Students For Life Of America

Students for Life of America exists to indoctrinate children and young adults into anti-abortion extremism “during their crucial developmental years.” SFLA’s efforts raised its profile as one of the most important anti-abortion groups today, earning its leaders a meeting with the Trump White House.


Summary Extremism Key Players Influence

Summary

Students for Life of America exists to “recruit, train, and mobilize” younger generations to fulfill its goal of abolishing abortion. Students for Life (SFLA) aims to engage with children and young adults “during the crucial developmental years” and mold them into anti-abortion activists.

The SFLA story begins with an anti-abortion student group called C.Am.P.U.S. founded in the 1970s as a volunteer student-run organization. In 1988, the group became American Collegians for Life and increased its efforts to mobilize college aged anti-abortion advocates via an annual conference and quarterly publications. In 2005, the group yet again renamed itself, this time to Students for Life of America, and transitioned from a volunteer-led organization to one with full-time staff. Kristan Hawkins was hired as the group’s sole full time employee in 2006 and has led the organization ever since.

Under Hawkins’ watch, the group became a powerful player in the anti-abortion movement, boasting 1,200 local SFLA chapters. SFLA targets students as early as middle school through graduate programs, including law and medical school. The rapid expansion of SLFA under Hawkins’ watch made her a luminary in the anti-abortion movement. In January 2018, Hawkins and select SFLA members held a summit with Vice President Mike Pence, and later that year Hawkins met with White House administrators to suggest asking HHS to stop funding fetal tissue research and that Planned Parenthood should no longer be eligible for federal sex ed grants.

Extremism

Students for Life of America targets children to influence them during “crucial developmental years.”

SFLA brags about reaching “young people during [their] crucial developmental years,” targeting students as young as middle school age.  

“Students for Life reaches young people during the crucial developmental years of middle school through high school and college, inviting them to belong to a growing movement that respects the value of human life and stands up for those who don’t have a voice. Students for Life gives them a movement to belong to.” [SFLA Annual Report 2017-18 Page 6]

 

SFLA offers fellowship programs for high school and college students, pairing them with anti-abortion “mentors” for “a future in the pro-life movement.”

“The Wilberforce Fellowship for college students and Stevens Fellowships for high school students have been developed to raise the next generation of pro-life leadership. These Fellowships trains college and high school pro-life activists to be leaders at their schools (and beyond) and helps network those student leaders with a mentor in the national pro-life movement to help further develop their skills. Simply put, the SFLA Leadership Fellowships are the training you need for a future in the pro-life movement! For more information on either fellowship visit studentsforlife.org.” [SFLA Advanced Tactics Guidebook Page 29 Accessed 4/29/19]

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Hawkins and SFLA frequently attack Planned Parenthood and spread conspiracies about the organization.

SFLA sees itself as an enemy in moral opposition to Planned Parenthood 

SFLA sees itself in conflict with Planned Parenthood over the cultural attitudes of young people on abortion and reproductive rights, calling it “a crucial battlefield.”

“Since young people drive cultural attitudes on key issues and are those most likely to experience a crisis unplanned pregnancy, the battle for human life will be won or lost on high school and college campuses — ground zero for the abortion indsustry…Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry have millions of dollars to spend on PR campaigns, lobbying efforts and paying their ‘volunteer’ army. They actively target high school and college-aged women… and there is only one pro-life organization positioned to succeed on this crucial battlefield of high school and college campuses – SFLA!”  [SFLA Annual Report 2017-18 Page 4]

SFLA and its leaders frequently smear and spread lies about Planned Parenthood. 

SFLA claims Planned Parenthood “aggressively promotes risky sexual behavior to students” in an attempt to increase the abortion rate — which SFLA claim leads to “expanded profits” for Planned Parenthood.

“Seventy-nine percent of Planned Parenthood facilities are located within five miles of a college campus and it’s no surprise that the abortion industry, led by Planned Parenthood, aggressively promotes risky sexual behavior to students, leading to increased abortions and expanded profits.” [SFLA Annual Report 2017-18 Page 4]

SFLA President Kristan Hawkins said that Planned Parenthood is a racist group that aids sex traffickers and encourages young women to have premarital sex in order to get them to spend money on STD tests and abortions.

“In a speech to Eagle Council 2015, the annual conference held by Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, Hawkins depicted Planned Parenthood as a money-obsessed and racist business that ‘promotes and covers up’ statutory rape and aids sex traffickers. Hawkins claimed that Planned Parenthood only supports sexual education and birth control in order to convince young women to have premarital sex, causing them to go to Planned Parenthood to spend money on STD tests and treatment and, eventually, abortions.” [Kristan Hawkins, Eagle Council 2015 via Right Wing Watch 9/15/15]

SFLA President Kristan Hawkins said that Planned Parenthood purposely distributes low quality condoms and birth control which causes breast cancer in low-doses in order to have kids get an abortion saying “this is their plan to make money.”

