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Pro-life student group discusses sexual assault as part of We Care Tour

October 16, 2014
<p>Representatives from the Michigan State Students for Life organization and Students for Life of America set up banners on Oct. 14, 2014, at the People's Park behind Wells Hall. Representatives addressed issues of the prevention of sexual assault through the We Care Project. Aerika Williams/The State News</p>

Representatives from the Michigan State Students for Life organization and Students for Life of America set up banners on Oct. 14, 2014, at the People's Park behind Wells Hall. Representatives addressed issues of the prevention of sexual assault through the We Care Project. Aerika Williams/The State News

Members of MSU Students for Life, MSU’s pro-life student group, wants to foster a dialogue about sexual assault. Tuesday afternoon, members of the organization along with representatives from Students for Life America, their national sponsors, gathered behind Wells Hall as the first of more than a dozen stops on the We Care Tour .

“Two main points — we want to increase awareness for the prevention of sexual assault so we have resources related to that. And secondly, we want to have a dialogue on how we can help those who are survivors of sexual assault, specifically those who become pregnant,” said R.J. McVeigh, who is the regional coordinator of the Great Lakes region for Students for Life America.

About 10 volunteers were in attendance and the executive board handed out fliers. A business card-sized flier laid out the definitions of consent that campaigns against sexual assault have promoted.

Accompanying that was a postcard-sized document that discouraged pregnant survivors of sexual assault from receiving abortions. The document emphasized abortion was the “active killing” of another human and a “great injustice.”

Former president of MSU Students for Life and current chairman of MSU College Republicans Lisa Jankowski said that the event was primarily to make people aware of the resources available, and also to let people know they were there to help.

McVeigh said the group so far had received positive feedback regarding their event, even from those who disagreed with them regarding their stance on abortion. He was clear to point out that the resources MSU Students for Life and Students for Life America are promoting are outside resources and they were merely referring people to them.

McVeigh and Jankowski, along with a few of the other volunteers, had attended an “apologetics training”, which is the process by which volunteers learn how to approach the sensitive topic of sexual assault to survivors. Jankowski said during the event, a few people had spoken to her about their personal experiences and it was very emotional.

McVeigh said helping survivors of sexual assault is the group’s main focus. But she said a large majority of sexual assaults do not result in the  conception of a child, a position popular among conservative and pro-life groups, although a litany of experts refuted such claims in the wake of a previous political furor.

Later that evening, speaker Rebekah Berg, who became pregnant as a result of a sexual assault, visited the group at the MSU Union to share her experience and explain her decision to keep the baby.

Standing several yards away was recent zoology graduate Zoe Jackson, a member of MSU Students United, who was handing out pro-choice pamphlets.

“I want to make it really clear that I’m really happy that they are addressing sexual assault and consent on college campuses,” Jackson said. “But I think that the fact that they’re doing it with an underlying message of pro-life is pretty distressing and I think it is continuing to take away from sexual assault victims — continuing to disempower them.”

Jackson, who works at the MSU college of law, said that although MSU Student United has not put on any specific pro-choice events, they have planned a campaign revolving around sexual assault and been hosting consent workshops at the dorm neighborhoods, “to help create a culture of consent, rather than a rape culture.”

Jackson said she organized her group’s opposition to the We Care Tour, while also collaborating with MSU Women’s Council, Law Students for Reproductive Rights, and Students for Choice to provide a pro-choice perspective on the issue of sexual assault and pregnancies.

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