As the pro-life crusaders descend upon the nation’s capitol yet again on this 35th anniversary of the dreadful Roe v. Wade decision, it’s great to see this protest has grown into much more than a march. There are now thousands of pro-life platoons, stationed all over this land, whose apostolates range from saying Rosaries to sidewalk counseling to obtaining signatures (and votes) for stricter abortion laws, together fighting against this culture of death. And, more importantly, despite the noble contributions of saintly senior pro-life sages and middle-aged right-to-life writers, this movement has largely become a movement of youth.
That the youth no longer just march is evident at the Students for Life Conference held at Washington’s Catholic University on the weekend prior to the annual March for Life. The gathering is remarkable not only for its large numbers (nearly 1,000 students attend), but also for the fact that it is almost exactly 50 percent male and female. On the women’s side, you’ll find groups like Feminists for Life whose focus is largely on the challenges of the mother. “We can’t say we care about the baby and not about the mom,” says FFL’s spokeswoman, Cayce Utley. Meanwhile, many of the male participants are concentrating on getting the unmarried fathers to be men and become responsible for the pregnancy.
“The first person a girl listens to is the father, so you have a big responsibility to help her … you can’t just ditch her,” explained Tom Dougan, 20, an engineering student from Indiana. Billy Valentine, also 20, takes this statement one step further in his role as abortion clinic sidewalk counselor. Valentine, a Catholic, whose parents met at a pro-life rally and who majors in “Human Life Studies” in college, told his Washington Conference comrades, “I wait outside abortion clinics until the men come out to use their cell phones. I tell them I’m not here to judge you, I’m here to help. Sometimes they break down and cry, but sometimes they go back and bring out their girlfriend to reconsider.”
Billy, it turns out, is not only bold in his service to the unborn but brash in his assessment of the battle troops, both the enemies and his own. “The anti-abortion movement is becoming predominantly youthful, while the abortion rights movement is aging. This conference shows that the youth are not the future of the pro-life movement–We ARE the pro-life movement!”
Ah, youth! While we midlife right-to-lifers may not be ready to make that concession yet, the Bible does say if you are going to boast, then boast in the Lord (1 Cor. 1:31), the source of life itself. Besides, I can think of no better “Valentine” than the one Billy gives to those young couples who, through his intervention and the Spirit’s intercession, reconsider their decision and allow their baby to live.