Tag Archives: Kristan Hawkins

Pro-Life Warrior

Kristan Hawkins almost became a NASA space engineer, but she has found her niche as president of Students for Life of America.

A summer internship at a pregnancy resource center in Steubenville, Ohio, helped Hawkins, when she was a high school sophomore, to realize her life’s calling was not in aeronautical engineering, but in advocating for the unborn.

In addition to founding student pro-life groups in high school and college, Hawkins went on to work for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000. She also served as a political appointee at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

In 2006, Hawkins was hired to lead Students for Life of America. Since launching the organization’s full-time operation, Hawkins has helped increase the number of campus pro-life groups from 181 to more than 1,100 active groups in the United States and Puerto Rico.

Renowned nationally in pro-life circles, Hawkins, 31, lives in Minnesota with her husband Jonathan and their four children, two of whom undergo treatment for cystic fibrosis. A Catholic convert and a member of Legatus’ Twin Cities Chapter, Hawkins spoke with Legatus magazine about her career in pro-life ministry, her recent experiences at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., and her thoughts about the pro-life movement’s future.

What was it about that high school internship that affected you?

It was just life-changing. They were so excited to have me there at the pregnancy center because I was the same age that a lot of the girls were who came in to get pregnancy tests. They really invested in me, and it was a great opportunity for me. One day, they played a video showing aborted babies. I just remember walking out that day like, “Oh my gosh, what’s going on? Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about this?” That kind of lit the fire in me to be an advocate for the preborn and their moms.

How did your pro-life convictions affect your college decisions?

I decided not to go to college for aeronautical engineering. I accepted a scholarship to Bethany College, near where I grew up in West Virginia. I went into political science because I thought, “I’m going have to become a lawyer to overturn Roe v. Wade.”

What was it like working for the Bush-Cheney campaign?

I interned for the campaign, and about a month into that, they offered me a full-time position to stay on. I worked from July through November doing independent studies, then I went back to my college to finish up my last semester. I wanted to hurry up and graduate early because I was like, “Holy heck, we won.” I knew there were job opportunities waiting for me in Washington, and I wanted to be a part of that. After going to Washington, I worked for the Republican National Committee for four months, and then I got the job at HHS.

How did you come to work for Students for Life of America?

They were trying to find someone to hire, and my friend with whom I had worked at the RNC told them, “‘You need to call Kristan. She’s down the street at HHS, and this is right up her alley.” So they called me and I interviewed. Obviously, the Holy Spirit was involved in the decision because I left a pretty good, well-paying job with nice benefits and no stress.

You’ve written about how Millennials are becoming a pro-life generation. Why is that?

There has been a natural pendulum shift of generations, of young people wanting to be reactionary, but a big part of the reason is just science. It’s very clear that an unborn child is created at the moment where egg and sperm unite. There is a unique, new human being that never existed before and never will exist again, and the ultrasound shows us that that is true. This generation has seen their brothers and sisters via ultrasound.

Why did you participate in the Women’s March in Washington in January?

Organizers told pro-life groups that we weren’t welcome there. We decided to go because we wanted to make the conversation about the fact that the majority of American women are actually pro-life, the majority of Millennials are pro-life, and we weren’t welcome at the so-called Women’s March.

We made signs and we modified the chants. It got pretty testy. Once people found out that we weren’t with them on abortion, they wanted to tear the signs out of our hands. I’ve never thanked Planned Parenthood for anything, but I thank them for their parade marshals, because they protected us from people trying to get in our faces and assault us.

When did you become Catholic? Why did you convert from Protestantism?

I didn’t enter the Church until we moved here to Minnesota. I started RCIA about a month after, and I was received into church at the Easter Vigil in 2015.

When I grew up, when we talked about Catholics in my family, it was always negative. We talked about how Catholics worshipped Mary, that they didn’t know much about their faith. I didn’t really know Catholics until I started working at the pregnancy center. The executive director was a faithful Catholic. We would talk about faith. Also, the only people who would work for me when we first started hiring at Students for Life were Franciscan University graduates and a bunch of orthodox Catholics. That’s where I really got to meet Catholics who knew their faith.

How does your family support your mission?

