Yours Might Not Be the Generation that Ends Abortion. But that’s OK.

Students for Life poster

“We are the pro-life generation.”

“We are the generation that will end abortion.”

“I survived Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade won’t survive me.”

If you’re anywhere near the pro-life movement, read pro-life news, come to the March for Life or watch EWTN, you have seen and heard these brilliant slogans.  At the March alone there is a sea of signs saying these things.

As a marketing device for firing up the younger generation, they could not be better. The whole generation of tweens, teens and twenties are needed to keep the movement going.

But I offer a cautionary note. What if they are not the generation that ends abortion?

What happens after many years and abortion is still with us? What happens when that slowly dawns on them in their thirties and forties? What happens then?

I don’t know who created these ideas and slogans, but they are used by charismatic, highly effective, true blue pro-life leaders who want to motivate youngsters who are more pro-life than their parents.

Any pro-lifer has to be a huge fan of Kristan Hawkins who took a good organization called Collegians for Life and turned it into a powerhouse called Students for Life of America with chapters on 700 campuses.

Or how about Lila Rose who sat in her UCLA dorm room and thought up making funny phone calls to Planned Parenthood and has utterly changed the debate about funding the abortion giant.

And then there is David Bereit who created 40 Days for Life that has put prayerful youngsters on the streets all over America, Canada and overseas.

Slightly longer in the tooth but no less effective is Bryan Kemper, founder of Rock for Life and now Stand True Ministries, who has a supernatural ability to communicate to youngsters.

Three things caused the great awakening in America on abortion. The partial birth abortion debate showed America what really happens in abortion. Pictures of our new brothers and sisters in utero showed America the baby is real. And hearing the stories of post-abortive women in the public square made America see that abortion was not painless for the woman. These things have done more than any other to change hearts and minds in America, including the hearts and minds of young people.

These young pro-life leaders have capitalized on this change and galvanized a majority of young people who now call themselves pro-life and who are getting active. Want a shot of courage? Go to the March for Life and see that this is a youth movement.

But what if the promises made to these young people do not come true? Or if they are slow to come true? What if theirs is not the generation that ends abortion? Elevated expectations that are not realized have a tendency to reap bitterness and even surrender. This happens in movements and also in human hearts.

Keep in mind what happened in the civil rights fight. Plessy v. Ferguson allowed for segregation in public facilities. This was not overturned until 58 years later in Brown v. Board of Education. In those long years advocates for civil rights did exactly what you are doing now; marching, educating, making speeches, praying, scrapping, even fighting. Even after Brown, though, great inequalities existed, particularly with the Jim Crow Laws in the south and de facto segregation in the north. Even now there is work to be done. And several generations entered into that fight. And the point is that it took decades and the work may never be done.

This is not meant as a criticism of anyone who uses these incredible pro-life slogans. They are great and I love seeing them. I am concerned though for what happens when they do not come true, or they take much longer for them to come true. The youthful slogans of a 22-year-old may taste bitter to a 35-year-old when they do not come true.

Will the Supreme Court rule that abortion is against the constitutional rights of unborn children?  Not any time soon.

Will the justices overturn Roe and send the issue back to the states? God willing, that will happen in the lifetime of the young pro-life activist, but the fight is not over then, not by a long shot.  A 50-state battle will then begin in earnest, and it will take many years to pass meaningful limitations in the red and purple states, but what about in the blue?  In California, in New York, in Florida—where the vast majority of abortions now occur—what will it take to pass laws that protect the lives of these unborn children?  It may well take more than a lifetime of work.

Jeanne Head of National Right to Life, one of our country’s great fighters for life got involved in pro-life when New York State legalized abortion, a few years before Roe. When Roe was handed down she thought it would be overturned in a matter of a few years. She was shocked when it wasn’t. Yet forty years later, now in her mid-seventies, she still fights. She hobbles into the United Nations and sits there sometimes all night long monitoring the debate over abortion and takes every opportunity to lobby friendly and not so friendly foreign delegations.

