Students for Life of America (SFLA), a national pro-life organization, advertised on Facebook and Twitter this week in an effort to attract Bowdoin students to establish a pro-life club on campus.

The organization, which currently has no affiliation with the College, created a Facebook page named Bowdoin Pro-Life, which had nine “likes” as of press time. The page description reads, “We are starting a pro-life student group. If you are a passionate pro-lifer at Bowdoin College, this is the page for you!”

SFLA is a national organization that aims to help students on campuses across the country start pro-life clubs and spread the pro-life message.

Kristan Hawkins, president of SFLA, is working with leaders of the campus group Undiscussed to plan a possible event in November designed to begin a campus conversation about abortion, according to Quinn Rhi ’15, one of Undiscussed’s presidents. 

Undiscussed is a student organization that fosters dialogue about controversial or often-ignored issues. Undiscussed has floated the possibility of inviting Zach Heiden, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, an organization that is pro-choice, to join Hawkins at the event.

Today Undiscussed is meeting with Melissa Quinby, director of the Women’s Resource Center, and Allen Delong, director of student life, to finalize details about the potential event.

Hawkins said SFLA has had a longstanding interest in the College.

“We have been hoping to get a discussion on the Bowdoin campus for almost about a year now,” she said.
Students for Life of America Northeastern Representative Beth Rahal said the organization is hoping to start a club at Bowdoin because of the College’s reputation as a prestigious institution.

“If we can get Bowdoin to start a group, there are no barriers for us,” said Rahal.

Rahal is in charge of helping students in the Northeast spread the pro-life message in a responsible and passionate manner. She said that she has already received some interest from Bowdoin students and staff hoping to start a conversation about abortion.

Vice President of Student Organizations and Chair of the Student Organizations Oversight Committee Harriet Fisher ’17 said that she has not heard from any students, student organizations or SFLA about chartering a club.

“I haven’t been contacted at all about the pro-life group. No students have come to me. No organizations have come to me about chartering a group,” said Fisher.

Although several students have contacted Rahal, she said that they are not the kind of students with whom SFLA is hoping to partner.

Rahal said that SFLA is looking for “student leaders well versed in pro-life, abortion, euthanasia, and similar topics” who will be able to successfully energize others.

She is planning on coming to Bowdoin this November to gauge interest among members of student groups including the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship and the College Republicans.

According to Hawkins, SFLA is a secular organization. It began as a student-run volunteer organization in the 1970s and was originally named C.A.M.P.U.S. The name changed to American Collegians for Life in 1988. In 2006 the organization was renamed Students for Life of America, and a professional staff was hired to mobilize the pro-life movement on campuses.

The organization targets high schools, colleges and medical schools across the nation. There are currently 838 chapters across the country.

Notable institutions with their own SFLA chapters include Yale, Harvard, Boston College, Fordham, and University of California, Los Angeles.

Rahal is also contacting Bates and Colby to garner support for clubs on both their campuses. However, she said that Bowdoin is her main focus at the moment.

“We’ve never had any interest come from Bowdoin so we thought we’d start asking the question of ‘Hey, does anyone want to have this discussion on campus? Is this issue important to anyone?’” Hawkins said.