The need to serve pregnant women on college campuses

An interview about Baby Steps at Auburn University

October 5, 2022

College campuses are places full of big dreams for the future. Young men and women often go to university expectant of what doors their education will open for them. Yet, some of those women become pregnant and find themselves facing uncertainty and fear about what’s ahead. They feel as if they have to choose between life for their child or a completed college degree. That’s where Baby Steps, an organization serving pregnant women on Auburn University’s campus, enters in and enables them to parent and finish their degrees. While Baby Steps isn’t faith based, they welcome people of faith as volunteers, among others, and are an example of those whose work Christians recognize as being consistent with a biblical ethic of human dignity. A member of Baby Steps’ staff answers questions below about this unique organization that’s doing incredible work with moms and their children. 

Kadin Christian: Baby Steps is an organization with an incredible idea—serve pregnant moms on a college campus. What is the story behind how Baby Steps began? And what does the organization hope to accomplish?

Baby Steps Staff: Baby Steps was founded by Michelle Schultz (now the Executive Director) and opened our doors on Auburn’s Campus in 2017. Michelle found herself in an unplanned pregnancy her junior year at Auburn University. In a moment of uncertainty and fear that “her world had ended,” she chose to terminate her pregnancy. She thought there was no way she could be pregnant and finish school. That decision affected her life greatly for many years, and she began recognizing there was an overlooked, isolated population of people in desperate need of support. There was a need to help college women in unplanned pregnancies that wasn’t being met at Auburn University or on other campuses around the country. 

Her first of many affirmations that Baby Steps was needed at Auburn was when she met Kaitlyn Willing, now Director of Operations, in the spring of 2013. In a moment of doubt that Baby Steps was really what Michelle was being called to do, Kaitlyn came into her life. Kaitlyn discovered that she was unexpectedly pregnant in August 2011, also as a junior at Auburn University. She shared the same fear Michelle had experienced almost 30 years ago—the fear that her life was over. While Kaitlyn decided to parent her child and finish her degree, the lack of support at Auburn University made graduating almost impossible.

Once she was presented with the idea of helping build Baby Steps, those past experiences lit a fire within her to see to it that no woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy on Auburn’s campus did it alone. She did not have the support that Baby Steps currently provides student-moms and confidently claims, “I couldn’t think of anything else I could’ve possibly needed or wanted more than Baby Steps.” 

Although very different, Kaitlyn’s and Michelle’s journeys continue to be the inspiration that fuels Baby Steps’ desire to create a place where young women can thrive, having their baby and their education.

KC: Is your organization considered a pregnancy resource center? If not, what are the differences? 

BSS: Baby Steps is not a pregnancy resource center. PRCs offer women pregnancy confirmation and resources on their options. Baby Steps does not provide any medical care or pregnancy decision counseling. Student-moms that reach out to us have typically already decided they want to parent their baby and stay in school, and they need our help in order to succeed in that.

KC: What are some of the unique aspects of serving college women and a specific university campus? Do you have any insights between the correlation of unplanned pregnancy and completing a college degree? 

BSS: Twelve percent of college students report either experiencing or being involved in an unplanned pregnancy. Some experts say that this number may be closer to 23%. According to these statistics, it should be much more common to see pregnant students walking their campus halls and concourses. Why is this not the case? Judgment and stigma leave them feeling isolated and unsupported with no safe place to turn. They do not believe they can have both their baby and their education. We are here to change that culture on college campuses. Baby Steps is the safe place where student-moms are not defined by their circumstances but are empowered to thrive in all areas of their lives, especially as students and mothers.

KC: What are the specific services that Baby Steps provides? And how many women and children are you typically serving at any given time?

BSS: Baby Steps serves two types of student-moms. Some of them actually live on Baby Steps’ property, and others are just a part of our social community.

Resident student-moms:

Baby Steps provides the following for pregnant and parenting college women living in the Baby Steps home at no cost to them

Community student-moms:

Baby Steps provides the following for pregnant and parenting college women not living in the Baby Steps home at no cost to them

We typically serve anywhere from 8-15 student-moms and their “Tiny Tigers” at a time.

KC: With the historic overturning of Roe and the question of abortion returning to each individual state, how do you anticipate organizations like yours will be affected? And how do you expect the women and children you serve to be affected? 

BSS: Baby Steps is a non faith-based 501C3 nonprofit that is not affiliated with any religious or political agenda, so for us what we do is not political. Our mission is strictly to serve the student-mom and baby that is in front of us, giving her all the tools necessary to graduate from college and succeed in life. Our goal is to change the culture of our response as a society to unplanned pregnancies on college campuses. 

In this day in time, politics and religion can be seen as very divisive. We don’t want to add to that division in any way, so Baby Steps steers clear of putting ourselves in any boxes that might cause people to think we have intentions other than empowering student-moms to have their education and their babies. We’re proud to be an organization that can bring people together who while potentially having many different opinions and views, can say as a collective voice, “We stand behind student-moms pursuing their education.”

Our doors are open wide to students experiencing unplanned pregnancies, no matter what their background or personal views are. 

KC: Has Baby Steps been negatively affected or targeted since the Dobbs decision? And has it changed how you go about providing your services? 

BSS: Since the Dobbs decision, Baby Steps has seen an increase of involvement on both sides of the political spectrum, wanting to support what Baby Steps does, not only locally on Auburn’s campus but on future campuses around the nation. This momentum has been key to helping us launch our National Initiative that is working on bringing Baby Steps to as many college campuses as possible. We are excited to announce our next campus will be Baby Steps at University of Central Florida.

KC: Christians, who we represent, are known as a pro-life people who value all of life because we believe God created us in his image. How can individual Christians and local churches help support the work of places like Baby Steps?

BSS: One of the most beautiful parts of Baby Steps is our wide array of supporters. Our mission and vision clearly align with many different views and backgrounds people possess. There is such beauty in being a part of a movement that is supported by groups of people that may not have the same beliefs but can find solace in supporting student-moms and their babies. If our mission aligns with your views, we would love you to join us in changing history! Please visit our website babysteps.org to find ways you can get plugged in, or simply stay in touch with our movement on social media “Baby Steps at Auburn University”.

Photo Attribution:


Kadin Christian

Kadin serves as assistant to the office of the president. An Alabama native, Kadin previously served as an intern with the ERLC, and then continued working under the leadership of the Chair of Research in Technology Ethics while he was a college ministry resident at First Baptist Church of Opelika. … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24