That is the resolve that young pro-lifers have to steel themselves for. Not just the long haul but the really long haul, a lifetime haul and the understanding one day they will relinquish the torch to yet another generation that believes they will end abortion.

Kristen Hawkins likes to say that she hopes to put herself out of business. We all share that hope. But my next hope is that if abortion does remains with us for decades to come, America will see Kristan and Lila and all of the rest still carrying the torch when they, too, reach 75. That is a life well lived.

Austin Ruse

By

Austin Ruse is president of C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute focusing on international legal and social policy. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of C-FAM.

  • hombre111

    A good goal, putting Roe out of business. I wonder how long the conservative majority on the Supreme Court will continue to dodge facing the issue?

    • tedseeber

      Putting Roe out of business is just the beginning of the fight.

      Reverse Roe by judicial fiat alone, and what you will have is a return to the “laboratory of democracy” status- 50 states with 50 different abortion statutes.

      If anything, reversing Roe without a Personhood Amendment in the Constitution will make the fight *more* complex, not less.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        Would a Personhood Amendment make all that much difference?

        After all, in France, the Veil Law (Law of 17 January 1975) begins, “the law guarantees the respect of every human being from the commencement of life. There shall be no derogation from this principle except in cases of necessity and under the conditions laid down by this law.” The law goes on to specify the circumstances under which the principle can be violated, describing them as matters of “necessity.” As it turns out, “necessity” means that a woman who, during the first ten weeks of pregnancy, finds herself in “distress” [une situation de détresse ] is entitled to terminate her pregnancy after she has received government-mandated counselling.

        • tedseeber

          A Personhood Amendment would very likely make a difference in American Law, which is different than French Law. In fact, it was specifically recommended in the dissenting opinions to Roe v. Wade that Congress pass a better definition of personhood and when life begins, to better guide judges.

          The difference is that France is under Roman Code of Law, which is an entirely different system to English Common Law. The only state where Roman Code of Law is even partially in effect is Louisianna.

  • Alecto

    One way to encourage the troops is for priests to give homilies that inspire and embolden them. It so often appears that priests don’t want to offend anyone by talking about uncomfortable truths. They have a captive audience at Sunday mass, and should use the opportunity to educate and clarify Church doctrine on life. It would help tremendously in the recruitment efforts.

    I also wouldn’t overlook the other side of the demographic scale…retirees! They have lots of time, money and come from generations raised to respect life and the institutions that uphold it (marriage). Thar’s gold in them thar hills. Mine it.

    • Joe DeCarlo

      Alecto, most of the clergy since Vatican II have been mush-mouths. They have become politically correct like much of today’s society. The need to preach elsewhere besides at mass. Only about 30% of Catholics attend mass. Go on to the street corners, to homes, etc. Use the electronic media, etc.

      • Florin S.

        June 7th: Our Clergy have allowed aggressive proponents of abortion, of the mass killing of humans in the womb, like Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and Andrew Cuomo, to go on considering themselves Catholics in good standing with the Church and so the bodies of human babies continue to pile up and those who slaughter them are aided and abetted with great enthusiasm by Biden, Pelosi, Cuomo and other ‘Catholics in good standing with the church.’ In civil law, anyone who aids and abets a criminal is guilty of that same crime; those who did not actually kill in the holocaust were nonetheless brought to trial because they either ordered the killings or promoted the killings and the concentration camp tortures. And remember – those killings too were ‘legal’ — someday we will have our own Nuremberg trials and those that gleefully continue to declare: “I am Catholic and I support abortion – the continued and massive murder of humans in the womb’ will face trial…for crimes against humanity, for the genocide of generations of humans. And those Cardinals, Bishops and Pastors who did not cry out against these massacres will also be held accountable…

        • Alecto

          Given the clergy’s “interest” in involving us lay people in Fortnights and Falderal, the best way to handle them is to conduct lay excommunications. It would not be difficult for committed Catholics to bar Nanny Pelosi, Joe Biden, Andrew Cuomo or any of them from communion by physically blocking the way. What do you want to bet they are such cowards they would rather leave than cause a scene?

