Sophomore Megan Kerr and freshman Gracyn Howard plan their walking routes in a North Dakota neigh­borhood.
Mallory Quigley | Courtesy

Over fall break, the Susan B. Anthony List, a non­profit pro-life orga­ni­zation, sent 22 Hillsdale stu­dents to North Dakota to canvass for the pro-life movement.

The stu­dents divided into four teams and visited 12,651 houses in three days. The teams spread throughout North Dakota, can­vassing in Fargo, Grand Forks, and along the Canadian border.

Sophomore Bryce Asberg, policy director for Hillsdale College for Life, said the team’s primary focus was informing voters on North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s “extremist” abortion views. The team focused on ral­lying support for Kevin Cramer, her Repub­lican opponent.

“She voted in favor of tax­payer funding for late-term abortion and against the ban of late-term abortion in the fifth month of preg­nancy, where the child can feel pain,” Asberg said. “That makes her more extreme than 70 percent of the country on the issue of abortion. North Dakota is a pro-life state, and they are not being rep­re­sented by a pro-life senator.”

The Susan B. Anthony List, which is the nation’s largest pro-life political orga­ni­zation, works to elect can­di­dates into federal office that will enact pro-life policies. In this year alone, SBA  vol­un­teers have knocked on over 2 million doors.

Mallory Quigley, vice pres­ident of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for SBA, said the state of North Dakota is crucial for having a pro-life majority in the Senate.

“We’ve known some really excellent Hillsdale College stu­dents who were past interns,” Quigley said. “We knew that they could rally a team of stu­dents who would be inter­ested in heading out to one of our target states during their fall break.”

Heitkamp has served in the Senate for the last six years. According to Asberg, Heitkamp has done a good job of pro­tecting her status as a mod­erate. Freshman David Hunter said that many of the voters were unaware of her extreme stance on abortion.

“There was one gen­tleman I talked to who was a Heitkamp voter. He didn’t even know that Heitkamp sup­ported tax­payer-funded abortion,” Hunter said. “Before I left, I asked him if he still was going to vote for senator Heitkamp. He said he wasn’t sure anymore.”  

Quigley said the reason for employing college-aged stu­dents is because younger faces typ­i­cally have the most impact on voters.   

“We’ve found that our young can­vassers have some of the greatest success,” Quigley said. “People are more inclined to open the door to a younger person.”

Freshman Penny Heipel agreed.

“It’s really easy to get a pam­phlet in the mail and throw it away, but when you actually talk to someone you’re hearing their words and taking it in from them per­sonally,” Heipel said. “It probably made them think a little harder.”

Stu­dents walked an average of 15 miles each day. Sophomore Megan Kerr, pre­vious can­vassing intern for SBA in Indiana, said that these walks allow for moments of reflection.

“It is so important when you are out there to be praying not just for you, but for these voters to be receptive to the truth,” Kerr said. “It is God working through stu­dents and anyone involved in can­vassing to go out and do this work for him and his cre­ation, and ulti­mately, to glorify him.”

Though the stu­dents were exhausted by the end of the trip, Asberg said that their friend­ships were strengthened.

“Can­vassing is a tough thing, but it can be a really rewarding. There’s time for great con­ver­sation from serious to friv­olous things and great team building happens there,” Asberg said. “A lot of people walked away from this trip encouraged and ready to do more in the future for the cause.”

Quigley said she hopes stu­dents left with new knowledge, in addition to helping the cause.

“I hope they that they walk away with the pro­found under­standing of the hard work it takes to get someone elected,” Quigley said. “Pol­itics is very per­sonal, and it really makes a dif­ference to go house to house, voter to voter. It’s a lot of work but it’s very effective.”

Asberg said that he finds the least glam­orous tasks are the most worth doing.

“How we treat the most vul­nerable says a lot about who we are as people, and right now our record isn’t very good,” he said.