Pro-life Activism Booming on Nation's Campuses
Marginalized Majority Arising
By Holly Smith, Advisor
National College Students for Life
When news seeps out that the median age for a member of the old-line militantly pro-abortion NOW is 61, it shouldn't surprise us that the core components of the pro-abortion coalition are spending a lot more time and effort on recruiting younger women.
For example, in July NOW announced the formation of its "National NOW Young Feminist Task Force." Kate Michelman of NARAL has been visiting college campuses since last August. NARAL has a new youth advisory panel full of young up-and-comers in the pro-abortion movement, called "Generation Pro-Choice."
Not to be outdone, Planned Parenthood is starting campus clubs called "VOX" - - Voices for Planned Parenthood. And a lot of pro-abortion leaders are determined that their April 25, 2004, march in Washington, D.C. (recently renamed "The March for Women's Lives") will draw a big turnout of college students.
Pro-lifers on campuses have their own take on this. Brian Mazanec, a University of Richmond student instrumental in founding "UR Spiders for Life" last year, told NRL News about a VOX chapter founded on his campus last year.
"It seems that the pro-abortion group on campus is merely a weak reaction-based organization propped up mostly by the liberal professors who are frightened to see the high level of activity and near 100 members our pro-life student organization has," he said.
Like us, pro-abortion leaders know that today's college students are tomorrow's leaders. Unlike us, however, they are scared to death by what they see: the trend of college students toward the pro-life viewpoint.
A UCLA poll released last January showed college students' support for abortion declined from 67% to 51% in just 10 years. More importantly, the numbers continue to trend in our favor, according to recent surveys of teens. According to a 2003 Gallup survey, 72% of American teenagers agree that abortion is morally wrong. Only 26% find abortion morally acceptable.
"Young people today don't know what it was like before Roe," pro-abortion leaders lamely counter. That fact is supposed to make those of the "post-Roe" generation embrace the right to kill unborn babies before that "right" becomes just nostalgia.
It is true that those born after Roe v. Wade have always lived in an era when abortion is readily available. But that is exactly why teens and college students are polling pro-life in larger and larger numbers: They and their friends have suffered from the dire consequences of legal abortion. They know first hand there's a far superior way to deal with unexpected pregnancies than killing helpless, dependent babies.
They know from experience how their friends suffer when they decide that abortion is their "only" choice. And growing up surrounded by incredible technology available such as 4D ultrasound, they know the tiny passenger inside a mother's womb is not a "blob of tissue" but a vibrant, developing member of the human family.
So, contrary to what most of their professors preach and their administrations encourage (by offering referrals and insurance coverage for abortions but not pregnancy or parenthood aid, like pre-natal or maternity health coverage), thousands upon thousands of college students are actively promoting the right to life on their campuses.
The University of Notre Dame (Indiana), Franciscan University of Steubenville (Ohio), and Hillsdale College (Michigan) have always been among those Catholic and Christian schools that had actively pro-life student bodies. But now they are no longer voices in the wilderness.
Beginning several years ago, their numbers have been bolstered by the addition of brave pro-life comrades at Harvard, Stanford, and other private institutions. More recently, state university students at Berkeley, Michigan, Florida State, and Oklahoma - - to name just a few - - have gotten into the act by starting their own "Students for Life" groups.
That students are more pro-life than ever is consistent with the overall shift of public sentiment that is seeing through the lie that abortion is good for women, families, and society. The truly fantastic development is that even more young people see through that lie than do adults. They are able to see the truth, in spite of living their whole lives in a legal system that accepts abortion and often being educated by schools and entertained by media that believe, protect, and promote the lie wholesale.
FROM AFFIRMATION TO ACTION
As noted above, polls of incoming freshmen and other college students have heralded the arrival of a pro-life trend. But answering "pro-life" in a survey doesn't make you an activist.
Many students at our colleges go to classes and have the typical college experience while feeling alone in their pro-life views. College faculties don't have a reputation for tolerating, let alone understanding, the right-to-life position. Campus women's centers, health centers, and student newspapers try to marginalize pro-lifers.
But Americans are the world's best joiners. All it takes is for several pro-life students (or even one) to decide to speak out.
Having made the decision not to be discouraged or uninvolved, they jump through the bureaucratic hoops to become a recognized club, often having to directly challenge a resistant student government or administration. At some point, they start signing up members and developing e-mail lists. To their surprise, dozens, sometimes hundreds, of students sign on as supporters.
Certainly, not everyone who signs up will be a regular participant. Most campus clubs operate like local right-to-life chapters with three to fifteen active members. But the strong support the club receives from students is a great encouragement not only to its leaders, but also to individual students who no longer feel alone in their views.
"The reaction to our pro-life group lately has been supportive and embracing from the student body and cold and confrontational from the faculty and administration. But I'd much rather have the true grassroots support of the students," shares Mazanec from the University of Richmond.
As a club, the pro-life students host speeches and debates, promote alternatives to abortion, conduct poster campaigns, run educational booths, and serve as a resource of pro-life materials for students writing papers or making presentations. And it's also vitally important that pro-lifers are challenging professors to be accurate and fair in lecturing on pro-life issues, asking women's centers to promote both sides, encouraging health centers to refer students to crisis pregnancy centers instead of abortion facilities, and prompting newspapers to publish letters to the editor and op-eds explaining the pro-life position.
Students have found common cause and solidarity on their campuses by becoming advocates for alternatives to abortion. They may not yet feel like the majority that the polls indicate they are becoming. But they do know by each success and by the reactions of their opposition that they are a force to be reckoned with.
That's an empowering feeling for thousands of pro-lifers, who until recently felt all alone. That's good news for the future of our movement, and for unborn children.