Vitals Reporting on the pro-life movement

School’s out, but the pro-life movement’s on

Life | Students use online tools to keep advocating for unborn babies
by Leah Hickman
Posted 4/27/20, 04:24 pm

The day SkyView Academy High School called a last-minute school assembly in the gym to discuss the coronavirus, high school senior Brooke Rizuto and her Students for Life group had planned to use the school library for a speaking event featuring local pro-life activists. But the mandatory assembly forced them to cancel. When the campus in Highlands Ranch, Colo., closed for the remainder of the year, Rizuto said, “Every event we had planned was completely canceled.”

“April is usually one of our most busy months on college and high school campuses,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. But the COVID-19 pandemic has forced pro-life college and high school students like Rizuto to make major changes to their plans for campus activist work and to move much of their activism online.

The cancellations have had positive effects, too. “Historically, we see the most vandalism and threats of violence against students [in April],” Hawkins said. It’s also the time of year when groups like Planned Parenthood usually come into schools to teach their liberalized version of sex education. With the sudden closure of campuses, vandalism and violence are a non-issue, and Planned Parenthood has lost its opportunity to reach students in the classroom. Pro-life organizations have an unexpected opportunity to engage with students without pushback from pro-abortion groups, which Hawkins said have been “neutralized.”

Now, instead of planning and hosting in-person events, Rizuto is participating in online training and other meetings. A couple of weeks ago, she joined other high school and college pro-life advocates from Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming for a video chat with their Students for Life regional coordinator. During the videoconference, each student attempted to engage pro-abortion supporters on social media. Rizuto posted a question on NARAL Pro-Choice America’s Facebook page. Another student, Jaylem Durousseau from Regis University in Denver, posted comments on several abortion threads on Reddit. He said some of those discussions continued for a day and a half. Although the interactions helped Durousseau learn to carry on online conversations, “it’s hard to gauge how much people were able to change their minds,” he said. “Sometimes, all we’re really doing is just planting that seed in someone’s mind.”

Pro-life students from across the country also have come together for online training and webinars. Students for Life hosted a virtual showing of the pro-life movie Unplanned a couple of weeks ago. On Friday, the organization is encouraging students to participate in a chalk contest by writing pro-life messages on their driveways for their neighbors to see.

Hawkins said the organization has found more than 100 leads for possible new Students for Life groups because of its virtual events: “We’ve never had an initiative where we’ve had so many new group leads come in.”

But students on the ground fear that the lack of in-person interactions could lead them to lose momentum with their campus clubs. Rizuto said talking face-to-face was the most effective way for her to encourage other students to join the pro-life club at her school. Some of the students who showed commitment while on campus have not joined in the online efforts. Durousseau said that carrying on pro-life work remotely would likely continue to be difficult: “But I think it’s going to be something that will teach us how to be grittier. Everything else is going to seem so much easier to do.”

Associated Press/Photo by Aleks Furtula (file) Associated Press/Photo by Aleks Furtula (file) Judges consider a euthanasia case in The Hague, Netherlands.

Protecting those who kill

The Dutch Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that prosecutors can no longer charge doctors in the Netherlands for euthanizing dementia patients who gave written consent. In 2019, a Dutch court found a doctor not guilty for performing euthanasia on a 74-year-old dementia patient in 2016. The patient had previously given the doctor consent to euthanize her, but at the time of her death, she fought the procedure. The patient’s family, who supported euthanizing her, had to hold her down while the doctor finished the process.

The Netherlands became the first nation to legalize euthanasia in 2002. Prosecutors challenged the law for the first time with the 2019 case. “A crucial question to this case is how long a doctor should continue consulting a patient with dementia, if the patient in an earlier stage already requested euthanasia,” said a spokeswoman for prosecutors, who believed the doctor should have had a “more intensive discussion” with the patient before administering life-ending drugs.

