More than 2,300 high school and college students attended the Students for Life Conference in the Washington D.C. area on Friday, the day after they were among half a million people who demonstrated peacefully for the rights of unborn children on the national mall in the annual March for Life.
“This is an incredible day,” Students for Life (SFL) president Kristan Hawkins told Breitbart News at the conference.
“Yesterday there were half a million people at the March for Life, and three-quarters of them were under 25 years old. So these are our students,” she continued. “I love action, I love getting out and showing the nation that this is the ‘Pro-Life Generation.’”
Hawkins enjoys enlightening people who believe the group known as “millennials” are disinterested in the pro-life movement. She responded this past week to Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) who successfully allowed a bill to end late-term abortions to be pulled from a vote in the House because it might turn off millennials.
“I have urged leadership to reconsider bringing it up next week… We got into trouble last year, and I think we need to be careful again; we need to be smart about how we’re moving forward,” Ellmers said in an interview with the National Journal. “The first vote we take, or the second vote, or the fifth vote, shouldn’t be on an issue where we know that millennials—social issues just aren’t as important [to them].”
Referring to Ellmers as “ill-informed” and “cowardly,” Hawkins told Breitbart News, “In her reasoning, she cited that ‘millennials’ simply don’t care about this issue, which is blatantly false. In fact, it is the 18- to 29-year-olds that support banning abortions after 20 weeks by the widest margin.”
A United Technologies/National Journal survey about the 20-week abortion ban yielded the following results:
Overall, the survey suggests that the 20-week abortion measure fractures some of the modern Democratic coalition. Among all age groups, it was young Americans–who have regularly sided with Democratic priorities in the age of Obama–who most strongly supported the measure (52 percent). The measure also received the support of 51 percent of white women, both those who are college educated and those who are not.
Hawkins explained that, while the March for Life is exhilarating in itself, it is at the SFL conference that the training of young pro-lifers happens.
“This is the best part of the whole weekend,” she said. “This is where students can get trained and learn how to take all this passion they have and the excitement they felt yesterday at the March and replicate it back home on their campuses and in their communities.”
And it is that teaching and training that draws millennials from around the nation and from more than 835 student pro-life organizations on campuses throughout the country.
“I’ve always felt very passionate about the pro-life cause and always been passionate about stopping injustice in the world,” Bruce Truax, a freshman at Asbury University near Lexington, Kentucky, told Breitbart News. “Our SFL coordinator really wanted a representative from the pro-life club on my campus here. So, he pretty much did everything he could to get me here, and I was happy to come.”
“I’m trying to look for more information on how to get the word out on campus better, get some more information and practical skills,” Truax added. “I’m a freshman and a little inexperienced still, and I think we could do much better in getting the word out.”
Mary Simon and Hannah Altringer are two eager students at Shanley High School in Fargo, North Dakota. They told Breitbart News they were especially excited since their school received the honor of carrying the lead banner at the March for Life on Thursday.
“We’re here today because yesterday our school carried the lead banner at the March, and so we wanted to come here, and end it on a high note, and hear all the speakers, and see what we could do to carry on over into our community,” Altringer said.
“A couple of years ago in 2013, we won the pro-life group of the year from this conference,” Simon added, explaining how their school was chosen to hold the lead banner. “Then, we started to get more noticed, and a student at our school got to speak at the rally yesterday, and that was amazing and really inspirational.”
Both students reflected on the confidence-building that happens at SFL conferences as students learn how to articulate their beliefs and principles.
“I think ways when you talk to people who are pro-choice, it’s sometimes hard to describe what you believe to help them see why you’re pro-life, so I think that’s what I’m benefiting from,” Altringer said.
“Yes, especially in this day and age, we’re the only private school in Fargo,” added Simon, “so there’s a ton of public schools and people have different beliefs. So on Twitter, we’re saying ‘We’re at the March for Life,’ and people are like, ‘Do you want to fight with us?’”
“It’s very hard especially to get our point across, because they say, ‘Oh you’re wrong,’” Simon continued. “And so the SFL people are helping us explain ourselves in a better way that the pro-choice people might be more open to it—not necessarily that we’ll make them change to pro-life—but just like understand it more and open their ideas.”
Both Simon and Altringer observed that the March for Life is an “eye-opening” experience.
“It was really neat seeing all those [pro-abortion] protesters. Coming from a small town, we’ve never seen that,” Altringer said. “That was really amazing. Because we were in the front leading the March, we saw everything and tons of people were behind us.”
“Being here with our entire school was also really great,” Simon added, “and we all remained close together and experienced it all together.”