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Full of life

Revitalized by young activists and growing support, the pro-life movement faces new tensions

Full of life

(Photograph by Jim Esposito Photography L.L.C./Getty Images)

Two decades ago the vast majority of participants in Washington, D.C.'s annual March for Life were middle-aged or elderly, and that did not look good for the pro-life movement: How slow would the March in 2012 be if many of the walkers needed their walkers?

If the hundreds of thousands of pro-life marchers on this year's Jan. 22 Roe v. Wade anniversary are like those in recent years, the movement's rejuvenation will be clear even to abortion advocates. In 2010 Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, watched the march and gave Newsweek her thoughts of the unfolding nightmare: "My gosh, they are so young. There are so many of them, and they are so young."

Some numbers show the pro-life movement's revival. Students for Life has doubled the number of its chapters in the past five years, and now has more than 600. The prayer group 40 Days for Life began in 2004 and now has vigils in about 400 cities. Care Net has doubled the number of centers in the past decade, and now has more than 1,100 affiliates.

Now, out of the mouth of babes and teen heartthrobs comes wisdom, with Justin Bieber leading the way: "I really don't believe in abortion," he said in Rolling Stone, accurately equating it with "killing a baby." But grim numbers still trump others: Christians and others are saving hundreds of thousands of lives through compassionate care and the narrow legal changes that the Supreme Court allows, yet millions still die.

Confronted by that enormity, our lead article (see "Strategic battles") looks at three strategies fighting it out this year-incremental, heartbeat, and personhood-and new tensions within the movement as some pro-lifers say slow progress isn't enough. We follow that with a map detailing the legislative progress made in 2011 (see "A year of progress"), and a report on a new round of pro-abort attacks on pregnancy resource centers (see "Under attack ... again"), the fifth such onslaught.

Then we turn to some remarkable people. We profile Lila Rose (see "Truth detector"), a young woman who exposes abortionists. We report on a mother of nine (one with Down syndrome) who adopted three more with Down (see "Blessed by the dozen"), and another mother with 14 who has adopted some with HIV (see "'What heaven looks like'"). We also report on a Jewish woman who has helped an underserved population (see "Viable choices"), her abortion-prone coreligionists.

We include reports on some young pro-life activists abroad (see "Life down under"), along with three personal stories of people faced with pressure to abort, and how they decided to say no-or yes. Outside of this section we also have a page on abortion-related books (see "Notable books"), an interview with the president of Americans United for Life (see "One step at a time"), and a Lifestyle look at a young pro-life media campaigner and the veteran head of Care Net (see "Pro-life passion").

Listen to Marvin Olasky discuss the youth factor in the pro-life movement on WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It.

Read articles from past Roe v. Wade issues from our archives.

Marvin Olasky

Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. His latest book is Reforming Journalism. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.