By Carol Tobias, President, National Right to Life
In this post, I would like to talk about how we at National Right to Life have been at the forefront of rearing up the next generation of pro-life leaders. In season and out, NRLC educates, trains, and motivates young people. Who will keep this human rights battle moving forward if not they? If you aren’t personally familiar with some of these great young people, I hope you will look for ways here to help promote pro-life advocacy among out nation’s youth.
One of our most successful programs is the National Right to Life Academy. This program for college students is a five-week course with in-depth training on pro-life issues.
The curriculum covers a wide variety of subjects, including the history of the pro-life movement, ethics, parliamentary procedure, lessons learned from other social movements and specific legislation. The students don’t learn just about abortion. Also included is an in-depth look at the various arguments for other pro-death proposals, such as assisted suicide, health-care rationing, and embryonic stem cell research.
Each day, the students participate in what is called a practicum, debating each other and NRLC staff members on key life issues. These daily sessions, which simulate real-world experiences, form the cohesive structure that ties the course together. Each practicum brings each student closer to being an effective activist for protecting innocent human life.
Supplementing the course work are lectures by NRLC staff. Veterans of many years in the trenches, they share their expertise on topics such as media strategy, outreach to churches, fundraising, and public speaking tips.
College students also have the opportunity to serve as interns in the NRLC office. Our summer internship program, typically lasting 8 weeks, selects approximately ten interns per year to join one of our departments and become an integral part of day-to-day activities. In addition to the daily work, interns attend weekly seminars held by the leaders of the movement, educating and encouraging the next generation of activists. Our National Right to Life interns get one-on-one time to learn first-hand from leading experts in the movement, and learn the history of where our movement has come from, and how we’ve ended up where we are today. These seminars, beyond the invaluable pro-life education they provide, offer opportunities for the interns to get to know one another and make life-long friendships.
In 1985, recognizing the need to educate and motivate young people, National Right to Life started National Teens for Life. After 30 years, many of the teens from those early years are making a difference, working with NRLC or our state affiliates, or they have become strong voices for the voiceless in their chosen profession and daily lives. The National Teens for Life convention will be held in conjunction with the NRLC convention in Washington DC on July 7-9. Join us at the convention and bring as many teens with you as possible.
The NRLC convention is also the focal point of several contests for young people. The annual oratory contest for high school students will be held on Saturday as judges listen to speeches from students who have won their state contest, giving them the opportunity to compete against students from around the country.
Amateur filmmakers from ages 15-25 are invited to submit a short video. This year’s topic is “Why laws need to protect innocent human life.” The winning video will be shown at the convention.
Our annual essay contest, for grades 7-9 and 10-12 is already underway as judges are reading the many essays that have been received from around the country.
In addition to all this, some of our state affiliates host Life and Leadership camps, tailored to different age groups, from middle school to college.
For information on any of these outreach activities, please check out the Student Center on our website.
The brightest light for the future of the pro-life movement is young people. They/you are not just future leaders; they/you are leaders today.
Leaders in the abortion industry recognize the fact that the passion among young people in the abortion debate is much stronger among pro-life youth. Frances Kissling, former president of Catholics for a Free Choice, observed that “the anti-abortion camp is getting younger.” Nancy Keenan, former president of NARAL, told Sarah Kliff, then of the Washington Post, that the organization’s research found there is an intensity gap among millennials – more pro-life than pro-abortion voters under the age of 30 consider abortion to be a “very important” issue.
In greater and greater numbers, the post-Roe generations are rejecting the idea of abortion on demand. They know that 1/4 to 1/3 of their generation is gone, having been killed before birth. They have also likely seen an ultrasound image of themselves as a preborn child.
After working with young people for many years, I have every confidence in saying that the future of the pro-life movement is in good hands.