The Vision of a Pro-Life Generation
Moving beyond abortion

Kristan Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life of America


Kristan Hawkins is the dynamic, under-30 mom of two at the helm of Students for Life of America (SFLA), which gathered over 2,000 high-school and college students last weekend for their annual meeting in the Washington, D.C., area, coinciding with the 39th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in America. Hawkins talks about the students, the children, and envisioning a world without abortion in an interview with National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez.

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: So how does one “Envision a World without Abortion?” That’s your theme at Students for Life this year?

KRISTAN HAWKINS: I think one of the problems our movement faces is that so many know abortion is wrong — polls prove it — yet they are uncomfortable with the idea of making abortion illegal. They fear the unknown: back-alley abortions, hundreds of thousands of women dying in the streets, or, my favorite line I hear often on campuses, “unwanted children being abandoned and starving on the streets.” For many of us, legal abortion, in all nine months of pregnancy, on demand, is all that we have ever known.

I try to remind people that our movement is similar to the slavery-abolitionist movement. It’s not a quick fight, but a long battle that will be victorious. You can change the culture; it’s difficult and it requires many things to happen first, but it’s possible.

The first step in achieving any goal is to envision that goal — not imagine, envision. You need to see it in your mind, know what it’s going to look like, and then work backwards in determining the steps you need to take to make it a reality.

I’ve spoken to far too many pro-lifers and Christians who are pro-life but don’t think abortion will ever end. They are right to a certain extent — there will always be abortions — but they don’t always have to be legal. How can you work in a movement when you don’t believe that what you are working for will ever happen?

I think we can see from the victories the pro-life movement had in 2011, despite the obstacles here in Washington, that abolition of abortion in our lifetime can actually happen. So how do you envision a world without abortion? Think about a society in which all life is treated as a precious gift. Where women and families in crisis can turn to community- and government-supported pregnancy-help centers and their church family for support. Where our political leaders respect life, and political parties try to prove who is more pro-life. Where adoption is tagged as a positive and brave option, and birth mothers are celebrated. Where Hollywood and the music industry promote life. Where no woman ever feels forced to choose abortion for the sake of her education, career, or family.

Envision means to make our plans for post-Roe America now: to support and establish the structures, on campuses and in our communities, that we will need to make sure no woman or family gets left behind. Envision a nation in which every woman facing an unplanned, crisis pregnancy knows there is a place she can turn to for help.

LOPEZ: In a new video, you make pretty clear connections between the anti-abortion movement and the civil-rights movement. I realize Alveda King is an outspoken pro-life activist, but do you really have the right to make such claims?

HAWKINS: Yes, we do. Like the civil-rights movement, the pro-life movement is also addressing a human-rights issue — one that has taken over 50 million American lives since 1973. I look to many movements and their leaders for inspiration and comparison, especially the civil-rights movement.

For more than 100 years after the Civil War, bigotry and injustice reigned in America against black Americans. While confronting so much — Supreme Court decisions upholding racism, church apathy, unjust arrests, murders and death threats, and infighting among leaders, the civil-rights movement pressed forward and finally achieved a monumental victory: the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.