BOOK REVIEW News Weekly
Youth's call to arms
, July 19, 2014
Students Abolishing Abortion in this Lifetime
by Kristan Hawkins
(Students for Life of America)
Paperback: 176 pages
Reviewed by Angela Schumann
If you are pro-life in Australia, chances are that you are weary. Our laws (particularly in Victoria and Tasmania) mean that children are in more danger than ever, and vulnerable women are under more pressure to abort.
If you are active in your stance, you know how exhausting the fight can be. If you are losing hope, this book is for you.
“Never underestimate what one person can do.”
Although we have many amazing initiatives happening within our community, it can be all too easy to feel as if nothing we can do will make a difference. If you feel as if you are too small to make a difference, or would rather not get your hands dirty in this most unfashionable cause — “live and let live”, as they say — then this book is for you.
“The real damage is done by those millions… who just want to be left in peace.”
Courageous is a collection of 12 personal testimonies from pro-life university students across America.
A prominent target of pro-life activists is the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), commonly known as Planned Parenthood, which is the largest single provider of abortions in the United States.
The book describes how it sets up over 75 per cent of its clinics within a five-mile (eight-kilometre) radius of college campuses.
Our poisonous culture encourages copious amounts of sex among students at university, but provides next to no support for a university student who is pregnant and may wish to keep her child. It makes sense that companies such as Planned Parenthood plant themselves outside the gates to make their blood money.
Both ideologically and practically, universities are now the battlegrounds in the abortion war.
The stories in this book are diverse, with one common thread: they speak of the precious value of human life, and they are highly inspirational.
They range from a courageous female first-year university student, who was raped and chose to keep her child, to the young man who, as student body president, fought a political battle, which attracted national media attention, for the right to have a display on campus showing the effects of abortion.
We meet the student who, during her own unplanned pregnancy, established a pregnancy support group on campus, giving young women real choices, hope and joy.
We hear the story of Andrea, who was adopted as a baby, and her difficult but courageous decision to offer up for adoption her little girl who came unexpectedly. We hear the honest confession of a talented young woman’s battle with her own post-abortion grief and her encounter with the love and healing of God.
These people are not professional authors: what they say is honest and raw. Some come from large Catholic, pro-life families; others from situations of unthinkable domestic violence and abuse. They will bring you tears and laughter almost at the same time; but, most importantly, they will show you that the end of abortion is within our reach. These university students will tell you how, with limited resources and unlimited passion, they have managed to tip the balance of the American abortion debate in favour of life.
It is noteworthy that at least two of the girls who found themselves pregnant said that they knew that abortion was wrong, but they needed somebody to remind them of that.
In a culture that is quick to condemn a girl who becomes pregnant in anything less than ideal circumstances, and that ferociously defends a procedure that kills one human being and maims another, what these girls were looking for was somebody to be strong and to say out loud what was already in their hearts: abortion is not the right answer; you should keep your baby and you can do it.
Kristan Hawkins writes: “I can’t tell you how many times women have said to me that they wouldn’t have had their abortion if only one person had encouraged them not to.”
Obviously, this must be done with tact and sensitivity; yet it is important to remember that if we are asking a woman to be incredibly courageous and keep her child, then we must show courage in the asking, and keep our promises to support her.
The pages of Courageous are lined with the voices of Sophie Scholl (executed at 22 by the Nazis for speaking out against the Holocaust), William Wilberforce and Martin Luther King Jr. They were the abolitionists and human rights soldiers from the past, and they are the spiritual forbears of the young people in this book: the freedom-fighters of our generation.
Courageous is a call to arms. It is not, however, one of bleak and brutal statistics and overwhelmingly depressing images that weigh us down with the feeling that all our efforts are useless.
Rather, if I had one word with which to describe this book, it would be hope. Hope blazes forth from the pages. Each story is a true, personal account from within seemingly impossible circumstances. It shows us that this young generation is strong, smart and determined, and that if we join them we can win.
Angela Schumann is a graduate of Campion College and Monash University. She is currently studying for a doctorate.