Respect Life Week features new events, different perspectives

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Respect Life Week features new events, different perspectives

Kristen Miano/News Editor

Kristen Miano/News Editor

Kristen Miano/News Editor

Kristen Miano/News Editor

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The tiny wooden crosses in the Quad last week raised some eyebrows at first. Though the Cemetery of the Innocents has been a standard part of Students for Life’s Respect Life Week, the display has undergone a makeover.

Kristen Miano/News Editor

“We modified the Cemetery of the Innocents to include five subjects this year, many of which don’t traditionally align with what people think of when they think of pro-life issues,” said Students for Life president, Patrick Grillot. “This year we included things like rape, poverty and physician-assisted suicide instead of just abortion and the death penalty.”

The expanding of the display was not the only change, however. Students for Life also included a new ‘Garden of Justice,” which consisted of fake flowers meant to represent some of the positive aspects of the pro-life movement.

“The Cemetery of the Innocents is usually pretty negatively focused, but we wanted to promote the positive movements happening on campus and else where,” Grillot said.

The Garden of Justice featured statistics relating to Saint Louis University’s Pregnant and Parenting Services, the efforts of Campus Kitchens, the  number of Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network centers and the number of states that have outlawed the death penalty and physician-assisted suicide.

In addition to the changes to the Cemetery of the Innocents, Students for Life is widening the focus of life issues, giving a new angle on Respect Life Week.

“We collectively as a group wanted to take a new stab at Respect Life Week and plan it intentionally rather than just base it on things we have done in the past,” Grillot said, “So we got rid of some events, added some new ones and changed some around.”

Grillot also said that Students for Life wanted to present a side of the pro-life movement that isn’t just against abortion, but a side that seeks to create a culture that values the life and dignity of every human person.

“It’s about dialogue and bringing these issues to the front of the consciousness of students who may not be thinking about them other wise,” Grillot said, “People experiencing homelessness or people who have been raped, these people still have dignity no matter what their situation is, no matter what they’ve undergone.”

The Cemetery of the Innocents was the kick-off event, but Students for Life has several other events planned for the week. On Monday, they brought Melissa Ohden, an abortion survivor and pro-life speaker. Ohden lived through a saline infusion abortion and was born alive at seven months.

She was put up for adoption and now speaks about her experiences as an abortion survivor.

According to Grillot, the speech was attended by 85 students, the most students Students for Life has ever had attend one of their speeches.

“We wanted to bring someone different than the usual ‘abortion is bad and should be stopped” speaker,’” Grillot said. “We had some people attend who were either undecided or were pro-choice and intrigued by Melissa’s experience.”

On Thursday, Students for Life is bringing Vera Thomas, the mother of Missouri death row inmate, Reggie Clemons, to speak about the impact the death penalty has had on her own life and the impact it has had on society. Past speakers on the death penatly have been activists and advocates, but Thomas is the closest presentor to the issue that Students for Life has featured.

“Our death penalty events have been pretty well attended in the past, but Vera is the most intimate speaker we’ve had so far,” Grillot said.

Thomas will be speaking at 7 p.m. in the Wool Ballrooms. The last event is a new feature of Respect Life Week.

Students for Life is co-sponsoring a health fair in the Wool Ballrooms with several other organizations, including Pregnant and Parenting Services, the School of Nursing, Alpha Epsilon Delta, Active Minds, Relay for Life, Physical Therapy Council, Occupational Therapy Program, the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students, National Student Speech-Language Hearing Association and SLU Health 101. They have also invited Thrive Saint Louis, a pregnancy resource center, to promote their services to students. Overall, Grillot said he hopes to inspire conversation on campus with these events.

“We recognize we aren’t going to win over everyone,” Grillot said. “But our goal is to bring up the topic, and if we can’t discuss it, we hope to at least make people aware of the issues so they can have some reflection on it and see what the issues mean to them.”