March for Life prep: Sign-Making

In less than 24 hours, the #ProLifeGen will be out in FULL FORCE at the March for Life.  Student groups across the country have been preparing for this day: buying extra handwarmers, stocking up on snacks, and of course… making signs!

I crashed a sign-making party last night just to see what everyone was up to, and it was SO encouraging.sign1

With this year’s March theme in mind, The Power of One, let’s take a look at how these young people are making a difference:

Eric and Erica Valenstein, leaders at Connections Church of the Nazarene in Baltimore, MD welcomed students into their home to joyously prepare for the March for Life.

“There has been a lot of negativity with protestors recently.  I wanted to make signs that spread words of love, truth, positivity, and hope.  I want our students to know you can still stand up for what you believe in a loving positive way,” explained Erica.

It is so important to teach our students the power of their words.  Way to go, church leaders!

sign2Julie Vyas, mom of 4 (an extra kid snuck in the picture), brought her whole family to join in the effort. The pro-life position is one that kids of all ages can understand – just look at their sign!  All Life Matters.

What a difference this strong mother is making by sharing life-affirming values with her children.

Liberty, who is in middle school, shared why she will be marching tomorrow, “I am marching because I want to be able to share my opinions about life with my friends and family.”

Yes!  She gets it.  Her boldness will inspire others.

Kelly, another middle school student, colored in my favorite Alice Paul quote, “Abortion is the Ultimate Exfoliation of Women” and agrees that women deserve better than abortion.  She even wore her “I am the Pro-Life Generation” sticker to school this week.  I wasn’t even that bold in middle school!sign3

Some students joining the party were already in college and thinking about how they will use their gifts to save lives.  A.J. Vivik and Desiree Bennett helped to create the classic, “A Person’s a Person, No Matter How Small” sign quoting Dr. Seuss.  It’s a perfect fit, because A.J. is a premed biochemistry major, and future pro-life physician.

“I believe that humans are given a blessing with the ability of carrying a baby in the womb, the safest place possible.  There is an intricate relationship and process that occurs creating a human from fertilization through blastulation and gastrulation; it proves to me that purpose exists at the time of conception.”  … spoken like a true biochem major.

BRB while I go Google some of those words.sign5

And finally, Josh, a high school student, makes his sign while proudly sporting his Rock for Life T-Shirt.  This bold high schooler wears his shirt to school regularly and is not afraid of sharing the truth, “We’re marching for people who can’t defend themselves – and killing babies is wrong!”

Well.  There you have it.  A teenage boy just summed up the most basic principle in all of humanity.

Long after tomorrow’s March is over, these young people will continue to make a difference.  It’s because of simple efforts like these, we WILL Abolish Abortion in our Lifetime.

Optimistic for a Pro-Life Future

By Hunter Estes, Events Coordinator, Georgetown University Right to Life.

No matter what your feelings are on Donald Trump, his presidency presents an unprecedented opportunity to advance a comprehensive pro-life agenda. With pro-life leaders holding a majority in the House and Senate, Congress may now have a friend in the Oval Office who will sign off on pro-life legislation.

There is much work to be done on the national level. Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan ought to make pro-life legislation a top priority. There is no question about the fact that Trump is a wild card; his presidency could go any number of directions, but a conservative Congress has the power to keep him in check (thank goodness for our Constitution).

McConnell ought to guarantee that Trump makes good on his promise to appoint originalist, pro-life justices, and Ryan ought to make it a priority to fully defend Planned Parenthood. The critical role of the Supreme Court cannot be undervalued. President Trump’s pick of justices could not only solidify an originalist bent to the court for decades to come, but also overturn Roe v. Wade.

On the state-level pro-life leaders have increased their already sizable majority of both gubernatorial seats, and state legislatures. Once Roe v. Wade is overturned, the power to legislate abortion will be sent back to the states, where it ought to be, and these state leaders will have a chance to help expunge abortion from our society.

In the next few years, we have the capability to advance a pro-life agenda both on the nation, and on the state-wide level, at an unprecedented rate for our country. We need to take full advantage of the opportunity at hand, by eliminating Roe v. Wade and getting rid of abortion once and for all; lives are counting on it.

Looking beyond just this current time of pro-life control of government, I am hopeful that pro-life policies will be here to stay. The fact is that the pro-life millennial is the new majority. If the 2016 election proved anything to us, it is that the college campus is not the greatest microcosm for public opinion in this nation. For if it were, we would currently have “President-elect Bernie Sanders.”

While in our bubbles it may seem like the pro-choice movement is louder and thus larger, surveys have shown a consistent increase in the number of young adults (between the ages of 18-31) who consider themselves pro-life, to the point where they now represent the majority. Advances in technology have allowed the younger generation to better understand just what’s at stake. The true existence of the human child has become all the more evident over the years. Pregnancy centers have taken on tremendous efforts to support families in need, and have proven to people that abortion is never the only option.