It’s not just my mission. It’s my family’s mission. My husband Jonathan, who was a public school teacher for 10 years, is now a stay-at-home dad. He homeschools our son Gunner, 8, and our daughter Gracie who is 20 months old. Both have cystic fibrosis. We moved from D.C. to Minnesota about two-and-a-half years ago to get closer to the care team here. We have two other sons: Bear, who is seven, and Maverick, who is three.

We’ve changed the whole dynamic of our family to fulfill this mission. I travel a lot. I talk to the kids about what I do. I started bringing them to events because I want them to be involved and feel that they are a part of this.

How do you keep yourself going?

I think for me what helps is that we’re on the ground. We’re the only pro-life organization that has full-time people in every state. Every day, we’re going on campuses, doing mobilizations, lobbying days and rallies. I get to meet young people whose lives were changed, like my life was changed. I get to meet babies that our students have helped save. I get to see the real results of what we’re doing. The activism, getting out in the street, really helps.

What do you think the future holds for the pro-life movement?

People need to be praying, and they need to be supportive. They need to be joining organizations because the other side is mobilized like they’ve never been before. Planned Parenthood is a billion-dollar industry. They are not going to go quietly into the night.

How has your experience been in Legatus?

I joined Legatus last November, and I really enjoy it. I had gotten to know Legatus over the years with Students for Life. And because I travel all the time, I’ve been to so many different chapters. In fact, I think I’m at other people’s chapters more than my own most of the time.

BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Why I’m hopeful about 2017

For the first time in our nation’s history, we have a President who has made very specific promises in writing to the pro-life movement. He’s pledged to end taxpayer funding of abortion, defund Planned Parenthood’s abortion business, sign a bill banning abortions when babies have proven to feel pain, and appoint pro-life Supreme Court Justices.

Kristan Hawkins

Kristan Hawkins

Savor the meaning of those words for a minute. At this very moment in time, any American who believes abortion is a moral evil that should ultimately become unthinkable, demoted to a relic of history, and an unimaginable concept for future generations, should be waking up every morning with an unparalleled optimism about the future.

But it’s not just about a new Congress and Administration. Laws and government are changed by culture and, indeed, the culture is changing.

For the past several years, a pro-life undercurrent has been slowly moving the American public. Th€is current generation of Millennials holds positions that are more pro-life than their parents and grandparents. In recent polling from the Institute for Pro-Life Advancement (IPA), 53% of Millennials agreed that abortion should be illegal in all or most circumstances, with the exception of rape, incest and life of the mother. A Knights of Columbus/Marist poll over the summer confirmed those findings. Only 17% said abortion should be legal for any reason at any time in the pregnancy, which is the present platform of the Democratic Party. €

The IPA poll only confirms a recognized trend. According to the National Journal, in 2012 Millennials were the largest age group (52%) that favored a ban on abortions at 20 weeks, when science tells us the fetus is able to feel pain. Also in 2012, only 37% of Millennials believed abortion was morally acceptable.

But beyond the polls, what are the tangible signs that the nation is moving in a more pro-life direction?

Students for Life of America started with 181 high school and college groups in 2006. Today, there are over 1,100 college, high school, middle school, young adult, medical and law school Students for Life groups covering all 50 states. €They are actively engaged in educating their peers about abortion, helping student mothers who are facing unplanned pregnancies, and being a voice for the pro-life generation.

In contrast, Planned Parenthood just celebrated its 100th anniversary. Th€ey currently have around 670 facilities, and they proudly boast 275 campus pro-choice groups. €

This is the hope that does not disappoint.

Planned Parenthood has been in existence 10 times longer than Students for Life, has spent billions more dollars than anyone can possibly imagine, and has friends in very high places. Yet, for all its pink, it cannot hide the fact that they are losing this generation, that they are losing the fight to win the hearts and minds of young women and men, the next leaders of this great nation.

Th€ere are countless stories on campuses from California to Virginia, from Alaska to Michigan and everywhere in between that are affecting real change. €There are passionate young pro-lifers that sidewalk counsel no matter how cold or hot it is outside the abortion facility. €There are groups of young adults that have organized event after event to benefit mothers in need. Th€ere are students who have had their pro-life chalkings erased and washed away in the middle of the night only to go back, re-chalk, and hold civil conversations with the vandals, planting the pro-life seeds of thought in their hearts. €There are brave high school students who have publicly called out their school administrators for not allowing their pro-life clubs in their schools. €

This is happening everywhere, and this is why abortion will become unthinkable in our lifetimes.

