By James Balch
Editor’s note. It really does seem like yesterday when James Balch wrote this for National Right to Life News. In fact, his essay appeared in the January 2007 issue of NRL News when James was only 12! We’re offering it as today’s entry in our year-long “Roe at 40” series in which we are reprinting the best and most representative stories going all the way back to 1973.
Having grown up around some of the finest pro-lifers and their children, it seems as if I have always been familiar with the pro-life movement. One conclusion all this has taught me is that you can never be too young to make a difference.
The National Right to Life Committee where my parents work offers invaluable assistance to unborn children, older people, and people with disabilities. I like to think of the pro-life movement as a non-violent defense army that works on behalf of the vulnerable.
Most significantly, right to life is the most important issue of the age. The death culture has been claiming innocent lives in America for decades, and it is only getting started. It is required of my generation that we stop the “quality of life” mentality, or at least greatly slow it.
Pre-teens like me (I am 12 years old) need to get involved in the pro-life movement now, rather than wait, for several reasons.
Older people tend to pay more attention to things if young people care about them. Adults like to see kids care about something besides video games and TV, especially when it is an important issue in today’s society.
Even though a lot of adults don’t realize it, many pre-teens are forced to deal with life issues when their friends and family members are involved in life or death decisions. For example, sometimes pre-teens will have friends, friends’ family members, sisters, or aunts considering having an abortion. Sometimes we will have friends whose parents are thinking of taking grandma or grandpa off of life support, or even ending their food and water.
By being educated about pro-life issues and arguments as soon as we are able to understand them, we can convince other young people to be pro-life. To continue to thrive, the Movement must have many people involved in the future.
Also, getting kids firmly rooted in the pro-life ways when we are young is good preparation for entering the intensely anti-life world of college and adulthood. It’s best to enter adulthood with a firm pro-life defense to meet the arguments against life.
And, finally, we are the future of the pro-life movement. Today’s pre-teens are tomorrow’s workers, leaders, and voters. The death culture is greatly affecting the world that we will grow up in. After all, one-third of our generation has been killed by abortion. We should do our best to make the world a better place now, rather than wait for it to get worse.
So, now that we know how vital it is for pre-teens to get involved, the question is, “what can we do?”
The first way for kids to get involved is simply by making the issues known to those around us. We can talk to our friends about the subject of pro-life. We can participate in class discussions about current events involving the right to life. Just letting people in school and in the neighborhood know that you are pro-life is really helpful. That way classmates and neighbors know of someone they can talk to about life issues if they ever need help.
Sadly, most pre-teens don’t know much about life issues, let alone want to get involved, which makes it all the more crucial for pre-teens who are already pro-life to convince other kids to join the pro-life movement. Good peer pressure on life issues can do wonders.
Currently, in most middle schools and high schools and particularly public schools the peer pressure is overwhelmingly anti-life. If that were to change, and the peer pressure were more pro-life, then far fewer pregnant teen mothers would feel pushed into an abortion.
Another way pre-teens can help the movement is by taking care of the handy work. Often, the workers of the National Right to Life Committee, the state affiliates, and local chapters cannot get enough volunteers to take care of small, but extremely important jobs, such as leafleting, stuffing and addressing mailers, and filing. Having pre-teens take care of this critical business frees others up for work that requires more experience and knowledge.
One thing I would really like to see happen is a growth in the outreach to children. It is great that there have been increasing numbers of pro-life teens in recent years, but I think that number would grow even more if the education started with pre-teens.
The pro-life cause is one very close to my heart, and I am determined to do my part to stop the evils that are such a part of my society. I am eager to share this fight with my peers and am hoping that the greater involvement of pre-teens will bring us a few steps closer to ending all anti-life activities in America and in the world.
James Balch is the son of Burke Balch, director of NRLC’s Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics, and Mary Spaulding Balch, director of state legislation for NRLC.