As the millennial generation rises to power in this country, these trends in opinion will soon be reflected by changes in our political landscape. That isn’t to say that there isn’t still a lot to work on now. There are still huge strides necessary to advance the pro-life fight and I look forward with hope to a world where all evils are eliminated. Yet, at least right now we have the chance to sign what may be the one good obituary ever written, the long overdue one for abortion.

I have faith, because I know that the future is pro-life, and one only needs to look to the emerging generation of leaders to prove it. I believe that the students of today can come together to be the pro-life leaders of tomorrow.

Great Success for Nat’l #ProLifeGen Sidewalk Day!

Over 30 different abortion facilities saw the Pro-Life Generation outside on sidewalks praying for the women and their preborn babies and being advocates for life, standing as a representation for hope and compassion.

For many students, it was the first time they engaged in sidewalk advocacy. Everyone students sidwalk day3was trained by Lauren Muzkya from Sidewalk Advocates for Life and were equipped and educated on how to best speak to abortion-minded women, and others they may encounter on the sidewalk like clinic escorts, and be a loving resource for them.

So what happened? Lots of great things. Here are stories from the field, including a baby save!

In Dallas, Jillian Ferguson, SFLA’s Southwest Regional Coordinator, got to witness her first baby save:

 We were just packing up and getting ready to leave when I noticed a couple came out of the Planned Parenthood facility and got into their minivan. As they were approaching the exit, they rolled down their window and we approached the van. I let Joanne, the other counselor, take the lead as she had much more experience than I as she is out there every weekend.

She introduced herself and gave them literature. English was not the first language of the couple in the van but Joanne took things slow and asked the woman how far along she was. The woman said she was three months along and Joanne had someone grab the fetal model that represented that age. As soon as she handed the fetal model to the woman and said “that’s what your baby looks like right now” the woman teared up and said “can’t do it, that’s a baby.” Their minivan was full of car seats, toys, and books and they told Joanne that this was their fourth child to which Joanne replied she was also a mom of four. The woman seeking the abortion had come today to get bloodwork done and an ultrasound to see how much the abortion would cost – instead she drove away with a smile on her face and a list of other places she could go to get free support.  It was a beautiful thing to see firsthand a life being saved.

In Illinois, Reagan Barklage, our Midwest Regional Coordinator relayed her thoughts:

I was able to stop at Granite City’s [IL] Sidewalk Day and I’m so proud of these students who came out – it was all of their first times being out on the sidewalk and they did amazing. One of the many disturbing things about Hope Clinic is that their escorts leave at 9:45 am. They don’t even stStudents sidwalk day1ay to help the women who are hurting as they walk out of the facility. Shocking huh? They just want to make sure they get into the facility. Hope Clinic was the facility that was shown in the documentary I was in [read about Reagan’s experience in the film here and here]. The documentary followed their abortionist and a lot of their patients. It was kind of emotional standing outside of the facility, when I’ve seen firsthand the hurt that happens inside. I prayed especially for their abortionist, the one I had the opportunity to sit by on the flight home from the premiere.

In Kentucky, Appalachian Regional Coordinator Brenna Lewis had this experience:

Towards the end of our time on the sidewalk at the EMW Women’s Surgical Center abortion facility in Louisville, KY, a woman pulled up next to us, parked her car, and stomped over to our group, visibly angry. Her face was shaking, everything about her body language both defensive and hostile. When she got close enough to speak to us, the first words out of her mouth were “Have any of you ever been pregnant!?” I cringed, thinking this was likely going to be less of a dialogue and more of a shouting match.

WE are here for youShe told me right away that she was a clinic escort for the center behind us, and was entirely fed up with the pro-life presence on their sidewalk, saying how terrible we were, shaming these poor women. Her view on our movement as a whole was extremely twisted. As the conversation progressed, and I explained what Students for Life of America is and how we approach the issue, I noticed her gradually relaxing and becoming more conversational.

She faltered when I mentioned that viability is as early as 22 weeks, asking if she thought it might be wrong to kill them after they are able to live outside the womb. Unfortunately, her stubbornness persisted as she talked in circles about other social justice issues. I got the strong feeling that she had never before had a reasonable discussion with a pro-life activist. By the end of our dialogue, she still supported restriction-free abortion, but my hope is that she left us that day with a renewed perspective on the youth of the pro-life movement, that we are compassionate and peacefully committed to spreading the truth.

In Nebraska, student Alexa got to share a resource for abortion workers:

…Our group then packed up to go to Omahas Planned Parenthood where we spent the remainder of our time praying and counseling the women going into the clinic. The security guard came out to talk to us and tell us about rules of private property (which we were already respecting). Ten minutes later in our conversation, he admitted that he knew what was going on inside the facility was bad. He said he would look Students sidewalkday2at the website abortionworker.com. I truly believe we planted some seeds in that worker on Saturday. We also referred two other workers to the abortion worker website and gave three women literature of our pregnancy centers. The day turned into a road trip, but we saw many graces come out of it.