“It says, Planned Parenthood’s plan for you: One, give you the lowest ranked condoms that are available on the market today, the lowest ranked by Consumer Reports condoms, so you think Planned Parenthood’s great, they’re giving you bad condoms, then they’re going to give you birth control that can cause breast cancer, they’re going to give you low-dose birth control, and then they’re going to give you an abortion, and this is their plan to make money.” [Family Talk via Right Wing Watch 4/3/12]

SFLA President Kristan Hawkins sees the popularity of Planned Parenthood as a threat to the anti-abortion movement and characterized its supporters as “mushy middle” women who “binge-watch” Grey’s Anatomy and The West Wing.

“Why focus on Planned Parenthood? As Hawkins admits, it is because of Planned Parenthood’s popularity: ‘While we’ve been educating a movement since 2008 on Planned Parenthood, we’ve been losing in the court of public opinion. Every poll we’ve taken always shows that Planned Parenthood enjoys a positive view in people’s minds, because it’s Planned Parenthood.’ Hawkins said that anti-choice activists plan to run online ads targeting ‘Democratic-leaning,’ ‘mushy middle’ women voters, whom she characterized as the ‘Grey’s Anatomy binge-watchers and West Wing-watchers.’” [Kristan Hawkins, Eagle Council 2015 via Right Wing Watch 9/15/15]

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Students for Life of America teaches its members, some of whom are middle school-aged, hateful and inflammatory anti-abortion viewpoints and tactics.

SFLA distributes materials to its members claiming that abortion supporters do not care about women.

 SFLA teaches its members that abortion supporters do “not care about rape, incest, or even the woman” and claim that pro-abortion arguments which bring up examples of rape or incest are designed to make anti-abortion forces look “insensitive.”

“Let’s focus on one hard case: rape. There will be two people who are going to ask you about rape. The first is someone who is honestly and earnestly curious about your position. They are conflicted about these situations, and they are wondering how you would respond. The second is the crusader. This person does not care about rape, incest, or even the woman; they want abortion to be legal in all cases, for any reason. They use these hard cases to try to break the pro-lifers’ ‘no exceptions’ stance. If they believe that abortion should be legal in all cases, then why are they depending on the rape cases to defend their argument? They use this case because they know that this makes you look insensitive.” [5 Logical Fallacies Pro-Aborts Use And How To Respond Page 11 accessed 3/29/19]

SFLA leadership claims that abortion is a form of “black genocide,” painting abortion providers as racists.

SFLA encouraged its middle school members to screen a movie that claims abortion is a form of “black genocide.”

“A stunning expository of the rampant racism in abortion industry, that began as a eugenics movement and continues today in the targeting of minority communities by Planned Parenthood.” [Studentsforlife.org Accessed 3/29/19]

  • The film, Maafa 21, is a part of a larger campaign to paint abortion providers as racists who participate in genocide — all while anti-abortion forces have made it more difficult for women of color to access abortion services.

“More recently, in 2009, the anti-abortion group Life Dynamics released a documentary film, Maafa 21: Black Genocide in 21st Century America. Named after a Swahili term for the abduction of Africans into slavery, the film employed ominous music and grainy photographs of plantation slave quarters to condemn Planned Parenthood for leading a racist campaign of population control and eugenics. (‘The end of slavery was the beginning of their bondage,’ reads a title card in a trailer for the film.) The following year, ‘Abortion is black genocide’ billboards began to appear around the country, bearing messages like “Black children are an endangered species” and ‘The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.’ Around the same time came a wave of proposed state and federal anti-abortion legislation wrapped in anti-discrimination and human rights rhetoric—such as Representative Trent Franks’ (R-Arizona) Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011 (co-sponsored by then-Representative Mike Pence), which would have made it more difficult for women of color to get abortions.” [Pacific Standard 9/16/19]

SFLA pushed college organizers to hold events during black history month and claim Planned Parenthood aims to “[kill] the black population”

“This February, SFLA strongly encourages you to expose Planned Parenthood. Expose the racism that is killing this generation– and particularly killing the black population. In this short month, you have plenty of opportunities to share statistics, post flyers, host discussions, show movies, and more! Take some time to check out these resources, and discuss with your group what you will do to EXPOSE Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry’s racist agenda.” [StudentsForLife.org Accessed 3/29/19]

When anti-abortion literature at Princeton came under fire from students for calling abortion “black genocide,” SLFA president Kristen Hawkins defended the literature and the group assisted in distributing it.

“Earlier this month, anti-abortion literature circulating at Princeton Theological Seminary sparked a controversy after several students found the flyers, with slogans such as ‘Black Genocide in the 21st Century,’ to be racially offensive. In the article, Kristan Hawkins, the executive director of Students for Life of America, said, ‘The situation occurring at Princeton University Theological Seminary is unacceptable. The fact that the school and its students are attempting to silence an important discussion about abortion and accusing pro-life literature of being racist because it tells the truth about black genocide is outrageous.’ In an email, Mary Powers, Students for Life of America’s communications director, said that the organization has ‘been working with a student at Princeton University who is facing persecution for spreading information about Black Genocide on campus.’” [Daily Princetonian 3/28/11]

One SFLA chapter brought a group called the Genocide Awareness Project to its campus to display graphic images of aborted fetuses next to slavery and Holocaust imagery.