    • tedseeber

      Most retirees today who actually still have energy, come from the generation that gave us The Pill, Abortion, and Sex Without Consequences (the sexual revolution). I wouldn’t count on them to be very passionate about this issue as a general group- it takes converts from that generation to be pro-life at all.

      • givelifeachance2

        I find this comment to be incredibly ageist and divisive. Our boomer generation was preceded by the generation who hosted Kinsey, Sanger, Rockefeller, Stalin, Lenin, Mao. Keynes who set the sex revolution in place. Kissinger and Hesburgh were fully power-wielding adults who locked down our generation into totalitarian bondage. And as we know the current generation put Obama in power.

        And Rockefeller and the other foundations seem to span the generations with their deeply evil effects. Call out the bad guys where they exist, don’t generationalize.

        • tedseeber

          I only know that 1/3rd of my generation never got born. And I’m 42. It is even worse for the people who came after me. Yes, there was a bit of a setup- the GI Generation didn’t stay as conservative as they should have after WWII- but eventually this behavior will have consequences.

  • msmischief

    Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power ‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

    Temporal successes are nice and it is our duty to strive for them, but success here is not what we are after.

  • Watosh

    Over turning segregation in public facilities eventually succeeded after a long battle, but unlike the over turning of Roe V. Wade, it involved an issue of equality. Equality is something the secular forces strongly subscribe to. The country has always boosted the idea of equality. No one, not even even segregationalists would advocate inequality in a country that regarded equality as one of its founding principles. So those battling segregation had the secular wind at their backs. The secular wind is not blowing in favor of protecting the unborn, so in order to succeed in banning abortion we face a much greater challenge than those who fought to overturning segregation.
    Now recently I did see an advertisement for Huggies diapers I believe, in which after a young wife announces to her husband that she tested positive for being pregnant, he smiles and looks at her and remarks that it means she has a HUMAN BEING (my emphasis) growing in her stomach. I felt encouraged to see this appear in an TV ad on a major TV network..

  • GrahamCombs

    Would we accept this “time table” if we were talking about racial or sexual discrimination? Or about slavery? Or about poverty? Or about “universal health care?” I’m afraid this complacency about abortion is one reason why I find the rhetoric of “social justice” or “peace and justice” deeply offensive and dishonest. I find individual Catholics and groups of Catholics vigorously pro life. But the Church as an institution not so much. A million lives a year are lost. One hundred and sixty million female lives have been lost in “sex-selective abortions” in Asia and the Subcontinent. Let’s admit that we are overwhelmed, yes. But not that the situation is the most monstrous in human history?

    • slainte

      Why do you think that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church (“CC”) maintains silence on abortion while being proactive on other social justice issues?
      Do you believe that the CC hierarchy’s refusal to address abortion is the reason that priests will not addess this issue from the pulpits?

    • msmischief

      People did talk like this about discrimination and slavery. And they were right to do so. Wilberforce was on his deathbed when the law to abolish slavery in British lands was passed.

  • Alecto

    Do we really want to stop abortion in NY, California and Florida? Or, in any blue state where every city is a sanctuary city? Those states are overrun with illegal aliens. I”m at a loss to understand why it is my duty to “protect” the life of an invasion force? It isn’t. Just because the U.S. government is so corrupt and tyrannical it refuses to repel this invasion, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t by any means necessary.

    Once they are able to put down roots, like parasites, they never leave. Let’s not forget the Catholic church is at the forefront of aiding and abetting this enemy. I want them out, and if free abortion is the fumigation method that works, I support it.

    • slainte

      Your words are ugly, lack charity, and are not consistent with Christ’s teachings.

      Please re-think your position.

      All human life is sacred; all people are God’s children; no person should be condemned to death in an abortuary.
      Pax.

