SFLA’s 2016 Year in Review
While most of the country cannot wait to turn the calendar to January 2017 and put 2016 behind us, Students for Life wants to take one last look at this incredible year and recount what we did that made it so awesome.
Many of the stories on campuses never make it the newspapers or on television but just because there wasn’t a camera there doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
So in the immortal words of Elsa, we are prepped to “let it go” and move forward but before we do, here’s to a wonderful 2016!
If January was any indication of where 2016 would go, we were in for a wild ride. Snowzilla threatened to cancel the March for Life and did end up shutting down the Students for Life East Coast Conference. We saw months of work get washed away the moment Washington, DC closed the metro.
But our students were resilient and managed to make more news on the way home from the March for Life than at the actual march itself when they got stuck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike for 26 hours due to the storm.
Instead of complaining, they set up a snow altar and instituted the #TurkpikeMass, which spread like wildfire on social media and even many traditional media outlets covered it. Go pro-life students!
Speaking of fantastic pro-life people, in….
…SFLA added three new Regional Coordinators to our growing team. Breanna was our new Appalachian RC, Jake was out in the Arizona desert covering that region, and Ryan was busy sampling Southern food (errr, setting up pro-life groups) in the Southeast.
After training our new recruits, SFLA needed to recruit an attorney to file an amicus brief for us in the Whole Women’s Health case at the Supreme Court. A smart pro-life attorney stepped up and helped us to file the brief, which urged the Justices to see how the medical safety standards law out of Texas was meant to protect women.
Grab the popcorn because reliving the NARAL meltdown during the Super Bowl is just as fun the second and third times as it was in real time. Doritos – the cheesy chip company – aired a hilarious ad during the big game that dared to show *gasp* an ultrasound of a baby in utero. NARAL lost their minds and went on a maybe-drunken tweetfest about how Doritos was using an “antichoice tactic to humanize the fetus.” OH NO! We were all eating Doritos on Monday morning by the way.
— NARAL (@NARAL) February 8, 2016
Speaking of eating, our Capital Area Regional Coordinator, Michele Hendrickson, couldn’t manage to chow down on her free Chinese food as she infiltrated a rare lecture from infamous late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart at Johns Hopkins University. Carhart believed that killing viable babies was ‘doing God’s work’. It was stomach-churning.
Unfortunately February didn’t end there. Supreme Court Justice and pro-life stalwart Antonin Scalia passed away suddenly in mid-February, setting off a frenzy about the importance of the Supreme Court in a election year. We miss Justice Scalia.
Seattle University, a Jesuit school, allowed a pro-choice group on campus to promote an event featuring a Planned Parenthood doctor. The flyer had a photo of the Rosary, but instead of the Crucifix at the bottom, there was an IUD. Thanks to the swift notification from the Students for Life group on campus and our Regional Coordinator, SFLA immediately asked our supporters to call the school and demand they cancel the event – if this is what Catholic schools are promoting, raising up solid Catholic leaders in the next generation is going to be a huge problem.
While a disappointment at first, Seattle University caved to SFLA’s pressure and canceled the event.
Speaking of public pressure, in…
…. SFLA organized a huge rally and protest in front of the US Supreme Court during the oral arguments of Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstadt, which would have required abortion facilities to adhere to the same medical and safety standards as other outpatient facilities. Of course, Planned Parenthood was having none of that and bussed in around 3,000 (paid?) supporters. The kicker is that while pro-lifers were outnumbered, the New York Times ran a front page photo of a young, pro-life woman the next day at the rally and Planned Parenthood lost their minds. It was great.
— Cecile Richards (@CecileRichards) March 3, 2016
But the abortion side would continue to lose their minds as a young woman – a student at the University of New Mexico – put together an entire life-affirming Real Sex Week at the school in response to their vulgar, abortion-promoting Sex Week the previous year. She had workshops on post-abortion healing, green birth control and even had an MMA trainer come in to do a self-defense class.
The talent of pro-life students continued to shine through this month as the SFL group at Arizona State University chalked pro-life gorgeous designs on sidewalks on campus. Even though they obtained permission ahead of time, someone from the school power-washed away their artwork and said it was “too political.” The students are working with the school to resolve this blatant attempt at taking away free speech (and pretty artwork).
SFLA headed out to dozens of campuses in March with our brand new campus tour, We Don’t Need Planned Parenthood, which consisted of huge banners comparing Federally Qualified Health Centers to Planned Parenthood and the services each offers (spoiler alert: PP offers waaay less than FHQCs). We argued that FHQCs should be getting taxpayer funding and that PP shouldn’t. Many students agreed with us!
