- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 24, 2015

Some 2,000 young pro-life supporters were urged to stay visible, stay active and stay hopeful at a daylong conference held Friday in Maryland as a follow up to the Jan. 22 March for Life.

“When you speak, people listen,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America (SFLA), which has more than 800 pro-life student groups on college campuses and in high schools.

Its annual conference – the 28th this year – is the largest pro-life youth conference in the United States, organizers said.

Due to demand – SFLA has more than 100 pro-life campus groups in California — a second conference for students is scheduled in San Francisco on Sunday.

The conferences are intended to provide young adults with education, training and connections with pro-life groups and national leaders “who all know just how vital this pro-life generation is to abolishing abortion in our lifetime,” SFLA leaders said.

A hard-fought battle is being waged for the allegiance of young Americans on abortion.

Abortion-rights groups have been traveling to campuses and communities as part of a campaign called “All Above All” to bring their messages to young adults.

Pro-choice leaders also point to polls that show that most Americans – 70 percent – do not want to see the 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton rulings, which legalized abortion in the nation, overturned. They maintain that legal abortion is now a fact of life, and that one in three women will seek the procedure at least once in their life.

Pro-life leaders, however, cite fresh polling data from Marist College in New York as more evidence that most young Americans do not favor abortion and will not sustain the status quo: According to SFLA, the Marist poll data on millennials shows that 59 percent think abortion is “morally wrong,” 58 percent think abortion “does more harm than good” and 64 percent think the abortion rate is “higher than it should be.

“I see the future, and you are it,” Princeton University law professor Robert P. George told the Friday conference, where he was honored with the SFLA 2015 Defender of Life award.

Decades ago, he said, there seemed to be no hope for the pro-life movement, given the Supreme Court rulings legalizing abortion and cultural ascendancy of the abortion rights movement, especially among American elites.

And yet, thanks to the persistence of some pro-life leaders, and development of technologies that show “the reality of the beautiful human life of the child in the womb,” the tide is turning toward pro-life, he said.

Singling out a young man in the audience, Mr. George said he especially liked his t-shirt because it said: “I survived Roe v. Wade. But Roe v. Wade won’t survive me.”

Mrs. Hawkins evoked cheers from the crowd gathered at 1st Baptist Church of Glenarden in Upper Marlboro when she recapped some events from the Jan. 22 March for Life, which drew hundreds of thousands of marchers.

The actions of a group of abortion-rights protesters — who blocked the massive march for about 40 minutes until some of its leaders were arrested by U.S. Capitol Police — seemed a bit desperate, she said.

After all, “about 500,000 young people were about to mow you down. With love – mow you down with love!” she said with a laugh.

She also described the powerful impact that she and some 60 young people had when they went to Capitol Hill after the march to make sure certain members of Congress could see for themselves that many millennials are strongly pro-life, and passing pro-life laws will not alienate America’s youth.

“Injustice only thrives in the dark,” Mrs. Hawkins told the crowd.

Conference speakers included Lila Rose, founder of Live Action, which captures activities in abortion clinics through undercover videos; and Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic manager who founded And Then There Were None, a ministry to help abortion clinic staff leave their jobs or make peace with their past.

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