Youth join effort to support pro-life legislation in South Dakota
As soon as South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds (R) signed the Women’s Health and Human Protection Act, the state law that should have put an end to surgical and medical abortions on July 1, all of us here at American Life League were ecstatic.
Immediately our youth outreach team went into action—and through e-mail, blogs and MySpace.com we got a quick response from young people eager to get involved in whatever way they could.
What were the pro-life youth in our network thinking? What was their overall reaction? The overwhelming response was: We support it! There was hardly a soul who had a doubt that the time to outlaw abortion— without exceptions—was long overdue.
Immediately young adults like Shannon from Spearfish, South Dakota wrote to us. “We’re getting heaps of protests and some of the big wigs with the pro-abortion leagues are already out here,” she said. “Some backup from you all would be amazing.”
The usual suspects, headed up by the likes of Planned Parenthood execs, got together and formed the deceptively named South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families to start a petition drive that would force this law to face a ballot initiative on November 7—a move designed to let a direct vote of the people override the actions of the governor and legislature.
Big things in Brookings
So we said, “Say no more—help is on the way!” Help soon arrived in South Dakota as an American Life League cargo van pulled up loaded with boxes full of literature, signs, bumper stickers and T-shirts. Phil Eddy, ALL’s Rock for Life street team leader, was accompanied by ALL’s legislative analyst, Gualberto Garcia Jones, and the reception was great. One of the individuals Phil and Gualberto met was Lance Catron, a member of the Jacks for Life at South Dakota State University in Brookings. (The “Jacks” take their name from the university’s mascot, the jackrabbit.)
While Phil and Gualberto made the 20-hour trip to South Dakota, Lance sent me an e-mail that read:
It has been an amazing legislative session and our prayers have been answered. I’m a 21-year-old attending South Dakota State University and fighting and praying for an end [to abortion]. I finally think we are headed in the right direction here in South Dakota!
Yes, South Dakota is headed in the right direction—and there is hope in other states as well.
In fact, there is great hope throughout the country because more and more young people are becoming pro-life. According to a Gallup youth survey, 72 percent of people ages 13-17 believe that abortion is immoral. That means that young people make up the largest pro-life segment of our population.
Still, there were some naysayers in the older crowd. Lance shared an e-mail conversation he had with his state senator, Clarence Kooistra (R), who was opposed the Women’s Health and Human Protection Act because it didn’t have an exception for babies conceived during incest and rape. Kooistra wrote: “I am very pro-life and a state member of pro-life movement… however, I am no extremist!”
Senator Kooistra should know that the lives of all innocent persons are worthy of protection, no matter how they are conceived. He should also realize that pro-lifers who want to protect all innocent persons are not the extremists. The extremists are those who murder preborn children and those who think we should allow the abortion holocaust to continue.
Nevertheless, the young Americans I know are tired of excuses. On American Life League’s National Pro-life Tshirt Day in April, I had the pleasure of visiting Lance and the Jacks for Life at on campus. Let me tell you, the place was full of students wearing ALL’s “Help Cure Abortion” shirts. At the end of the day, I was told that our nationwide event drew all Christian campus groups together at South Dakota State.
Sacrifice in Sioux Fall
After leaving Brookings I visited Sioux Falls, where I met up with young lady named Andi at O’Gorman High School. Sioux Falls is host to the one and only abortion facility in the state of South Dakota. It is a Planned Parenthood abortion business and it is within walking distance of this high school. That seems typical, because Planned Parenthood strives to maintain its customer base almost wholly composed of vulnerable women under the age of 25.
Andi is a member of the pro-life group at her school. The group peacefully protests outside Planned Parenthood every week. This dedicated group of high school students gives up eating and socializing to pray for their peers who are heading into the doors of death.
Now I vividly recall how I spent my lunch breaks in high school, and it sure wasn’t time spent praying or caring for others. Usually I took a trip to McDonald’s or 7-Eleven so I could indulge on fast food and candy bars. On the other hand, here’s what Andi said:vv
I think it is amazing to be on the front lines in the abortion battle. I am really glad that South Dakota has stepped up to the plate, and I really hope other states support it [if] the bill is taken to the Supreme Court. It is a huge step for the pro-life movement, but we still have a long way to go for a victory. From here on out, all we can do is pray that the lawmakers have the wisdom to do the things they need to do
Rapid fire in Rapid City
Finally, I met with the Apostles for Life, a group of pro-life warriors based at Saint Thomas More High School in Rapid City. When word got out that the Campaign for Healthy Families was organizing a local rally in opposition to the new pro-life law, the Apostles for Life whipped into high gear and organized a counter demonstration in favor of it.
Upon visiting the school, I was invited to speak to the students in their religion classes. What happened during first period really sums up what I believe to be the battle for the hearts and minds of our young people. During question and answer time, a young lady raised her hand and said: “I came in here today kinda prolife, kinda pro-choice. After hearing you describe how many babies are aborted and how they are aborted … well I’m now pro-life. Sign me up!”
Young people want to know what’s going on. If abortion kills of children in the womb like you and I know it does, tell them. Describe it to them. Show them pictures and videos. With pro-life kids making waves on their school campuses, wait until they go into their own state governments and the halls of Congress. An America that respects and honors all human persons from creation until death must not be far behind. South Dakota, lead the way!
Erik Whittington is director of American Life League’s youth outreach. See more at RockForLife.org.
I am so proud that South Dakota is the first state to put this ban into action. I never thought that it would pass through, but I guess I don’t put enough faith in our government. I only hope that it spreads like wildfire to all the other states as well. I can’t put enough emphasis on the importance of saving our generation... I can’t comprehend the Left’s logic on how abortion of any kind could help the well being of our country
—Brittany, Rapid City
Help wanted for South Dakota
The coalition of pro-abortion organizations called the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families claims to have gathered more than 30,000 signatures to keep the Women’s Health and Human Protection Act (H.B. 1215) from going into effect on July 1 and make it subject to the popular vote on the November 7 ballot.
According to a source within the coalition, when the campaign had gathered nearly 10,000 signatures, efforts were then moved strictly to Sioux Falls because the petitioners were weary of traveling hundreds of miles out to ranches, where the good people of South Dakota said, “Go away!”
To see how you can help South Dakota citizens, call American Life League’s youth outreach director Erik Whittington at 540-659- 4171 or e-mail him at info@RockForLife.org.