Located on the Thompson Hall lawn, the display featured graphic pictures that captured the attention of students who passed by on the way to classes. The Genocide Awareness Project, brought to campus by Students for Life, was a depiction of images from historical genocides throughout the world placed next to images of aborted fetuses. According to the literature passed out at the event, The Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) ‘exhibits large photo murals comparing aborted babies with Jewish Holocaust victims, African Americans killed in racist lynching, Native Americans exterminated by the U.S. army, etc. Our purpose is to illuminate the conceptual similarities which exist between abortion and more widely recognized forms of genocide.’” [The New Hampshire 4/17/07]

 

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SFLA President Kristan Hawkins called right-wing extremist Phyllis Schlafly a “great American hero.”

Kristan Hawkins wrote an afterword to the biography of far-right extremist Phyllis Schlafly, who Hawkins described as a “great American hero.”

Hawkins wrote an afterword to a biography of far-right extremist Phyllis Schlafly, who Hawkins called “a great American hero.”

‘The book includes a short afterword by Kristan Hawkins, presidents of Students for Life, who calls Schlafly ‘a great American hero’ and celebrates that, thanks to Schlafly and ‘her army,’ there is today ‘no national Republican candidate who dares be anything other than pro-life!’ The final 70 pages of the book, more than half its total length, is devoted to an appendix of anti-abortion and anti-marriage-equality references in Republican platforms and resolutions and excerpts from the 2012 platform.” [Right Wing Watch 8/15/16]

Schlafly rose to prominence for opposing an equal rights amendment for women and was an outspoken homophobic and racist bigot.

Schlafly rose to prominence leading a successful campaign to oppose an equal rights amendment for women.

“…a biography of Phyllis Schlafly, the Missourian who traveled the country battling the equal rights amendment with a hairdo like a treble clef, arrived to make a case for its subject as one of the most influential figures in modern American political history…Mrs. Schlafly’s efforts to defeat the amendment succeeded once and for all in 1982, when it fell 3 states short of the 38 needed for ratification. She held a burial party at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington.” [New York Times 3/30/06]

Schlafly said that women cannot be raped by their husband because “by getting married, the woman has consented to sex.”

“At one point, Schlafly also contended that married women cannot be sexually assaulted by their husbands. ‘By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don’t think you can call it rape,’ she said.” [Sun Journal 3/29/07]

Schlafly called Roe “the worst decision in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court.”

“Phyllis Schlafly, antiabortion activist, told washingtonpost.com, ‘Roe v. Wade was the worst decision in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court and is responsible for the killing of millions of unborn babies[.]’” [Washington Post 1/18/02]

Schlafly said the greatest contribution to the improvement of the lives of women in the 20th century was not feminism but labor-saving devices like paper diapers.

“If women’s lives have vastly improved in the last third of a century, she would credit neither Ms. Friedan’s efforts nor her own, but instead the work of consumer product engineers who have created labor-saving devices. ‘When I got married, all I wanted was a dryer so I didn’t have to hang my diapers on a clothesline,’ she wrote in an e-mail message. ‘Now, mothers have paper diapers. Et cetera, et cetera.’” [New York Times 3/30/06]

Schlafly claimed the legal system does not discriminate against women.

“‘In the scale of liberal sins, hypocrisy is the greatest, and they have always considered me a hypocrite,’ Mrs. Schlafly said. She has never told women, she said, that they shouldn’t or couldn’t work. ‘I simply didn’t believe we needed a constitutional amendment to protect women’s rights,” she said. “I knew of only one law that was discriminatory toward women, a law in North Dakota stipulating that a wife had to have her husband’s permission to make wine.’” [New York Times 3/30/06]

Schlafly said the push for legalizing same sex marriage was an attack from “the gay lobby” and “the feminist movement.”

“Attacks on the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman come from the gay lobby seeking social recognition of their lifestyle, from the feminist movement that opposes what they call the patriarchy (that supposedly makes women second-class citizens), and also from some libertarians who believe marriage should be merely a private affair and/or a religious contract, and that the terms of this union should be none of the government’s business. These libertarians want to deny government the right to define marriage, set its standards, or issue marriage licenses.” [The Phyllis Schlafly Report November 2009]

Schlafly wrote a column titled “The Threat Of Terrorism Is From Illegal Aliens.” [The Phyllis Schlafly Report October 2001]

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SFLA and its leaders made insulting comments about abortion, including saying women who have had them should face the death penalty.

Hawkins shared a quote which said that “abortion is the second rape.” [Twitter 11/15/12]

Hawkins went on MSNBC and said hormonal contraception should be illegal because it “puts women at risk and [kills] children.”

