Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Feminists For Life Celebrates Introduction Of Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant And Parenting Student Services Act Of 2005

Today Senator Elizabeth Dole introduced S. 1966, the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Students Act of 2005.

If passed, the act would establish a pilot program to provide $10 million for 200 grants to encourage institutions of higher education to establish and operate a pregnant and parenting student services office. The on-campus office would serve parenting students, prospective student parents who are pregnant or imminently anticipating an adoption, and students who are placing or have placed a child for adoption.

Feminists for Life's President Serrin Foster said, “We are so pleased that we can share what we have learned from pregnant and parenting students through our efforts hosting FFL's Pregnancy Resource Forums at top campuses across the country. Today's parents need creative solutions that challenge the status quo. Thanks to the leadership of Sen. Dole more women, children and families will be better served.”

Research by Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood's research arm, proves that women of college age are at highest risk of having an abortion. Forty-five percent of women who have abortions are of college-age, 18-24 years old. Women with some college had a pregnancy rate that was lower than average, but still “had the highest abortion rate of any educational group.” “The statistics support what pregnant and parenting students have been telling Feminists for Life for years-that they need more resources and support,” Foster said. Among women who had abortions, 71% of 18-19 year olds and 58% of 20-24 year olds said having a child would interfere with their education or career. “We need to listen.”

Participating colleges would be responsible for hosting an initial pregnancy and parenting resource forum to assess resources on and off campus and set goals for improved services and access to services including housing, child care, maternity coverage and riders for additional family members in any student health care plan, flexible schedules and telecommuting, resources for pregnant women and children, and counseling. Feminists for Life's successful Pregnancy Resource Forums served as the model for the legislation. Schools would annually assess the performance of the office in meeting the needs of pregnant and parenting students. The college may allow employees to access these services, too.

The first Pregnancy Resource Forum was hosted at Georgetown University in 1997 and moderated by Foster. “We took an inventory of services and decided what was most needed. Within two years Georgetown trustees set aside nearby housing for parents, started Hoyas Kids childcare, established a 24-hour hotline, and cross-trained counselors to address pregnancy resources as well as sexual assault and domestic violence.” Every year Georgetown hosts another Pregnancy Resource Forum to see what improvements should be made next.
Since that first forum, FFL has brought the program to top colleges across the country, including Harvard, Swarthmore, Berkeley, Stanford, Northwestern, University of Chicago, Loyola Baltimore and Notre Dame, among others. Foster shared solutions created at one college with the next. “Every college built on the others' solutions.”

“Schools can talk about everything else in orientation, classes and the student newspaper—drinking, drugs, rohypnol, sexual assault, STDs, domestic violence and gay rights—but they never bring up pregnancy. When a woman doesn't see anyone else succeeding as a student parent, she assumes that the administration won't support her. Most often the clinic automatically refers her to an abortion clinic. There is a better way.”

In 1999, Feminists for Life's Pregnancy Resource Forums inspired similar legislation by Michigan women legislators—both Democrats and Republicans of the House and Senate. Foster told them about the needs of pregnant and parenting students and the success of FFL's groundbreaking program. The Michigan legislation offered an incentive to schools to provide pregnant and parenting students a single location on campus where they can acquire information about prenatal care, foster care, adoption, and other services. Designed to debut at four Michigan schools, the law was overwhelmingly supported by both pro-life and pro-choice legislators and signed into law by the pro-choice Governor Granholm.

“We have found that when you listen to the unmet needs of women and focus on identifying and creating resources on- and off-campus, people will stop yelling at each other and start working together to solve the problems that drive women to abortion.”

University of Virginia students started a babysitting service. Pro-life students raised funds and placed diaper decks in men's and women's rooms all over campus to support more than 1,000 student parents enrolled at Berkeley each year. Wellesley pro-life and pro-choice students recently collaborated in a rummage sale to benefit pregnant and parenting mothers.

“Many women want to have children earlier again, for health reasons, but when a woman is in a 6- or 8-year doctoral program with her husband, it can be very difficult. We can make this easier for them,” said Foster. “Elizabeth Cady Stanton would have been proud to know that she still inspires action today.” The bill is named for the mother of the women's movement, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was also the mother of seven children. “Stanton was a revolutionary who consistently advocated for the rights of women, women's education, the celebration and acceptance of motherhood, and the protection of our children-born and unborn.”
“Feminists for Life gives colleges and universities the tools to provide the 'rest of the choices.' We are sparking a new revolution on campus. The legislation introduced today by Senator Dole can put solutions into hyperdrive. She too walks in the footsteps of Elizabeth Cady Stanton,” said Foster.

Read more about FFLU—our dream campus. To host an FFL speaker or Pregnancy Resource Forum on your campus, contact

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