By Joleigh Little, Wisconsin Teens for Life Director, Wisconsin Right to Life
Editor’s note. Elsewhere at NRL News Today, we talk about the late-out-the-gate pro-abortion attempt to woo young people. Pro-lifers have made teenagers a part of our Movement for forever. The following, part of our “Roe at 40” series featuring articles from National Right to Life News going back to 1973, comes from the March 2006 edition. If you are not a subscriber to the “pro-life newspaper of record,” call us at 202-626-8828.
“Look at the bright side. If we keep reproducing, eventually we’ll outnumber them!” We laughed as pro-life champion and educator Molly Kelly shared this with us, a room full of eager Teens for Life. That was 16 years ago, and it seemed as if we were vastly outnumbered by our pro-abortion peers. Frankly, it took some doing to look on the bright side.
Fast forward to the present. Molly was right. Everyone seems to agree on one thing: Generation Y is more pro-life than its parents’ generation.
Consider in the past year such headlines as the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s “Abortion Activists Fight Youth Apathy” and Glamour magazine’s “The Mysterious Disappearance of Young Pro-Choice Women.” Read the pro-abortion spokespeople quoted and their frustration is almost palpable. They seem shocked that this generation of young people isn’t buying into the abortion mentality.
But it’s not such a surprise, really. Pro-life people have children, and raise them to understand that life should be protected. Pro-abortion people frequently have abortions.
But raising life-affirming children is only part of the explanation.
Anyone born after January 22, 1973, is a survivor. At some level consciously or subconsciously they know they could have been just another statistic.
That tends to have an effect on a generation. How much that is true is showing up in many ways.
Writer Hans Zeiger explores this in more depth, contending that “The rising generation of Americans has been shaped profoundly by two events … the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade [and] the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan.”
We in the Movement first noticed a 2003 Gallup poll that found that 72% of 13-19 year-olds thought abortion was morally wrong.
In 2004, a poll conducted for Rock the Vote found that 54% of new voters were pro-life. Among first-time minority voters, the numbers were even higher61% of Latino and 59% of African American respondents. (This, no doubt, caused virtual apoplexy among their ranks as Rock the Vote is notoriously … well, NOT pro-life.)
Also in 2004, Zogby found that 60% of 18-29 year-olds supports complete restrictions on or minimal exceptions (life, rape, incest) for abortion. A year later, Hamilton College/Zogby polled high school seniors and found that “the majority also regards abortion as morally wrong and would not concede a woman’s legal right to abortion except in extreme circumstances, such as rape or significant threat to the health of the mother.”
Imagine their surprise when they asked females whether they would “consider” abortion if they became pregnant in high school. Seventy percent said no! Men were asked if their partner became pregnant, would they want the woman to abort. Sixty-seven percent said no! Only 13% said they would suggest abortion as an option for others, preferring that the girl keep the baby (26%) or choose adoption (54%).
This evidence suggests that we are winning the battle for the hearts of our youth. They seem to inherently understand that abortion isn’t about “choice” but about killing and that killing is a bad thing.
The same Hamilton College poll found that 62% of high school seniors said they favored retaining Roe. Half described themselves as “pro-choice.”
Seem like a contradiction? Probably not, if you are a member of Generation Y, raised on a steady dose of pro-abortion media drivel.
Think about it. You get that killing is wrong, but maybe nobody ever bothered to tell you that Roe essentially legalized abortion-on-demand through all nine months of pregnancy.
More often than not polls describe Roe as “the decision that legalized abortion in the first trimester.” It did, but that’s like saying, “The breach in the levee allowed inches of water to flood New Orleans.”
The bottom line is what we have always known it to be. We need to educate youth on life issues. Even uneducated, they understand that abortion is morally wrong and would neither have nor recommend having one.
But most of them still don’t have an understanding just how radically anti-life Roe is, nor how taking the lives of over 45 million [now over 55 million] tiny babies damages our nation’s heart and soul.
Once these young people are educated, they educate others, they save lives, and they continue to fight the battle for hearts and minds. Once educated, they understand that we are no longer just battling abortion. Pro-life teens and young adults understand that all life is precious and killing the vulnerable is just as insidious as killing the unborn.