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Right to Life begins Respect Life Week with pregnancy resource panel

| Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Notre Dame Right to Life hosted a pregnancy resources training panel Tuesday night as the keynote event in this year’s Respect Life Week.

“Our big week every fall semester is Respect Life Week, and we always pick a specific theme,” Right to Life president Aly Cox said. “This year, we picked ‘you are not alone’ and all the events are about reaching out to vulnerable populations and saying, ‘You are not alone. We care about you. We love you.’”

The event was co-sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Culture, the Institute for Church Life, the Gender Relations Center (GRC) and the College Democrats.

“We’re trying to train as many people as possible on campus about what the resources are, because Notre Dame has some of the best resources for pregnant students in the country, but so many students just don’t know about them,” Cox said. 

Christine Caron Gebhardt, director of the GRC, and Jessica Keating, director of the Office of Human Dignity and Life Initiatives, opened the panel by addressing some of the myths about pregnancy on campus.

“If a student becomes pregnant, she will not be kicked out,” Keating said. “The man who helps her get pregnant will not be kicked out — no one will get kicked out. … You are allowed to stay in the dorms, up until the time you have your child. The dorms, you might know, are not the greatest place for raising a small child, so the University will work with you to find appropriate housing.”

Keating said Notre Dame has been ranked among the top schools for pregnant and parenting students by Students for Life of America.

“To get one of these rankings, a school must have some sort of program for pregnant and parenting students, which we do,” she said. “The school must have scholarships for pregnant and parenting students, which we do. The school must also offer housing for students and dependents, which the University does. We have lactation rooms, diaper decks, child care, etc.”

One of the University’s strongest resources, Gebhardt said, is designated pregnancy support advocates and advisors.

“There are two of us on campus: myself and Annie Eaton, who’s a care consultant,” she said. “We meet with students who identify and are looking for resources. What we do is we provide caring and nonjudgmental support. We connect people to the resources, both here on campus but off campus as well.”

Part of the University’s “holistic support” is financial support, Keating said.

“We try to provide a financial safety net,” she said. “There is money available for students for the unexpected costs that come with having a child, whether it’s child care — for graduate students, we’ve replaced a furnace before. There are resources.”

Cox said while the keynote event for Respect Life Week helped encourage pregnant students not to have abortions, the rest of the week — which includes writing letters to inmates on death row — encourages the promotion of all life.

“The mission of our club is to promote respect for life from conception until natural death,” she said. “We want to make sure campus and our club members know that [abortion] is not the end of the story.”

More information about services and support for pregnant students and their partners is available at pregnancysupport.nd.edu.

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About Megan Valley

Megan Valley was Assistant Managing Editor for The Observer. She majored in English and the Program of Liberal Studies and hailed from Flushing, Michigan.

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