Texas Right to Life benefited from unintentional free advertising recently. We are delighted that more people will know about the unique educational and leadership opportunities provided to motivated college students through the Dr. Joseph Graham Fellowship for College Pro-Life Leaders. The positive publicity could be described as unintentional, because Sophie Novack, writing for the Texas Observer, seemed intent on disparaging the program. Scare quotes abound and the piece was run with random images of Pro-Life protesters that would give anti-Lifers the heebie-jeebies.
Yet, despite the breathy tone of bombshell undercover intel, Novack’s piece does nothing more than provide a window into a day of training for second-year Fellows. Is anyone really shocked to learn that people who recognize the Right to Life of the preborn view the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion as a judicial error worthy of correction? Novack writes as though no one would guess that legal minds in the Pro-Life movement are strategizing to undermine the untenable legal foundation of Roe v. Wade.
Laughably, Novack paints the entire Fellowship and Pro-Life movement in general as religious in nature. Texas Right to Life is non-partisan and non-sectarian. The selection of Fellows is based on the common recognition of the sanctity of all human Life, not religious affiliation. What’s more, in recent years, Fellows have gone above and beyond to dialogue with their peers of diverse faiths and beliefs about the importance of the Right to Life and means of fostering a society that values all human Life. Pro-Life Picture Day and the Unite Pro-Life Boots on the Ground conference are some obvious examples of inclusive Pro-Life outreach and the diversity of the movement.
The piece reveals more than simply an anti-Life bias at points where Novack descends into outright fantasy. She claims, “As statehouses have shifted further right in recent years, and young people have generally shifted left, activists in Texas are preparing an army of students to take up the anti-abortion mantle — both in courtrooms and regular conversations.” Pro-Life principles are not a matter of “left or right”; they are a matter of human rights. Young people of every political stripe are recognizing the importance of the Right to Life. Many conservatives are strongly Pro-Life, and are thus attracting young people, not repelling them. The Democratic Party shuns anyone who believes that preborn human beings should not be killed violently. Unfortunately, in doing so, they alienate a large percentage of Millennials who oppose abortion and other threats to innocent human Life.
By claiming that students are moving to “the left,” which in Novack’s counterfactual assessment means toward embracing anti-Life views, Novack implies that the Fellowship is some sort of brainwashing exercise. From her description, Texas Right to Life is snatching unsuspecting students who support abortion, from the ineluctable tide of social change and convincing them to adopt antiquated Pro-Life ideas. Nothing could be further from the truth. The students Texas Right to Life has encountered over the past decade are well-informed, highly motivated, and firmly committed to the Pro-Life cause. These are students who grew up with ultrasound images readily available. They know that a preborn baby is a person worthy of protection. In the age of social media, these students don’t have to rely on the biased anti-Life media outlets to cover national events like the March for Life; young people can see and participate in these massive meetings of their fellow Pro-Life peers. There is a reason that each year the Fellowship continues to grow, and that each year Texas Right to Life receives more qualified applicants than the year before. College campuses continue to be disproportionately anti-Life, but that does not reflect the culture as a whole.
Novack’s piece, which gives the impression of being dashed off in a fit of disdain, fails to mention that the Dr. Joseph Graham Fellowship is not simply “anti-abortion.” The program teaches students about a wide range of Pro-Life issues from philosophical, ethical, and social perspectives. Texas Right to Life has helped to bring renowned speakers like Wesley J. Smith and Bobby Schindler to students across Texas on issues related to assisted suicide and medical ethics. Nonetheless, when Novack writes that the Fellowship training informs students “on how they could be the generation to end abortion in America” that does make an excellent way to advertise the program to our fellow Texans. We’re happy more people will know about the excellent work of students in the Dr. Joseph Graham Fellowship.