As Alliance Defending Freedom celebrates Life Week with pro-lifers across the nation, we all find ourselves in a moment filled with tension, unrest, and some discouragement, too. If your eyes are glued to Congress and the White House, you may find it a bit challenging to celebrate Life Week this year. But when you take a step away from the Washington-centric 24/7 news cycle and look at the evolution of the pro-life movement since the fateful day Roe was decided in 1973, it is clear we have plenty of reasons to celebrate and to advance with great hope for the future of our movement.
For 48 years, droves of pro-life advocates have traveled from far and wide to participate in what has become America’s largest annual human rights march: The March for Life. And contrary to what pro-abortion activists may want people to think, the March demonstrates one of the most powerful strengths of the pro-life movement: that pro-life advocacy has strong support from young people—including young women.
Some of the nation’s leading pro-life advocates are millennial women, such as Lila Rose, the Founder and President of Live Action, and Kristan Hawkins, the Founder and President of Students for Life of America (SFLA). For many years, millennial high school and college students have attended the March for Life by the busload, flooding the streets with young faces holding up school banners as far as the eye can see. And next year—when political unrest and COVID-19 concerns recede and allow the March to take place as normal—we can bet Gen-Z pro-lifers will be doing the same.
Encouraged after these powerful trips to our nation’s capital, these students have returned to their homes across the country to spread the pro-life message through their campus Students for Life chapters. SFLA’s website states the organization has grown to well over 1,000 chapters on college and high school campuses across the country, where passionate students are constantly moving the hearts and minds of their classmates toward the pro-life position, and providing pregnant and parenting students with the resources they need to care for themselves and their unborn children.
In this area of pro-life work, the efforts of our pro-life pregnancy centers—which have grown tremendously since the time of Roe—can hardly be overstated. There are approximately 2,700 of these centers across the nation, outnumbering Planned Parenthood facilities 4 to 1. In 2017 alone, these centers provided free services to nearly two million people—services worth an estimated cost of over $161 million. Because more than 70 percent of women who get abortions are under the age of 30, young people have played a critical role in this area of the pro-life movement too, as these women are often more likely to develop trusting relationships with pro-life advocates who are their peers.
And the good news doesn’t stop there.
Predictably, the U.S. abortion rate spiked dramatically in the years following Roe … but now, we’ve reduced that rate to less than half the previous number—yet another truly phenomenal feat.
As I reflect on these numerous accomplishments during Life Week, I find myself pondering: How have we achieved this? How did this movement grow to where it is today?
In recent decades, the pro-life movement has arguably faced more adversity than any other social movement in America. Hollywood is against us. University administrators are against us. Major tech companies are against us. The federal funding of Planned Parenthood—to the tune of over $600 million per year—is against us. And too often, even pro-life public officials break their promises to us.
Yet despite these challenges, the pro-life movement—from Students for Life chapters, to pregnancy centers, to legal organizations like ADF, to pro-life groups at churches across the country—has heroically saved millions of lives from the violence of abortion and made monumental advances. These advances should boggle the minds of those who believe secular, worldly power is the singular key to success.
For decades, the pro-life movement has been fueled not primarily by those who hold seats of power—such as leaders in Washington or Silicon Valley—but by the love of Christ moving in the hearts of tens of millions of advocates like you; love manifest through unceasing prayer and innumerable acts of service that has a divine power Planned Parenthood and its allies cannot reckon with.
This love is what has animated the pro-lifers of the millennial generation—standing on the shoulders of the giants who came before us—to take up the torch and help raise the pro-life movement to new heights in the digital age. Even a New York Times columnist has recognized that “young pro-choice [advocates] are much more ambivalent or apathetic than young pro-life ones.” The young adults in the pro-life movement have achieved this superior strength despite the fact that they are outnumbered among their similar-aged peers, and that they face the previously mentioned secular powerbrokers working against them. For those observing this phenomenon who do not believe in God, no explanation may suffice. Yet for those who do believe in God, no explanation is necessary.
This Life Week, I am grateful for the strength God has given our movement to continue advancing against the odds, and for the knowledge that we can place our trust in Him as we persist through the storm, protecting the youngest and most vulnerable among us.
We have not let unfavorable government actors stop us for 48 years, and we are certainly not letting them stop us now. Rest assured, dear friends: The best days of the pro-life movement have yet to come.
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