Stephanie Schmitt is a 19-year-old student at Catholic University who is finding her voice – and speaking up in defense of the pre-born. From starting a parish pro-life newsletter in high school to encouraging her classmates to get involved and speak out, Stephanie is the picture of ingenuity and grassroots enthusiasm for defending life.
What inspired you to get involved in the pro-life movement?
I love life. As a child, I always wondered about people and how they live as individuals. I loved to hear the history of every voice, and to learn about what makes each individual important. Around the age of 15, I learned about the ultimate destroyer of voice: abortion. I began to realize the sheer number of missing voices from this world. It did not seem fair that I was walking the streets every day while someone just like me was being aborted. That is why I knew I had to be a voice for those left defenseless.
What do you do to support life and defend the pre-born?
Originally, I started with going to the March for Life every year with my Teens for Life group. From there, I ended up being so inspired that I started a newsletter at my church to make the parishioners more aware of the pro-life message. Currently, I am interning for Live Action. This awesome experience has allowed me to reach out to all sorts of people about the pro-life message.
What is your favorite tool to communicate the pro-life stance?
THE ADVOCATE. I am in love with Live Action’s The Advocate because it is an awesome way to reach people. I distribute The Advocate every Friday, and it allows me to quickly spread the truth about abortion to those who are in a rush, or to start conversations with those who would like to know more. I would definitely recommend ordering The Advocate to anyone who wants to get more involved in the pro-life movement because it gives substance to your words when you are out on the street trying to spread the truth.
What are some ways students can be active in their pro-life work during school breaks?
Handing out The Advocate is a huge help because it spreads awareness. It is unbelievable how many people have no idea what is actually going on in Planned Parenthood, and these magazines shed light on that. Also, students can spend time just talking about abortion with those around them. Opening up a dialogue about abortion is a great way to sharpen your pro-life knowledge, and to get the truth out there. Another way might be to get involved at your local church group.
Share with us an encouraging event or a success story from your work.
Once, when I was sidewalk counseling, I spoke with a man smoking outside Planned Parenthood. I asked him his story, and I just stood and listened for a few minutes. He told me about his girlfriend’s accidental pregnancy, and how she was scheduling an abortion as we spoke. I was then able to offer some suggestions for his girlfriend and her baby. He even took one of the pamphlets I had about adoption agencies nearby.
When his girlfriend came out, we had a great conversation, and I kept assuring her that this was not her only option. This girl had no idea there were adoption agencies that were free and able to work with her. After I had explained all of this to her, a weight seemed to come off her shoulders. Because she found the support she had been needing, she went home that night with a flyer and a better attitude about the beauty birth can bring. I will never forget her or her boyfriend, and I will pray for them and their baby all my life.
Share with us an encounter with pro-abortion opposition and how you faced it.
I was praying outside a Planned Parenthood one morning, and a girl passed by me several times. Eventually she came up to me and asked, “What are you doing?” I proceeded to explain to her that I was praying for the women and lives being destroyed inside the Planned Parenthood. She admitted that she was pro-choice and did not understand the purpose of my praying. Respectfully, I tried to answer all of her questions about the pro-life cause. We went back and forth for nearly two hours, and we ended up walking back to the Metro together.
This conversation lasted so long because we treated each other with respect and love. We both learned a ton from each other, and I still keep in contact with her. The best way to face opposition is with truth and love. People are more receptive to what you have to say when you hear their opinion out and present your truth with an “I know that you are human, too” kind of respect.
What advice would you give to your peers?
Always work in love. When I say this I mean both that you need to stay passionate about life and that you need to express that passion through love. I cannot count the number of times I have seen pregnant girls flee uncomfortably from angry, yelling pro-lifers.
Try to be empathetic! Treat others with the respect you’d want to be treated with in a distressing situation. It is hard enough to escape Planned Parenthood’s lies when you feel scared and alone in pregnancy, but girls tend to run even faster toward what Planned Parenthood has to offer when they feel pressured by outsiders. Treat them gently; they have been through a lot. Stand firm in what you know to be true, but be gentle when working with people who are hurting.
Name a hero or role model of yours and explain why he or she inspires you.
Lila Rose: Lila is obviously my first hero. She has done so much for the pre-born, and she started at such a young age. She is graceful and respectable, and she knows her stuff. I am so proud to be working for Lila this fall.
Bella Swan from Twilight: She kept Renesmee, her baby. This, to me, is the definition of strength and beauty. Her character did not impress me overmuch until she showed this kind of bravery.
Eponine from Les Misérables: Eponine is the perfect example of a selfless woman. Even though she is in love with Marius, she helps him in finding the love of his life. It is because of this love that she puts her own desires out of the way to help him, and that is not something many of us could do. This is the empathy the world needs.
What is your favorite pro-life quote?
“I have noticed that everyone who is for abortion has been born.” —Ronald Reagan
Given a large sum of money and any connections you need, what would you do for the pro-life cause?
I would start a home for girls who are pregnant and are in desperate need of care or a place to stay. I would find a way to make the resources (such as food, shelter, ultrasounds, adoption services, etc.) free to whoever needs them.
Do you know a student whose pro-life work should be recognized? Nominate him or her for a Live Action Student Spotlight here.