By Mackenzie Young
I was not always Pro-Life. My journey from apathetic pro-choicer to vocal Pro-Life activist began my freshman year of college. While attending a bible study, our worship leader Daniel asked us to pray for an unborn baby named Abel. Daniel and his wife, Kelly, received news that their son, Abel, was likely to have Trisomy 18. Trisomy 18 is a severely life-limiting diagnosis that affects the development of major organ systems. The lives of babies who have Trisomy 18 often end in the womb or shortly after birth. The doctors advised Daniel and Kelly to terminate the pregnancy “because it wasn’t viable.” I was in awe as Abel’s parents accepted the medical diagnosis and his life as a gift entrusted to them by God. Abel was born only one week shy of his due date. I watched his parents shoulder parenthood with grace and charity – joyfully meeting Abel’s needs as best they could. Fifteen days into his earthly life, Abel passed into the next. Although I never met Abel in person, I openly wept for the loss of his life. Clearly, the pro-choice convictions I then held needed reevaluation, so I became involved in Mustangs for Life, the Pro-Life group at Southern Methodist University.
Mustangs for Life hosted a display on campus called the Memorial of Innocents to honor children who were not given a voice the way Abel was so lovingly given. I held vigil with the officers of the club over the Memorial of Innocents, now famous since anti-Life vandals attacked our display. When vandals pulled the memorial crosses out of the ground and threw them into the trash, we placed the crosses right back into the ground.
Soon after, the president of the club asked me if I wished to apply for Texas Right to Life’s Dr. Joseph Graham Fellowship, and I was elated. Although this happened less than 24 hours before the application was due, and like any good college student, I pulled an all-nighter to write the essays. I knew this was the opportunity my activist heart had been seeking. The purpose of the Dr. Joseph Graham Fellowship is to build a Culture of Life by dedicating 50 hours of education, activism, and service on campus each semester. The program builds leaders by training students to teach others about all aspects of the Pro-Life cause.
Since the previous year’s Memorial of Innocents provoked a counter display “commemorating each woman who received abortion services,” we knew we must show that Pro-Lifers are indeed pro-woman. When we planned the next Memorial of Innocents, we also advertised a panel to open dialogue between Pro-Life students and abortion advocates.
However, in the dead of night as we prepared for the next memorial and our Pro-Life panel, the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs at SMU changed the policy regarding displays on our campus lawn. Suddenly, our display was relegated to a small side park, completely tucked away from the public sphere. SMU, in an act of cowardice, tried to renege their own policies about freedom of speech and academic discourse because our display was “damaging to the psyches of students.” Thus began the fight to keep our memorial in a position of public prominence and discourse.
Needless to say, we won our fight! This past year our display was back on the main campus lawn, and we took extra care to place flowers on the crosses as a tribute to women who now recognize the tragedy and wounds of abortion. Not only did this beautify and elevate our display, but many post-abortive women confided in us and began healing conversations.
Because our opposition claims we use anti-woman rhetoric, Mustangs for Life plans to launch a firm counter-narrative. We are now establishing a Pregnant and Parenting Student Scholarship at SMU so that women can continue college and their pregnancy simultaneously. We are working with the pregnant and parenting student demographic at SMU to advocate on their behalf to the newly established childcare facility on campus. We are working to ensure that students will have access to the facility, and we will raise the funds to pay for their childcare costs. We desire to say to a young woman, panicked by a crisis pregnancy, “You CAN do this. Money isn’t an issue. Let us help you choose LIFE.”
If you’re the praying type, please keep Mustangs for Life in your prayers. We truly could not do any of this without you. We feel honored to defend the Right to Life alongside you. Our work on campus is changing lives – saving them – every day. When we are discouraged, I think of sweet baby Abel, and my Pro-Life work becomes a bit easier. Remember your Abel, and keep fighting the good fight.