Kristan Hawkins has been preparing for a post-Roe America for 16 years. For her, the Supreme Court decision Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade was surreal.
Hawkins leads the pro-life organization Students for Life, which seeks to educate young Americans on the issue of abortion.
Waking up Saturday, Hawkins estimated “over 400 children … would be spared” already that morning because the high court had overruled its 1973 decision legalizing abortion across the nation.
She joins the “Problematic Women” podcast to discuss the future of the pro-life movement and how students can be a voice for society’s most vulnerable population.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Virginia Allen: It is my privilege to welcome to the show today the president of Students for Life, Kristan Hawkins. Kristan, welcome back to the show.
Kristan Hawkins: Thanks for having me.
Allen: Well, it is a really exciting time in our nation’s history. You were at the Supreme Court on Friday when that decision on the Dobbs case was released, officially overturning Roe v. Wade. And you were able to stand with so many students, so many pro-life advocates, and read a little bit of Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade. Let’s take a listen to that moment. …
Kristan, you have dedicated your life to the pro-life movement, to fighting for those who don’t have a voice. Describe that moment to us on Friday, of what that meant to be standing there with all of these other pro-life young people … and have that news hit you of whoa, finally, after such a long fight, Roe v. Wade has been overturned.
Hawkins: It’s an indescribable feeling. I’ll tell you we’ve been working for this day for 16 years, since we launched Students For Life. So I’ve been talking about post-Roe America, preparing for a post-Roe America, for 16 years every day. And then to be there when it happens, it was like, OK, yeah, we got this. We know what we need to do.
I think it really hit me, though, Saturday morning when we woke up. … Saturday is the number one abortion day in America. And so we were taking hundreds of students door-knocking in suburban Maryland, educating neighbors surrounding a late-term abortion facility, about the nonviolent resources that exist, the alternatives to abortion that exist.
We were up early. And that’s when it really hit me that … because of the reversal, because of the quick-moving states, like Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, that moved very quickly to say, ‘Hey, the law on the books before 1973 is now in effect, cease and desist all abortions in the state,’ we knew of over 400 children that would be spared on Saturday morning. …
That number, that tally of lives saved every day, is just going to grow as more and more states’ trigger laws come into effect. Their AGs [state attorneys general] certify their preexisting laws on the books. It could be as many as 880 children [saved Saturday morning], once 26 states have fully acted.
And so I think it’s hard sometimes as pro-life advocates, because you don’t know how many lives you can save. If you’re on social media and you’re myth-busting, laying down some facts, or if you’re on TV or if you’re on a college campus, or whatever your role in the pro-life movement is: Unless you are a sidewalk counselor who’s praying and counseling women in front of an abortion facility, or even if you’re a counselor inside of a pregnancy center, unless you fill one of those two roles you don’t really ever know how many lives you’ve saved or the impact your specific contribution has made.
But now we know, and there’s a number. And I was thinking about all the folks who said in 2016 and 2020, not to vote for the pro-life presidential candidate, that voting was meaningless and nothing would ever change. Yeah. That talking point can never be used again.
Allen: I love the fact that at Students for Life, you all are getting the younger generation so excited to be a part of being a voice for those who don’t have a voice. You’re mobilizing students. That’s what you’ve done from the beginning. You’ve been mobilizing young people, really, to be a voice on this issue. What are you hearing from your students and what are they hearing from others on their campuses, among their friend groups, about this decision? What do you think Gen Z is saying about Roe v. Wade being overturned?
Hawkins: Our students are obviously extremely excited. I’ve been laying down the challenge to them, though, that their legacy wasn’t simply to be the last generation of Americans born under Roe. But their legacy is to become this first post-Roe generation ensuring no woman stands alone in America, stopping the proliferation of these dangerous chemical abortion pills that lead to injury, infertility, and death of mothers across America—not only the death of their child, but a serious harm to them. Ensuring that Americans continue to vote pro-life first. And to block the radical attempts that will be made by the left to pack the Supreme Court and to pass some sort of federal bill that forces every American to pay for abortions for any reason, up until the middle of birth. We have a big, tall order ahead of us.
And so our generation is motivated, ready to go. But what they’re hearing from their peers is a lot of myths. And to be honest with you, a lot of inaccurate information is being spread on the internet. And so I’ve seen our students and our leaders have done an incredible job of really creating their own graphics and TikTok and reels, responding to all of these lies that are out there: that pro-lifers don’t care about children or mothers after the baby’s been born, that myth is busted. Or pro-life laws mean that women experiencing life-threatening situations during pregnancy, like ectopic pregnancy, will die. That’s absolutely false.