“An incredulous Reid then asked: ‘What kind of contraception are you talking about?’ Hawkins replied: ‘Hormonal contraception.’ ‘You think IUDs should be illegal?’ Reid shot back. ‘I don’t think they should be legal,’ Hawkins replied. ‘They put women at risk and they kill children.’” [The Wrap 1/28/17]

Hawkins likened abortion to slavery. [Twitter 5/18/17]

The official SFLA account tweeted heart-eyes emojis when it was announced the last abortion provider in Missouri, a Planned Parenthood, could be shut down, which would leave it the first state without an abortion provider in America. [Twitter 5/28/19]

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SFLA elevated a dangerous anti-abortion conspiracy theory that was later cited by an extremist who shot up a Planned Parenthood.

SFLA netted over $10 million of earned media promoting an anti-abortion conspiracy theory which led to a mass shooting at an abortion provider.

SFLA held over 80 rallies, put up a billboard in Times Square, and received over $10 million in earned media coverage parroting the false claims of videos released by anti-abortion group The Center for Medical Progress.

“Building on the momentum of the unprecedented Center for Medical Progress undercover videos that revealed Planned Parenthood to be a willing partner in the buying and selling of aborted baby body parts, SFLA launched the Women Betrayed movement, initiating over 80 rallies in one day a mere two weeks after the first CMP video was released. That one day of rallies garnered over $10 million in earned media coverage. The WB movement went on to host more rallies and placed the first-ever billboard against Planned Parenthood in Times Square.” [SFLA Annual Report 2015-16 Page 3 Accessed 3/29/19]

The Center for Medical Progress released a series of videos which promoted a conspiracy theory about Planned Parenthood.

“The videos, recorded by two activists posing as representatives of a biotechnology firm procuring tissue for researchers and universities, continue to be released online about once a week. One of the activists, David Daleiden of California, told The New York Times last month that his ‘thousands of hours of videotape’ was enough to release videos into the fall…But, it said, ‘the manipulation of the videos does mean they have no evidentiary value in a legal context and cannot be relied upon for any official inquiries’ unless C.M.P. provides investigators with its original material, and that material is independently authenticated as unaltered.” [New York Times 8/27/15]

The false claims in the Center For Medical Progress videos were cited by an extremist who shot up a Planned Parenthood and killed three people in 2015.

On November 27, 2015, Robert Lewis Dear Jr. was arrested after a siege at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood left three people dead…In addition, Dear has claimed to be a ‘warrior for the babies’ who targeted Planned Parenthood because it ’sell[s] baby parts’—a widely debunked argument put forth by the anti-choice activist David Daleiden and his front group the Center for Medical Progress.” [Rewire News 11/28/16]

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Key Players

President

Kristan Hawkins

Hawkins is the face of SFLA and markets herself as such; the Law Students For Life website contains an 248-word description of the group and its work and a 578-word description of Hawkins. Hawkins was hired as the SFLA’s only full time employee when it made the switch from a volunteer-run organization, and she has served as president ever since. Under her leadership, SFLA established over 1,000 anti-abortion campus groups and has become an important political force in the anti-abortion movement. Hawkins postures SFLA as the antithesis of Planned Parenthood and sees her work as instrumental in cultural warfare.

Hawkins holds radical views on abortion and reproductive health. She supports a total ban on hormonal birth control, has compared abortion to slavery and elevated quotes calling abortion “the second rape.” Hawkins hosts a college lectures series titled “Lies Feminists Tell” as a part of her SFLA work.

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Influence

SFLA’s efforts have fueled a growth of school-campus based anti-abortion groups via grassroots organizing and media campaigns.

Since SFLA’s formation in 2006, the number of anti-abortion organizations on school campuses has grown from 100 to around 1,200.

“In 2006, Students for Life believed there were just short of 100 existing campus pro-life organizations. Today, Students for Life serves just shy of 1,200 high school and college pro-life student groups in every state across the nation. Annually, Students for Life hosts the nation’s largest pro-life conference in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, CA and mentors thousands through its regional workshops, campus trainings, one-on-one consulting sessions. In addition, SFLA mobilizes its student leaders multiple times a year in Washington, DC and across states, bringing the pro-life generation’s voice to the forefront of the abortion debate in America.” [StudentsForLife.org Archive 12/12/17]

SFLA has multiple chapters in every state, a chapter in DC and a chapter in Puerto Rico as of 2018. [SFLA Annual Report 2017-18 Page 14]

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SFLA raises millions of dollars each year and encourages its supporters to write the group into their wills.

SFLA racked in over $6 million dollars in income and had a nearly $100,000 in budget surplus in 2017. [SFLA Annual Report 2017-18 Page 15]

SFLA encourages its supporters to write the group into their wills, its elderly donors to transfer money from them money from IRAs and in-kind donations such as cars in order to fundraise.

