Pro-Choice Day at Northern Kentucky University marked the first time in NKU’s 38-year history when pro-choice views have been represented in a campus event.
Educators for Reproductive Freedom and Students for Choice coordinated the event, which took place Nov. 15 in the University Center Lobby. The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation and The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, among others, were invited to represent the reasons why they believe women’s reproductive freedom is not effectively addressed at NKU.
“There is so much misinformation out there about birth control and condoms. We want to educate women about their choices so they can make informed decisions. We want to cut down on the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions through education,” said Fran Zaniello, a faculty member who helped coordinate the event.
Pro-Choice Day is part of a mission led by Students for Choice to “inform, advocate and protect people’s rights to safe and healthy reproductive services and to maintain a future in which all people’s rights are respected,” as stated in the Students for Choice Constitution. The group was founded earlier this year by Alex Kindell to “raise awareness about women’s reproductive choices.”
“Up until this year, the word abortion was not heard on this campus,” Kindell said. “Most students were not even aware they could receive free condoms and pregnancy tests at the health center on campus. I felt pro-choice students had no voice and I wanted that to change.”
Students for Choice now has 35 members on its roster and more than 200 members in its Facebook group. Kindell said once taboo issues are now being addressed openly in a mostly respectful dialogue on campus, with the exception of chalkings on campus that stated “Pro-choice Christians, giving Christ a bad name.”
Northern Right to Life set up a table outside of the UC during Pro-Choice Day and wore all black “in mourning for the children who won’t be born,” said Lauren Macke, member of NRTL. “I think Students for Choice has the right to express (its) opinions and I believe an open discussion is important, but I don’t agree with (its) ideas,” Macke said.
“There is a huge misconception that Students for Choice is all about abortion.
It is really about prevention and keeping women healthy and safe through education,” Kindell said.
Those who were invited to represent women’s freedom to choose were glad to see awareness being raised at NKU. “I have so much hope for Northern Kentucky. This is the most anti-choice area in the region. I think there are leaders in this area who do not want to acknowledge they have constituents who are pro-choice,” said Amanda Kreps-Long, director of the Reproductive Freedom Project for the ACLU of Kentucky.
“Having children has made me more pro-choice,” said Kreps-Long, who is expecting her second child this winter. She helps coordinate ACLU fund-raisers in Louisville “that are big family events. These are pro-family issues and that message gets lost.”
Pro-Choice Day culminated with a panel discussion of five clergy who talked about their pro-choice views. “There are more abortions in countries where abortions are illegal,” said Gil Schroerlucky, a retired Methodist minister from Louisville, Ky. He said when the government passes laws making abortion illegal, it is prohibiting religious liberty and infringing on the Ninth Amendment right to privacy.
“We affirm the responsibility women have to make choices in regard to problem pregnancies. A decision to terminate a pregnancy can be morally acceptable under certain circumstances,” said Presbyterian minister the Rev. Woody Berry from Lexington, Ky.
All five members pointed out their views do not represent the outlook of their entire denomination. They agreed if a person feels abortion is acceptable when a women has been raped or her life is endangered, that person is pro-choice.
“I was preparing for a debate in high school where I was to argue the pro-life side. The more research I did, I realized I was pro-choice because, among other things, I could never tell a young rape victim she had to have her attacker’s baby,” Kindell said.