A New Generation Gap

As part of her coursework in Persuasive Speech, Afton Dahl had to make a presentation about a controversial issue. Dahl, a sixteen-year-old sophomore at Red Wing High School in Minnesota, chose abortion. "I think it would be better," she told her classmates, "to overturn Roe v. Wade." Dahl was not just repeating what she heard in her pro-life, Christian home. In fact, her remarks came as a shock to her thoroughly pro-choice mother. But they are a hopeful sign that pro-life arguments have not fallen on deaf ears. Dahl was not the only person in her class to make a pro-life presentation. As Dahl's teacher, Jillynne Raymond, told the New York Times, the "majority" of her students are pro-life. This comes as a real surprise in Red Wing, which voted for Al Gore in 2000. One resident described herself as "shocked" at the pro-life sentiment among the town's kids and asked, "Where do these kids come from?" The answer: They are just kids from Red Wing whose attitudes are consistent with national trends. Among young Americans, support for the pro-choice position has been dropping for the past decade. In 1993, 48 percent of eighteen- to twenty-nine-year-olds polled by the New York Times agreed that "abortion should be generally available to those who want it." Today, that number is down to 39 percent. A social scientist observed that young people today no longer see abortion as a "rights" issue, but as a "moral, ethical issue." That's good news. And not surprisingly, abortion-rights advocates are trying to explain away these findings. Some argue that young women, never having "faced a situation where they couldn't get an abortion," take the right to abortion for granted. But they're not taking it for granted. They're explicitly rejecting that so-called "right." An even more desperate pro-abortion explanation is that the shift is due to sex-ed programs stressing abstinence that "demonize abortion." In this conspiratorial account, children are being indoctrinated behind their busy parents' backs. As one pro-choice parent told the Times, "An anti-choice critter [jumped] out of my son's backpack and [ran] around my house." Really? I suppose thinking that he has been brainwashed is easier than admitting that he thinks that you are wrong. But that is what is happening. When Dahl told her classmates that "the baby's heartbeat starts at around twelve to eighteen days," she demonstrated that our arguments have taken hold. Likewise, when her classmate said that the abortion issue is "more about the baby's rights than the woman's rights," we can see that our efforts to shift the terms of the debate have borne fruit. What's happening in Red Wing and across the country is a reminder to the pro-life side that being in this battle for the long haul pays off. Just because one generation of women regards Roe as sacrosanct does not mean that we cannot reach their children with rational, moral arguments. What's happening in Red Wing should inspire Christians to take advantage of groups like Stand to Reason, an excellent apologetics ministry specifically equipping kids to understand and defend pro-life arguments -- arguments that are creating a new generation gap, one in which being young means choosing life.
For Further Reading and Information
Elizabeth Hayt, "Surprise, Mom: I'm Anti-Abortion," New York Times, 30 March 2003 (free registration required). BreakPoint Commentary No. 021126, "Rebels for Life: The New Sexual Revolution." Robert B. Bluey, "Youth Attitudes on Abortion Encourage Pro-Life Groups," CNS News, 4 April 2003. Jeffrey Rosen, "Why We'd Be Better Off without ROE: Worst Choice," New Republic, 24 February 2003. Catherine Hickem, L.C.S.W., "Understanding Why Christian Mothers Push Their Daughters Toward Abortion," Focus on the Family, 24 February 2003. Heather Koerner, "College Students Turn Pro-Life," Boundless, 23 January 2003. Johannes L. Jacobse, "The New Faithful: A New Great Awakening?", BreakPoint Online, 6 March 2003. Colleen Carroll, The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy (Loyola Press, 2002). Operation Outcry seeks to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade by mobilizing those who have been silent about the harmful effects of abortion. Rock for Life is committed to offering the truth about abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia to America's youth through music and ministry. Find more international, national, and local pro-life youth organizations. The World Youth Alliance promotes "the dignity of the person at the international level, encouraging solidarity between the developed and developing worlds, building a culture of life."


Chuck Colson



  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary