About one-third of Generation Z is missing because of abortion.
Given that staggering statistic, it’s understandable why nearly 9 out of 10 millennials and Gen Zers have expressed support for limitations on abortion.
At the recent National Pro-Life Summit in Washington, hundreds of pro-life student leaders gathered to connect with and educate their peers on the latest initiatives of the movement.
Daily Signal staff had the opportunity to speak to various Generation Z pro-life activists, asking them about their views on abortion and the future of the pro-life movement.
Kaitlyn Ruch (Photo: Kevin Feliciano)
Kaitlyn Ruch, 20, is a student at Carroll College in Helena, Montana, and a spokesperson for Students for Life of America. She first got involved in the pro-life movement after testifying before the Montana state Legislature about pro-life legislation, including the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act.
Later, when she chose to go against the grain and establish an on-campus anti-abortion club, she “faced a ton of ridicule and pushback from students and administration,” Ruch said. Until engaging with the pro-life movement as a member of Gen Z, she recalled that she “was the only one under 50 in my town that was pro-life.”
When asked about her motivation behind advancing the anti-abortion cause, Ruch shared her unique life experience as an adoptee. “My conviction for the pro-life cause really stems back to my birth, when my younger brother and I were adopted,” she said.
As an adoptee, Ruch works to challenge the common “quality of life” argument used by abortion supporters.
At 19, she ran for Montana state representative, winning nomination as the Republican candidate, but lost in the general election.
With a word of encouragement to other young leaders facing hostility from their peers on campus, Ruch advised, “There will be hard days and super-rewarding days, but you won’t live to see the good ones if you don’t persevere. Just keep going. It’s worth every minute of it.”
Kaylee and Colton Stockton (Photo: Madison Fouler)
“I was pro-choice early in high school. Then, my school shooting happened, and everything got very political very quickly,” Kaylee Stockton says.
Stockton, 20, is a nursing student at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. In November 2019, Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California, where she was a student, was the site of a school shooting. A 16-year-old opened fire at the school, killing two students and injuring three others.
“She was bleeding out quickly, and I didn’t know how much time we had until she was gone,” Stockton said of one of the victims, who ultimately survived. “I tried checking her pulse to see if she was close to the end, as my friend held pressure on her wound.”
In her freshman year of college, Stockton became pregnant. Her boyfriend was not very involved, which caused many to doubt her ability to be a parent. However, after listening to many “talking heads” online, Stockton decided that parenting was the right path for her.
“Now, I have a beautiful 18-month-old, and he is the light of my life,” Stockton said of son Colton.
The student activist was asked about where she thinks the pro-life movement should shift its attention. Stockton immediately cited the upcoming elections.
“Our focus needs to be on elections and getting pro-life candidates in office,” she said.
Beyond elections, Stockton called on federal and state lawmakers to enact bans on abortion.
When asked about engaging her peers, Stockton said, “We need to figure out where their morality is rooting from, and try and change their moral values, not just necessarily their political life.”
Caleb Buck (Photo: Kevin Feliciano)
As tensions rise in social circles promoting antisemitic rhetoric, a Jewish student at Liberty University, Caleb Buck, remains focused on advancing the pro-life message.
Buck, 21, was adopted from Russia as a baby. He had various underlying medical conditions, making him, in some people’s minds, a stereotypical candidate for abortion. “I basically check off every single box that the pro-choice lobby uses to say that I should have been aborted,” he said.
At the March for Life last month, he carried a sign that read “Jewish, Adopted, and Pro-Life.” To Buck, his life experience has not been measured by circumstance or situation, but rather the opportunity to be alive.
“A chance to fight like hell is better than just having your life ripped away from you,” said Buck, who advocates for the Life at Conception Act, which would ban all abortions except in cases where the life of the mother is at stake.
Clare Caton, 20, a student at Ave Maria University in Florida, thinks “everybody has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
“And that begins in the womb,” she added.
While there is heated debate regarding at which stage of life human rights are applicable, 96% of biologists are clear: Human life begins at fertilization, according to a University of Chicago study, which was also used as evidence in a friend of the court brief in the 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case at the U.S. Supreme Court.
As a young person experienced in communicating with those with opposing agendas, through years of participation in her Students for Life of America club, Caton has a unique mindset to offer the pro-life movement regarding changing hearts.
“I think the first approach that we always take is getting offended and hurt by the fact that other people want to abort babies,” Caton said, adding, “People just don’t realize that that’s a human life, and [abortion isn’t] benefiting the woman.”
She said that when it comes to the matter of right to life, “it’s wrong to strip somebody of that.” Caton affirmed a hope that someday “abortion will be illegal, and we will … look back at this period just as we look back at World War II and the mass murder of Jews.”
“Abortion is a genocide of innocent life … it is our duty to see that it becomes illegal for the sake of the baby and the health of the mother,” she said.
Felipe Avila (Photo: Mark Story)
Felipe Avila, 20, a nursing student and a board member of the National Association of Pro-Life Nurses, became pro-life through a “passion in science and health care.” Avila says he started a Students for Life of America chapter at his high school in Las Vegas.
His group received significant pushback from the school’s administration. The school refused to post club flyers and materials because they were “too controversial,” and administrators often removed Avila from his classes, he says, to verbally reprimand him.
Avila sued his school and its principal for discrimination against him and his club. His lawsuit was reported on by national media, launching him “onto the national platform.” While the lawsuit remains ongoing, Avila’s school district has already paid tens of thousands in settlements.
Avila’s lawsuit going viral showed him how young people can have “power and influence on the movement.”
Now studying nursing at the Catholic University of America, Avila said he seeks to “leverage my knowledge in the nursing profession to advocate for all human life as a health care professional.”
This November will be Avila’s first time voting in a presidential election, and he has strong words for those who vote against pro-life candidates, especially Republican voters.
“I think a lot of Republicans, especially those squishy on the abortion issue, want to avoid the issue entirely. They just delegate it to the states. In the next coming years, we’re going to have to elect a pro-life Congress, a pro-life president, and pass a national limit on abortion,” Avila said.
Maeve Kitchens (Photo: Students for Life of America)
Maeve Kitchens, 16, channeled her motivation for saving preborn lives into starting a nonprofit pregnancy resource center—as a teenager.
Kitchens, a student at Feather River Community College in Quincy, California, says she has been working in the pro-life movement since she was 13. Upon engaging with Students for Life of America at a local March for Life in California, Kitchens was inspired to do more for the movement.
Kitchens began speaking about the pro-life movement at various churches in her home state, and upon seeing a need for pregnancy resources in her community, Kitchens began fundraising to start a center.
Kitchens moved fast and started the 501(c)(3) nonprofit, appointed a board of directors and supervisors, hired a medical director, and raised more than $400,000 for the pregnancy care center.
On the future of the anti-abortion movement, she said focusing on prioritizing pro-life values at the ballot box was of utmost importance.
“A lot of times, Republicans just choose other Republican candidates that they agree with, maybe on immigration or taxes, or gun rights. They don’t focus on pro-life issues first. And I think that’s really how we can start changing our country—voting in pro-life legislators,” Kitchens said.
The teenager was emphatic on appealing to Gen Z. The key, she said, was to show other pro-life teens on social media and in the news.
Kitchens says the movement will grow if pro-life Gen Zers show their generation “how cool the movement is.”
“Show them that there is this whole community of young pro-lifers and how many resources pro-lifers put out there for women and babies. I think that that can really change the hearts and minds of Gen Z,” she said.
Editor’s Note: Mary Elise Cosgray and Noah Slayter are both participants in Students for Life’s Leadership Collective.
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