Planned Parenthood should be worried
© Getty Images

“We are the pro-life generation.” 

This is what most of the signs read outside of the Aug. 22  protest, one of more then 300 held that weekend, at the construction site of a Planned Parenthood clinic in a rundown neighborhood in Northeast Washington, D.C. Indeed, the rally against the nation’s largest abortion provider, spurred by the release of seven sting videos, seemed like a generational event. I saw only two grey heads in the entire crowd. The five speakers were women under 30. Millennial dads in Raybans and Toms shoes milled around with toddlers on their shoulders. Twenty-something women in skinny jeans and wedges cheered every time they got a sympathetic honk. Students raised their fists and clanged the chain-link fence. 

Planned Parenthood should be worried.  


Even aside from the pro-life movement’s swing youthward, they have plenty to be concerned about. August’s Senate vote to strip them of their half a billion dollars in federal funding picked up twelve votes from the count four years ago, including pro-choice senators. Already five states have cut off their state-level funding. The man behind the biggest and savviest expose of their gruesome practices is 26 years old.  

That demographics are not in Planned Parenthood’s favor should not come as a surprise to anyone who has ever attended the March for Life, the annual march on Washington on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in which kids from all over America pile tumble out of 30 hour bus-rides and chant refrains like, “We love babies, yes we do, we love babies how ‘bout you?” Last year’s March, which drew an estimated 600,000 people, had the feeling of a rock concert, with a National Mall packed with teens, college students, and millennials cheering for the rights of the unborn.

Whereas in the 1990s, 36 percent of voters under age 30 believed abortion should be legal for any reason, that number had been shaved down to 24 percent by 2010. Young people are the most likely of all age groups to believe that abortion should be illegal in all situations. The percent of young people who hold that view is up by nearly ten points since the 1970s.  

But millennials aren’t just pro-life on paper. We are increasingly pro-life in practice. Most importantly, we are increasingly keeping our own children. The teen abortion rate fell by 51 percent between 1990 and 2010, all while the unplanned pregnancy rate held constant. The trade-off has been a rise in out-of-wedlock motherhood, but with the abortion rate at its lowest level since abortion was made the law of the land in 1973, the pro-life message to women in crisis appears to be working.

And then there is what pro-life leaders like Charmaine Yoest and Marjorie Dannenfelser call the “intensity gap,” the reality that though young pro-lifers are still not a majority, we are more passionate and more likely to act. Nobody came from Planned Parenthood or another pro-choice group to counter protest on that Saturday in D.C. The only sound from the other side came from a single car horn as a young woman drove by our crowd and gave us the middle finger. When somebody joked that he “didn’t know we had invited Cecile Richards,” the crowd erupted into laughter, followed cheering, following by chanting and the disgruntled driver peeled away. NARAL’s own survey of voters under 30 in 2012 found that young pro-lifers are twice as likely as young pro-choicers to say a candidate's position on abortion determined our vote. The intensity gap isn’t just big, it’s huge. 

But perhaps most notably, young pro-lifers are increasingly using social media strategically towards our end. #AnotherBoy, the Twitter and Facebook hashtag that exploded after one sting video captured a Planned Parenthood worker callously laughing and announcing sarcastically that a dead and dismembered 11.5 week-old baby in a pie dish was “another boy!” is still trending. We completely took over an attempt by Planned Parenthood to push back on the videos with a Twitter storm by barraging the hashtag #PPShoutYourStory with pro-life messages. The work of the sting operation by the Center for Medical Progress has been spread exclusively through social media, mediums that have enabled us to get our message out even when the mainstream media ignores us.

Indeed, we are the pro-life generation, and we are rising up. You can find our goal spelled out as another popular pro-life sign and slogan, “Abolish abortion in our lifetime.” We linked arms this weekend to make that demand, and we won't stop demonstrating until the unborn are no longer denied their most basic human right: life.

McGuire who is a senior fellow with The Catholic Association.