So we’re out there every day. And I’m hoping that the pro-life generation continues this work of really busting these myths and these fearmongering tactics that the left is deploying. We saw this in Texas last summer. We were in Texas all spring, ensuring the passage of the Texas heartbeat bill. That bill was brought forward by one of our alumni.
So we were very involved there in Texas and we saw protests and a bunch of fearmongering. And yet when the law went into effect Sept. 1, life went on in Texas. I was in Texas for six weeks in the spring with my family. Women were still graduating at college at higher rates than men. Women were still being promoted in the workplace.
I was in a lot of back alleys trying to find a place big enough to park our huge diesel truck. I didn’t see any dead bodies stacking up in the back alleys. I mean, every myth and every fear, every threat that the abortion industry used, did not come to fruition. Life went on in Texas, despite the fact that 65% of babies who would be scheduled to be aborted were saved.
Allen: Yeah, we have to be on the front lines of, like you say, busting those myths … because they’re so rampant all over social media and you were speaking to some of the misinformation. Just earlier this week, you went on CNN and had this really great dialogue [or] debate with one of the anchors there who was really pressing you on this issue. Let’s go ahead and take a listen. …
So, Kristan, most of us are not necessarily on national television talking about the abortion issue, but a lot of us are having conversations on social media with our friends, around the dinner table with family members. And one argument that you spoke about in that interview on CNN and that a lot of people on the pro-abortion side are bringing up is, well, for those of you who are pro-life, you’re really just pro-birth and you’re not for things like universal child care or free health care. How do we respond to these kinds of arguments?
Hawkins: Those are substantive policy debates. I was on NPR the other day, and they pressed me and they wanted to know exactly what policies I was for. And I have a lot of opinions about different policies, especially as a mother of two children with a very expensive, life-threatening medical illness. I’ve spoken out vehemently against socialized health care and what it would mean just for my children. And so I have a lot of opinions about that.
And in fact, I would say the pro-life movement has a lot of differing opinions. We are made up of liberals and conservatives in the pro-life movement. It is not a monolithic movement of white Republicans, white Republican men, which is what the mainstream media tries to say. …
And I think when I’m having that conversation … I would love to have these discussions … , but first I think we all need to agree that babies shouldn’t be scheduled to die. That even if you believe a baby may be highly likely or more likely to live in poverty … that we should at least agree that we shouldn’t that … we don’t eliminate the sufferer, we eliminate the suffering. And then let’s have that discussion. And that’s really what the pro-life movement is saying is, “Hey, let’s have a discussion about how not to kill babies.” And then we would love to have these discussions.
A lot of this stuff too is very inaccurate when we hear these things, because we don’t actually have a national abortion reporting law in this country. I did a second CNN hit a couple days ago. And the anchor was trying to press me on the number of women who die, who are pregnant every year and how abortion is so much safer. You can’t claim that, because we literally do not have any government stats on this. We have none.
The abortion industry can self-report to the CDC. States like New York and California, the two largest abortion states, don’t even report that in. We don’t actually have good comparison numbers to even have an intelligent conversation there.
Allen: Yeah, that’s critical. We need the numbers. We need the backing. Can’t just be making things up.
Hawkins: And the abortion industry, every time that this has been put up, the abortion industry kills it. They don’t want to have to report the number of abortions or the outcomes or what the demographics were of women. They will keep their own stats for themselves, but they’re not going to share them with the rest of the world.
Allen: I want to take a few minutes to talk about the practical work of Students for Life, what you all are doing. I know you have so many different campaigns going on. Tell us a little bit about abortion-free cities and how you all are practically trying to be the hands and feet that are loving women and protecting babies.
Hawkins: We launched this last spring and the idea is to go into cities with a holistic approach, knocking on doors and neighborhoods surrounding abortion facilities, educating Americans about the nonviolent alternatives that exist. Sadly, we’ve knocked on 120,000 doors, [and] 73% of neighbors we talked to don’t know that resources exist. They all know where they can go to have an abortion, but they don’t know about the nonviolent resources.
