Kristan Hawkins’ ‘life’s work’ is to end abortion — and it has been since she began counseling her pregnant peers when she was 15.
Kristan Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life of America (SFLA), has been interviewed by CNN, CBN, Fox News, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Examiner and The Washington
Post within the past two weeks. She is a pro-life activist at Capitol Hill press conferences speaking out against proposed health care plans that include government-funded abortions and rations on medical services for the most weak and vulnerable, including her seven-month-old son, Gunner, who has cystic fibrosis.
She is co-founder of “Stop the Abortion Mandate,” a coalition of more than 60 pro-life organizations united to prevent taxpayer-funded abortions under proposed health care legislation H.R. 3200, in which life issues are most under attack.
“This is the pro-life battle,” Hawkins said. “It can act like FOCA (Freedom of Choice Act) and strip away state legislation. People need to contact their congressmen. Make their lives miserable until they stop this craziness.”
Hawkins’ dedication to the pro-life movement is evident in the distance she drives to work. She commutes from Martinsburg, W.Va. — one hour and 43 minutes, without traffic — three days a week, working 15-hour days at her Arlington office. She works from home the two other days.
She is committed to the mission of SFLA: to educate students on the issues of abortion, euthanasia and infanticide and to “provide students with resources they need to overturn Roe v. Wade and end abortion.”
Research shows that the tide has turned toward a more pro-life culture amongst college-age students (ages 25 and younger), the age bracket that makes up 52 percent of those having abortions.
Hawkins, 24, is a member of “Generation Y,” one of the 60 million born between the late ’70s and the late ’90s, born after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. They are described as technologically savvy, more peer-oriented due to the Internet and more involved in social issues. Generation Y is the generation that will overturn Roe, Hawkins says.
“Our generation is more pro-life,” she said. “With technology and the Internet, a lot of kids have seen pictures of children in the womb.”
According to a 2003 Gallup Poll of teens between 13 and 17, 72 percent said that abortion is morally wrong and 70 percent of females said they would not consider abortion if they became pregnant in high school. A 2003 CBS/New York Times Poll found that only 35 percent of women ages 18 to 29 said that “abortion should be available to anyone who wants it”; in 1993, it had been 50 percent.
This same trend toward life was reflected in the total population in a May, 2009 Gallup Poll where for the first time since this poll was taken, more Americans (51percent) called themselves “pro-life” on the issue of abortion and only 42 percent identified themselves as “pro-choice.”
Generation Y is also more involved in social justice work, many completing service hours for school requirements. Hawkins’ own involvement in pro-life work began when she needed service hours to graduate high school with honors.
“My career goal was to be an aeronautical engineer,” laughed Hawkins, who skipped two grades in school and received a scholarship to attend a space camp. “After I worked at the crisis pregnancy center, I changed my whole world view and the things I wanted to work on.”
She said that as soon as she started working at the crisis pregnancy center in her hometown of Wellsburg, W.Va., she loved it. The pieces started falling together and she knew this was her calling.
“It’s my life’s work,” Hawkins nodded. At age 15, she was counseling teens her age and making improvements at the center, such as revamping the newsletter and changing the coding for donations. At 17, she ran the center for a few weeks when the executive director went on vacation.
She studied the abortion issue as part of her training. She researched, read articles and watched the news. Hawkins decided to major in political science to further her pro-life mission, realizing the importance of being involved in public policy.
“While you do have the service aspect of the pro-life movement, you also have the political aspect and you need both of them to be successful,” she siad.
Hawkins interned and was hired by the Bush/Cheney administration following college, where she served until 2006. In August 2006, at the age of 21, she was hired as executive director of Students for Life of America (formerly known as American Collegians for Life), the recipient of a four-year start-up grant from a foundation.
Under her leadership, SFLA has grown from 181 groups on college campuses to 492 pro-life groups nationwide. Now in 43 states, SFLA hosts an annual conference in Washington, D.C., following the National Pro-Life March in January, which drew 800 students in 2009.
SFLA hosts training conferences at colleges throughout the United States. Each weekend through November of this year, Hawkins will help train new pro-life leaders at campuses across the country. College leaders are given media kits, ideas for leading campus meetings, fundraisers and educational events, and crisis pregnancy counseling training.
She hosts a weekly radio show, “On Campus with Students for Life,” on National Pro-Life Radio, interviewing pro-life leaders at colleges each week. The SFLA Web site shows her skills at web design and outreach.
In 2008, she was awarded the Susan B. Anthony Young Leader Award and the Dr. William Hogan Education Award for her pro-life work.
Hawkins is married to her high school sweetheart and is expecting another baby in April 2010.
When asked how she does it, she doesn’t bat an eye.
“I don’t have any other choice,” she said. “We want to be the generation that ends abortion. I don’t want to be doing this at age 50. There are other issues that I want to work on.”
Socarras is a freelance writer from Annandale.
Find out more
Go to studentsforlife.org for more info on SFLA. Go to stoptheabortionmandate.com for facts on proposed health care reform.