By Derrick Jones, NRLC Communications Director
Editor’s note. For obvious reasons we’re including a number of stories about pro-life youth in our year-long “Roe at 40” series, which is reposting stories from National Right to Life News that go all the way back to 1973. While this particular story talks about what an impact the huge numbers of pro-life youth can have on stories written around the time of the annual March for Life, the sentiments hold true year-round. This appeared in the February 2003 edition of NRL News.
“Our teenagers and youth look at abortion and say, `It could have been me.’ Each of them feel fortunate and blessed that their mother did have them.” — Washington archdiocesan spokeswoman Susan Gibbs, “Both Sides on Abortion Try a Youthful Drumbeat,” Washington Post, January 22, 2003
“I do believe that women deserve better… . You’re talking about …a woman, who is undergoing difficult circumstances. You’re talking about a child who she has brought into this world. And it’s a wonderful thing to be able to support that kind of a cause and to know that there is so much support among the youth out there. The pro-life movement is strongly held by the youth.” — Catholic University alumnus Kara Crawford, appearing on Nachman, MSNBC, January 22, 2003
“All [young people] hear is from the other side.” — NARAL President Kate Michelman, “Choice and the Post-Roe Generation,” Time magazine, January 22, 2003
The weeks leading up to last month’s 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade were, to say the least, hectic around the NRLC offices. The media relations department received hundreds of requests from media outlets across the country, all wanting comment on Roe’s legacy. Surprisingly, a number of requests came from reporters who wanted to look at the issue through the eyes of young people.
Time magazine. MSNBC. National Public Radio. The Washington Post. The Chicago Tribune–these were just a few of the media powerhouses that wanted an interview with someone from the Roe generation. At the time, I could only imagine what spin the stories would take. Looking back, perhaps I should have anticipated what we would read in newspapers and magazines and saw on television.
Those that covered the “youth angle,” I believe, may have come at it expecting to find complacency and majority support for abortion among the Roe generation. What they discovered–and finally took notice of in a big way–was something we, as a pro-life movement, already knew.
Members of the Roe generation–those of us born after 1973–are increasingly pro-life! One only needed to look at the throngs of teenagers and college students who crowded in front of the Washington Monument and onto Constitution Avenue for the annual March for Life to realize this very simple, but powerful truth.
To the reporters’ credit the stories took notice of this pro-life majority among young people, even as, at the same time, they lamented the lack of outreach to young people by the pro-abortion movement. The stories candidly discussed a huge ad campaign by pro-abortion organizations that missed their youthful mark because of outdated “iconography” (coathangers!). NARAL’s Kate Michelman, of all people, admitted that the pro-life message is out in force.
What does all this media attention mean? First, that the ongoing educational efforts of the pro-life movement–and more specifically of the hundreds of Teens for Life and campus pro-life groups–are having a major impact on our generation. The importance of this outreach cannot be overstated.
And second, the pro-abortion movement will be out in force in the coming months and years to try to win the youth back. Our opponents have seen the same interviews, read the same stories, and poured through the same polls that we have. We know they are very unhappy. This was supposed to be “their” constituency.
What does all this mean for our Movement? We have to double up our outreach efforts to teens and college students, maintain the advantage we have built up, and enlarge it. Through the support of the adults in the right to life movement and the peer-to-peer education that takes place in classrooms and hallways, we’ve assured that the generation raised with Roe is well enough educated to be decidedly pro-life.
Now, the challenge before us is to maintain that majority, while at the same time adding to its ranks–all while working against the well-funded efforts of our opponents. A formidable challenge.
But all the work we’ve done to this point, and all the work that is yet to be done, is a privilege for each and every one of us–adults and young people alike. And isn’t it oh so sweet to hear Kate Michelman lament, “All [young people] hear is from the other side.”
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