As I sit here, I watch my grandmother, Mary, walk around the house with the assistance of a cane, and occasionally her wheelchair. During Memorial Day weekend she fell, breaking her hip and leaving her immobile. She's had to learn how to walk again with the assistance of a physical therapist and her family.
And she's made progress, starting first with baby steps and now, as the healing process continues, bigger, normal strides. It makes me wonder what it was like for her to see me take my first baby steps ... steps that would eventually follow hers down the path of activism in the right to life movement.
I've often said that I was born and raised in the pro-life movement. As far back as I can remember, I was tagging along with Grandma to the local right to life office to stuff envelopes, being taken along to chapter meetings because no babysitter was available, and driving young mothers and their unborn children from the local maternity home to regular doctor's appointments. All of this helped to instill in me the pro-life values that I work towards today.
And I can't help but think that Grandma was on to something back in 1983 (when I worked on my first pro-life congressional campaign at her side) by involving me in the pro-life movement as a "youngster." Even then she saw that this battle would continue and that my generation would be handed the responsibility of returning protection to unborn children.
As time and experience have shown, Grandmas are often right. We now stand at the dawn of a new millennium, a millennium that will begin with Roe v. Wade as the law of the land. And my generation will be responsible for carrying on the battle to ensure protection for the unborn is returned.
But like my grandmother who helped me take my "first steps" in the pro-life movement, the right to life movement of today needs to reach out to the pro-life youth of America and help them take their "first steps." But that task is becoming easier because mounting numbers of young people are rejecting our nation's "culture of death."
* According to the 1998 American Freshman survey, Conducted yearly on college campuses, support for legal abortion fell to 50.9%, from 53.5% in 1997 and 64.9% in 1990.
* The composition of the annual March for Life is becoming younger and younger, as growing numbers of young people are travelling to Washington every January to stand up for their prolife convictions.
* The rate of abortion among teenagers 15-19 dropped 24% between 1987 and 1994, according to a 1998 press release issued by the Alan Guttmacher Institute. This is phenomenal when you consider that over half of all abortions are performed on girls of high school and college age.
All that is required is one person in your local chapter or state organization who is willing to spend a couple extra hours a week working with young people. By serving as a Teens for Life advisor or liaison to the local campus pro-life group, you encourage, train young people, and teach them "how to walk," so they can become more effective leaders in the fight for life in the coming millennium.
In the coming months, we'll be featuring ways to involve youth in the fight for life in NRL News and in the planned expansion of youth outreach pages on the NRLC web site -- www.nrlc.org. And, as always, the NRLC youth outreach coordinators are available to answer questions and help you in your youth outreach efforts.
Remember, when your chapter reaches out to take the hands of young people "learning to walk," you teach them to stand for life and ensure that the pro-life movement will have strong leadership in the next millennium.
For more information on NRLC's Youth Outreach (YO!) Program please call (202) 626-8800, ext. 209.