“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!” – Samuel Adams

Life Prizes: A Contest for the Soul of a Generation

GUEST COLUMN

BY CATHY RUSE
Executive Director of Life Prizes

Powerful forces in our culture fight for the attention of the next generation. Marketing firms spend billions trying to turn the heads of young consumers and keep their gaze. But the most profound contest for the soul of our youth is between those working to build a Culture of Life and those bent on tearing it down.

Last week the “pro-choice” organization Choice USA announced the winners of its “Generation Awards,” a prize given to young people under the age of 30 who have “made cutting edge contributions to the reproductive justice movement through service, research, communications and organizing.” One winner is a young woman just 24 years old who wrote a book entitled Hooking Up: A Girl’s All-out Guide to Sex and Sexuality, and whose website lists abortion advocacy organizations such as the National Abortion Federation and the Feminist Women’s Health Center as “pregnancy resources.”

Perhaps it is not surprising that the abortion lobby launched this award in 2003, the year in which a survey by Former Planned Parenthood Federation President Faye Wattleton’s Center for the Advancement of Women discovered what must have seemed to them a scandalous truth: that a majority of women today think abortion should either never be permitted or permitted only for rape, incest, or life endangerment. And that women believe “keeping abortion legal” should rank next-to-last in priority for the women’s movement, just ahead of “more girls in sports.”

That was also the time when the public was becoming aware of a new phenomenon in public opinion demographics: that young people now hold stronger pro-life views than in the past, and are even more pro-life than their own parents. Even the New York Times could not ignore the news, running a story with the headline, “Surprise, Mom, I’m Against Abortion” in March of 2003.

More recent polls continue to reveal this significant trend. A 2006 Hamilton College/Zogby International survey of 1,000 students nationwide showed that most high school seniors regard abortion as morally wrong and would significantly restrict it. Another long-term survey by Overbrook Research found an extreme shift in young people’s attitudes from strongly “pro-choice” in 1992 to strongly “pro-life” in 2006.

The abortion movement is mortally afraid of losing the next generation, and rightly so. Now it has a new cause for concern: Life Prizes, a new prize program to inspire young people to be bold and brilliant in saving lives.

Instituted by the Gerard Health Foundation, a private charity that funds not only pro-life causes but also those fighting to save the victims of HIV-AIDS, Life Prizes celebrates champions of the pro-life movement, individuals and organizations that have furthered the cause of life through public advocacy, scientific research, outreach programs, public disclosure activities, legal action and other achievements. Life Prizes will award up to $600,000 in prize money divided between as many as 6 award recipients, and the nomination process is underway.

Fascinating stories of charity and ingenuity are sure to emerge as Life Prizes’ nominators shed light on the great pro-life work being done around the country, including by college age youth who have already demonstrated by their commitment and actions the potential to be the pro-life leaders of tomorrow. To further solidify the pro-life inclinations of the younger generation, the awards will be presented next year in conjunction with the annual national conference of Students for Life of America, an event which last year drew 800 students from colleges and universities across the country.

Americans are widely known and lauded for our generosity and initiative. We celebrate advances in science, medicine, politics, and many other endeavors, granting awards to those who find new ways to promote and advance the betterment of society, the longevity of life, the end of disease. It is only fitting that, in the company of these great celebrations, there is a new award to honor advances in the greatest human rights battle of our day.

Abortionists beware! Now the unsung heroes working to save, defend, and protect human life have an award to call their own.

Cathy Ruse, a prominent lawyer in the pro-life movement who has held several high level positions promoting life causes, has accepted the position of Executive Director of Life Prizes.


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