Emily Geiger is Director of Education & Outreach at Equal Rights Institute. She is the former Co-President of Oles for Life at St. Olaf College, where she worked to transform campus culture using ERI’s apologetics to foster respectful and productive dialogues about abortion. At ERI, she is using her educational background to write, develop curriculum, and teach pro-life advocates how to change minds, save lives, and promote a culture of life in their communities. A sought-after speaker, Emily frequently presents lectures on college campuses, in high schools, and for churches and conferences, and she regularly appears in interviews and radio/TV/podcasts, including appearances on MSNBC, BBC Newsday, EWTN, Focus on the Family, Relevant Radio, Christianity Today, and Real Presence LIVE.
Emily is particularly passionate about reaching the youth of the pro-life movement. As a recent college student, she understands what it feels like to walk unprepared into a culture that is overwhelmingly pro-choice. Until she found ERI, she was faced daily with challenges to the pro-life position that she didn’t know how to answer, and she was afraid to speak out. She wants to equip pro-life students with the tools to intimately understand and articulate their pro-life convictions in a productive and compassionate manner.
“The future of our movement lies with our youth. It is pro-life students who sit in classrooms daily with the very women who are most likely to seek an abortion. It is pro-life students who study philosophy, biology, and social justice in their coursework. It is pro-life students who can foster a culture of dialogue, respect, understanding, and intellectual consistency in academia. I want to empower pro-life students to turn the caricature of the pro-life movement on its head, becoming known as the most loving, respectful, and logical students their campus has ever seen.”
Emily is also on the Board of Directors for Cradle of Hope, an organization that provides financial and material assistance to families and pregnant women. Cradle of Hope partners with over 180 agencies throughout Minnesota, including 7 of the 11 Minnesota Tribes, to prevent evictions and homelessness while giving families education and resources that empower them to choose life and care for their young children.
Emily graduated summa cum laude from St. Olaf College in 2021 with a B.M. in Vocal Music Education.
Name-calling isn’t new. It’s been a classic bullying and teasing tactic amongst children for centuries, and while our education system tries to eradicate such childish behavior before adulthood, we’ve clearly failed on this one. If you’ve sneaked a peek at any social media website, you’ve certainly noticed that adults show about as much maturity as your average middle schooler in this department. The abortion debate, in particular, brings out the worst in people, and you can find a whole host of names and labels being thrown around from “anti-life” and “baby killers” on the one hand to “anti-woman” and “forced-birthers” on the other.
While few pro-choice people are actually using terms like “forced-birthers,” many have adopted the term “anti-choice” in order to avoid referring to us as standing for life. Many pro-life people have decided to reclaim the term in response, openly embracing their view as being “anti-the-choice-to-kill” or something like that. A few weeks ago, we received a comment on our YouTube Channel pointing out precisely that:
This comment really got me thinking: How should we respond when someone calls us “anti-choice?” When is it helpful to debate labels, and when is it really just a distraction from the issue at hand?
Social media brings out the worst in people. Many people take the opportunity to spew their thoughts onto the screen with relative anonymity and little self-reflection. This has wreaked havoc on civil communication for the past decade, leaving hateful comment threads and a tendency to always assume the worst of intentions in its wake. We have many colorful words for obnoxious people who harass others on the Internet, from “trolls” to “gaslighters.” A few weeks ago, I was introduced to a new term: the “sea lion.”
The National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, made a splash at President Biden’s inauguration when she became the youngest poet to write and recite a piece at a presidential inauguration. She is known for focusing on issues of race, oppression, marginalization, and feminism in her art, and her performance at the inauguration brought her videos circulating around social media once again, especially this piece advocating against abortion bans. A lot of pro-life advocates are encountering this video for the first time, and it’s important for us to know how to effectively respond to the arguments she makes in it.
Now, I’m not the poet that Amanda is, so I won’t be trying to emulate her style in my responses. She’s a very talented communicator. I’m also not going to mock her or her arguments. Even though her arguments are, quite frankly, poor, mocking them isn’t beneficial to actually helping you know how to deal with them. So, I’m going to take Amanda’s arguments seriously and respond to the best versions of the arguments she’s making.
If I hear the words “Zoom meeting” one more time, I think I might scream. Let me tell you, doing college over Zoom is NOT FUN. Nope. Not at all. Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m grateful to be able to go to school without endangering my classmates and professors, but nothing about college is the same when everything you love doing gets shoved online. From classes to clubs to music to sports to a social life, college students all over the country have been finding creative ways to bring some sense of normalcy to the “Zoom University” experience.
But for collegiate pro-life advocates like me, there is one really big thing that we can’t do on Zoom, no matter how creative we get: outreach. Thousands of colleges have moved their education entirely online this semester, while the many who have retained some in-person experience have prohibited gatherings of student organizations and displays that could cause any form of congregating. My club and hundreds of other Students for Life groups around the nation are trying to engage a student body we can’t physically talk to! And it’s already difficult to recruit and maintain members, let alone when the number of productive things we can actually do on campus is almost zero…or so you might think.
A few weeks ago, I had an amazing Zoom call brainstorm session with Garrett, the Vice President of Case for Life at Case Western Reserve University. Garrett and his club have been dealing with an even more challenging situation than the one I find myself in at St. Olaf College; most of them aren’t permitted to come to campus, tasking Garrett and his fellow officers with trying to run an effective pro-life club from their laptops sitting in all corners of the United States. Spoiler alert: they’re doing a pretty fabulous job. But when Garrett reached out to me for more ideas, we combined my own experiences in the past 9 months with Students for Life at St. Olaf plus his stories from Case for Life to come up with some tips for what to do when your pro-life group can’t do outreach during COVID-19.
The other day, I saw a clip from an old White House Press Briefing. Reporters were barraging the press secretary with leading questions, reciting statistics that directly challenged the effectiveness of the new policy, and presenting contradictory quotes that the press secretary had said literally the day before.
But the press secretary calmly took in the critiques, acknowledged the flaws, and ended the event by saying “Thank you so much for bringing these problems to my attention. You all have made some really great points today, and maybe we should be rethinking this policy!”