Marin shared her experience from a Planned Parenthood in Kansas:

We were at the Planned Parenthood in Overland Park. We had about 10 participants with us but other groups were out on the sidewalk as well. We were unable to talk to any women. However, we remained vigilant and prayerful throughout the day. It was difficult to be out there and not get immediate gratification but it was a wonderful learning experience. It has also inspired me and others who were out there to take stock in the pro-life movement. I had friends who came who do not have a pro-life club at their school ask me how to get involved with students for life. I am excited to go out on the sidewalks again and try to speak to women and save children again.

Winning the Pro-Life Generation One Meme at a Time

This op-ed by Kristan Hawkins originally appeared on Townhall.com

Our culture has become celebrity-obsessed. Too often, what’s cool is more important than what is right.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where our President calls Sandra Fluke on the phone, but ignores the families of Benghazi. Where he immediately comments on a basketball player coming out as gay, but has to read in the paper about his IRS targeting conservatives. Where the office of the President of the United States puts out memes to promote policy positions, but doesn’t meet with members of Congress or the media to discuss those proposals.

To some in an older generation who are used to seeing the presidency treated with respect, this is jarring. To a generation more used to seeing Obama yukking it up on a late night talk show or on Comedy Central than working in the Oval Office, it’s perfectly normal.

The millennial generation is one that communicates in texts, tweets, and Snapchat. Not only do we want to consume information quickly, we also want to be entertained. So, how do conservatives communicate our message in a quick, simple way that will resonate with youth?

The short answer: Internet memes (defined by Techopedia as an activity, concept, catchphrase or piece of media that gains popularity and spreads rapidly via the Internet.)

presidential-debates-according-to-internet12012 has been called “the meme election.” Instead of iconic debate moments or television commercials being what stood out in people’s minds (think George H. W. Bush looking at his watch, Al Gore sighing, or John Kerry windsurfing), it was viral images of binders, Big Bird, and bayonets online.

What pro-Obama forces were able to do in the last election cycle was turn Mitt Romney’s legitimate talking points (He sought out strong women to work in his administration; We shouldn’t borrow money from China to fund PBS; and Obama is wrong about bayonets still being used in our military) into a laughingstock.

Conservatives, and pro-lifers specifically, need to learn from this and adapt to this new reality. The anti-abortion message is a winning message, and we need to get it out because the fight isn’t over yet. A recent College Republican National Committee survey showed what we at Students for Life have been saying for years – that this is a pro-life generation and that being pro-life doesn’t mean you’re going to lose votes. In the CRNC’s poll, 51% of young people thought abortion should be illegal with few or no exceptions. The report also cited a Harvard Institute of Politics Fall 2012 study that found 50% “lean toward prohibiting abortion in the vast majority of cases.” And yet 60% of this young generation voted for Obama, the most pro-abortion president in history.

We cannot be afraid to step into modern pop culture and talk about these issues in a way that people are going to want to share with their friends. So that people aren’t afraid to click ‘share’ or ‘like’ on Facebook and get beat up about it because it’s the same old and tired talking points. Not only do we need to be in the social media and memes playing field, we have to be doing it well.

Our team has been striving to create edgy content to appeal to a broader base, outside of the usual conservatives and pro-lifers. And it’s controversial. This is not your grandmother’s pro-life movement anymore. We’ve found that what sells on social media is often sarcasm and snark. We need to make being pro-choice funny; something to be laughed at and dismissed because, when they are screaming hysterically about the GOP’s ‘War on Women,’ that shouldn’t be taken seriously. Their position should be exposed for just what it is – a minority that is so extreme it is laughable.

planned parenthood birth controlAs we saw with last year’s Komen debacle, Planned Parenthood is a bully. And what is the best way to cut down a bully? Make them the butt of a joke. One of the best pro-life memes to come out of that was a snarky “someecard” that said, “Welcome to Planned Parenthood where we don’t do mammograms, but we will gladly give you birth control pills that cause Breast Cancer.”

In one brief image with text, the lies and hypocrisies of Planned Parenthood and the Komen controversy were laid bare. Planned Parenthood does NOT do mammograms (even though their president and the President of the United States have claimed it to be so), and the Birth Control Pill is a Group 1 Carcinogen just like cigarettes – they have no business being funded by a breast cancer awareness organization.

This is the stuff the best political memes are made of: witty, informative, and cuts your opponent to the core.

And before you say that memes represent a deplorable cheapening of our political discourse, remember, America has a rich history of political satire and insults going back to our founding. Back then it was expressed most often in pamphlets and cartoons, and now the 21st century equivalent is Internet memes.

Remember, Saul Alinsky, the leftist social activist of Chicago? Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have studied and imitated his grassroots organizing tactics since college. Memes would have been his best friend, as he wrote in Rules for Radicals, “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition who then react to your advantage.”

Think about John Stewart’s Daily Show on Comedy Central, one of the top places this generation receives their news. The show is vicious to conservative ideals and conservatives, no wonder we are considered so uncool and unpopular! It is time to respond in kind.

By no means are memes and snark the appropriate response for all occasions. Abortion cannot be brought down by a single image. But it is a starting point for a larger conversation that can disarm a new audience and reach them in a way never attempted before. Let’s finally make what is right, what is cool.