both] is a good goal. Maybe people have different ideas on how to achieve that goal, but that goal is something that everyone will agree with. We tried to pick a theme that wasn’t going to drive anyone away,” Burns said. “Overall, we wanted to get people thinking and wondering and maybe even drive away some of the stigma or misconceptions about the pro-life movement.”