Many young people see the truth and urgency of standing up for the unborn. Sadly, we have much more teaching to do.

First, lots of good news. Archbishop Alexander Sample reports that during the Mass for the West Coast Walk for Life Jan. 25 in San Francisco, the cathedral was full of youths so troubled by abortion that they’d spend an entire Saturday publicly opposing it. The archbishop made an impassioned plea to them: “You will rock the world and you will finally change this horror in our culture and society. We are counting on you.”

On the same day in Salem, a crew from Chesterton Academy, a classical Catholic school in Mount Angel, walked in the lead of a march that drew about 2,000 pro-lifers. In both California and Oregon, the young people chanted, “We are the pro-life generation.”

Reporting each year on Oregon’s pro-life march, I have noticed more and more youths in the crowd. They tell me that both faith and science have formed their views. Research at the start of the millennium showed that very early, the unborn child has a unique genetic code and identity. That is no lump of tissue. 

Now the bad news. Apparently, even scientific fact cannot overcome decades of propaganda suggesting that unborn children can be classified as mere biological inconveniences. Gallup polls show that opposition to abortion among those ages 18 to 29 did rise from 18% in 1975 to about 25% by 2017. But numbers have slipped again, down to 16% in 2019. 

What can help? We like a suggestion made in Salem Jan. 25 by Father Matt Libra, who leads pro-life activities for the Archdiocese of Portland. Father Libra urged a powerful kind of witness, standing up for the unborn and also for all kinds of vulnerable humans, whether single moms, homeless addicts or beleaguered migrants. Bravo, Father Matt. Uncompromising but encompassing love has the best chance of changing hearts.