      • Alecto

        Yes, they are ugly, uncharitable and not consistent with Christ’s teachings. And, most importantly, they’re true! The life of my enemy is not sacred to me. And if the Catholic church is so concerned with the lives of this invasion force, send them back from whence they came. I have no concern whatsoever for millions of foreigners invading my country. And if the Catholic Church persists in encouraging this, it will find out just how deeply held that anti-Catholic American sentiment is.

        Prudentia!

        • Steven Jonathan

          These humans are not your enemies dear Alecto- We are here to “colonize heaven, not make things better on earth.” (Ronald Knox)

          • Alecto

            People who invade my country are my enemies. People who lie, cheat, steal, sell drugs to our kids, rape, murder, and commit fraud on taxpayers are a marauding and invading horde. It isn’t about belief, it’s about corruption and domination, and the Catholic clergy can never get enough of that! They’re Archdeacon Frollo, not Monsignor Bienvenu.

            If the Catholic church is so concerned about Mexicans, it should concentrate its efforts there, because what it does here is not charitable work, it’s providing taxpayer funded services to people who aren’t eligible for them. When I found out that Catholic Charities (there’s an Orwellian name for you) was obtaining 60%+ of its funding from American taxpayers, not Catholic donations, to bring muslim terrorists into the country, I decided that’s it for me. This “church” is evil, does evil, and tries to convince decent people that it is doing the “work” of God? In a few decades, this will be a moot point, because decent Americans will not allow the Catholic church to exist here. Your statement that we’re here to colonize heaven, is non-responsive.

            • slainte

              Leviticus 19:34:

              But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

              • Alecto

                Leviticus isn’t an immigration policy, and a stranger isn’t entitled to jobs, housing, food, tuition subsidies and tax credits! When the Church is suing the states (and using our money to do so) merely for trying to mitigate the serious cultural and fiscal impacts of an invasion by a foreign country, that is evil. When priests, bishops and cardinals secretly collude to divert donations made in the true spirit of charity to political ends, they invite an equal and opposite reaction from parishioners. No, they invite total destruction, Old Testament fire and brimstone.

                You are clearly a very dear, and kind person. I have no wish to be when I am slowly being subjected to tyranny supported by a Church that betrayed me.

                • slainte

                  Alecto, my paternal ancestors arrived in Manhattan from Ireland in the waning years of the Irish famine with no money, no family, no prospects, and no possibility of returning to a country where one million people perished from starvation and related diseases. The Irish were yesterday’s overwhelming invading force and they were despised and marginalized by nativist populations.

                  In mid-1800s New York, the Catholic Church was protector, supporter, and advocate for those disembarking from coffin ships in Castle Garden (New York Harbor), many near death.

                  I am forever grateful to those Catholic priests and sisters (largely Irish themselves) who helped feed and clothe Eire’s starving, sick, and dying. These priests and sisters imitated Christ by practicing radical acts of charity and justice tempered always by humility.

                  Jesus mandates His bride, the Church, to care for the least among us. Matthew 25:40. Political considerations cannot and should not alter this Holy command. The mandate is as compelling and fresh today as it was in famine times.

                  I see my ancestors when I view today’s immigrants (legal or illegal). I am grateful that the Church continues to protect, support, and advocate for these strangers among us.

                  I am confident that God’s bounty is sufficient for all to receive a generous piece of the pie.

                  • Alecto

                    My paternal ancestors sold a cow to pay for my grandfather’s passage to Ellis Island. Within a year of his arrival, Bolsheviks had massacred the entire village. Of course we all now know what followed: Lenin, Stalin, and the tens of millions who died there: victims of war, intentional starvation and gulags made famous by Mr. Solzhenitsyn. My grandparents did not have a large church apparatus caring for them, nor could they avail themselves of Irish political clout. They quietly set about learning English, working and saving. Eventually they had enough to open a small store. My grandfather had the Russian equivalent of a sixth grade education. My father was valedictorian of his professional school, while working 2 jobs and caring for my mom and two sisters. That is the beginning chapter of the great American entrepreneurial saga of my family. Of course I’m being facetious.

