As Washington and Americans turn their attention to the coming fiscal crisis, the pro-life movement, still energized by its recent fight to federally de-fund Planned Parenthood, is in full force, engaging the abortion industry on multiple fronts that span from the Beltway to your local hospital.
One major front that is often overlooked in the abortion debate is on college campuses. According to the Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood’s research organization, 52% of all abortions are performed on women ages 25 and younger.
And it’s everywhere on campus—from the abortion industry’s ads in the newspaper to the university health centers’ referrals to the freshman orientation, when the administration promotes Planned Parenthood as a trusted health organization.
Abortion is seen by many as an easy “fix” for a young woman or couple facing an unplanned pregnancy, “helping” her to complete her education and not to disappoint her parents. But while some women actively choose it, others report that they felt they never had another choice.
An active pro-life presence is desperately needed on these campuses. In 2006, Students for Life of America (SFLA), led by current and former student pro-life leaders, stepped up to the plate with the goal of expanding both the number of student pro-life groups on campuses as well as the number of trained youth pro-life leaders.
The pro-life groups we mentor and start up help give a voice to this rising pro-life generation, educate peers about the reality of abortion, and provide real hope and support to women facing unplanned pregnancies.
Often these students face opposition from pro-choice groups such as Vox, Planned Parenthood’s college chapters, and the Feminist Majority, but most of the time the opposition comes from student government associations or the university’s own administration. This spring, Students for Life of America has helped pro-life students who have faced suppression of free speech from their school’s written and unwritten policies, 10-month-long waits for club approval, and rejection to be an official club because the pro-life issue isn’t “unique enough” or “new.”
While pro-life students can be treated as second-class citizens on campus, the good news is that there are more of them than their opposition or administrations want to believe. Polls are showing that this millennial generation is the most pro-life generation yet. In 2010, a Gallup Poll revealed that 47% of America’s youth identify themselves as pro-life. This is a huge shift from just 10 years ago, and as SFLA continues to expand our student outreach, these numbers will only continue to rise.
What really sets these young people apart from pro-lifers on campus before them is two things: technology and experience.
Today’s technology is incredible. We now have the ability to view the preborn child as never before through highly advanced video cameras and 3-D and 4-D ultrasounds. These videos and pictures make their way onto the Internet and social media by proud parents posting the videos of their preborn children on Facebook and YouTube or companies advertising their products. These mainstream images give this millennial generation the images to back up their scientific truth on campus. Because they are mainstream, their opposition can’t deny their validity as they often try to do with images of aborted children. Instead, these images force opposing students and professors to debate the real issue: the personhood of the preborn.
Because this generation has never known an America without legalized abortion on-demand, they have experienced the real effects of abortion. They know women and men who have been directly affected by abortion in their families, circle of friends, and dorms. They are the survivors of abortion and have been forced to live their lives with the question of “What if?” “What if my Mom had decided to abort me?” “What if I’m missing a sibling or a best friend?” Because this generation has seen the devastating effects abortion has had on their friends and members of their own family, they know the truth and are not about to sit back as their peers are targeted and used by the abortion industry.
Using the benefits from technology and experience, students across America are standing for life on their campuses every day by doing simple activities that raise awareness on campus and spread the pro-life message to their peers. By setting up image displays on campus, hosting events and speakers, and volunteering at or promoting their local Pregnancy Help Centers, students are able to stop abortions where they start and recruit new members to the cause.
Many of the displays that students put up begin discussions and controversy on campuses. One display that has caused trouble on almost every campus is the Cemetery of the Innocents. It uses crosses, flags, or roses to represent the number of preborn children that are killed each day because of abortion. SFLA has been called by pro-life campus leaders with stories of vandalism and destruction of these displays by pro-abortion students and professors. Just last week, a Cemetery of the Innocents display was vandalized at Clarion University in Pennsylvania, when crosses where turned upside down and the pro-life sign covered in fake blood. This follows other known vandalism cases at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, Missouri State University, Louisiana State University, and Northern Kentucky University.
Students also bring pro-life speakers and debates to campus to talk on different aspects of the abortion issue, including Dr. Alveda King to speak on black genocide, Rebecca Kiessling, who was conceived in rape, Ryan Bomberger and Amanda Lord to speak about adoption, members of Silent No More and Operation Outcry to speak about their abortion experiences, and the list goes on. Just two weeks ago, the College of William & Mary in Virginia hosted a debate between Scott Klusendorf, a pro-life apologist, and Nadine Strossen, former President of the ACLU and law professor at New York Law School. This debate was jam-packed with pro-life and pro-choice students who came to hear both sides of the discussion. It is events like these that reach out and break through the prevailing apathy about “the abortion issue” on campus.
College and university campuses are the heart of the abortion battle. It is during these years that students are often faced with this critical life-and-death decision, and forced to form their adult opinions on a number of issues. It is precisely because of this that SFLA is dedicated to working with pro-life students across the country, whether by providing them with the training and resources they need, giving them new ideas for how to break through the debate, or helping them deal with campus opposition.
The millennial generation that SFLA works with on a daily basis provides important leaders of the pro-life movement, and because of their hard work and leadership, we will abolish abortion in our lifetime.