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.