BY EMILY HARTUNG
“This is the greatest human tragedy the world has ever known and you are sitting on the sidelines. You have to be involved. There is so much we need to do,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, to Franciscan University students.
Hawkins came on behalf of Franciscan’s Students for Life chapter to give a talk entitled “How Do We Affect Change?” on Sept. 16 in the Gentile Gallery.
“We are abortion abolitionists, we are anti-abortion, we are pro-life,” Hawkins said. “Don’t be afraid to say what you are really for and what you are really against. Every time we say the word abortion the other side loses. It is time to make our start to be the last generation of abortion survivors.”
Besides calling on all students to be outspoken about abortion, Hawkins gave practical advice on how to speak up. “Bring up the word abortion,” she said. “Yes, even at the family dinner table. You have to be that annoying person talking about abortion everywhere you go.”
But in talking about abortion, dialogue is more important than arguments, said Hawkins. Personal stories can be very effective since the younger generation’s perspective on abortion is much different than their parent’s generation.
“Start by telling our stories,” Hawkins said. “Tell your story and your friend’s story. People will not argue with that because it is a personal story. It changes the dialogue.”
“I believe this generation to be the one to abolish abortion in our life time,” said Hawkins, making it clear that this is the pro-life generation. But she did not say that abolishing abortion would be simple. “We need an army of hundreds of thousands,” she said of the pro-life movement.
Hawkins asked Franciscan students to consider planning for the day abortion ends. “Are we prepared for the day when there are no more abortions?” she asked. “We are going to have a lot of work to do.”
Kathleen Dougherty, a student who attended the event, said that Hawkins aptly described “the issues that we see as problems in the pro-life movement, like the fact that people don’t think that abortion is going to end in our life time.” Dougherty added, “But really, if you don’t have the mindset that it is possible, then how are you going to get anywhere?”
Hawkins began leading Students for Life of America full-time in 2006. Since then, Hawkins has helped raise the number of campus pro-life groups in the U.S. from 181 to more than 700. Hawkins is the recipient of the Susan B. Anthony Young Leader Award, the Dr. William Hogan Education Award for pro-life leadership, the 2009 Weyrich Youth Leadership Award, and a 2010 Life Prize Award.