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Learn from Planned Parenthood, Pro-Life Leader Urges

Kristin Hawkins

FOX News

Mark Stricherz - published on 06/23/14

Kristin Hawkins points out that abortion provider has trusting relationship with scared single mothers.

WASHINGTON – Before Kristan Hawkins appeared on stage at a large ballroom at a hotel in northwest Washington, a young female aide stood on a podium to give Hawkins’ biography, including a list of pro-life awards the executive director of Students for Life of America had won. “And she’s a recipient of the 2009 Weyrich Youth Leadership Award,” the spokeswoman said, pronouncing the surname like the name of a boy Rich rather than a man Rick.

The late Paul Weyrich was a founding father of the conservative movement in the 1970s, so the aide’s mispronunciation fell uneasily on the ears of some of the 50 activists who gathered for the session, part of the annual Faith and Freedom Coalition Saturday.

Hawkins walked on stage at 9:58 a.m. Smiling with both rows of teeth and waving to the crowd with her right hand, the 30-something, married mother of three was dressed simply in a black shawl and royal blue dress. The attendees—they were more of a throng than a crowd—clapped but did not cheer. Nobody stood up to applaud.

Seven minutes and one thousand words later, Hawkins had elicited from the crowd hooping and hollering. “Amen!” a clutch of activists shouted a few minutes into Hawkins’ speech. By the time Hawkins had finished, half of the crowd rose from their seats to cheer and whistle for her. A Catholic activist, speaking on background to discuss Hawkins candidly, said “Kristan is doing more to change the culture (of abortion) than anyone.”

Last year, Salon suggested that Hawkins is too slick by half, noting that she had urged participants at the Faith and Freedom Coalition last year to use snark when communicating on social media. “You can engage with sarcasm, it’s hard with the abortion issue, but you have to,” Hawkins said reportedly.

Yet Hawkins has few detractors. The Washington Post treated her as an authority on the pro-life movement at the March for Life this year and an extensive harvesting of Google’s search engine produces a barren crop of negative comments about Hawkins.

Hawkins’ first cheer from the audience at the Omni Sheraton Hotel came barely more than a minute into her address.

Hawkins implied that the libertarian and business wings of the Republican Party have unfairly blamed social conservatives for the defeats of the last two GOP presidential nominees, Sen. John McCain and Gov. Mitt Romney. “Whenever Republicans lose, people always say, it’s the social conservatives’ fault. I’m here to say those people are wrong!” Hawkins said, her voice rising to a shout. “This is a woman’s issue. We are women. Now it’s time to do all we can to abolish abortion!”

Although neutral political analysts agree that McCain and Romney were not sunk by their opposition to abortion in most circumstances, Hawkins appeals more to young people and socially-conservative activists than politicians and their advisors. Students for Life supports legal protection for the unborn in all circumstances, including those of rape and incest.

Yet Hawkins’ bold, unapologetic stand for life has boundaries. She does not condemn abortion-rights supporters and their allies. She condemns the act of abortion. To her, abortion not only kills an unborn person but maims the mother and her enablers.

“We’re a nation of people wounded by abortion. We’ve known someone who’s had an abortion. Maybe some of us have even participated in one. Maybe we’ve driven a woman to a Planned Parenthood,” Hawkins said.

A hush came over the crowd. Hawkins was making a larger point: Women abort because Planned Parenthood and its allies have a trusting relationship with the scared, single woman that her boyfriend, parents, and pro-life movement have not. “We need better relationships and services. Don’t go to people with statistics about abortion. We have to tell stories about how abortion hurts a person. They don’t want to know how much you know but how much you care,” Hawkins said.

The recent success of the gay-marriage movement is a case in point, Hawkins added. “They talk about love and human rights, not that it’s wrong. It’s about love,” she said.

Students for Life has sought to back up its words with deeds. According to Hawkins’ bio, the organization has more than doubled the number of pro-life groups on campuses, increasing from 181 in 2006 to more than 500 today. The Catholic activist put the numbers in perspective. “Hey, maybe there are only 10 or 12 people in the group, but at least they’re hearing from someone other than pro-choice groups on campus,” the activist said.

Small numbers are not a problem at Students for Life’s annual conference before the March for Life in Washington, D.C. Thousands of college-age students descend on a large hotel in the Maryland suburbs for a few days to learn techniques to save the unborn.  In addition, Students for Life has a Campus Pregnancy Initiative that encourages campuses to support  students who become pregnant, such as holding baby showers, providing daycare, and even building housing.

Hawkins ended her speech with a theoretical and practical challenge to those gathered. “Do you think this is possible?” she said shouting and chopping the air for emphasis. Then, dropping her voice to a loud whisper, she asked them a slightly different question: “Are you going to join us?”

As multiple attendees rose to their feet to clap, Hawkins exited the stage. She appeared in the lobby outside the Regency ballroom and walked past a knot of people. She had been scheduled to sign copies of her book, “Courageous: Students Abolishing Abortion in this Lifetime.” But aides said she had another commitment. She was traveling to New York City to appear on the Mike Huckabee Show that night.

Mark Stricherz is Washington bureau chief for The Colorado Observer and author of Why the Democrats are Blue.

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