“We are grateful to Feminists for Life for serving as a catalyst
for change by moderating the first Pregnancy Resource Forum on Georgetown's
campus in 1997. Their leadership has helped to prompt other campuses
and universities to develop programs and to enhance services to pregnant
and parenting students.”
-- Carol Day,
Director of Health Education Services for Georgetown University,
Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing and Health Studies
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act
U.S. House Briefing, February 15, 2006 - Susan B. Anthony's Birthday
Welcome to the first briefing on the needs of pregnant and parenting
college students. My name is Serrin Foster. I am president of Feminists
for Life of America.
Today is Susan B. Anthony's birthday.
As you probably know, she and a woman named Elizabeth Cady Stanton were
champions of women's rights, including the right to vote, and they were
advocates of education for women.
Women didn't go to college at the time. Even Susan B. Anthony never made
it to the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, because
she was busy teaching other peoples' children.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who wanted the education afforded to men, would
celebrate the birth of her daughter by raising a flag outside her Seneca
Falls, New York, home.
So it is appropriate that we gather today, in the tradition of Anthony
and Stanton, to live their legacy.
Feminists for Life has focused on the needs of pregnant and parenting
students since a board member shared the story of her pregnancy while
in graduate school. She found there was no family housing, affordable
child care or maternity coverage in the student health plan. She felt
forced to drop out of school and face a lifetime of poverty, or have an
abortion, and miscarried under the stress. During my years of lecturing
about feminist history on campuses across the country, I realized that
I had never seen a visibly pregnant or parenting undergrad. We knew we
needed to be a catalyst for change.
In 1997 we worked with interns from Georgetown University on a groundbreaking
Pregnancy Resource Forum. We had protesters outside who we invited inside.
We agreed that the forum wasn't a debate about abortion. It was about
the resources needed for the rest of the choices—marital and single
parenthood, and adoption options.
School administrators, community leaders and student advocates gathered
to identify available resources and create a blueprint for progress.
I am so pleased that Carol Day, the Director of Health Education Services
from Georgetown University, is with us today. She will share with you
the remarkable program that she runs a little later in our program.
Since our first Pregnancy Resource Forum, Feminists for Life has hosted
Pregnancy Resource Forums at other top colleges across the country.
Students, administrators and activists at numerous colleges and universities—from
Harvard to Berkeley, from Notre Dame to the University of San Diego—have
come together to challenge the status quo.
- Students at the University of California-Berkeley raised funds to
place 22 diaper decks in the men's and women's restrooms.
- Pro-life, pro-choice and parenting students at Wellesley College collaborated
in a rummage sale to raise thousands of dollars to benefit pregnant
and parenting students.
- University of Chicago graduate school dads proposed the creation of
a child care co-op to reduce child care costs.
- University of Virginia students provide volunteer babysitting services.
- My alma mater, Old Dominion University, became a pioneer in telecommuting
for distance learners, the physically challenged and the "pregnantly
We need to put solutions into hyperdrive, because the need is there.
Not only are there women who are pregnant while in college, but according
to the U.S. Department of Education:
- One in four undergraduates are parents,
- One-third of all graduate students are parents,
- A total of 4.5 million undergraduate and graduate students are parents.
As you know, Congresswoman Melissa Hart has introduced the Elizabeth
Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act of 2005 (H.R.
It would establish a pilot program to provide grants to encourage eligible
institutions of higher education to establish and operate pregnant and
parenting student services offices for prospective parenting students
anticipating a birth or adoption, students who are placing or have placed
a child for adoption, and parenting students.
Colleges receiving a grant under this Act will first host an initial
pregnancy and parenting resource forum to assess resources on the campus
and in the local community, including:
- maternity coverage and the availability of riders for additional family
members in student health care;
- child care;
- flexible or alternative academic scheduling;
- telecommuting programs;
- education to improve parenting skills;
- support for married couples under stress from family and school;
- resources to assist parents and prospective parents in meeting the
material needs of their children;
- post-partum counseling and support groups.
The forum will also be used to set goals for improving resources and
improving access to those resources. The performance of the pregnant and
parenting student services office in providing or referring students to
these resources will be assessed every year.
