Student members of anti-abortion group voice support for Texas Heartbeat Act

Students for Life members speak out on abortion access and the pro-life movement.


Students for Life of America members Javon Peter, Carrie Shank, and Sadie Shank

Caroline Little, Contributing Writer

On May 19, the Texas legislature passed into law a restrictive anti-abortion bill, effectively outlawing abortion six weeks into pregnancy with no exceptions made for cases of rape or incest. The bill, meant to specifically prevent women and non-binary people from accessing the abortion procedure, has been met with both criticism and support across the country.

Students for Life of America is a student-run university chapter that took a few moments to express their support of the bill and give insight into their larger mission to ban abortion nationwide.

Carrie Shank, vice president of the Boca Raton campus chapter of Students for Life of America, vocalized her opinion of the bill. 

“I support the bill,” said Carrie Shank. “I think it’s a huge success for Students of Life for America and our mission to ban abortion.”

Alongside Carrie Shank, her siblings Sadie Shank and Calvin Shank are also members of the organization and they hope to educate students on alternatives to abortion as well as provide resources that will encourage pregnant people to carry to term.

The Texas Heartbeat Act effectively bans abortion after six weeks which, for most people, translates into a period that is two weeks late. While there have been multiple attempts in history to ban access to abortion, the Texas Heartbeat Act is unique in terms of its application.

The legislation, also known as Senate Bill 8, places the responsibility of enforcement into the hands of Texan citizens, encouraging them to levy civil suits against those who aid in the procurement of abortion procedures.

”The really important thing is [the Texas bill] helps the people that are looking to have an abortion by having those people around them keeping an eye out,” Calvin Shank said.

Founded in 1988 at Georgetown University, Students for Life of America is a non-profit anti-abortion organization that has chapters all across the United States.

The group aims is to enlist, instruct, and rally students as early as middle school to further their objective of banning all abortions in the country. Their three-step model, simplified into the motto “Belong, Believe, Behave,” has led to the creation of more than 1,250 groups on various campuses. 

Javon Peters, a freshman and group member, said he believes that the Texas bill will allow those that oppose abortion access to gain time, the idea being that if abortions can be delayed groups like Students for Life will be able to educate pregnant people on what resources are available to them.

Peter expressed his support saying, “You know, just to simplify, we’re using it as a deterrence.  That’s how this law is to be used, it’s not to be used to specifically attack, it’s used to say this can’t happen.”

The main branch of Students For Life maintains a policy regarding contraception allowing for the use of methods they term non-abortifacient, a title given to forms of birth control they believe are not “capable of unnaturally ending the life of a preborn child.” Methods, such as hormonal contraception, have been labeled as an abortifacient by the organization, and their use is formally opposed.

Currently, the only methods accepted by the organization are condom/diaphragm use, vaginal sponge use, spermicide, sterilization, and “natural family planning”.

According to the official branch, if used perfectly, natural family planning can be up to 99% effective at preventing unwanted pregnancy but in typical practice, the efficacy of this method can fluctuate greatly. 

However, when questioned about methods of preventing unwanted pregnancies like condom use and birth control, each member expressed their support.

“We’d rather stop it before it happens than try and stop it after,” Peter asserted. “We are all about either prevention or assistance; we either prevent the pregnancy or we assist the pregnancy to completion and then assist the mother and the children after it’s done.”

The group also voiced support for other prevention methods, specifically comprehensive sex education. 

“I definitely think that giving sex education to people of a proper age is very important to prevent [unwanted pregnancies],” Sadie Shank said.

Calvin Shank further noted that the club aims to educate people about all of the resources that are available to them, something the group hopes will encourage more people to seek out abortion alternatives. 

“The club’s goal is to provide the knowledge of the options that women have,” Calvin Shank said. “We will let them know that we are standing right with them and we’re going to help them through it every step of the way.”
Caroline Little is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories email her at [email protected]