Standing Up for Life at Brown

Fr. Patrick Briscoe, O.P., Giovanna Milano (front row, right), and students on a pilgrimage and missions trip to Lourdes, France

Standing Up for Life at Brown

By BlackFriars Staff

Giovanna Milano, who is concentrating in Economics and Italian Studies at Brown University, founded Brown Students for Life when she realized there was no pro-life student group on the Ivy League campus.

“I’ve always had a passion for the unborn and mothers who find themselves in crisis pregnancies. This comes from the fact that my dad is a neonatologist. Seeing him wake up at four in the morning to take care of a baby that’s 22 weeks, a life that could [have been legally] aborted, is something that really hit me,” Giovanna says.

In recent months the group has brought pro-life speakers like cartoonist Pat Cross and author Stephanie Gray to campus via streaming video, sparking debate. According to Giovanna, “We got both positive and negative feedback. People were talking about this on social media and email.”

Giovanna Milano represents Brown Students for Life on campus.

The Dominican friars who serve at Brown, where Fr. Edmund McCullough, O.P., became the Catholic chaplain this year, support Giovanna and Brown Students for Life.

“The Dominican intellectual charism resonates with me and what I want to do, which is bring truth to Brown. Fr. Albert [Duggan, O.P., former chaplain] was a great support in starting the group,” Giovanna says.

Within the Catholic community at Brown, reception of the Church’s teaching on abortion is mixed, a divide that has grown since the 2020 presidential election.

Giovanna explains, “We live in a relativistic society where people say ‘it’s my truth but I can’t force it on you.’ Students fear rejection from this culture. Unfortunately our [presidential] administration has fallen into this, actively supporting and expanding abortion, something that directly violates our Catholic teaching. Yet this president claims to be Catholic.”

For Giovanna, a culture of life has practical implications for higher education. “On college campuses, there’s little support for students who find themselves pregnant and want to continue with the pregnancy, so it seems their only choice is to have an abortion. I hope that one day my university has dorms for mothers and leave for mothers who are students,” she says.

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