“Beyond cash donations, here are a few alternative ways you can support SFLA: • Transfer support from a traditional or Roth IRA (for supporters aged 70 1/2 or older) • Donate stock • Find a pro-life realtor with Real Estate for Life who will donate part of their commission to SFLA (www.realestate4life.org) • Set up a charitable gift annuity or trust • Include SFLA in your will • Donate real estate, cars, boats, jewelry • Donate air miles and hotel rewards points” [SFLA Annual Report 2017-18 Page 15]

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SFLA organizes its members to canvass and campaign on behalf of anti-abortion causes in elections and referendums and to lobby local politicians.

SFLA encourages its student members to lobby local politicians, canvass and campaign during elections/referendums and to testify on behalf of anti-abortion causes.

SLFA trains and mobilizes its members to work with local Right to Life groups, to testify on legislation for the anti-abortion movement, and participate in canvassing campaigns for anti-abortion issues.

“A big part of pro-life work involves doing our best to legally protect women and their preborn children. To do so, we need to secure and enforce pro-life legislation and eliminate pro-abortion legislation. We also want to ensure that staunch pro-life advocates are in office, representing the majority and passing life-affirming laws. The Public Policy  pillar encourages students to: •Keep up with their state pro-life laws; •Develop a relationship with their state Right to Life chapters;•Testify on abortion-related legislation; •Do door-to-door campaigns and initiate calling campaigns to encourage legislators to vote pro-life” [SFLA Annual Report 2017-18 Page 7]

SFLA members have participated and aided notable anti-abortion campaigns on state, federal and international levels.

SFLA sent students overseas to Ireland to attempt to sway the country’s referendum on legalized abortions and help found a Students for Life of Ireland.

“A group of ten lucky SFLA students were chosen to attend our first-ever international mission trip to Ireland. The goal? To join the Irish Pro-Life Movement to keep their legislature from repealing the protection of preborn babies. While the vote turned out badly, our student leaders learned so much after leafleting, protesting, and getting a taste of pro-life work abroad. Each returned more dedicated to their mission on campus and in ending abortion in America than ever before. And the Irish Students? Well, they aren’t stopping. In fact, we’re helping them launch Students for Life of Ireland next school year!” [SFLA Annual Report 2017-18 Page 8]

SFLA campaigned during the 2016 presidential election using Trumpian language to “highlight the corruption of the abortion industry” and “their own political parties” on the “D.C. political swamp.”

“The “Cycle of Corruption” tour started during the lead-up to the 2016 Presidential Election. The tour highlighted the corruption within the abortion industry and challenged students to learn more about their own political parties and the influence of Planned Parenthood within them. The tour highlighted America’s shocking abortion laws, which permit abortion through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason and highlighted how the two major political party platforms address abortion respectively. The primary focus of the tour was Planned Parenthood’s influence on the D.C. political swamp and how they pocket more than $500M in fungible taxpayer dollars, and then turn around and give multi-million dollar cash donations to the politicians most aligned with their radical abortion agenda.” [SFLA Annual Report 2016-17 Accessed 4/24/19]

SFLA organized students into a grassroots canvassing campaign in California to oppose a law that would ensure CA public universities provide medication abortion.

“In January 2018, a bill (SB 320) was introduced in the California legislature that would force all California public universities to distribute the abortion pill on campus. SFLA helped student leaders throughout California spring into action. Twice, students testified and lobbied against the bill in Sacramento, shocking legislators. On more than 25 campuses, we set up a toilet seat display to represent each woman who had been killed by an RU-486 abortion in America. Students, both pro-life and pro-choice, were shocked and thousands signed our petition against the legislation. We fully expected this legislation to pass. Miraculously, this heinous bill was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown. After taking time to celebrate such an unprecedented victory, we will be creating a report that can be used across the country that details the playbook used by the abortion lobby – and fact-checks their lies. There’s no doubt that other pro-abortion politicians will be trying something similar in other states. When they do, we’ll be ready.” [SFLA Annual Report 2017-18 Page 7]

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SFLA trains and instructs its members and supporters to utilize deceptive, disturbing or harassing tactics.

SFLA encourages parents to expose their children to violent propaganda to ensure they remain anti-abortion advocates.

SFLA encouraged parents to expose their children graphic images and narratives which claims abortions cause death.

“ Show your child the after-effects of abortion—both the physical and the emotional. Pro-life websites like AfterAborts7a8/zion.org give exhaustive lists of the side effects experienced after abortion. This information, coupled with the testimonies from post-abortive men and women on SilentNoMoreAwareness.org, can help your kids understand the consequences of abortion from people who have experienced it first-hand. This will equip them to talk to peers who may be considering abortion about the deep pain of loss and the possible physical complications that result from abortions. Another important lesson is sharing the deaths that have occurred through abortion, lawsuits brought against shady abortionists, and hazardous abortion facilities (like Kermit Gosnell’s abortion facility in Philadelphia). Go to the ‘Blackmun Wall’ to read the stories of over 347 women who have died from ‘safe and legal’ abortions. Show your child the website AbortionDocs.org to teach them more about the conditions of abortion clinics, the lawsuits involved, and the abortionists who threaten the lives of children and mothers.” [6 Ways To Keep Your Kids Pro Life Page 5 Accessed 3/29/19]

SFLA presents abortion advocates as morally bankrupt to its members.

