For Catholic students, ‘pro-life’ goes beyond anti-abortion

by Rachel Smilan-Goldstein

The GW Catholics are changing their meaning of “pro-life” this semester.

The organization is launching an “Every Life Matters” movement, extending beyond the topic of abortion to life at all ages to address issues like suicide, euthanasia and body image.

“We started to realize that there’s a misunderstanding about what it means to be pro-life, and a lot of it is our fault in the pro-life movement because we focus almost exclusively on abortion, but it does go beyond to all of the things that you learn about in the gospels,” Junior Chris Crawford, the group’s director of pro-life ministry, said.

The GW Catholics frequently participate in anti-abortion activities on and off campus. The group participated in the March for Life on the National Mall Jan. 25, and prays the rosary once a week outside of the Washington Surgi-Clinic which offers abortion services on F Street.

Crawford hopes that the “Every Life Matters” campaign will spread Catholics’ views among diverse college students.

For the group’s pro-life committee member sophomore Lisa Campbell, the message strikes a personal chord. She said someone close to her experienced an unplanned pregnancy at a young age, and she has seen the child as a blessing, leading her to wish that others will “let those blessings into their lives.”

“I hope we can get a lot more people on campus to see the value of all human life at all stages, whether that’s conception or all the way to natural death when you’re older, to a teenager and a college student, people struggling with suicide and body image issues,” Campbell said.

Though the organization reaches out to the greater D.C. population, the group’s campaign will be primarily focused on GW, hoping to change students’ attitudes toward their initiative by focusing on the cultural rather than political implications.

The group’s “Cupcakes for Life” campaign, in which club members hand out free cupcakes with facts about abortion, will continue this year. But the group plans to implement new methods of outreach as well, delivering food to area homeless and inviting religious liberty speakers to campus.

“The whole goal with all pro-life activity is to create a culture of life where people value life and it starts in your small community, so while we’re here for four years we want to do that on campus, we want to create a culture where people are comfortable, where people feel loved and where people feel like they matter,” Crawford said.

The committee also plans to distribute anti-suicide notes to students, sprinkling cards with positive messages on them across campus.

Junior Christina Longofono, also a member of the group, said she hopes the project will show students that they are loved and will decrease the prevalence of suicide attempts.

“Sometimes you just get so focused on how you’re feeling that you forget about the people around you and how much they love you,” Longofono said. “Being pro-life isn’t just being anti-abortion, it’s about promoting the dignity of every human life.”

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