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Right to Life looks to serve, engage community

| Monday, September 4, 2017

Notre Dame Right to Life, perhaps most well known for its largest event — driving hundreds of students to participate in the annual March for Life in Washington D.C. — has a large repertoire of other activities planned for the year, designed to celebrate and protect human life. 

“Right to Life is essentially a social justice group dedicated to promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death,” club president and senior Sarah Drumm said. “We do that in a variety of ways — through education, through service events, through celebrating life in all stages.”

Last year, Right to Life brought over 800 students to participate in the March, but the campus’ largest organization also looks to engage students throughout the year, Drumm said.

“We have a lot of events for the year that I’m really excited about,” Drumm said. “In general, one of our main focuses for this year is just trying to expand our reach. A lot of people still think of us as an anti-abortion club, or a March for Life club. Yes, the March for Life is a very important part of what we do, but we do a lot on campus and off campus throughout the year that I think a lot of people just don’t know about.”

The group aims to respectfully promote its values, Drumm said.

“Essentially what we’re trying to do is create opportunities to protect and celebrate the dignity of vulnerable peoples,” Drumm said. “As our club has grown, different people with different interests have come in and started these groups. One of my goals for this year is to strengthen these and increase participation in all our events.”

In addition to these new goals, many of Right to Life’s scheduled events this year are recurring events from years past, vice president of communications, junior Matthew Connell, said.

“We always have a lot of stuff going on, and we have a lot of stuff that’s recurring each year,” Connell said. “We have a number of service commissions that go to all sorts of places in the community to do service work. We have a women’s care service commission, a commission that does baby showers, a senior outreach commission, high school outreach, stuff like that.”

Connell also said the club plans on hosting several speakers and seminars, including a multi-part panel first held last year.

“We’re planning on doing a panel this year that we started last year that was successful, called ‘A Pro-Life Vision of the World’,” he said. “We have multiple panels, one in September, October and November, and we just bring in three or four professors or other guest speakers who can speak to different topics and about what it would look like to have a pro-life world in each those areas. It could be things like feminism, refugees, poverty or war.”

A main focus of the club for this year, Connell said, is sparking conversation about these difficult issues on campus.

“We’re always trying to foster that dialogue on campus about these issues,” he said. “The whole purpose is what we do is change hearts and minds on the issue of abortion, but we don’t exist to just preach to the choir. There’s no point in that. It’s through dialogue when we reach out to others that we change hearts and minds on this issue and are able to actually make a difference for life in the long run.”

Some recurring events Drumm said the club planned to continue were participating in the March for Life, hosting Respect Life Week and helping to organize “BeyoND the Abortion Debate,” a dinner for people with strongly different views on abortion to talk about other topics, designed to help students with political disagreements find common ground.

Although the club was founded at Notre Dame over 40 years ago, Drumm said that its mission remains unchanged.

“I think our mission has always stayed the same and will always stay the same,” she said. “It’s just promoting and protecting the dignity of all human people, but I think how we live that out changes. In recent years, our club has tried to really react to current events, for example the refugee crisis, or things that are happening with healthcare for individuals with disabilities … Our mission is always protecting and promoting all human beings, all human life.”

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About Andrew Cameron

Andrew is a senior from Orange County, California. He is an associate news editor at the Observer, and is majoring in Biological Sciences and English. While he has greatly enjoyed his time at Notre Dame, during the winter months he often wonders why he ever left the perennial warmth of Southern California.

Contact Andrew