Stand up against abortion in Baylor

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Before music education major David Folks decided to go to Baylor University in Waco, Texas for his undergraduate degree, several things drew him to school. One was his respect for the faculty of music. Another was the school’s proximity to its hometown of Dallas. But what pushed him to the limit was the commitment expressed by the Baptist school to Christianity. On its website, Baylor describes itself as one of the few higher education institutions that continues to embrace its Christian heritage. The school’s mission statement cites “the person and work of Jesus Christ” and “the Bible record” as the foundations of its “understanding of God, mankind, and nature.”

Now a junior and president of the Bears for Life campus pro-life club, Folks is frustrated by what he calls his school’s lack of clarity on life issues.

In 2020 and 2021, Folks and other pro-life students found material related to Planned Parenthood on the Baylor campus. Upon request, health center staff sent Folks a document that listed Planned Parenthood as “[sexually transmitted infection] test resource. Staff told Folks in an email that “we only send people to the PP if they need low-cost STI testing or contraception.” A 2006-2007 textbook named the Planned Parenthood Teen Education Program as the placement site. In the summer of 2021, a Students for Life staff member told Folks about a vacancy with Planned Parenthood for a “community health educator” listed on the Baylor School of Social Work website. And in the fall semester, two pro-life students sent Folks photos from a class textbook that called abortion “safer than childbirth.” People believe these links to Planned Parenthood, America’s best-known abortion provider, show that “there is no clarity on what Baylor stands for as a Christian college when it comes to sanctity. of life.

He and other pro-life students fear it will have an effect on young Baylor women. The people and about six other students take part in a board rotation on the sidewalk outside the nearby Planned Parenthood, a 15-minute drive from campus. They noticed that Baylor students were visiting the facility. “I see Baylor cars going there all the time,” he said. “I see sorority stickers.”

People voiced his concerns to university staff through multiple emails WORLD viewed, Zoom calls, and in-person meetings over a period of several months. He said the school had removed Planned Parenthood from the list of STI testing resources and clarified that the manual was out of date and had already been replaced. But the School of Social Work did not remove Planned Parenthood’s job listing, although a Baylor official told Folks in an email that the school had deleted certain words on the page that said previously the school was in “constant contact” with organizations. listed. People said the staff member working with him told him that dealing with the textbook issue was beyond his authority.

Students for Life of America, an organization supporting pro-life groups on campuses across the country, listed remaining concerns about Baylor in a recent report highlighting links between groups that support abortion and 69 Catholic schools. and Protestants across the country. Most often, schools have listed Planned Parenthood as a health resource for students or as an internship or volunteer opportunity. Some schools have allowed the abortion industry to exhibit at career fairs. Originally, Students for Life researchers found 103 Catholic and Protestant schools with some sort of connection to family planning, but 34 schools removed all of those references after Students for Life privately contacted them with the information.

For example, the websites of the University of Notre Dame and St. John’s University, two Catholic institutions, had listed Planned Parenthood as a potential employer for their feminist studies programs. University officials at both schools removed the content, telling Students for Life that it was outdated material. The University of San Francisco, also Catholic, had listed Planned Parenthood as an internship partner, but removed the pages in October after hearing from Students for Life.

But some schools, like Baylor, have retreated, according to the pro-life organization. I have contacted Baylor for comments on the report. Marketing director Jason Cook responded with a statement from the university saying Baylor “respects the sanctity of life” and does not allow “the institutional promotion of abortion or abortion-related services on our campus. “.

Students for Life noted lingering problems at other schools: The University of Oklahoma City, a Methodist school, still lists Planned Parenthood as a health resource (and STI testing site) for students, as does Southern Methodist University. A spokesperson for the University of Oklahoma City told me, “The university will continue to include this resource on the website. Southern Methodist University said in a statement that part of the university’s mission is to “encourage and facilitate a robust discussion of opposing views on controversial topics, including abortion.” This university noted that its Women and LGBT Center website includes “pro-life and pro-choice resources, including … Birthright International as well as Planned Parenthood.”

Norvilia Etienne, one of the main researchers at Students for Life, contacted Baylor management by email in September about the university’s remaining concerns. Etienne copied Folks to the email. University rector Nancy Brickhouse later responded to concerns about the textbook, explaining, “We need to support academic freedom for our faculty. ” (The manual, Basic concepts in health, is a common health textbook in higher education and appears to be in use in other nominally Christian schools. I contacted Baylor with questions for the course instructors, but had no response.)

In response to a question from Etienne about the job posting, Brickhouse said it “was just an opportunity for one of our social work graduates to work with an organization for purpose. local nonprofit that offers women a wide range of services. There is no evidence that this position provides or promotes abortion services.

“I appreciate the commitment to academic freedom,” Folks said of the provost’s response. “But, at the same time, the whole point of a Christian institution is that we should be teaching through a Christian worldview.”

In early December, Folks noticed that Planned Parenthood was no longer on the list of social work vacancies, although it was not clear when the list was released or why it was removed. A PDF with a job description for Planned Parenthood was still live on Baylor’s website in early January, but a link to the application website was no longer active. The Planned Parenthood contact listed on the job description page did not respond to my request to confirm if the position has been filled.

Baylor’s statement to WORLD also highlighted the university’s partnership with the local Care Net pro-life pregnancy center in community outreach efforts. But according to a 2012 letter to the University’s School of Social Work at Waco Care Net Pregnancy Center, that school stopped sending students to Care Net for internships after five years. Cook said in December that Baylor supported Care Net, but he would not comment on “the decisions of nine years ago.” Waco Care Net director Deborah McGregor told me that many other schools in Baylor continue to send students to Care Net for internships, but the School of Social Work “has consistently ignored requests for interns.” .

“I don’t believe Baylor University is actively promoting abortion,” Folks said. “I say they have remained silent and that has allowed compromises in various departments which they have to stop.”

He believes the school’s unclear position may have contributed to the campus vehicles he says he saw arriving at the local Planned Parenthood. “I see people my age… and it breaks my heart that this is a problem on our campus and that no one is doing anything about it. Other sidewalk counselors, both from the university and from the community, confirmed they had also seen Baylor students making their way to Planned Parenthood.

Rebecca Brown, 40, has been giving sidewalk counseling outside of family planning for just over a year. She comes every week on Thursday mornings and said she sees young women wearing Baylor clothing or with Baylor bumper stickers coming to the center once or twice a month. Brown spoke to one of those Baylor students on Dec. 16 about pro-life resources available to her in the community and at the university. But the student told Brown she had to go to Planned Parenthood because being pregnant then “would ruin her life.” According to Brown, the student had come for an initial ultrasound consultation and planned to come back later to take the abortion pill.

Kirby Paddock, who worked with Folks last year as vice president of Bears for Life, first arrived at Baylor as a married student. She knew it was possible she could get pregnant on campus, but worried about a rumor that Baylor had kicked out pregnant women. Paddock quickly realized that was not true: School hasn’t banned pregnant women from taking classes for decades. But, while she was on campus, she kept hearing the same rumor from other confused students. “It’s the kind of rumor that sends people to Planned Parenthood,” Paddock said.

People have heard it too. He said a Bears for Life table in September polled passersby whether or not they knew a student could be pregnant on campus, and a surprising number said no. He would like the school to issue a statement clarifying its position on abortion. In the meantime, he and other Bear for Life members continue to hand out resource cards to raise awareness of pro-life options available to students on campus. He hopes students with unplanned pregnancies get the message, “We want to help you. “


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