Speaking of agreeing with us, in…
…students agreed that having a Students for Life group on the campus of Ohio University was an awesome idea. Jacob Hoback, a freshman at OU, was trying to start an SFL group on campus but kept running into obstacles and a few pro-abortion people were harassing him on social media. He didn’t let it get to him and with the help of our Regional Coordinator, Anna, Jacob managed to get the club off the ground and had his first meeting in April – where 35 students showed up, including a pro-choice girl who ended up changing her mind by the time the meeting ended. Here’s a virtual high-five to you Jacob!
Planned Parenthood’s PR machine was at work again in April as their favored candidate for president accidentally called a preborn baby an “unborn person.” Whoops. The abortion industry was not happy.
— Diana Arellano (@di_la_cazadora) April 3, 2016
Planned Parenthood also wasn’t happy that David Daleiden released all those undercover videos of them discussing how to make a profit from selling the body parts of aborted babies. In fact, they were so mad that they got their buddy the Attorney General of California, Kamala Harris, to raid David’s one-bedroom apartment with nearly a dozen agents! That’s not cool at all. David is a friend of SFLA’s and we immediately kicked into activism-gear and moved to hold a rally outside Harris’ office in Sacramento, which was well-attended and covered by the press.
And in another episode of faith-centered universities behaving badly, Georgetown University, another Jesuit school, welcomed Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, with open arms in April. It probably didn’t go as well as they would have liked though since SFLA had not one, but two, of our campus displays – We Don’t Need Planned Parenthood and the Planned Parenthood Project – set up where all of the students lined up to go inside the venue. We also helped the SFL group on campus, Georgetown Right to Life, secure Abby Johnson to speak later the same day, as well as promoted the tweets of a pro-life student who managed to get into Cecile’s speech, which was closed-press of course.
Something that wasn’t closed press was the premiere of the documentary, Abortion: Stories Women Tell, which was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC. Why do we care? Because our Midwest Regional Coordinator rock star Reagan Barklage was featured in it! The film was slanted but Reagan shared the pro-life message so well and ended up having a good conversation on the flight home with the abortionist that was also featured in the movie.
Speaking of slanted, in…
….the school administration at the University of Iowa decided that our Students for Life group’s pro-life sidewalk chalk messages (some as simple as “Smile, your mom chose life!”) were too “offensive” and had them all washed off.
At Southern Methodist University, the Students for Life group created a cemetery with 3,000 crosses to represent the number of lives lost to abortion every day. They came out the next day to find out their entire display had been taken down. Not only that, a young man filmed himself ranting about the display and saying that women need abortion to be successful. The video caught traction with the students and the Students for Life group filmed a brilliant response of women saying that pro-life is pro-woman. We are working with the group now to make sure the school takes appropriate action against the vandals.
Our Students for Life group at the University of Colorado at Boulder had to fight with their student activities office to host Abby Johnson as a speaker. They initially denied funding to the group based on the content of Abby’s speech. With the help of our legal team and staff, the group received full funding and Abby was able to come and give an inspirational speech.
In more good news, we had a big legal win at the University of South Alabama when our lawsuit was finally resolved and the school agreed to open up more of the campus to free speech (it was less than one percent when we filed the suit) and not to discriminate against pro-life students.
SFLA wrapped up the We Don’t Need Planned Parenthood tour in May, striking fear into the heart of the abortion industry because we turned so many young people against the abortion giant by simply educating them. All in the all, we took the display to 68 campuses in 27 states plus Washington, DC and traveled over 13,332 miles.
Speaking of traveling, in….
…Rock for Life kicked off their summer tour, which hit up 17 Christian music festivals as well as 41 stops in 53 days with the secular Vans Warped Tour. Rock for Life is the only national pro-life group to do a summer music festival tour with the intention of reaching young people with a positive pro-life message. Rock on you guys.
In an example of Congress actually doing good work, the Select Panel on Infant Lives released evidence that Planned Parenthood illegally shared confidential medical information of their clients. Care about women, eh, Planned Parenthood? Nope, they only care about the bottom line. Fox News had an exclusive piece on the findings here.
Planned Parenthood hosted Hillary Clinton in her first speech since gaining the Democratic nomination for president. SFLA gathered a special welcome committee outside of the Washington, DC hotel where she was speaking, with women holding signs that Planned Parenthood and Hillary didn’t speak for them. SFLA also spear-headed a coalition of pro-life women leaders who released a statement condemning Planned Parenthood for selling out women.
So good news/bad news next. The Supreme Court struck down the Texas law requiring abortion facilities to maintain normal safety standards. It wasn’t fun to be outside the Supreme Court that day in the midst of pro-abortion women cheering. But we did manage to get our pro-life signs in dozens of news photos and give interviews to major news networks, including Spanish ones.
Good news was that we passed the 1,000 group mark in June! This was a huge accomplishment for SFLA and it also meant that we outnumbered Planned Parenthood campus groups 4-to-1.
Another bit of good news this month was that Kristan Hawkins, president of SFLA was invited to a meeting of pro-life and family leaders with Republican nominee for president Donald Trump. Any chance we got to be at the table for these meetings we took (and good foresight of course since Trump was elected president).
SFLA launched our brand new Institute for Pro-Life Advancement with the release of a white paper that detailed polling on Millennials, Planned Parenthood, and the pro-life brand. It garnered a good amount of media attention and gave SFLA a private polling institute for reference in the future and among the pro-life movement.
Speaking of attention, in…
…the Rock for Life summer tour got noticed by abortion advocates at the secular Vans Warped Tour and boy, were these people mad. Rock for Life was called all sorts of unprintable names on social media just because they were promoting the pro-life position. It was great because it gave Rock for Life even more attention. The head of the Vans Warped tour came out in support of Rock for Life’s right to be there and said he would gave the same deference to a pro-choice that wanted to exhibit – we never saw any. Guess they just wanted to rant on Twitter instead.
In one of our more exciting July projects, every year Students for Life releases our numbers from the previous school year and it’s always awesome. The 2015-2016 was no different, breaking all sorts of records. Even though our National East Coast Conference was cancelled because of the blizzard, we still managed to train 11,000 students, which is 3,000 more than the previous year. We work with incredible people, we really do.
SFLA loves incredible people so we hired two more in July. Camille Rodriguez came on as our new West Coast Regional Coordinator, which meant she got to travel all over California to train pro-life students and infiltrate safe spaces at pro-abortion leaning universities. Jillian Ferguson still needs to buy a cowboy hat and boots since she became the new Southwest Regional Coordinator.
About Texas…in Houston, the District Attorney threw out all the bogus charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, the undercover investigators at the Center for Medical Progress. It was a huge win and we were able to support David and Sandra in the press and call attention to the corrupt DAs office.
July ended with was what quite possibly the beginning of the end of Hillary Clinton’s run for office when the Democratic Party ratified the most pro-abortion platform in its history. It called for taxpayer-funded abortion, more money for Planned Parenthood, and no restrictions whatsoever on abortion. Many Americans don’t agree with the platform and well, they voted in November.
Pro-Life Future chapters in the Northeast also headed to Philly in their first trip to the DNC, but it was to protest the pro-abortion platform. They talked to many people who were not in support of the radical abortion platform that encompassed the party.
Speaking of firsts, in….
…. SFLA decided to put together the first-ever National Pro-Life Generation Sidewalk Day, where we partnered with Sidewalk Advocates for Life to train our students on proper sidewalk counseling techniques and then got as many students as we could to go abortion facilities on the same day and use their newfound skills to help women. Students went to 30 different abortion facilities and we know of at least one baby save!
Students for Life of America hosted their 3rd annual Christian Leadership Summit in August, where over two dozen pro-life student leaders from Christian and Catholic universities gathered together to participate in workshops with pro-life movement leaders, learn how to be a good leader and talk about how to transform their campuses to a culture of life.
In the August installment of Christian Schools Behaving Badly, Texas Christian University got put on the naughty list for giving students credit for a Planned Parenthood internship. SFLA’s supporters weren’t happy and thousands of them called and emailed the school. Even the local news covered the story. Now everyone knows that TCU is in cahoots with Planned Parenthood. A local Pregnancy Research Center even reached out to the school to offer students a for-credit internship with them to, you know, balance out the abortion side. No word on if the school accepted.
Speaking of acceptance, in….
….we didn’t want to accept the news that Phyllis Schlafly passed away on Labor Day weekend, which was a huge loss for pro-lifers. She was not only a beacon of hope in the movement but a mentor for Kristan Hawkins and she will missed dearly.
SFLA kicked off September by releasing another white paper from the Institute for Pro-Life Advancement, this time delving into the touchy subject of abortion and how Christian and Catholic churches talk about it (spoiler: not well). A hefty majority of women who have abortion identify as Christian, which is a huge problem. We are trying to remedy that fact.
Because SFLA can’t let too much time pass between mobilizing students for pro-life activism, on September 10th, we organized a Women Betrayed rally outside the much-hyped All Access 2016 pro-abortion concert in Cleveland that featured pop star SIA.
