January 23, 2012

Today we attended the 2012 Students for Life of America National Conference. I have been actively involved in the pro-life movement for almost five years now, but I have never been as inspired as I was today. There was something so powerful about seeing 2,000 youth taking the time to learn about all the opportunities out there to save lives and effect change. The conference is now officially the largest national pro-life conference and it was attended primarily by students in high school and college. The day-long event was a roller coaster of emotions for me. There were moments when I was convicted, moments when I sorrowed, and moments when I was so filled with joy and hope that my eyes filled with tears and I couldn’t help but smile. We heard stories from post-abortive women, former abortionists and clinic workers, doctors, pastors, lawyers and leaders of pro-life nonprofits from throughout the country. Each had a specific reason for joining the movement and a unique approach to ending abortion. Through workshops and presentations, the students were given the opportunity to hear about real work being done and the successes that have been made.

I attended a workshop that focused on the work that would still need to be done even after Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton are finally overturned. The panel included representatives from Care Net, Feminists for Life, Room at the Inn, and Students for Life’s Pregnant on Campus initiative. There was definitely an emphasis put on pregnancy resource centers and maternity homes and, since that is where a lot of my passion lies, I was particularly inspired by their stories. I was blown away by all the innovation going on in the field and the new ways in which centers, like those affiliated by Care Net, are reaching out to the most vulnerable, abortion-minded populations: college-age women. It was amazing to hear about the success we can have if we are willing to reach out to women where they are, by providing the resources they need and delivering our message in new and innovative ways. For example, instead of focusing on pregnancy, one clinic is being pro-active and opened a sexual health center, providing free STI testing. Their theory is that by reaching students before they get pregnant, they can prevent the need to even consider an abortion or, if a pregnancy does occur, establish relationships that the women know that can turn to for help. It is ideas like this that will help bring this movement forward and continue the momentum of progress.

One of the most successful aspects of the conference, in my opinion, was that it presented a great variety of opportunities for getting involved in the pro-life movement. There was literally a place for everyone and an approach that resonated with them individually. This is a great truth of the pro-life movement. No matter what your gifts are, no matter where you are in your life, there is a unique way in which you can work to end abortion. If your gifts are in your ability to build relationships, you can reach out to women facing an unplanned pregnancy simply by lending an ear to hear and a shoulder to cry on. If your gift is with words, you can help by effectively sharing the message of life with those who need to hear it most. No matter what God has called you to in your life, there is something you can do. Today I saw a group of young people begin to believe their ability to do great things, through the power of Christ. I saw a generation ready to take up the call and mobilize to end the injustice of abortion and I believe that we are poised for success in this fight. I pray that you, too, will find your place within this wonderful cause and that you will answer that call with a resounding “YES!”