Angela Bermudez, Staff Writer
Discussions of pregnancy resources on campus are often enveloped in myth. Students assume that pregnant students will be kicked out of Notre Dame, lose their athletic scholarships or face penalties for their violation of du Lac. In the hopes of debunking these inaccurate notions, Right to Life Club (RTL) and Student Government sponsored a panel on October 3 to discuss resources for pregnant women, fathers-to-be and student parents on campus.
The panel was a part of RTL’s new Motherhood Resources commission. Since its inception, the commission has sought to increase awareness of available campus resources, collaborating with Student Affairs, Life Initiatives and other offices that deal with pregnancy resources. Together with these other groups, RTL seeks to live out Notre Dame’s Catholic commitment to supporting students in the choice of life.
The panel featured Karen Kennedy and Ann Whitall from Student Affairs as well as Judy Madden from Campus Ministry. All three work closely with students who are or who have a significant other who is pregnant, offering loving support and guiding the exploration of their options.
During the presentation, Student Affairs screened a video featuring the personal testimonies of past undergraduates who faced an unexpected pregnancy while attending Notre Dame. These former students revealed their initial anxiety about the pregnancy and the fear of ostracization––a fear that in one case led a couple to briefly contemplate abortion.
The presentation highlighted how helpful reaching out to the university and their peers was for these students; the outpouring of support solidified and affirmed their decision to choose life. These men and women were then successfully able to raise their children and finish their educations. Despite the inherent obstacles an unplanned pregnancy situation presents, the support of the university provided them with the necessary resources to overcome the challenges.
The message of the video was clear: Notre Dame offers an abundance of resources to students faced with an unexpected pregnancy. The university is fully committed to helping these students.
Unfortunately, the panel discussed, if these resources are not communicated to students in this vulnerable state, they may feel alone and opt for a seemingly “quick solution”: abortion. In order to saves the lives of unborn children and to prevent Notre Dame students from making an immoral decision, it is crucial to promote pregnancy resources and clarify some of the myths.
Notre Dame neither expels nor penalizes students who find themselves pregnant, but is instead committed to ensuring that these students complete their education and helping arrange the necessary accommodations. This includes helping students adjust their schedules, providing financial support and ensuring that the student’s spiritual, emotional and physical needs—as well as those of her baby—are met. Students are allowed to remain in their dorms during the pregnancy. Free pregnancy tests are available at St. Liam’s, and the University Counseling Center also offers counseling support for expectant students and their significant others.
Those who identify as pro-life must be committed to promoting the value of life through not only our words, but also our actions and support. As a Notre Dame family, we must be committed to supporting our peers who are pregnant or parenting. Staying informed about the resources on campus equips us to help our friends when they are most vulnerable.
Furthermore, we must also resist apathy. The predominant perception that pregnancy does not happen on campus is not only inaccurate, but often perpetuates the isolation that a pregnant student feels. We need to create a community in which a student who finds him- or herself facing an unplanned pregnancy does not feel alienated or ostracized, but knows that people care.
Notre Dame Right to Life hopes to continue this discussion with a series of workshops on issues related to pregnancy and post-abortive resources, and will also be supporting similar initiatives promulgated by other organizations on-campus. ND RTL, in conjunction with the Gender Relations Center and Life Initiatives, is hosting a Women’s Care Center workshop on Tuesday, November 19 at 5:00 p.m. in CoMo Lounge. Come join us in fostering support for students and the decision of life.
For more information on pregnancy resources visit: pregnancysupport.nd.edu.
Angela Bermudez is a senior political science and theology major. She is the Motherhood Resources Commissioner for Right to Life and a Zumba enthusiast. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.