- The Washington Times - Monday, January 23, 2006

Princeton University student Christian Sahner yesterday stood next to a black and orange pro-life banner on the Mall, a striking symbol of what some say is a growing gap between the Roe v. Wade generation and today’s young adults.

“Our generation has grown up with abortion as a reality. It’s become very personal to a lot of people,” said Mr. Sahner, 21, one of about 40 pro-life students from Princeton who attended yesterday’s 33rd annual March for Life in the District. “I think people are thinking about it, and the tide is changing to some extent.”

While Mr. Sahner and his classmates said they are still the minority on campus, the group yesterday joined thousands of teenagers and other college students from across the country — many sporting backpacks and bootcut jeans — to champion the pro-life cause.

Many of the young people participated in the march, which wound down Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court. Earlier in the day, nearly 22,000 people — most of them young adults — attended the Rally for Life and Youth Mass, held by the Archdiocese of Washington at the MCI Center.

Susan Gibbs, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the staff had to turn away busloads of students when the MCI Center became filled to capacity.

During the Mass, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick spoke about the sanctity of life and the importance of making good choices.

“I started going to the march in 1990 when I was in graduate school. It was more like my mom’s generation and the people who were parents in 1973,” said Miss Gibbs, 41. “Now it’s predominately teens and college students. There’s definitely been a shift in the last 10 years.”

Two years ago, an estimated 14,000 teenagers and other local and out-of-town Catholics attended the same event.

Nearly 50 students from St. John Central High School in Ohio each paid $100 to attend the march this year. The group huddled together in hoods and sweatshirts and chanted slogans like “5-6-7-8, Who do we appreciate? … The babies! … Yeah, the babies!”

“I think it’s great,” said Megan Facello, a 17-year-old St. John senior. “Most of these kids aren’t old enough to even vote yet, but they’re against abortion. I think the generations are different and our generation is definitely anti-abortion.”

The protests also featured several groups striving to bridge the gender gap in the abortion issue.

About 30 students from the all-male Bishop Hendricken High School in Rhode Island made the trek to talk about a male’s responsibility in a pregnancy.

“We want to correct people [and say] that it takes two to make a child,” said James Oliverio, a 17-year-old senior at Bishop Hendricken. “As the youth of the nation, I think we’re prepared to take on this problem.”

Kaitlin McAlister, who came to the march with more than 465 other members of Iowans for Life, said people her age are prepared now to turn the tide in the abortion debate.

“One-third of our generation is gone and we feel like we should be the ones speaking for them because they can’t,” said Miss McAlister, 18. “We’re finally getting more education on everything and the word’s getting out.”

Brittany Hamilton, an 18-year-old from Whitesville, Ky., agreed: “I’m praying [abortion] will be totally gone by the time I’m 40.”

• Daniel Payne contributed to this report.

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