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Roe v. Wade activists on both sides take message to University of Delaware after U.S. Supreme Court leak: Photo gallery

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Kieran Singley and Rachel Brywka, both sophomores at the University of Delaware, helped organize the event opposing abortion. They brought their 8-month-old daughter Elliana with them. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

NEWARK – The battle over the future of abortion access in the United States moved to Newark on May 12, with groups representing both sides of the issue holding simultaneous events on the green at the University of Delaware.

On one side of Memorial Hall, a group of perhaps a few hundred students, faculty members and people from the community who support keeping abortion legal gathered in the noontime sun for a rally that featured speeches after starting with a few call-and-responses.

A collection of people who oppose keeping abortion legal stood on the other side, quietly holding signs and engaging with students and others who walked by and wished to have a conversation. At issue is the future of abortion access in the United States in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s anticipated ruling that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

There was no interaction between the groups. In fact, they could not even see each other. A few University of Delaware police officers stood nearby but seemed mostly unneeded.

Two of the organizers who oppose abortion, Kieran Singley and Rachel Brywka, were there with their 8-month-old daughter, Elliana, who wore a t-shirt with the words, “clump of cells.” They said it was important to demonstrate to passers-by why it was important to choose life.

“We have a child of our own, and we wanted to prove another point, that all babies are worthy of life. And abortion should be illegal. It shouldn’t even be thought about anymore,” Brywka said.

She and Singley, both sophomores at Delaware, are raising their daughter while continuing to attend school. They acknowledged the difficulty of doing so but said it was worth the work.

“We’re still able to be a family essentially. Ultimately, we’re doing what’s best for her as we continue to raise her while getting our education,” Singley said.

Among the many signs on the keep-it-legal side was one that asserted the abortion opponents are pro-birth instead, and once a child was born, there was no interest in its welfare. That is simply not true, Brywka said.

She was able to get government health insurance for her daughter, and there are grants available to assist with education. Other government programs include WIC and EBT, for example.

“Everyone cares about every single life no matter how it was brought into the world. If you want to say pro-birth, I guess you could, but ultimately, all life is precious and all life matters,” she said. “If you don’t want to do it yourself, adoption is always available, and there are millions of families waiting for a baby to call their own.”

Fiona Eramo, president of the campus chapter of Planned Parenthood Generation Action, was one of the organizers. She said several organizations sprang into action after the leak of the Supreme Court decision on May 2. It’s important for them to continue to get their message out. The decision, authored by Justice Samuel Alito, was not a surprise, she said.

“For the last few years, it really hasn’t been a sentiment of if Roe would be overturned, but when,” said Eramo, a senior.

Her group and others will continue their work.

“There’s a lot of misinformation even regarding something about Planned Parenthood and the services they provide,” she said. “This comes down to an issue of human rights. This isn’t just a woman’s issue.”

Father Tim McIntire, an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales and the pastor of St. Thomas More Oratory, said adoration was happening at the oratory from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the group would be on the green until 3. He was not among the organizers but wanted to show his support for their efforts.

“My reason for being here is just to show there is another point of view. That there is an option to abortion,” he said.

As for helping those who find themselves in an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, he said it is important to show them compassion and support.

“I don’t think we can just go down to Planned Parenthood and pray the rosary, as powerful as that is,” he said. “I think we have to be able to offer practical help as well. Like, ‘We’re going to pray for you, but we’re also going to get you into a residence where you can be taken care of,” that type of thing.”

Orgainzers of the pro-life rally knew that the other event dwarfed theirs in terms of attendance, but that was not important, said William Hamant, the director of campus ministry and catechesis, He said that he expects that most people on the campus and in Delaware would identify as pro-choice. The group was looking to connect with those who walked by.

He pointed to a conversation occurring between two of the pro-life attendees and a young woman who was speaking about why she believed abortion should remain legal. It was a calm discussion that went on for an extended period of time.

“Most importantly, if somebody is walking past and seeing a rational conversation, and they are able to think about the contrast between this and what I’m sure is going on over there, I don’t see how you can have any question about which group feels more confident in its position,” Hamant said.

He added that he is sure the pro-choice advocates feel threatened, and “they should be because people who realize that life begins at conception are finally having their voices heard in a way that matters.”

Singley said he wants other people to experience the blessings he and Brywka have since Elliana entered their lives. It is still possible, he continued, to change minds on the issue.

“It’s possible as long as we’re having those intellectual and, in some sense, uncomfortable conversations. I think our word can get spread and we can change minds.”

All photos by Mike Lang.