SFLA teaches its members that abortion supporters do “not care about rape, incest, or even the woman” and claim that pro-abortion arguments which bring up examples of rape or incest are designed to make anti-abortion forces look “insensitive.”

“Let’s focus on one hard case: rape. There will be two people who are going to ask you about rape. The first is someone who is honestly and earnestly curious about your position. They are conflicted about these situations, and they are wondering how you would respond. The second is the crusader. This person does not care about rape, incest, or even the woman; they want abortion to be legal in all cases, for any reason. They use these hard cases to try to break the pro-lifers’ ‘no exceptions’ stance. If they believe that abortion should be legal in all cases, then why are they depending on the rape cases to defend their argument? They use this case because they know that this makes you look insensitive.” [5 Logical Fallacies Pro-Aborts Use And How To Respond Page 11 accessed 3/29/19]

SFLA attempts to media train its members to court the press and get them to push anti-abortion ideology.

SFLA instructs its members to harass school newspapers if they do not to cover their events.

“Know school reporters and invite them to your events. Don’t let the newspaper ignore your group. If they repeatedly ignore your events. Call the editor and ask why you haven’t received coverage (they may be unaware).You can also submit editorials as a follow-up to your events and as is appropriate with related current events. This allows you to stir up debate, and control the conversation using your own words.” [SFLA Advanced Tactics Guidebook Page 16 Accessed 4/29/19]

SFLA instructs its members to only invite or allow media coverage from friendly or favorable sources.

“You can control who covers your events if you are in a room or a public structure. If there is a media source that is not friendly to your organization, tell them that only invited media is allowed at the event. They may not like you for refusing them entrance, but they won’t have pictures or skewed interviews to use in a story.” [SFLA Advanced Tactics Guidebook Page 19 Accessed 4/29/19

SFLA teaches its members radical, manipulative and harassing tactics.

SFLA encourages its members to harass people seeking abortions in front of providers.

“Get your club members out to the sidewalk of your local abortion clinic to offer help and resources. Join your local 40 Days for Life or begin hosting one. If you’re intimidated by the idea of sidewalk counseling, ask an SFLA representative for training or start by just going out to pray on the sidewalk.” [SFLA Advanced Tactics Guidebook page 9 Accessed 4/29/19]

SFLA encourages its members to advertise talks from anti-abortion extremists as “Women’s Rights Speaker[s].”

“Names and titles of events are important! Give your event a name or title that will catch peoples’ interest. At many schools, saying ‘Pro-life speaker’ won’t get people to your event, but saying ‘Women’s Rights Speaker’ will get people.” [SFLA Advanced Tactics Guidebook Page 12 Accessed 4/29/19]

SFLA instructs its members that they “must” counter-protest pro-abortion and pro-reproductive health events to stay on the “offensive.”

“There will be times where you must respond to pro-abortion group happenings (VOX, NOW, etc.) at your school or in your communities. Offering a counterpoint to their efforts will keep your events pertinent and cutting edge. Keep in mind that you want your group to influence campus dialogue more than VOX or the other pro-abortion groups. It’s generally better to stay on the offensive instead of the defensive.” [SFLA Advanced Tactics Guidebook Page 36 Accessed 4/29/19]

  • SFLA encourages its members to offer an anti-abortion viewpoint to the media when counter-protesting.

“Alert the media that there is another opinion on the event taking place. If you’re out protesting as a group choose a media spokesperson for your club. Don’t be afraid to walk up to media that show up to cove rthe event and insert your position into the dialogue.” [SFLA Advanced Tactics Guidebook Page 36 Accessed 4/29/19]

SFLA encourages its members to advertise for and volunteer at anti-abortion pregnancy centers and to even consider serving as a marketing consultant for them.

Bring the PHCs to campus by advertising their services. Chalk campus sidewalks with the PHC’s contact information. Flyers should be hung several times a semester, and all your group members should carry extra copies to hang up on their way to classes. Hang flyers in places they will be noticed… Consider having your group members trained to handle crisis phone calls and office visits Whether you are studying marketing or not, you are a representative of the target market to which PHCs are trying to get their message.” [Pregnancy Health Center Flyer Accessed 3/29/19]

SFLA distributes training materials to its members that promote false and radical anti-abortion ideology.

SFLA distributes program materials to its local chapters to help them hold events and/or campaigns each month on various topics from “post-abortive healing” to “fetal abnormalities.”

“SFLA students can take advantage of our Event-in-a-Box (EIB)program which is a great option for the busy student. During the 2017-2018 school year, there was a different theme every month, from post-abortive healing to fetal abnormalities. Everything students need to put on a great event or campaign is included in the box.” [SFLA Annual Report 2017-18 Page 5]

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SFLA drafted a letter to the Republican National Committee Chair urging the GOP to alter its platform to further restrict abortion access.

