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Tim, Rachel, and I sat down to share some of our favorite stories from the people we talked to at the 2018 Students for Life East Coast Conference. We walked away from that conference glowing, excitedly telling each other stories, because that was one of the most encouraging days we had experienced at ERI. We decided that you should have a chance to listen in on those stories, especially if you’re a financial supporter that made this work, and the amazing results we witnessed, possible.
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Every other Wednesday we publish a new episode of the Equipped for Life Podcast, available to everyone who purchases our course, “Equipped for Life: A Fresh Approach to Conversations about Abortion.” Generally, these podcast episodes won’t be available to the general public, but we plan on occasionally making exceptions, and we’ve decided to make this episode available to everybody.
In this episode Josh and Tim Brahm talk about confirmation bias and why that’s a difficult thing to avoid during this political season.
Some of the questions we respond to in this episode:
– How hard should we work to balance our social media feeds so that we see both sides of multiple issues when we log into Facebook or Twitter?
– Are there any pro-choice films that you recommend to anti-abortion thinkers? In addition, are there any pro-choice films you deem to be morally reprehensible and therefore undeserving of pro-life viewership?”
The episode begins with some pre-show banter, which is common for this podcast. In this case the topic ends up directly tying with the main topic for the show.
Sometimes it is tough to be a pro-life college student. Most challenges students face are found on campus during a tabling event or with the administration, but sometimes they are inside the classroom. Far too often when pro-life students dare to speak up in defense of the unborn, professors attempt to humiliate and silence them. [Tweet that!]
I experienced this first hand in a biology class during my freshman year. The class focused on technological advances in the field of biology and the ethical concerns which accompanied the advancements.
My professor, “Dr. Nation,” covered each topic with a series of lectures, and then allowed a discussion day with groups of students representing the pro and con side of the issue for the class, followed by a Q&A portion. After the presentation on embryonic stem cell research, I excitedly got in line to ask my question for the pro-embryonic stem cell research team. They had made a case for the research on the basis that we should take advantage of the embryos instead of just letting them go to waste. This was one of the first times I had the opportunity in college to speak up for the pro-life perspective. I had just returned from my first March for Life and was nervous to challenge the students in front of the class.
Each student in front of me stepped up to ask a clarification question about something from either presentation, and a few challenged the con side. I was the first person to make any sort of case for the pro-life side in the entire semester. My turn came, and I began to ask the students if they would use the same argument to advocate for the intentional destruction of human life in other cases if it would mean biological research could progress. I was about to give a thought experiment example when Dr. Nation cut me off. He had not done this a single time with any of the students that day or in any other discussion days in the entire semester.
I hope that as more groups purchase the Equipped for Life Course, they will be prepared to participate in more outreach events like polling tables. Having a strategic plan in mind and practical supplies on hand can help your event be a greater success. Speaking as the president of a Students for Life (SFL) group that does regular outreach, here are my ten tips:
#1: Code of Conduct Agreement
I highly recommend asking each volunteer to sign a code of conduct agreement prior to arriving at outreach so they know what sort of behavior is expected and prohibited. It can be as simple as a non-violence pledge and the information of an emergency contact. You’ll want to keep these forms in a folder or binder with you at the outreach site in case something goes amiss. It also makes it really easy to respond to angry pro-choice people that say we’re like people who bomb clinics. You can just say, “No, we aren’t,” but it’s more convincing to say, “No, we aren’t, in fact everyone from our club has signed a volunteer agreement stating that they are opposed to violence against abortion practitioners and their facilities.”
If it would help you get started, you can feel free to download the volunteer agreement ERI uses when leading outreaches and edit it however you see fit.
#2: Schedule Volunteer Shifts
You will need to have volunteers sign up for shifts throughout the day, preferably that overlap by 15-30 minute intervals so you can switch out gracefully. Keep in mind that you may run into a situation where several volunteers at a time will be in the middle of dialogues, so try to have as many people scheduled at the event as you can without creating a crowd around the table.
We have exciting news to share for pro-life high school and college clubs! As many of you know, ERI published the Equipped for Life Course last year. It’s designed to help pro-life clubs get trained in dialogue skills and the most persuasive pro-life arguments so they can change more minds and save more lives during their outreaches.
If you haven’t heard about the positive impact the course had on the University of Michigan club, you can check out their report here. (Short version: Their most timid members were begging for weekly outreaches after only completing the first two modules of the course!)
For those of you who are overwhelmed by the thought of fundraising, there is now another way you can get the course. ERI president Josh Brahm spent the last several months asking our donors to pay for scholarships so some pro-life clubs could take the course without spending a dime. We’ve already given six scholarships away, and as of today we still have the funds left for 68 scholarships!
If you’re interested in getting the Equipped for Life course for free, and you’re willing to commit to getting your club through the course and doing at least one outreach within three months, go to EqualRightsInstitute.com/Apply and fill out the quick application.
Do you know of a club that may be interested in this offer? Please send them a link to this offer! This course can really help a club change more minds about abortion and save more lives, and if they apply soon enough, they can get the course without spending a dime!