Meet the nation’s largest pro-life student group: Notre Dame Right to Life

5 mins read
Notre Dame Right to Life
Courtesy of Kylie Gallegos/Notre Dame Right to Life

As head of the nation’s largest pro-life student group, Kylie Gallegos readily shares her advice for other groups at colleges and universities: Never slow down and remember the importance of the little things.

“That’s what we’ve done, is never slow down,” Gallegos, the president of Notre Dame Right to Life (NDRtL), told Our Sunday Visitor. “And to always remember that even if these smaller on-the-ground efforts don’t seem like they’re doing much, that’s the reason that the pro-life movement is doing well right now.”

The 21-year-old senior from Stillwater, Oklahoma, leads the pro-life club at the University of Notre Dame, a Catholic university in Notre Dame, Indiana. The club of more than 500 members began in 1972 — the year before the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide.

Today, NDRtL calls itself the first pro-life university club in the U.S.

The members promote the sanctity of human life through prayer, service and education. Through these three pillars, they promise to foster a culture that recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of every person, from conception to natural death.

NDRtL engages in a wide-range of activities, from hosting pro-life speakers such as St. Gianna Beretta Molla’s daughter, Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, to organizing events such as Respect Life Week. Members also inform fellow students about the life issue on campus, volunteer with local charities, and pray and attend Mass together.

Kylie Gallegos. Courtesy of Kylie Gallegos/Notre Dame Right to Life


Gallegos revealed one of their favorite activities: Supporting mothers facing unexpected pregnancies.

Through the “Adopt-a-Mom” program at Let Them Live (LTL), a nonprofit dedicated to empowering pregnant women to choose life by supporting them financially and emotionally, NDRtL supports one mom at a time.

Last school year, NDRtL raised $4,000 for a single mother expecting her fourth child. The students also prayed for her, threw a baby shower, made baby blankets, surprised her other children with Christmas presents, and wrote encouraging letters.

Emily Berning, co-founder and president of LTL, recognized NDRtL’s support.

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“To the moms NDRtL has adopted, the support from [them] has meant so much and was literally the difference between life or death,” she said.

In a video shared with Our Sunday Visitor, the mom that NDRtL adopted in 2022 expressed gratitude.

“I had a whole bunch of people that I didn’t even know rooting for me,” Cassie, who gave birth to her baby, La’Riya, in February, says. “It was just a blessing.”


Gallegos listed prayer as the first pillar through which NDRtL supports life. Club members not only pray the Angelus and Chaplet of Divine Mercy weekly, but also attend monthly Right-to-Life Masses and weekly dorm Masses.

Other prayer activities include a 54-day Rosary Novena for life, a death-row novena email list, and Eucharistic adoration.

Leaning into their Catholic identity, the club picks a patron saint each year. For 2023-24, NDRtL chose the patroness of the unborn: Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared as an expectant mother to St. Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531.

“We’re going to try to get involved with the Hispanic Ministries [at Notre Dame],” Gallagos said of the pick. “Leaning very heavily on Our Lady this year, it’s kind of the plan.”

Gallegos, a Catholic, stressed that the university’s Catholic identity impacts every facet of the club.

“The fact that we’re advocating for the unborn stems from the fact that we all believe in the inherent dignity of every human person, that’s coming from our Catholic faith,” she emphasized.


In addition to “adopting” mothers in need, NDRtL partners with charities to promote life through service.

Gallegos highlighted involvement with two charities, beginning with Holy Cross Village, a local retirement community, where students visit with the residents and participate in events from dances to game nights.

NDRtL also helps the local Women’s Care Center, which provides pregnant women with free resources and support. Their club, Gallegos said, throws baby showers there.

Members have also volunteered with Hannah & Friends, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals with special needs, and have provided childcare at Hannah’s House, a local maternity home.


To educate on the life issue, NDRtL members engage in outreach: The group publishes a journal called “Footprints,” hosts a Humanae Vitae lecture series, holds tablings and trainings on campus, and stays updated on legislative and political efforts.

The group also advocates for end-of-life issues, including by writing letters to inmates on death row, and supports adoption and foster care through activities like creating backpacks for children in foster care.

Gallegos said that, in addition to outside speakers, a variety of professors deliver talks about the life issue.

On their website, NDRtL lists pregnancy resources, including the Notre Dame Family Resource Center, which provides support for parenting and pregnant students, so that students facing unexpected pregnancies know they are not alone.

A message for pregnant students

Gallegos shared her message for students facing unexpected pregnancies.

“The first thing that I would let her know is that she’s strong enough to face this path that might seem daunting before her — but really emphasizing that we’re at a university that vows that any pregnant student will receive the university’s full support, accommodations for coursework and housing, free physician appointments, free counseling with our Family Resource Center, before and after the pregnancy,” she said.

She stressed that, in addition to the local Catholic community, every NDRtL member is ready to provide support.

Notre Dame
The Notre Dame March For Life 2022 took place on campus with a Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart followed by a march across campus and a rally in front of Hesburgh Library. The student trip to Washington D.C. was cancelled due a rise of Covid-19 infections because of the highly transmissible omicron variant. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

Holistically pro-life

Gallegos, who is majoring in American Studies and theology, revealed her focus as president for the upcoming school year: Going in a “pro-life feminist-type direction” and focusing on true femininity.

Before leading as president, Gallegos served on the NDRtL board for two years. The group has faced challenges and spiritual attacks, she said, pointing to division within the club last year.

She emphasized the importance of staying focused and relying on Our Lady at “Notre Dame” (a French term that translates to “Our Lady”) to move forward.

Following the overturning of Roe, Gallegos called changing the culture a “big concern” for students.

Hundreds of students regularly attend the March for Life, the nation’s largest annual pro-life rally that began in response to Roe, Gallegos said. (To join NDRtL, students can either pay dues or attend the march, with most of the cost covered by Notre Dame’s de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture.)

Now, for the upcoming school year, Gallegos hopes to celebrate what it means to be a “Roe-free woman” by focusing on 1972 as the year before Roe, the year the pro-life club started, and the year Notre Dame first admitted undergraduate women.

“So trying to take this number that represents women at Notre Dame but also kind of turning it into another symbol of women at Notre Dame, [the] pro-life movement at Notre Dame, a pre-Roe woman, a woman who embraces femininity, embraces her fertility and childbearing and doesn’t see children as obstacles to success,” she said.

Gallegos also hopes NDRtL will find more ways to get directly involved service-wise, focus on being holistically pro-life, and support women.

“Those are kind of the themes that will be playing out,” she said. “I’m pretty excited about it.”

Katie Yoder

Katie Yoder is a contributing editor for Our Sunday Visitor.