$10,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2006 through 2010 would be appropriated
for 200 grants. Colleges would need to match the grant to demonstrate
their commitment to the program.
We understand that Congresswoman Hart will join us at the end of the
briefing to share in Susan B. Anthony's birthday celebration. I want to
thank her for her leadership, and thank as well a bipartisan group of
members including Representatives Jo Ann Davis, Jeff Fortenberry, Marcy
Kaptur, Tim Murphy, Jim Oberstar, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Tim Ryan and Chris
Smith, who are among the cosponsors of this bill.
We hope that after you listen to the needs of our panelists who have
experienced the challenges around pregnancy and parenting, you, too, will
help answer the need for help, and encourage your member of Congress to
cosponsor the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Act.
Sally Winn knows the challenges of pregnancy and
parenting in college first hand and has been an outspoken advocate for
women and children since 1996. She was the first executive director of
both Democrats for Life of America and Women and Children First. She later
chaired the National Pro-Life Democrats Committee and served on the board
of the Feminism and Nonviolence Studies Association. She served as Vice
President of Feminists for Life from 2001 to 2005, and currently serves
as FFL's Senior Communications Specialist. Sally has moderated FFL Pregnancy
Resource Forums from Gonzaga to Johns Hopkins. She is the proud mother
of two beautiful daughters and is currently attending college. Today she
is here to share the challenges of pregnancy and parenting as a student.
Remarks of Sally Winn
Thank you, Sally, for sharing the perspective of a pregnant student who
continues to face the challenges of combining work and school with parenting.
An electrical engineer by day and classical
violinist by night, John Dickinson attended the Johns Hopkins University
and the Peabody Conservatory. He and his wife Terri Dickinson grew up
in New Mexico but now live in San Antonio, Texas, where he works in the
Space Sciences Division of Southwest Research Institute.
Remarks of John Dickinson
My father was a student parent. I was born, and my sister was on the
way, by the time he graduated. My mother told me about his working two
jobs while going to school full time. Like you, he found a way to manage,
but it sounds like little has changed to provide support for student fathers.
Too often people think that pregnancy and parenting are "women's issues."
When we hosted the first Forum at Notre Dame, we learned that half of
those who seek counseling are men who are most often concerned about girlfriends
who are pregnant. So thank you, John, for reminding us of the awesome
responsibility of fatherhood, and the critical role you played in providing
support for Terri.
Fathers make a huge impact on the lives of their daughters and sons.
I lost my father almost a year ago. He made an enormous contribution to
my life. Not everyone is as fortunate to have a father like mine, or like
Feminists for Life worked on the 1995 Enhanced Child Support Enforcement
Act. At that time we also began to educate women and men about the rights
and responsibilities men have for their children.
For those men who are unwilling to parent, we educate women about how
to establish paternity and meet the needs of their children through child
We need to encourage men to be an important part of the lives of the
children they helped to bring into this world. And we need fathers to
talk to other men about the rewards of fatherhood.
Now let's listen to Terri to gain her perspective.
Terri Dickinson graduated from Southwestern
University with a degree in biology. Her plans to pursue a Ph.D. in evolutionary
biology are on hold while she devotes herself full time to keeping up
with an increasingly energetic two-year-old.
Remarks of Terri Dickinson
Thank you, Terri, for painting a clear picture of the challenges pregnant
women face on campus, and the perserverance you demonstrated as you navigated
an uncharted course.
Julia Thornton is here with a different perspective.
Julia Thornton dropped out of college her
freshman year after discovering she was pregnant. She placed her daughter
for adoption in October 1993, and returned to school two months later.
After transferring to the University of San Francisco, she earned her
BA one year behind schedule and later earned a Master's Degree in International
Journalism from the University of Southern California. She has worked
in Africa and the Middle East, and was a reporter for Japan's largest
daily newspaper in Los Angeles. Julia volunteers with The Gabriel Project,
which provides housing and support to pregnant women, and is certified
as an Infant Adoption Liaison through the National Council For Adoption's
Infant Adoption Awareness Training Program.
