Pro-life speaker met with mixed reaction on UT campus

Serrin Foster arrived at the Alumni Memorial Building on Tuesday night greeted by a capacity crowd ready to hear her trademark pro-life speech on abortion. The event was not met without criticism. As the audience filed into the auditorium, protesters stood outside of the venue with picket signs.

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Serrin Foster arrived at the Alumni Memorial Building at the University of Tennessee Tuesday night greeted by a capacity crowd ready to hear her trademark pro-life speech on abortion.

The event was not met without criticism. As the audience filed into the auditorium, protesters stood outside of the venue with picket signs.

“My take is that her presentation is rather biased,” said Nick Brewer, a sophomore at UT and a pro-choice advocate. “She is saying…that the disadvantages…of women in this country do lead to the choice of abortion. It is not the only reason that people make the choice for abortion.”

The protesters made clear that they weren’t protesting the event itself, but the ideas in Foster’s speech.

“Personally I think it’s a good idea to have information from multiple sides,” Brewer said. “I wish that she had a more rounded presentation. I believe that your presentation and what you’re saying to all these students should be more well rounded and less biased.”

Not all students were opposed to the ideas Foster presented.

Charlie Teague, a junior at UT said, “She brought up the point that we shouldn’t put value on life because of the circumstance…it is a terrible situation [but] there’s still another life involved and that’s empowering.”

“I’m glad because usually they bring speakers from the mainstream,” Teague continued. “I’d say it’s more mainstream now to be pro-choice, so it’s good that they’re accommodating a more traditional view instead of just the more mainstream view.”

According to polling data, Foster’s pro-life stance is losing approval in America. A recent Gallup poll shows that 50 percent of those polled consider themselves pro-choice, where 44 percent of those polled consider themselves pro-life.

Foster reports that, of women who received an abortion, 75 percent say that having a baby would interfere with their lives, 69 percent are poor, working poor or on the line, 61 percent already have a child and 50 percent are repeat abortions.

“Why did she have this abortion?” Foster said. “We should start with the unmet needs of the women, and examine policies in workplaces and communities. We shouldn’t export abortion, but solutions.”

The solutions Foster advocates for include services such as maternity leave for students, accessible childcare, housing assistance, counseling services for women who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or rape, child support enforcement and many more.

Foster’s organization, Feminists for Life, organizes events called FFL Pregnancy Resource Forums that, according to their website, “takes an inventory of pregnancy and parenting resources on and off campus and shares solutions from other campuses, the forum guides audience members and panelists to set goals and create a tailor-made plan for your university.”

The forum was first held at Georgetown University in 1997. Following the forum, the university established a full-time Pregnancy Services Counselor position and opened a daycare facility. The following year the university implemented free home pregnancy testing kits and a pregnancy hotline.

Following the creation of the forum, there was a 30 percent decrease in abortions.

Foster ended her presentation by praising the University of Tennessee for being a “very supportive” campus for pregnant students and mothers, a statement which received audible support from students from all sides of the debate.

Edited by Jessica Carr