Western for Life Coordinator Rachel Johnson has plenty of experience representing the rights of unborn babies, though this is her first year at Western.
After being a very active member in Seattle University's Students for Life, Johnson was recruited to join Western for Life after one member noticed her wearing a sweatshirt that indicated her service at Seattle U. She was later asked to be the coordinator after the group learned of her prior experience.
Johnson believes that her group adds a necessary angle to the discussion on abortion, even if the opinion might be somewhat unpopular among the college-aged audience.
“This campus needs Western for Life, if for no other reason than to just open up with one another,” she said. “It's helpful to understand both sides of the [abortion] issue. This club aims to educate everyone [about] the effects of abortion.”
Part of that education means realizing that abortion goes beyond just the rights of women, fellow club member David Day said.
“There are a lot of men out there that will pressure their girlfriend into getting an abortion if the situation arises,” Day said. “We want to teach them that it's not okay to pressure them, that they should be supportive of her choice.”
According to Johnson, Western for Life plans to use a few different methods to spread their message this year. They hope to pass out fliers and possibly set up a booth on Vendors Row, which Johnson believes will “catch a few eyes.”
One change they plan on is to not bring the Genocide Awareness Project to campus again this year.
The GAP has set up in Red Square each spring for the last three years, gaining notoriety for their large images displaying abortion in a realistically graphic presentation.
Johnson believes this particular approach has been ineffective and has turned many away from their cause.
“It [The GAP] certainly has shock value,” she said. “Most people have seen the large display and it tends to make them angry. So this year, rather than showing dead fetuses, we're going to show the beauty of life with healthy babies.”
They will also be focusing on alternatives to abortion, such as giving up the child for adoption or to foster care.
Johnson expressed that many students tend to view abortion in a somewhat flippant manner. Some, she believes, do not take the humanity behind the issue into full consideration.
“If people are choosing to get an abortion just because of the level of discomfort, then I would say ‘people go through years of braces just to improve their smile. Can't you give a child nine months?'” Johnson said.
At the same time, Johnson said that Western for Life advocates making ethical personal choices whether national legislation is drafted to determine the legality of abortion or not.
“Regardless of what legislation is passed, what is important is that people are making good choices about their pregnancies,” she said.
But Johnson also said that personal choice should not override the rights of an unborn child.
“Whether you intend on raising the child or not, you cannot map out their future for them,” she said. “An uncertain future is no reason to condemn a child. They may not have been born yet, but they're entitled to life and no one should decide when it ends.”