“All life has a purpose, planned or unplanned,” read the baby blue chalk on the Hayden Mall sidewalk. Students for Life at ASU also sketched a fetal development timeline into the pavement to educate students strolling from one class to another.
Students for Life's website said the club seeks to lead the ASU community in the "growth, expansion and development of the pro-life movement."
Mariah Martinez, a junior studying psychology and the chair for the Pregnant on Campus initiative under Students for Life, said there has been a pro-life organization on campus since 1973 when Roe v. Wade passed, but the national organization of Students for Life (SFL) took over the club in 2011.
Martinez said she has been active in the pro-life movement for most of her life.
“For me, it just means saving lives and respecting women, being pro-woman, pro-baby, pro-life,” she said. “It means being protectors of the innocent. That means for both women and for the unborn child.”
Members of SFL participate in dialogue training, which teaches them how to talk about their pro-life stance, and chalking events all over campus. Martinez said they also traveled to San Francisco for the Walk for Life.
“I think it’s extremely important people get educated on the issue of abortion and the whole pro-life versus pro-choice viewpoints,” she said. “I think we really need to have these discussions and help people think deeper about it.”
Martinez said that as the Pregnant on Campus chair, she works with pregnant and parenting students that need help balancing school, work and parenting.
From March 13 to 16, SFL will be hosting their first Pregnant on Campus Week. Martinez said she has been working on the project for six months now.
“I’m trying to do a huge interactive week, several tables on Hayden Lawn with interactive activities, baby shower drives, ways that people can get educated,” she said.
Martinez said the point of the event is to provide aid for parents who think they need to drop out of school because of an unexpected pregnancy.
“We’re saying ‘no, we can help you with that,’” she said. “And we can tell you what your rights are under Title IX, help them understand that Title IX also includes pregnancy.”
Jackie Welsh, a senior studying English linguistics and the president of SFL, runs and reserves space for their meetings. She has participated in the organization since her freshman year.
Welsh said she got involved when she tagged along to the organization's trip to New Mexico to advocate for a bill that was being passed that limited third trimester abortions.
“After that, I was really interested in being more involved in the club,” she said.
Welsh said being pro-life on a college campus was not as difficult as she expected.
“I’m from Seattle, and I was the only pro-life person my age that I knew,” she said. “The students at ASU are pretty open-minded.”
Welsh said the only time the organization had any challenges is when they try to be involved in social justice or sexual wellness events held by pro-choice organizations.
“We have a very peaceful presence around our events and when we’re out on campus,” she said. “People feel very comfortable coming up to us. I would say it’s not as bad as some other colleges have it.”
Welsh said the organization can help students with pro-life stances act on what they believe.
“Something I’ve noticed with pro-life people I’ve met is they feel hopeless that the other side will never hear them out, that it’s just impossible to find any sort of common ground,” she said. “I think that’s really key to changing our culture and overcoming the polarization of the times that we’re in.”
Margaret Golonka, a junior studying studio art who is the social media chair for SFL, makes all the graphics for the club's Facebook and Twitter page and has been a member since her freshman year.
Golonka said she has been participating in the pro-life movement for about seven years.
“The reason I’m in the organization is that I think abortion is a human rights abuse,” she said. “I think it hurts one life and ends another.”
Golonka said she wants students in a crisis pregnancy to know the options available to them and help the parenting students know the resource offered to them by ASU such as breastfeeding rooms and childcare centers.
Golonka also said the organization has faced some trouble with people washing away or altering the chalk.
“When we do chalking, we try to write uplifting and positive pro-life messages,” she said. “We go through great lengths to get all the right paperwork and get everything approved. Some people still aren’t very happy with that.”
Despite the occasional opposition, Golonka said the club seeks to maintain their message.
“I think a lot of people see it as a really polarizing issue, a very black and white issue where there’s a lot of hostility, but with our club, we try to go about it with an attitude of respect,” she said.