We’re running digital ads in the cities targeted to women who we think are most likely to find themselves in unplanned pregnancy, directly connecting them. They can pick up the phone, schedule an appointment right then and there, or start a chat on our standingwithyou.org website. We’re running digital ads in those cities to 18- to 34-year-olds, those most directly targeted by the abortion industry and their propaganda. We’re seeing minds changed right between 18% and 31% in those cities.
And we’re also building coalitions with churches and other pro-life groups to be out in front of the abortion facility offering support, to be reporting in on what’s actually happening in those abortion facilities, to make complaints where we can in states that actually will investigate these dirty abortion facilities, to get folks involved. To get those who are sitting in the pews who say that they’re pro-life to join us either door-knocking or putting on a pro-life bumper sticker. Or we have pro-life yard signs that just say, “Hey, free confidential support, standingwithyou.org.”
Really trying to get the entire community involved in this moving well beyond what we do on campuses, which is changing minds and transforming the policies to be friendly toward pregnant and parenting women. One out of 20 college students is pregnant or parenting. …
One thing that I’m particularly excited about that we’re doing because of the things we’ve learned from this abortion-free cities campaign this year is Standing With Her Sunday, a national simulcast on Sunday, Aug. 28. And it’s a live event for churches and small groups. Folks can host it for free. They get a kit, stickers, and all that stuff. But the goal is to give people who’ve said for so long that they’re pro-life kind of a virtual tool belt of “OK, if I have a friend or a family member who’s hurting from a past abortion, go to Support after Abortion.” If I know a woman who’s taken the first pill and the dangerous chemical abortion pill cocktail, she can go to Abortion Pill Reversal. I know a woman who is in crisis who needs help. Go to standingwithyou.org.
And so we’re trying to get all these resources. We’ve got the bishop of the Church of God in Christ, which is the largest African American denomination in the country; Dr. Alveda King, Turning Point Faith. We’re trying to really unite the movement to arming folks with the information. You can go to standingwithhersunday.org, to sign up, to watch, to host.
But that’s really where I feel like it’s an offensive battle. There’s a lot of defensive battles right now in the pro-life movement. The 2022 midterms are going to be huge, state legislative races, which we’ve been playing in. Protecting women against abortion trafficking over state lines and these chemical abortion drugs that are going to be shipped even into states that have banned abortion. But offensively, something that we all can do is ensure no woman stands alone.
Allen: It’s so simple, honestly, of just saying: Hey, I’m going to come alongside you. I’m going to support you both practically, just meeting practical needs, emotionally, just being a friend. Like that’s something any of us can do. So Kristan, for those listening who are thinking, “OK, I want to get involved. I want to do something,” how can they learn more? How can they get involved with what you are doing at Students for Life?
Hawkins: You can go to studentsforlife.org. Whether you’re a student or a nonstudent, we have programs really trying to get folks involved. And encourage folks to go to studentsforlifeaction.org/volunteer. We’re in Kansas right now, knocking on doors. That will be the first state to have abortion actually on the ballot on Aug. 2. We need your support in Kansas, helping us knock on doors, knocking on doors in the election.
Go to standingwithhersunday.org. Sign up to host this free national simulcast on Sunday, Aug. 28. Follow us on social media and just take the graphics and the videos. My podcast, “Explicitly Pro-Life.” We put out clips all the time and just spread those out to dispel the misinformation that’s out there.
Allen: Kristan, before we let you go, final question. Do you consider yourself to be a feminist? Yes or no? Why or why not?
Hawkins: I used to call myself a feminist when I was in college, I would always say I was a pro-life feminist. I don’t really use the term anymore. I know some of our student leaders do use the term. I only use the term, really, if I really want to make the left mad on a TV interview, because they hate pro-life women using the term.
I think [in] my life, I’ve talked about this a lot. Like I think the way I live my life is really in because of the first and second wave, some of the first- and second-wave feminists. I run an organization of 100 employees, mostly of all women. Most of us are working moms. I’m a working mom of four children. My husband is now our stay-at-home homeschooling educator in our home.
I live this unconventional life, and I think the life I live is because of some of the struggles that the first- and even the second-wave feminists had to make to ensure that I can own property, that I can open up a bank account without my husband’s permission. That was a kind of a big deal.
But no, I don’t consider myself a feminist because the feminist movement has lost what it said it was fighting for.
Allen: Kristan, thank you so much for your time today. For all of you out there listening, be sure to check out the work of Students for Life. And Kristan, we really appreciate your joining the show.
Hawkins: Thanks for having me.
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