Remarks of Julia Thornton
Thank you, Julia, for sharing your powerful story. It meant so much to
hear your perspective as a birthmother. Addressing the unmet needs of
birthmothers is a priority for Feminists for Life.
Now that we have had an opportunity to hear some of the challenges to
pregnant and parenting students, let's turn to Carol Day, who is here
to talk about the solutions she implemented at Georgetown University.
Carol Day is the Director of Health Education Services for Georgetown
University and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing and
Health Studies. Health Education Services provides university-wide health
promotion programs, and services to students who are dealing with issues
such as pregnancy, sexual assault, eating disorders, and alcohol and other
drugs. Carol has a Master's degree in Health Nursing.
I had the pleasure of hosting the first ever Pregnancy Resource Forum
in the country in 1997, which was held at Georgetown University, and I
remember Carol's contribution at that panel. It was my honor to host the
9th annual Pregnancy Resource Forum at Georgetown this past fall, and
to present Carol with Feminists for Life's Elizabeth Cady Stanton Award,
recognizing Georgetown for hosting the first FFL Pregnancy Resource Forum,
inspiring similar events on other campuses across the nation, and making
significant progress toward meeting the needs of pregnant and parenting
students on the Georgetown campus.
I am so pleased that Carol could be with us today
to talk about the model program that has helped to inspire the Elizabeth
Cady Stanton Act.
Remarks of Carol Day
Thank you, Carol. Feminists for Life is pleased to be a catalyst for
change, but it is your work and the support of others at Georgetown University
that deserves the credit for the difference you made in the lives of students,
and the model you have set for the country. FFL has hosted Pregnancy Resource
Forums across the country at leading universities, but the difference
is that Georgetown has hosted annual Forums, and that you have created
a central clearinghouse for information and support for pregnant and parenting
It is a combination of policies, communication vehicles, resources and
support that makes a difference.
Now it is my pleasure to introduce Congresswoman Melissa Hart, chief
sponsor of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Act. Congresswoman Hart is a strong
advocate for victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and child abuse,
including online pornography aimed at children. She was the primary sponsor
of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, also known as "Laci and Connor's
Law." She has also advocated funds for "safe havens," which allow a woman
to leave a newborn at a hospital or fire station if she is not prepared
to parent. She has been outspoken in her support for the Elizabeth Cady
Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act.
It is my honor to recognize Congresswoman Hart for her outspoken support
for pregnant and parenting students by presenting her with the Elizabeth
Cady Stanton Award for her leadership on this bill.
Representative Hart thanked Serrin Foster for the award and discussed
their work together to meet the needs of women. She called for other members
of Congress to support passage of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Act. The
Congresswoman focused on the need to address the reasons why women have
abortions and the struggle faced by 4.5 million parenting students. In
addition, Rep. Hart cited the importance to the country of having well-educated
parents and a well-educated workforce. She emphasized, “One of the
best ways I've seen to help women is the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Act.”
It has been 100 years since Susan B. Anthony died. She and Stanton died
without realizing their most cherished dream, the vote for women.
Unlike Anthony and Stanton, we have the Internet, overnight delivery
and cell phones. We can work together and speed up the day when resources
and support are available to pregnant and parenting students. Let's encourage
our members of Congress to cosponsor and support the Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act.
Like Stanton, Anthony and other early American feminists, we want to
address the root causes of the problem.
Women today benefit from those who went before us in the workplace. Tomorrow
women, men and their children will benefit from passage of the Elizabeth
Cady Stanton Act.
I want to recognize Hill staffers Ashlie VanMeter from Congresswoman
Hart's office and Nicole Gustafson of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.
I also want to thank FFL staff, Coleen MacKay, Cat Clark and Nikki Callahan,
for their work putting this event together, and of course our panelists
Sally Winn, Terri and John Dickinson, Julia Thornton and Carol Day for
contributing to our understanding of the needs of pregnant and parenting
students—and possible solutions.
Pregnancy can derail plans, but the detour can be a great adventure.
Now let's celebrate Susan B. Anthony's birthday. Let us eat cake!
For more information about the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act and what you can do, see www.feministsforlife.org/ECS.
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