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FIRST-PERSON: The aging pro-choice movement

DALLAS (BP)–The political battle that took place over abortion in the health care bill has the folks at NARAL Pro-Choice America worried.

The organization’s president, Nancy Keenan, was already nervous about the future of her movement. But the coalition of pro-life Democrats who attempted, but failed, to get a health care bill that strongly prohibits federal funding of abortion, begs the question: If Democrats won’t stand up for abortion, who will?

Ms. Keenan and her colleagues are also wondering: Where are the young women to continue protecting “abortion rights”? That’s a real concern for the “postmenopausal militia” of which Keenan considers herself a leader, along with the aging boomers who now run the National Organization for Women, the Feminist Majority and Planned Parenthood.

Younger supporters of abortion aren’t nearly as passionate about the issue as these women who fought for and defended the Roe v. Wade decision. NARAL recently commissioned a survey of 700 young Americans to measure this passion and released the results to Newsweek.

The magazine’s Sarah Kliff says the research reveals a stark “intensity gap” on abortion. Fifty-one percent of voters under age 30 who opposed abortion rights considered it a “very important” voting issue. That’s true of only 26 percent of those in the group who support legalized abortion.

Ms. Kliff writes that what’s worse for NARAL is that “the millennials surveyed didn’t view abortion as an imperiled right.” The title of her Newsweek piece is: “Remember Roe!” The subtitle is: “How can the next generation defend abortion rights when they don’t think abortion rights need defending?”

Nancy Keenan wasn’t trying to spy on this year’s national March for Life. But on the day of the event, her train pulled into Washington D.C.’s Union Station, which is only a few blocks from the Capitol. What she encountered shocked her. She ran smack into a swarm of pro-lifers. She told Newsweek her first thought was, “There are so many of them, and they are so young.”

The leaders in the pro-life movement have noticed this, too. Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, says that women in this “post-Roe” generation “crave the bonds of family.” She adds that, “pro-abortionists motivate by anger; pro-lifers are motivated by love.”

Kristan Hawkins, who heads up Students for Life America, reports that campus pro-life groups are more vigorous and have more staying power than the usually better-funded pro-abortion groups.

According to Katie Walker, who is 24 and communications director for the American Life League this postmenopausal militia is asking young women to buy into what she calls a “selfish me-first philosophy” that has hurt their friends and too many of their mothers.

Now it’s true that according to NARAL’s poll 61 percent of young people still say abortion should be legal in “all cases” or “most cases.” They just aren’t excited about it. That’s a good sign.
Penna Dexter is a conservative activist and frequent panelist on the “Point of View” syndicated radio program. Her weekly commentaries air on the Bott and Moody Radio Networks.

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