SFLA organized an open letter praising an abortion ban and urging the GOP to abandon protections for abortion in cases of rape and incest.

SFLA led an effort to send an open letter to the Republican National Committee Chair urging the GOP to change its platform on abortion — abandoning protections for rape and incest exemptions.

“But fueled by momentum from the passage of a restrictive abortion law in Alabama, a coalition of anti-abortion-rights groups released a letter Wednesday asking Republican officials to ‘reconsider decades-old talking points’ on exceptions to such laws. ‘We understand that issues like rape and incest are difficult topics to tackle; nevertheless, it is our view that the value of human life is not determined by the circumstances of one’s conception or birth,’ said a draft of the letter provided to NPR by Students for Life of America, which led the effort.” [NPR 5/22/19]

 The open letter praised Alabama’s 2019 abortion ban, which bans abortion except in cases that threaten the life of the woman.

“The document praises Alabama’s law, which prohibits abortion at all stages of pregnancy unless a woman’s life is threatened. It would send doctors convicted of violating the law to prison for up to 99 years. That law, like several other early bans passed this year, has not yet taken effect.” [NPR 5/22/19]

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SFLA utilizes legal action to advance anti-abortion ideologies on school campuses.

SFLA offers legal support and frequently sues to force SFLA chapters onto school campuses.

SFLA offers a legal hotline to students who “think [their] rights are being violated on campus.” [StudentsForLife.org Accessed 5/01/19]

The Thomas Moore Society has created a document to provide students with the legal justification to create an SFLA chapter on their campus.

“Students for Life of America (‘SFLA’) recently launched a new initiative for public and private high school students. The High School and Homeschool outreach program includes specialized training, programming, guide books, and a website addressing the issues and challenges that pro-life high school students face. SFLA has also created a step-by-step guide on how to start pro-life groups at high schools.” [Memo on Equal Access Act And First Amendment (2) Accessed 5/01/19]

SFLA partners its members with extremist and hateful groups to help them deal with their legal issues.

 

SFLA lists Alliance Defending freedom as its “friends” on its legal age webpage. [StudentsForLife.org Accessed 5/01/19]

Alliance Defending Freedom is a recognized hate group.

“Founded by some 30 leaders of the Christian Right, the Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal advocacy and training group that has supported the recriminalization of homosexuality in the U.S. and criminalization abroad; has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claims that a “homosexual agenda” will destroy Christianity and society. ADF also works to develop “religious liberty” legislation and case law that will allow the denial of goods and services to LGBT people on the basis of religion. Since the election of President Donald Trump, the ADF has become one of the most influential groups informing the administration’s attack on LGBT rights working with an ally in Attorney General Jeff Sessions.” [SLPC.org Accessed 4/29/19]

Thomas Moore Society created a document to provide students with the legal justification to create a SFLA chapter on their campus.

“Students for Life of America (‘SFLA’) recently launched a new initiative for public and private high school students. The High School and Homeschool outreach program includes specialized training, programming, guide books, and a website addressing the issues and challenges that pro-life high school students face. SFLA has also created a step-by-step guide on how to start pro-life groups at high schools.” [Memo on Equal Access Act And First Amendment (2) Accessed 5/01/19]

Thomas Moore Society holds anti-gay and anti-Muslim views, and once sued Planned Parenthood to try to force it to acknowledge a causal link between abortions and breast cancer.

The anti–gay and anti–Muslim group started by Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan is best known for its legal defeats, including its failed challenge to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, unsuccessful lawsuit against Planned Parenthood to ‘require it to declare a link between abortion and breast cancer,’ and failed defense of the Dover, Pennsylvania school district where they argued ‘that federal law recommended that students learn alternatives to evolution such as the teaching of intelligent design.’” [Right Wing Watch 5/03/12]

From 2017 to 2019, SFLA filed at least six high-profile lawsuits on behalf of students and anti-abortion causes against schools and universities.

The Thomas Moore Society, on behalf of SFLA, threatened to sue a middle school that didn’t want to allow a SFLA chapter on its campus because it was too “controversial.”

“A group of students at Rio Rancho Middle School will be allowed to have an anti-abortion club. A nonprofit law firm, Thomas More Society, sent a letter to the Rio Rancho School District. In it, they claim former Rio Rancho Middle School student, Dylan Fredette, tried to start a “pro-life club” called Phoenixes for Life last year, but Principal Lynda Kitts would not allow it.  The law firm says she told him it was too controversial. The Thomas More Society threatened to file a lawsuit if the school didn’t reply to the letter, or if the school barred the club this year.  The district says the school always intended to allow the club, and it apologized to Fredette for not responding.  It says similar clubs exist at its other schools.” [KRQE Media 9/21/18]

Alliance Defending Freedom sued Colorado State University because its SFLA chapter was denied a diversity grant, resulting in an out-of-court settlement and the discontinuation of the grant.

