The pro-abortion group URGE (Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity) claims to support women’s reproductive choices, including parenting. But an August 2017 article in The New York Times raises questions about whether a pregnant student was expected have an abortion before becoming an intern with the group.
In its rhetoric, URGE — a student organization that ties abortion rights in with sex education, safe spaces for transgender people, and “health and wellness” for all (who are already born, that is) — claims to support a woman’s right to make any decision she wants about her pregnancy. On the organization’s page about abortion, it reads:
Whether a person decides to become a parent, choose adoption, or have an abortion we all deserve to access the support and healthcare we need and build the families we want. URGE stands for the rights of all people to make those decisions for themselves free from stigma and shame.
And on its parenting page, URGE says:
All young people need access to information, healthcare, and support – especially those who choose to parent. These young parents need affordable prenatal care, accessible child care, quality jobs and financial and moral support to continue their education.
However, in practice, it seems that something may be wrong here.
The article in the New York Times addresses abortion access in Texas and originally appeared in The San Antonio Express News, but a statement in the piece caught the attention of Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard, who posted a video about it. According to the Times (emphasis added):
Renee Rivas… a student advocate for reproductive justice at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, decided to have an abortion after unexpectedly becoming pregnant. She said that she would not have been able to finish school or pursue an internship at URGE, a progressive campus activist group, in Washington, D.C., if she had not had access to an abortion.
Kelsey Hazzard puts this in perspective:
If you really want to support mothers in the workplace, you might, I don’t know, start with your own friggin’ internship. Now, from the article, it’s unclear whether she came to URGE with her unplanned pregnancy and they flat-out told her she needed to get an abortion—which would be illegal—or if she just, through her years of campus advocacy on behalf of the organization, knew that it wasn’t worth asking… and actually, the latter is more damning.
Surely URGE knows that younger generations are uncomfortable with abortion. In fact, only 37 percent of millennials think abortion is “morally acceptable,” and only 20 percent of millennials who are pro-choice consider abortion an important issue. By linking abortion with the causes of healthcare and trans rights, URGE may be attempting to bring young people into the pro-abortion movement.
So was an organization so dedicated to women’s freedom to make choices truly expecting a student to have an abortion in order to work for them? It’s unclear if this was indeed the case. Another way to interpret Rivas’ statements is that Rivas felt she needed to abort for the chance to finish college at all, not merely to obtain an internship. Rivas may have aborted because she was afraid she could not go to school while pregnant. For all its talk about supporting women’s choices, what is URGE doing, if anything, to make it easier for pregnant teens to finish college?
On the other hand, for years, pro-lifers have been trying to make things easier for pregnant college students.
Feminists for Life has been helping pregnant teens and young mothers go to college for decades. Feminists for Life helped establish the Pregnancy Assistance Funds for Pregnant and Parenting Students, a federal grant to help college students having their babies. Feminists for Life president Serrin Foster says:
Pregnancy and parenting should never terminate an education. No woman, no parent, should be forced to choose between her education and career or her child, a child that needs the very support education can help to provide. Pregnant and parenting students deserve better. That includes birthmothers — and student dads like mine. They deserve equal access to opportunities in higher education. And society deserves to benefit from the unique contributions that their education will allow them to make.
Pregnancy resource centers across the nation help young women to access grants and scholarships in order to continue their pregnancies while going to school.
Teen Mother Choices International, founded in 2007 by Christa March, helps teen mothers in many ways. One thing they do is try to enable them to finish high school and go to college. They offer to pay 50 percent of child care expenses for a young mother in college, helping her finish her education.
It is interesting that it is pro-life people, not pro-choice ones, who are trying to help young mothers finish college. For all their talk of “choices,” those who support legalized abortion seem to do little who help women who want to have their babies. This lack of outreach to women who want to have their children shows where pro-abortion groups’ priorities lie.