Students for Life of America brings anti-abortion movement to UWL campus


Photo taken from Students for Life's Facebook Page.

(Left to Right) Julia Tutton, Katie Voet and Colleen Duffy represent Students for Life at UWL's Involvement Fest 2019. Photo taken from Students for Life's Facebook Page.

Luis Acosta Jr., Student Government Reporter

Junior Julia Tutton is the president of University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s chapter of organization Students for Life of America, which, according to Tutton, aims to speak out on abortion issues as a non-partisan, secular group that believes, “every human life has dignity and worth.” Tutton’s hopes for the club include continued growth and to maintain an open dialogue with UWL’s student body.

UWL’s chapter of Students for Life was started last year by two graduating seniors who then passed the leadership of the club to Tutton. “It had been here at UWL four or five years ago originally as a ‘pro-life’ club, but it just kind of died out,” said Tutton.

The anti-abortion movement’s presence on campus was brought back by members of UWL’s student body who Tutton says were, “passionate about the topic, and capable enough to carry a strong discussion around campus.” The group then reached out to the Students for Life national organization, which supported their group and provided the resources needed for their efforts on campus.

Students for Life meets bimonthly to discuss what it means to be anti-abortion as a college student and analyze current events in the local and national anti-abortion community. They also complete training on apologetics, proper discourse and rhetoric regarding issues like euthanasia and plan events around campus.

Their most recent event was a showing of the anti-abortion movie Unplanned, which is the story of a former Planned Parenthood director who joined the anti-abortion movement. The movie is based off the memoir of anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson.

Students for Life also encourages members to volunteer at Birthright, a crisis pregnancy center in La Crosse. Birthright offers programs such as pregnancy testing, counseling, community resource referrals, and emotional support for pregnant women. “This organization is understaffed, and not many people know about it, so we provide student workers,” said Tutton, who said sees this opportunity as a way to properly train students in becoming crisis pregnancy advocates. Members of Students for Life now staff the clinic from 5 p.m. to 7p.m. every Tuesday evening.

UWL’s chapter of Students for Life consists of 25 members, which Tutton says are about two thirds women and one third men. Tutton says she believes this is “a solid cut” for a debate usually centralized around women’s health. She also says she is never opposed to a man’s point of view on the matter, especially with the “solid group of guys” she says participates in the club.

Tutton considers Students for Life supportive of her own ideals as pro-woman, because the organization participates with resources around campus that assist pregnant students, staff or faculty. “What our group is really about is promoting the dignity and the respect for every single human, from conception to natural death,” said Tutton. “Religion, creed, sexual orientation, no matter what.”

“We want to create a dialogue for right-to-life issues instead of the screaming matches that are commonly seen with this topic,” said Tutton. “I just really want people to know that we are happy to have conversations with people, and if you don’t know where you stand on the issue you are welcome to come talk with us, respectfully.”

There are currently no pro-choice organizations at UWL, so Students for Life acts as the only UWL organization centered on the abortion debate. However, that doesn’t mean pro-choice students are voicing their opinions on the issue. “We have had a couple people protest at various events,” said Tutton, “but so far they’ve been respectful.”

“When it comes to the abortion issue, I believe that women deserve non-violent health care,” said Tutton. She believes that creating a proper dialogue, especially during an election year, is the key to creating a comfortable conversation on campus.  “If we play our cards right, and we continue to be the club who can moderate this discussion and continue our advocacy effort, I see this club growing,” said Tutton.

Tutton says Students for Life is challenged by separation within their group, as they are non-partisan and avoid party affiliation. “It’s something that we are constantly struggling with, it’s incredibly difficult,” said Tutton. “By continuing to be aware in how words affect people, instead of playing games with all these emotional slogans we see politicians use, we want to really focus on what the real issue is,” said Tutton.

For more information about Students for Life of America, visit their website.

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