                    Dad converted to the Roman Catholic church when he married my mother. He often helped my mom’s family even though they made fun of him for being a successful, responsible fuddy duddy. If you were lucky enough to have known my dad, you would never suspect the kind, generous, compassionate or sensitive, artistic yet brilliant man beneath the stern, impatient exterior; nor the achievements of his life, nor the wonderful legacy he left because he never, ever talked about himself…ever. I’m sure you didn’t mean to admonish me, but please don’t presume to enlighten me about these virtues by citing Biblical verses. My dad embodied those virtues, and even though I may fail to live up to them, I recognize them because of my dad, not the Catholic Church. I swear to God in heaven, no priest, no nun ever did anything to help us or comfort us, not through any spiritual, material or emotional hardship, and there were many. Perhaps we were so smart, strong and resilient, the compassion went to others who may have been Irish and therefore needed it more.

                    The difference between the scenarios we each relate and the situation today is that the Church doesn’t support refugees from Russian revolutions or Irish famines. Of course those refugees still come from other conflicts and other famines. No, today the Catholic Church aids and abets criminals, not immigrants, then attacks Americans who protest its subversion of our national sovereignty. The far less compelling cases are those where foreign nationals feel entitled to the economic advantages this country offers but are unwilling to obtain them through legal immigration. Do such people deserve our compassion? Yes, but not citizenship, and certainly not taxpayer-funded benefits. In those cases, compassion is a return ticket to their homeland where they defer to everyone who is more ethically disposed.

                    As I write this, nearly 20%-25% of the American working age population is either unemployed or underemployed, real wages continue to fall, and the term “upward mobility” is quickly disappearing from our lexicon. Unemployment rates for those without a high school diploma or only a high school diploma resemble Depression Era rates. Our population has tripled since the time our respective ancestors asked permission to come.

                    Taxpayers now fund the majority of Catholic Charities’ budget, not Catholics. The Catholic Church misrepresents the situation in order to sustain its bottom line. I don’t blame Catholics, I blame the Catholic Church.

                    You make a sound point writing that Jesus expects us to care for the least among us. The “us” being fellow Americans, those who have legally emigrated or those overseas who need our help. I see no conflict with his teachings in that statement, because Jesus was not arguing for us to assist others to break the law merely to secure their own economic future. Americans are by far, the most generous people on the planet, and they unselfishly give to the countries the world over. Our country has provided the example that has lifted a billion people out of poverty in the past twenty years. Jesus doesn’t expect our government to fund unlimited welfare when it is on track to accumulate anywhere from $20-$80 trillion in debt and unfunded future liabilities. Why is the Catholic Church pushing immigration policies which will bankrupt all of us and collapse our economy for its own sake? I don’t believe in a Jesus Christ who excuses people from responsibility or prudence.

            • tedseeber

              The atheists killed 100,000 Catholics to eliminate our presence in Mexico.

              Maybe if we started treating the Islamics as brothers instead of enemies, we’d have better luck.

            • Steven Jonathan

              Alecto-

              You are rightfully lamenting the corruption of US politics, the corruption of Catholic Charities and truly there are many inside the Catholic Church that are corrupted and are doing evil work. This does not mean the Church is evil. That these human truths in this “vale of tears” trouble you to the point that you believe willful murder is justified is terribly disconcerting.

              Must we recover the vision of the Founding Fathers? Must we strive to recover the principle of subsidiarity? And the true Solidarity of Holy Mother Church? Of course! I share your laments, not your conclusions.

        • Clare

          Alecto, Christ is the Truth. If your position is inconsistent with Christ’s teachings then your position is not true. Your hatred for your brothers and sisters may be true hatred (I don’t know) but your position is not right as you aren’t thinking with the mind of Christ. You said so yourself.

        • Clare

          Alecto, Christ is the Truth. If your position is inconsistent with Christ’s teachings then your position is not true. Your hatred for your brothers and sisters may be true hatred (I don’t know) but your position is not right as you aren’t thinking with the mind of Christ. You said so yourself.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    I do sometimes wonder how much impact a change in the law, without a corresponding change in public attitudes, would have on abortion rates.

