Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America came to UW-Stout on October 18th, 2022, with her event, titled, “Make Abortion Illegal Again.” She was invited by the student organization, Stout Republicans, to spread information about abortion and the historic Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. The Dobbs decision, which occurred in the Summer of 2022, returned the decision to make abortion illegal to the states which effectively outlawed it across the country.

Hawkins began the event by enthusiastically announcing that since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, she and Students for Life of America, whose primary goal is to “recruit, train, and mobilize the pro-life generation to abolish abortion,” had successfully aided in the closure of more than 66 abortion clinics across America. It was soon obvious that there was a split in point of view throughout the room, both sides being immediately defensive of their opinions. When standing in the back of the room, looking at the stage, the right side seemed to be pro-choice, and the left side prolife. After a round of applause from the left side of the room, she then declared that because of their accomplishment, they had caused a national diaper shortage.

Hawkins then proudly announced that we no longer live in a nation where abortion is the norm, according to the Constitution, and it’s not if abortion becomes completely illegal, but when. The atmosphere of the event was seemingly unpredictable as both sides of the room reacted to the speaker and each other. Campus police stood by the exits and helped to mediate the event.

The event then switched gears to the healthcare aspects of abortion. Hawkins scrutinized the system saying there was an abundance of gaslighting and fear-mongering within our country due to the fact the medical terminology for a miscarriage is a spontaneous abortion. She defines abortion as the “direct and intentional killing of a living human being.”

After a reaction from the crowd on the right side of the room, Hawkins addressed those who were pro-choice and said “I think you’re wrong, I think you’re deeply wrong, I’m not here to argue with you, I’m here to persuade you.” She also announced that her personal goal, along with Students for Life of America, was to make abortion illegal, unavailable, and completely unthinkable within the United States. During the question and answer portion of the event, she was asked to elaborate on what she meant by unthinkable, to which she responded that abortion would be completely stripped from popular culture.

Hawkins quoted an article from the Washington Post when discussing chemical abortion pills being shipped to women within the United States from other countries, specifically from Mexico. She described a chemical abortion as a two-pill cocktail, the first pill blocking progesterone, and the second pill causing cramps that effectively project the fetus.

She also briefly mentioned a suction abortion, or vacuum aspiration, which was addressed by a woman during the Q and A. The woman said that she used to be “pro-abortion” and that she even forced her daughter to have one during the third trimester before she “knew what it really meant.” She said that her daughter had come out of the appointment and told her that she heard the bones breaking. The woman said she would never forget that.

Hawkins then went on to demonstrate the “D and E” procedure which is a safe and common abortion procedure performed during the second trimester. “D and E” stands for dilation and evacuation. During the procedure, the medical professional will dilate the patient’s cervix and use a tool to suction the fetus out.

While she demonstrated the procedure, her mic seemed to cut out and Tom Sawyer by Rush began to play over the speakers. The song effectively distracted the crowd from what she was saying as everyone watched the people trying to fix the audio instead.

The rest of the event consisted of the Q and A portion which was calm at first but became disorganized as more people went up. It seemed that no questions from the right side of the room were answered, and were instead deflected back onto the questioner. Her solutions to not getting an abortion included the use of safe haven boxes and reaching out for support through her organization’s programs. When asked about paid family leave, Hawkins said she wanted to implement a program where the funding for paid family leave is borrowed from your own social security instead of directly from the government.

At the end of the Q and A discussion, there was a small altercation between a student from the right side of the room and a community member from the left side. Campus police had to intervene to diffuse the situation, after which, Hawkins ended the event and everyone left in an orderly fashion.

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