Feminists for Life leader is keynote speaker at St. Norbert College event

Serrin Foster address highlights Pro-Life Week sponsored by Knights for Life

DE PERE — Knights for Life, the pro-life student organization at St. Norbert College, sponsored the second annual Pro-Life Week, April 27-May 1, highlighted by a presentation by Serrin Foster, president of the Feminists for Life.

Serrin Foster, president of Feminists for Life, addresses a standing-room crowd at the St. Norbert College Bemis International Center April 30. Foster was invited to speak on campus by the student group Knights for Life as part of their second annual Pro-Life Week. (Scott Eastman | For The Compass)

Serrin Foster, president of Feminists for Life, addresses a standing-room crowd at the St. Norbert College Bemis International Center April 30. Foster was invited to speak on campus by the student group Knights for Life as part of their second annual Pro-Life Week. (Scott Eastman | For The Compass)

Foster’s lecture, “The Feminist Case Against Abortion,” held on Thursday, April 30, was presented before a standing-room only crowd of about 150 people at the Bemis International Center.

Nine days earlier, St. Norbert hosted nationally recognized abortion rights activist Gloria Steinem as part of their women’s week observance. Foster was invited to speak by the student group in response to Steinem’s visit.

Shaun Johnson, campus minister and advisor for Knights for Life, said the group has chosen to build off of the energy of the Steinem talk, instead of focusing on a negative message. Given all of the hype around the topic of feminism, the Knights for Life group’s goal was to “continue the conversation,” added St. Norbert senior and co-president of the student group, Amy Levandoski.

“It’s a chance for feminists and pro-lifers to work together,” added co-president and senior Heidi Studinski.

In her speech, Foster traced the pro-life history of the feminist movement and made the case for why feminists should take a stand against abortion.

Foster has been an outspoken opponent of pregnancy discrimination and has focused on developing on-campus resources and support for under served pregnant and parenting students. In January 1997, Foster moderated the first-ever Feminist for Life Pregnancy Resource Forum at Georgetown University, which became a model for the country and in 2010 became the basis for Pregnancy Assistance Fund grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

She challenged the St. Norbert College and community to think about the practical needs of pregnant college students in the areas of housing, day care, medical coverage and even diaper decks on campus so as to encourage pregnant college students to continue their education.

She referenced Georgetown University, which led the way to inspire other universities to provide a safety net for female students who are pregnant. Pepperdine University, the University of Virginia, the University of California-Berkeley, along with St. Louis University, have all taken practical and tangible steps.

Additionally, Foster emphasized the statistic that there has been a 30 percent drop in college-age abortions because of these types of kinship programs.

In an interview with The Compass, Foster reflected on the evening’s event.

“It was a very successful effort for the Knights for Life who organized the event and they did a tremendous job. It was so wonderful to see so many in the community who care about this. Evidently, people were posting the flyer that we mailed to our members and people saw them in the grocery stores (in the community) which was a first for me,” said Foster.

“I think we had a lot of people from many different pro-life groups who did a lot of student service work as well,” she added. “People had an opportunity to hear, many for the first time, that they have the opportunity to build on the work of the early American feminists who worked for the rights of women to vote; came out of abolition to work for the rights of slaves to be free; who worked for the rights of our children, born and unborn; and to protect them as well. I think people appreciated knowing the history. Women deserve better than abortion and (St. Norbert College) looks like it is going to be supportive in bringing me back.”

Foster has been interviewed by ABC News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, NPR and many other news outlets.

Other events during Pro-Life Week included a candlelight prayer vigil April 27; a talk, “Art as a Catalyst for Deepening Questions on the Death Penalty,” by Norbertine Fr. Jim Neilson on April 28; a talk, “The Option of Adoption: My Story as an Adopted Person,” by Ellen Mommaerts, Norbertine volunteer community coordinator, on April 29; and a showing of the documentary “The Human Experience” on May 1.