“Colorado State University settled a federal free speech lawsuit this summer filed by an anti-abortion student group for not funding an anti-abortion speaker event through a diversity grant. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of CSU Students for Life by attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian nonprofit organization. CSU settled May 30, giving the group $600 to compensate for funding the speaker.  CSU had a diversity grant meant to fund events that enhance the educational and cultural aspects of university and raise awareness of differing perspectives. Student for Life’s proposal was denied because the event did not seem unbiased, and the committee worried attendees from various sides of the issues ‘won’t necessarily feel affirmed while attending the event.’ The grant was indefinitely suspended in February to review grant processes. Now it is discontinued, Tyrell Allen, program coordinator of campus activities said.” [The Rocky Mountain Collegian 8/24/17]

Alliance Defending Freedom sued Miami University of Ohio on behalf of its SFLA chapter to remove trigger warnings from anti-abortion content and earned the SFLA chapter damages and attorney fees.

“Students for Life of America, the nation’s largest pro-life youth organization, celebrated victory at the Miami University of Ohio Friday after school officials settled a federal lawsuit in which they agreed to no longer require a “trigger warning” for pro-life speech on campus…Along with no longer requiring trigger warnings for pro-life speech, the ADF said the university also “agreed to revise a third policy so officials cannot stifle speech simply because it could ’cause alarm, annoyance, or nuisance.’ The university has also agreed to pay Students for Life’s damages and attorneys’ fees.” [Christian Post 3/16/18]

Alliance Defending Freedom sued Queens College, forcing it to change its policies to facilitate the approval of a SFLA chapter on campus.

“Queens College has changed its policies regarding student groups recognition following a discrimination lawsuit filed by a pro-life group. According to Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian non-profit advocacy group, Queens College settled and agreed to change policies that led to ‘unconstitutional discrimination’ against a pro-life group called ‘Students for Life’…In a statement, Queens College said the school welcomed the participation of all students in campus activities and that it looks forward to continuing to make their campus a diverse and welcoming environment for all.” [QNS 11/23/17]

Alliance Defending Freedom sued a Fresno State University Professor on behalf of its SFLA chapter after he wiped away chalk drawings done by SFLA.

“Nearly two years ago, Fresno State Professor Greg Thatcher and some of his students purposefully wiped away pro-life chalk messages written by the Fresno State Students for Life group. The chalk messages were approved by the university, but Thatcher decided to censor the pro-life message claiming that ‘free speech is free speech in the free speech area’ and that ‘college campuses are not free speech areas.’ He said he and his students were exercising their own free speech as he proceeded to rub the chalk off the sidewalk with his shoe.” [Live Action 3/02/19]

  • The professor was forced to pay $26,000 in settlement fees and attend an Alliance Defending Freedom-hosted “free speech training.”

“With the assistance of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Students of Life filed a lawsuit and won the case. According to ADF, Thatcher was ordered never to interfere with Students for Life at Fresno State again and had to pay nearly $26,000 in attorney fees to student Bernadette Tasy and another student club member. He also had to attend a training on free speech given by ADF attorney Travis C. Barham.” [Live Action 3/02/19]

The Ball State University SFLA chapter sued the school when the university did not cover $300 in materials from student activity fees.

“Students for Life announced that a federal lawsuit was filed on Wednesday against Ball State University for denying the group $300 from student activity fees to cover the costs of “Pregnant on Campus” materials to assist pregnant and parenting students.” [Star Press 6/13/18]

SFLA partners medical school students with legal resources to help them get religious exemptions from parts of their curriculum.

SFLA promises to connect medical students with “free legal counsel if [they] fear [their] grades will be lowered or [their] position[s] terminated” if they refuse to partake in particular aspects of their medical education.

“When you as a medical student or healthcare professional let your stance beknown on a certain situation or procedure, be prepared though to be belittled, ridiculed, threatened, discriminated and ostracized by some of your patients, colleagues and supervisors. However, you are not alone. Med Students for Life of America is here to help you deal with these difficult situations and find free legal counsel if you fear your grade will be lowered or your position terminated because of your conscience beliefs.” [Your Rights Of Conscience As A Medical Student Page 3 Accessed 4/23/19]

SFLA promises to pair medical students who seek religious exemptions or refusals of care with attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom.

“According to attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), in most cases medical students and facility at private medical schools are not eligible for right of conscience protections unless the school receives taxpayer funding, such as grants. However, the good news is that many private universities do receive some sort of taxpayer funding. If you need to know whether or not you fall into this category, contact Med Students for Life immediately so that we can pair you with an ADF attorney who will speak with you free of charge and confidentially.” [Your Rights Of Conscience As A Medical Student Page 4 Accessed 4/23/19]

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At Least One SFLA alumnus went on to serve in the Trump administration.

Kristan Hawkins’ former executive assistant Cathy Deeds now serves at HHS.

Senior Programs Analyst for the HHS Administration for Children And Families Cathy Deeds previously served as Kristan Hawkins’ Executive Assistant at SFLA. [LinkedIn Accessed 1/23/18]

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