Proposed pro-life club sparks controversy

(Screenshot via Facebook)

University of Connecticut students’ opinions on a potential pro-life club range from strongly in favor to strongly opposed after a student proposed bringing the club to campus.

“Would anyone be interested in a pro-life club at UConn? Just trying to gauge interest,” UConn student Michelle Reinert wrote in a Facebook post on the Buy or Sell UConn Tickets Facebook page. “If anyone cares about the pro-life cause, please be brave and speak up. If you don’t, then who will?”

Reinert declined to comment, though she wrote in her original Facebook post that she wanted her club to “aid and advocate for all life” and protect and support those who can’t advocate for themselves.

“This is all I can say at this point, but whatever the club aims to do will be done with love,” Reinert said. “I know it is a controversial topic, but it is important in today’s society and I think we can at least all agree on that.”

Joseph Gatti, sixth-semester communication major and president of Turning Point USA, a conservative youth organization, at UConn, said the organization would be interested in assisting with getting the club off the ground.

“I founded the Turning Point USA at UConn chapter last year,” Gatti said. “I’ve already been through the ropes on how to start a club and I don’t mind helping other UConn students with getting their ambitious projects started as well.”

Gatti said he would also be interested in a collaboration because one of Turning Point USA’s goals is to form relationships with other clubs that share its values.

“Turning Point USA is a free-market, conservative club on campus, so naturally working with a club that’s pro-life would be helpful to us,” Gatti said. “Although I myself am pro-choice, I respect others’ opinions and I know what it’s like to start a club with a political leaning attached to it. It’s not easy, especially with how left-leaning colleges are.”

Emily Taylor, an eighth-semester dietetics major minoring in women’s, gender and sexuality studies, said she would prefer a reproductive justice club and has considered starting one.

“I think there just isn’t much that a pro-life club could do other than shame women by protesting at clinics, support legislation that hurts women who are often already disadvantaged or support crisis pregnancy centers, which mislead women by essentially posing as abortion clinics,” Taylor said. “You can’t convince someone who believes abortion is murder otherwise, but you can help them understand what kinds of policies and action help women and children and make the world a better place where women aren’t scared or overwhelmed by bringing a child into it.”

Taylor said she believes the concept of a reproductive justice club is something people on both sides of the abortion debate would support.

“Though I firmly identify my stance on abortion as pro-choice, I believe that a lot of pro-choice discourse directly or indirectly discourages low income women and women of color from having children, and that is a huge problem that this framework helps to address,” Taylor said.

Eighth-semester finance and sociology double major Melisa Jahić said she would only be in favor of the club if it also advocated for helping women postpartum and improving America’s foster care and adoption systems.

“If their plan is to start a group that ultimately aims to take away women’s rights in deciding what is right for their own bodies, which unfortunately is how I see this going, then no, I would not support the club,” Jahić said. “Many people… seem to have very strong political and religious beliefs for why abortion is frowned upon, but frankly, unless they’re talking from a medical standpoint, they should have no right to tell a woman what she should do with her body.”

Sixth-semester mechanical engineering major Robert Tompkins didn’t take a position on the club itself, but said he didn’t like the fact that students were debating the ethicality of abortion on Reinert’s Facebook post.

“Let her start the (club) and then argue with the club as a whole,” Tompkins said. “There is no need to argue with her simply asking if anyone would want to join.”


Gabriella DeBenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at gabriella.debenedictis@uconn.edu.