WASHINGTON — Younger generations of pro and anti-abortion advocates are digging in their heels and preparing for a long, drawn-out legal battle as President Trump alters access to reproductive care and courts across the country continue to rule on abortion.
This past week Trump released proposed changes to Title X, a federal grant program that allocates funding for reproductive health care and contraceptives to low-income populations. The rule change would cut federal funding to family planning clinics such as Planned Parenthood that provide referrals for abortions.
Younger abortion rights supporters condemn Trump’s recent actions. Leaders ages 14-to-25 are guiding the discussion on sexual and reproductive health care as members of Advocates for Youth, which is based in Washington, D.C. The organization has a network of young people at over 1,200 college campuses and in more than 120 countries.
Julia Reticker-Flynn, 33, is the director of youth organizing and mobilization at Advocates for Youth and works with the group’s “1 in 3 Campaign,” which has over 1,300 published testimonies from women who shared why they did not regret their decisions to have an abortion.
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Reticker-Flynn said young people recognize that the Trump administration’s actions, such as his call for late-term abortion legislation, do not reflect science and the experiences of people seeking an abortion.
“Young people are passionate about supporting their communities,” Reticker-Flynn said. “Abortion access is a part of that effort to ensure that young people can be able to live freely and support their peers in their community.”
Since 1975, the number of young adults supporting the legality of abortion has fluctuated. In a Gallup poll released in May, a majority of 18- to 49-year-olds said abortion should be legal under “any circumstances” and under “certain circumstances.”
For 18- to 29-year-olds, 42 percent said abortion should be legal under “certain circumstances” while 37 percent said abortion should be legal under “any circumstances.” For 30- to 49-year-olds those numbers are 50 percent and 30 percent, respectively.
Although leaders in the anti-abortion youth group, Students For Life of America, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, said more young people are becoming part of the pro-life generation.
Students For Life of America conducted a poll of 18- to 34-year-olds in January, which showed that 7 in 10 millennials support limits on abortion through certain policies and 51 percent said that they opposed Roe v. Wade with the understanding that the decision permits abortion in all 9 months of pregnancy.
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Matt Lamb, 25, is the director of communications for Students For Life of America, which has 1,200 groups across the country in high schools and college campuses with young people ranging from 14- to 25-years-old. He said his generation better understands the realities of abortion through the use of technology.
“This generation has the benefit of much better-advanced technology and so they can see a high-quality sonogram,” Lamb said. “Also, with new media it’s easier for them to go and they can see videos that we put out.”
President and founder of Secular Pro-Life, Kelsey Hazzard, 30, agrees with the assessment that the younger generation is using technology to speak out against abortion.
Hazzard started Secular Pro-Life as a 20-year-old at the University of Miami because she wanted to be a part of a non-religious anti-abortion group. The organization congregates solely online and has an active social media presence with more than 29,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter combined.
“It’s not the fact that we’re online that brings us a younger audience,” Hazzard said. “It’s the fact that we are younger that puts us online.”