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American Life League
Campus tour invites college students to vote pro-life first
September 19, 2012 -- Michelle Bauman -- catholicnewsagency.com
A new nationwide initiative is asking young American voters to remember the importance of life when they cast their ballots this November.
"We wanted to find a way to engage young pro-lifers in this election," said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, the country's largest pro-life youth organization.
Hawkins told CNA on Sept. 14 that the group is launching the "I Vote Pro-Life First Initiative" to educate young voters and encourage them to vote for candidates who respect life.
The project is being carried out by a coalition that Students for Life worked to form with other pro-life groups, including The Frederick Douglass Foundation, Pro-Life Action League, Rock for Life and Live Action.
Hawkins explained that a five-day college campus tour will be "kicking off our election efforts," which will ultimately seek to mobilize young people across the nation, recruit 1,200 volunteers and educate 300,000 voters before Election Day.
Young adults will be invited to sign a pledge stating that a candidate's position on life will be the most important issue they consider in an election.
On Sept. 17, the initiative's campus tour began its trek through Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
In five days, the tour will reach nine major universities in four swing states. The diverse colleges include University of Michigan, Purdue University, Ohio State University and Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Hawkins explained that this election has important implications for the pro-life movement.
"We know this election is going to be a close election," she said, explaining that success in swaying even a portion of one demographic could make a critical difference in the outcome of prominent races.
While young people have historically had low rates of voter turn-out, Hawkins pointed to a recent poll conducted by the organization showing that college students are expected to vote in large numbers this November.
She explained that many of the voters in this age group are undecided because they like and dislike different aspects of each candidate.
The goal of the campus tour is to encourage a shift in the way that pro-life issues are considered, from being "just one issue" to being "the top issue," she said.
Hawkins stressed that if candidates cannot be trusted with the most basic issue of protecting innocent human lives, they cannot be trusted with other issues such as the economy and foreign policy.
Pro-life students accept this view, she said, because they "believe that life is intrinsically valuable."
Seeking to "speak the truth in love," members of Students for Life will work with pro-life student groups on each campus, registering people to vote and inviting them to sign the pledge that they will only support candidates who protect unborn children.
"We're doing this right in the middle of campus," Hawkins said. "I think that's going to make a real impact."
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