    Anyone who remembers France in the 1960s & 1970s, before the Veil Law of 1975 (Law No. 75-17 of 18 January 1975), will know that pretty well every village seemed to have its « faiseuse d’anges » or “angel-maker.” Everyone knew about it, nobody talked about it and the police regarded it as “women’s business” and turned a blind eye. Occasionally a woman died and, then, the Parquet, like Captain Renault in “Casablanca” would be shocked, shocked to discover that such things went on and there would be a brief flurry of prosecutions of unqualified women, quickly rounded up and, so, obviously known to police. Medical practitioners, doctors and midwives were never, ever, prosecuted.

    Many people will recall « le manifeste des 343 salopes » on 5 April 1971, when 343 mostly prominent women admitted to having had an abortion and challenging the authorities to prosecute them. This, needless to say, did not happen. Perhaps even more significant was the publication of a similar manifesto on 3 February 1973 , by 331 doctors, including clinical professors in the leading teaching hospitals, admitting to performing abortions and, again, challenging the authorities to prosecute them. The procurator of the Republic excused himself on the grounds of “lack of evidence.”

    Does anyone imagine the position in the United States would be so very different?

    • slainte

      “The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His apostles, which enjoins humility, piety, and benevolence; which acknowledges in every person a brother, or a sister, and a citizen with equal rights. This is genuine Christianity, and to this we owe our free Constitutions of Government.”
      Noah Webster, United States Founding Father, Revolutionary War Soldier, “History of the United States”, (New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1832), p. 300, ¶578.

      A moral citizenry imbued with Christian principles is necessary for the elimination of abortion and all other forms of civil and human rights violations. It is also necessary to maintain our constitutional republic.

      Law follows public policy. Thus if a citizenry lacks morality, it will become corrupted and its laws will reflect that corruption. Conversely, a citizenry that is moral will create laws that reflect that morality by, among other things, protecting life from conception to natural death, and securing civil and human rights for all.

      If Roe v. Wade was reversed forthwith by the U.S Supreme Court, our citizenry, having lost much of its morality by abandoning its Christian principles, would likely enact laws permitting abortions in the individual states and/or would continue to defend already enacted laws which favor abortion.

      To eliminate abortion, we must all become moral. To become moral, we must return to Christianity.

      • slainte

        Please note that page “300″ should read “273″.

        The “Christianity” which Mr. Webster atttributed as the basis for Civil Liberties was not Catholicism, but protestantism.

    • tedseeber

      We have the 14th Amendment here. A Personhood law would extend 14th Amendment protection to the unborn.

      When that happened with the Negros, no, it didn’t stop lynchings immediately. But within 100 years, to be a KKK member was to be an outcast in society.

  • John O’Neill

    Thybrim (Potomac) magno spumentem sanguine cerno.

  • Gary

    While we work and pray for the unborn to regain legal protection under law, we must continue saving one life at a time through the work of pro-life counseling centers and showing Christ’s love to those who are abortion-vulnerable.

  • Bryan Kemper

    My name is Bryan Kemper and I am mentioned in this article, I am also responsible for several of these slogans: I Survived Roe vs Wade, Roe vs Wade Will Not Survive Me and I Am The Generation That Will Abolish Abortion. I make shirts, stickers and more with these statement on them and I believe these statements.

    I love Austin and he is a friend but I will have to disagree with him here. I will not stop teaching young people to pro-claim that they will be the generation to end abortion. I will not teach them that they should prepare for the really long haul and a lifetime battle because I do believe as more and more are becoming pro-life that we will end this battle.

    I don’t believe MLK JR ever backed down from his dream or gave caution that it might not happen. I don’t believe that we should have a defeatist attitude about ending the abortion holocaust. We fight to win, not to fight.

    This is the generation who will abolish abortion and we need to believe that, live that and support this generation in the fight. Not put a damper on their fire.

    Just my opinion.

    Bryan Kemper

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