“Best of” lists are always fun and this year, while it has been one for this history books and late-night comedy shows, has also been a stellar year for pro-lifers. Here’s just a few of incredible things that happened this year from a pro-life perspective.
13) Pro-life students show selflessness during #TurnpikeMass
The National Pro-Life March in January of 2016 was nearly cancelled because of a devastating blizzard. But hundreds of thousands of people came anyways, and then attempted to make their way home afterwards while snow blanketed the East Coast. Several Students for Life groups were on buses that were stranded on the Pennsylvania Turnkpike for over 26 hours. Instead of complaining, they decided to set up an altar on the side of the road and priests that were with them said Mass, which later became known as the #TurnpikeMass. Dozens and dozens of social media posts led to both local and national covering the mass, which showed the resilience of those pro-lifers stuck on the turnpike and the joy they innately possessed as members of the Pro-Life Generation.
12) Famous image made even more famous
This incredible image of an 18-week-old fetus in-utero was named one of the 100 most influential photos ever by TIME Magazine. It was originally released in 1965 and was one of the very first to show was life in the womb looked like, a huge moment for anti-abortion advocates anxiously trying to bring humanity to the preborn child.
11) Win for Free Speech at University of South Alabama
A long, on-going case was finally closed with a win for free speech for students at the University of South Alabama. With the help of the attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom, an agreement was reached that increased the amount of the University of South Alabama campus that is open to free speech from less than one percent to the vast majority of campus. Also, the settlement ensures that the university’s policies will be applied the same way to all student groups and prevents university officials from censoring pro-life speech based on its message.
10) Campus pro-life groups outnumber Planned Parenthood campus groups 4-to-1
Students for Life of America announced in 2016 they have over 1,000 high school, college, med and law, and young adult groups nationally. SFLA has only existed since 2006, when they started out with 181 groups. Planned Parenthood celebrated their 100-year anniversary in 2016 and can only muster 275 pro-choice groups on campuses. Their brand of extreme abortion positions isn’t resonating at all with Millennials.
9) Pregnant student gets Christian school to change policy
A Christian college in South Carolina kicked a pregnant student off their campus for getting pregnant instead of helping her and offering her resources to make sure she had the chance to stay in school and keep her child. But she didn’t give up. Not only did Kamaria Downs choose life for her child but she also lobbied her school to change their policies on pregnant and parenting students. We hope all schools – especially Christian schools – will take a hard look at their policies on pregnant and parenting students and make efforts to help these moms in need rather than kicking them off campus.
8) First Real Sex Week hosted at University of New Mexico
Sade Patterson, a student at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and member of the Students for Life club on campus, put together an entire Real Sex Week agenda and workshops as a true opportunity of empowerment for students on campus in response to the school’s vulgar Sex Week that happened there in 2014. Real Sex Week was covered by local and national media and covered topics like post-sexual trauma healing, green birth control, and a self-defense class with an MMA trainer.
7) Millennials continue to trend anti-abortion
Polls in 2016 continued to show that Millennials are trending more anti-abortion than generations before them, favoring more restrictions on abortion and agreeing that abortion should be made illegal in all or most circumstances.
6) Pro-lifers flexed their electoral muscles and outed Rep. Renee Ellmers
In January 2015, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) led the fight to stop a bill in its tracks that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks, citing the fact that Millennials are against it (they aren’t, just for the record – they are the age group that supports a ban by the largest numbers). Ellmers took heat from Students for Life on the day of the National Pro-Life March when SFLA’s president Kristan Hawkins led over 70 young Millennials to her office on Capitol Hill in a sign of solidarity that no, Millennials are not who she says they are. For over a year, Ellmers continued to take heat from pro-lifers. She even called many pro-life groups “childish.” The Susan B. Anthony List put boots on the ground in her district and supported her opponent in the primary, which she lost.
5) Pro-life students making their voices heard during Cecile Richards events
Whether Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards was giving a big speech or merely meeting with local supporters at a university, it seemed pro-life students and young adults made every effort to show up and let her know that her organization wasn’t winning the hearts and minds of the younger generation. Our students showed up at Georgetown University (one even asked her a direct question at the closed-press event, Temple University (where we had our bright pink “Planned Parenthood Betrays Women” van out front of the venue), all over Iowa, Denver, and San Francisco.
4) Meeting Abortion Supporters Where They Are
Reagan Barklage was featured in a documentary about abortion in Missouri, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. She was on the only young, pro-life woman in the film, which caught the attention of editors at Glamour magazine. While not exactly a beacon of pro-life thought, they invited Reagan to write about her experience a young, pro-life woman. This was a huge step for pro-lifers to breakthrough into a media outlet that caters to Planned Parenthood clients.
3) Criminal referrals of Planned Parenthood
Over a year after the first Center for Medical Progress undercover videos rocked the nation by revealing that Planned Parenthood was heavily involved in the illegal buying and selling of body parts of aborted babies, committees in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate referred Planned Parenthood and several of their business partners in the tissue procurement business for criminal charges.
2) Indictment thrown out against David Daleiden
The Houston District Attorney indicted David Daleiden, the head of the Center for Medical Progress, in a series of bogus charges early in the year. By the end of 2016, the DA who indicted Daleiden lost her election, all of the charges were thrown out against him, and Planned Parenthood was referred for criminal charges in Texas by the Select Panel on Infant Lives in the U.S. House of Representatives.
1) Election of a president who made pro-life promises
In 2016, the nation elected Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. He made specific promises to pro-life Americans that we have every hope he intends to keep. Never before has a presidential nominee made promises to defund Planned Parenthood, install pro-life Supreme Court Justices, ban abortions after 20 weeks, and make the Hyde Amendment part of permanent law. This is our time as pro-lifers to make significant strides towards ending abortion in our lifetime.