Georgetown University Right to Life, a student group that advocates on issues of human life including opposition to abortion and the death penalty, celebrated its annual Life Week April 8 to 14 to encourage discourse on pro-life issues ranging from the death penalty to abortion.
The student group hosted six events throughout the week, each focusing on a different aspect of what it means to be “pro-life.” The events included a talk on ableism; a bake sale to raise funds for the Northwest Center, a center founded by Georgetown alumni to support mothers and pregnant women in need to preserve the dignity of human life; and a screening of “I Lived on Parker Avenue,” a pro-adoption movie.
GU Right to Life President Havens Clark (COL ’20) said the diversity of issues discussed during Life Week go far beyond the anti-abortion stance the group is often associated with.
“During Life Week, we try to focus on a number of the aspects of the pro-life movement that our club supports, but we usually aren’t known for,” Clark wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Life Week has featured a bake sale to benefit a pregnancy center every year since it was established. However, the film screening, discussion events, diaper drive and Flag Day — which used a visual display to depict the magnitude of abortion in the United States — differed from previous years’ programming.
In a talk titled “What is Ableism?” Dawn Parkot, a speaker and disability rights advocate, spoke about the connections between the pro-life movement and disability. Parkot was born with cerebral palsy, a neural condition that affects motor function. Parkot studied computer science and mathematics at the University of Notre Dame.
The talk focused on the ways the disabled community is discriminated against in the United States, the high abortion rate of fetuses with genetic disorders and Parkot’s own story of living a full, meaningful life.
Life Week typically features a film screening, but the movie and its theme vary each year. This year, the group showed “I Lived on Parker Avenue,” a documentary that depicts the reunion between an adopted man and his biological parents and promotes adoption.
A signature Life Week event, Flag Day incorporated a visual display to showcase the frequency of abortion. The group placed 2,537 flags on Copley Lawn to represent the number of abortions that take place each day in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a think tank.
Nicholas Cote, who sits on the board of directors for Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, discussed the conservative case against the death penalty on Wednesday evening’s talk.
Melvin Thomas (COL ’18), vice president of Right to Life, said the talk offered a different narrative concerning conservatives’ opinions about the death penalty.
“Typically, people think of conservatives as pro-death penalty, so we thought it’d be interesting to have a conservative speak against it,” Thomas said.
Though the first half of the week spotlighted discussion of pro-life issues, the second half of the week was centered on action, according to Clark.
“Life Week also has a large service component to it,” Clark wrote.
The group is also running a diaper drive on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. to benefit HOPE, a pregnancy resource center in northern Virginia. Right to Life members plan to go to Safeway and ask customers to purchase diapers and baby formula to donate to the campaign.
The diversity of topics covered in Life Week 2018 reflect Thomas and Clark’s goals for Right to Life. Thomas said the pair have tried to explore a wider range of pro-life issues.
“Our theme for this year was basically centered around overcoming or dispelling misconceptions about the pro-life movement,” Thomas said.
As Life Week comes to a close, Thomas said he was pleased with the diversity of the week’s events.
“It’s a really great time especially as the year ends for members to see the full plethora of things we do as a club, between our service events, our speaker events, and our social events,” Thomas said. “It’s a great time for people just to see everything we do.”
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the number of flags placed on Copley Lawn and Clark’s school.