Under the new ruling from the Supreme Court, dementia patients will not be required to confirm their previous requests for euthanasia. They must simply make written requests before dementia has advanced to the point that the patients can “no longer express their will.” —L.H.

Associated Press/Photo by Sue Ogrocki (file) Associated Press/Photo by Sue Ogrocki (file) Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt

Across the nation

Oklahoma: U.S. District Judge Charles Goodwin handed down a preliminary injunction on April 20 that allows abortions to continue in the state despite the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, previously ordered that all abortions be placed on hold in the state as a part of his ban on elective procedures to conserve medical supplies. The injunction takes the place of a temporary restraining order Goodwin issued the previous week.

Texas: The office of Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton clarified on Wednesday night that new relaxed rules on elective procedures would allow abortions to resume in the state. On April 20, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the earlier emergency order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott, also a Republican, to postpone all elective procedures, including abortions, during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Arkansas: The 8th Circuit ruled on Wednesday that the state could enforce Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s order halting all elective medical procedures, including abortion, during the pandemic. The Republican governor is allowing elective medical procedures to resume on Monday. For now, hospitals must first test patients for COVID-19 before their procedures. Arkansas abortion businesses said a shortage in test kits could limit the number of abortions they can perform.

Alabama: The 11th Circuit ruled on Thursday that the state could not require abortion businesses to postpone procedures during the pandemic, upholding U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson’s previous decision to let abortions continue despite shortages in personal protective equipment.

Kentucky: Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, vetoed legislation on Friday that would have given the state’s attorney general power to regulate abortion businesses and the authority to put a hold on abortions during the pandemic.

Tennessee: The 6th Circuit ruled on Friday that the state must allow abortions to continue during the pandemic. The week before, a federal judge granted abortion businesses the right to stay open despite a statewide stoppage of elective medical procedures. —L.H.

IPPF IPPF IPPF Director-General Alvaro Bermejo

Going out of business

The International Planned Parenthood Federation earlier this month reported that 5,633 mobile and static Planned Parenthood facilities in 64 countries have closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 20 percent of brick-and-mortar Planned Parenthood facilities have shut down. IPPF said locations in South Asia have seen the most closures with the shuttering of more than 1,872 providers and other “service outlets.”

IPPF Director-General Alvaro Bermejo said some centers closed because of government orders or social distancing guidelines. “Without access to personal protective equipment and a secure supply of vital commodities like contraceptives, members will not be able to reopen lost service points, and more will close,” he said.

Earlier this month, Californians for Life reported that 11 California abortion businesses closed because of COVID-19, noting that while some have since reopened, at least six have not. —L.H.

Putting mothers-to-be first

Americans United for Life called on Congress to prioritize benefits for children and their mothers—especially pregnant mothers—when formulating future economic relief packages. The AUL proposal would help prevent women from seeking abortions just because of a poor economic situation. “Every mother who might otherwise feel pressured to consider abortion should be empowered to make the choice for life, and congressional relief can play a key role in encouraging life-affirming outcomes throughout this season,” the proposal said. —L.H.

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Leah Hickman

Leah is a reporter for WORLD Magazine and WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Hillsdale College graduate. Leah resides in Cleveland, Ohio. Follow her on Twitter @leahmhickman.

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    Posted: Tue, 04/28/2020 02:14 pm

    Re: Going out of business

    I've been praying that workers in the abortion industry will answer the call for more health workers needed to save lives affected by COVID-19. This could lead to further closures of abortion clinics due to lack of workers -- whose eyes have been opened and hearts changed. Continue to pray and support organizations such as And Then There Were None, which successfully provides support for those who want out of the abortion industry and into new lives. 

  • Laura W
    Posted: Wed, 04/29/2020 02:50 pm

    That's a great thought--I'll pray too!

    Posted: Tue, 04/28/2020 03:41 pm

    Pelosi will get a direct call from Planned Parenthood and she will demand a bill or a pork attachment for them to get lots more money.