Millennials are blazing the path towards abolishing abortion. It was Millennials who initially exposed Planned Parenthood’s cover-up of child abuse and rape. It was a Millennial who released undercover videos that forced the president of Planned Parenthood to issue a widely criticized “apology” when her organization was caught selling aborted baby body parts for profit. I myself am a Millennial, and I’m honored to be a Legatus member serving as the leader of one of our movement’s largest grassroots networks.

Th€is is why I have hope in 2017.

 

KRISTAN HAWKINS is a member of Legatus’ Twin Cities Chapter and president of Students for Life of America.

Reaching youth for Christ and for life

My journey home to Catholicism hasn’t been an easy one. I was brought up in an evangelical home, surrounded by family members who were leaders in our non-denominational church.

Kristan Hawkins

I volunteered for a Heartbeat-affiliated pregnancy resource center (PRC) in Steubenville, Ohio, when I was in high school. The moment I walked into that center, my life changed. I learned about the grim reality of abortion, about the babies who were being killed, and women and men wounded. That summer at the PRC set me on my way eventually to lead Students for Life of America.

But it also did something else: It introduced me to real Catholicism. I met Catholics who knew answers to my questions and who courageously lived out their faith. For example, I learned why the Church scorns contraception and how it’s at the root of our abortion crisis.

This unfailing adherence to the truth started me on my journey home. Subsequent research showed me that no matter the time or place in history, the Catholic Church has never wavered in proclaiming the truth about humanity, about our Creator, about love, and about life. Loud voices in the culture not only accept, but vigorously promote abortion and contraception. The Church refuses to bend. The Church stands for what is true, no matter the cost.

The truth and our example are winning over this generation for the protection of life. I see it every day on college and high school campuses — the “ground zero” of the pro-life movement. The battle for the next generation is being fought in schools and on campuses, and we’re winning that battle.

Students’ passion for life is truly astounding. Not known for being pro-life beacons, high school and college students across the country are standing up for those who cannot speak for themselves — even when it costs them personally. Our students brought our Planned Parenthood Project to 80+ campuses this past semester, educating their peers on the ugly business model of Planned Parenthood — not an easy topic to discuss.

And this past school year, six high school students have gone public with their struggles to start pro-life groups at their schools, exposing discrimination, involving our attorneys, and doing interviews with unfriendly local and national media.

This is the next generation of pro-life warriors. As the Body of Christ, we need to support them now more than ever. Spiritual warfare is real. These students need our prayers, and they need to know that the Church is with them in this fight.

Last fall, Students for Life released its first national list of top colleges and universities that are the friendliest to pregnant and parenting students. We looked at various policies in place at schools to help women facing unplanned pregnancies — plus the availability of housing, child care and financial aid, etc. Catholic universities made up more than half of that list.

The March for Life and Walk for Life (West Coast) also give me great hope for this generation and the example of our Church. The majority of faces are young people — including young nuns in habits and priests wearing their collars.

It’s not enough to say that the Church is pro-life. We have to live it. We have to show it. This generation of young people yearns for leaders who aren’t afraid to stand up for their faith and beliefs. In fact, they crave it. In a world where social media accounts allow people to create an illusion of themselves (and everything can seem fake), this generation needs genuine leaders. They aren’t afraid of the costs of following someone or something as long as they believe it to be true — and as long as they view its leaders as genuine.

That’s why the Catholic Church is uniquely positioned right now to reach out to this youth generation and show them that we are steadfast in life, that we aren’t going anywhere, and that we practice what we preach.

Our team at Students for Life is constantly traveling the nation, training students, educating them on how to change their campus culture, and supporting them every single day of the year. This is our moment to show this generation what we stand for. This is our moment to win them back to a relationship with Jesus Christ, with our Church, and with a Culture of Life.

KRISTAN HAWKINS is president of Students for Life and a member of Legatus’ Twin Cities Chapter.