The Elephant on the Mall
The Youth and the Pro-Life Movement
By: Billy Atwell|Published: February 7, 2011 9:16 AM
Topics: Gender Issues, Health & Science, Inspiration, Life Issues, Racial Issues, Religion & Society, Trends, Youth Issues
Last month I had the opportunity to join a crowd of roughly 200,000 people who marched on Washington, D.C., in the 2011 March for Life.
This was my first national March for Life. I had marched at the state capital in North Carolina before, but this experience was very different. But though the size of the march was much greater, and the number of members of Congress was greatly increased, there was one thing that remained consistent—the youth.
I’m certainly not the only person to write about this, but when you show up at an event organized around a controversial, culturally taboo topic like legalized abortion, where the opposition is so radically different in their worldview, and you see thousands of young people cheering and chanting like they’re at a concert, you just have no choice but to keep talking about the elephant on the mall (the National Mall, that is).
I spoke with a man named Mark from northern New Jersey who has come to the March for Life for the last eight years. He told me as we walked in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building, “Every year I come and I’m amazed at this…” He pointed to a boy who looked no older than ten years old, walking beside his mother with a pro-life sign in his hand. “I have never seen young people get so excited about anything else.”
Expecting the demographic of the March for Life to be predominantly older adults would not be necessarily presumptuous, but it would be wrong. Though most Americans who are politically active fall into the over-35 group, the pro-life movement in America is full of young people as well.
Thanks to their involvement, the nature of the debate and specific issues are evolving. Young people have inherited the facts about abortion that took advocates years to assemble in the wake of Roe v. Wade. Not having to trek through the muck of explaining the self-evident—that a baby in the womb is a human worthy of rights—the youth are taking the debate to another level.
There are three arguments that young people are championing to help advance the pro-life movement:
Opposing abortion is science-based
While the moral and philosophical arguments are sufficient for many, to some people explaining abortion as a moral and intellectual tragedy needs more convincing. The youth are well prepared to offer various arguments against legalized abortion, rooted in medical advancements.
The scientific evidence weighs heavily in favor of the fact that both the embryo and the more developed baby in the womb is a person, and therefore worthy of human rights. The stages of development—heartbeat and unique blood at 22 days, internal organs take shape at 3 weeks, brain waves at 6 weeks—are scientifically stated and indisputable. So why shouldn’t babies in the womb have rights?
These questions are being asked by young people who are aware that our secular culture wants every argument to follow the scientific method (reason is becoming increasingly irrelevant to some). The young advocates are ready with scientific arguments, but do not limit themselves to those alone.
Exploitation of blacks and disabled children
At the Family Research Council’s ProLifeCon, a pro-life conference for the public and the media, I heard a persuasive presentation by Ryan Scott Bomberger. He is the young, black, engaging and intelligent Chief Creative Officer for The Radiance Foundation, a group dedicated to winsomely presenting facts about the sanctity of life through video and other digital media.
Bomberger gave an interesting account of the abortion movement’s persistent targeting of black people and other minorities for abortion. He spoke about how Planned Parenthood targets low-income black neighborhoods and was founded by Margaret Sanger who, in addition to believing that not aborting babies with diseases was sinful, launched “The Negro Project.” This project was claimed by many to be a eugenics project bent on eliminating unwanted black babies that, in some people’s minds, might hold back societal progress. In essence, Margaret Sanger’s social Darwinian beliefs launched the abortion industry.
In addition to the minorities targeted for abortion by mega-rich abortion providers like Planned Parenthood, who get a significant amount of their operating budget from the federal and state governments, disabled children are targeted as well. Young people are outraged at statistics like the one stating that some 90 percent of children diagnosed with Down Syndrome will be aborted. They don’t have the stomach for it. With their overwhelming presence at the 2011 March for Life, the abortion industry should be well advised that the next generation is active and aware of their racist and discriminatory methods.
With all of the science on their side, and the growing evidence of exploitation and discrimination within the abortion industry, young people will have a much more robust repertoire with which they can debate the remaining pro-abortionists.
Care for pregnant women
With organizations like the crisis pregnancy centers, CareNet, Project Rachel, and Feminists for Life, young people are increasingly aware that women deserve better than abortion. Abortion does not just end the life of an innocent baby—it wrecks the life of his or her mother.
But merely proclaiming that all of life deserves a chance does not help the woman face her many problems. She still needs to pay her bills, get needed medical attention, find a place to live, deal with emotional trauma, and break the news to her family and/or boyfriend.
Young people, more than ever before, want to help those women in need. They grew up with the principled argument against abortion, but are savvy enough to see the needs of women struggling with a daunting decision as to whether or not she should abort her baby. If the Church and other pro-life groups do not fill that need, abortion providers are going to offer a solution: one that has claimed 40 million babies in 38 years.
A witness to remember
Standing on the National Mall, with the Capitol Building in the background, I simply could not get over how many excited young people I saw. They were cheering, shouting, laughing, carrying banners proudly, and insisting that babies be allowed to live.
They are not asking for much. To ask for babies to be given a chance at life is such a simple request I am baffled that we are still asking for it 38 years later.
With an army of young pro-life advocates who are smart, prepared, and considerate of all the many components of this issue, I cannot see abortion remaining legal for another 38 years. Whether the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn their decision or the government will end funding for groups like Planned Parenthood, something has got to give. These young people are going to grow up to be business professionals, members of the clergy, Congressmen and women, moms, dads, and voters.
With their passion and aptitude to end the greatest injustice we have ever experienced, let me just say, I am glad to be on their side.
Billy Atwell is project coordinator for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He contributes to Catholic Online, and blogs for The Point and the Manhattan Declaration. You can find all of his writings at For the Greater Glory.
Articles on the BreakPoint website are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Chuck Colson or BreakPoint. Outside links are for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply endorsement of their content.