In Pennsylvania, the Pro-Life Future chapter of Lehigh Valley lobbied their local legislators to support more laws to encourage pregnant and parenting students to continue their education and have their child or place him or her for adoption.
Students got to take our new campus tour to their campuses starting this month, the Cycle of Corruption, which highlighted the cycle of corruption in the abortion industry and challenged students to learn more about their own political parties and influence them on behalf of the pro-life position.
The special pro-abortion snowflakes in the school administration at Mizzou attempted to scare away students from the new display in an email, falsely claiming that the display had graphic images that would be offense. If they mean images that are not graphic in nature or offensive, then sure, they are right.
Ohio University Students for Life also encountered opposition to the display when a representative from the university demanded our students not hand out postcards and stand behind a table. The students already had permission to be there but while our attorneys looked into the matter, our clever students made their own signs:
Speaking of brave and clever pro-life students, in…..
….junior Bridget Christiansen from Gretna High School in Nebraska went public with the fact that her high school was not allowing her pro-life club to be an official club and was discriminating against her. SFLA and our attorneys sent a demand letter to the school and Bridget did dozens of media interviews. The school eventually demoted almost all clubs to a non-official status, resolving the problem in the most childish way possible.
In efforts to make sure the president of Planned Parenthood knows that this generation is pro-life and isn’t fooled by her rip-off “Planned Parenthood Generation” mantra, pro-life students brought the SFLA #PinkFleet vans to wherever she was speaking. At Temple University in PA, the pink van was there. Cecile saw our pink van in Denver at a medical conference she was speaking at.
Speaking of not buying Planned Parenthood’s crap, two high schools in Colorado had a competition to see which one could raise the most diapers for a local pregnancy resource center. Combined they collected over 28,000 diapers. Now that’s the Pro-Life Generation in action.
The Pro-Life Generation also took action during National Pro-Life Chalk Day, which is designated as a day where student pro-life groups all do chalk messages on campus. It’s usually controversial in some places because pro-abortion students can’t handle messages like “love them both” or “women deserve better than abortion.” One such incident happened at the University of Mary Washington in the middle of the night, where the pro-life group caught the vandals red-handed erasing their messages and writing abortion ones. But instead of getting mad, our students actually had a long, civil and thoughtful conversation with them. Listen to it here.
Speaking of civil conversations, in….
…. SFLA got together two pro-lifers who were friends and had a fun night before Election Day called Election Whine. It was live-streamed over Facebook and meant to look at both sides of the Trump/NeverTrump debate and ultimately to have a group hug at the end, which they did. And it was nice.
SFLA wasted no time in trying to unite pro-lifers after Trump’s historic win, releasing an op-ed about how important it is to make sure pro-life leaders present a united front and hold Trump accountable to the promises he made to pro-lifers.
We also released our second annual list of Top Schools for Pregnant and Parenting Students – Public School edition. It’s so important to recognize colleges and universities who make it a priority to provide support to pregnant and parenting students so that they aren’t forced to choose between their child and their education. High-five!
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, the late-term abortion capitol of the nation, an arsonist set fire to a pro-life pregnancy resource center in the middle of the night, burning up a chapel and several other rooms in the process. SFLA has students that both work and volunteer there and it is so sad that someone decided to cause serious damage, which the FBI has labeled a hate crime.
Speaking of abortion supporters being intolerant, in….
…Satanists decided to start a campaign to send bodily-fluid soaked soaks to the Texas governor in protest of a law that requires aborted babies to be cremated or buried. The abortion industry supported this of course.
There was some good things that came out of Texas though, like the amazing Group of the Month, Students for Life at the University of Texas in Austin. This group not only hosted the Cycle of Corruption campus tour but they had a guest speaker on end-of-life issues, hosted Abby Johnson and showed the movie 40 Film, held freshmen recruiting events and did a Facebook video with doodles from students on why they are pro-life.
SFLA live-tweeted Congressional speeches from pro-life Members of Congress when they House Select Panel on Infant Lives referred Planned Parenthood for criminal charges in Texas for the buying and selling of aborted baby body parts. The Senate Judiciary Committee also referred both the national Planned Parenthood and affiliates for criminal prosecution.
Other things happened this month that were not taking place in Texas, like the Chicago Pro-Life Future chapter doing Christmas caroling outside abortion facilities and volunteering to help serve women, children and families at the Women’s Center Christmas party.
And that’s a wrap of 2016. We can’t wait to see what happens in 2017.
Happy New Year.