As the Great Lakes Regional Coordinator for Students for Life of America (SFLA), I work full time in the pro-life movement. As a part of the SFLA Field Team, my job involved working directly “in the field” as I help establish SFLA groups at high schools and colleges, and I help advise and equip student leaders at these schools, and help to facilitate regular activism events on campuses. I also have the privilege of working with a team from all across the United States to impact the student pro-life movement on a national level. I suspect that it is because I love my job so much that people are often surprised when I tell them that being vocal, public, and an activist does not come easily to me.
I was raised in a Catholic home and attended Catholic schools since I was a child. In high school, I began to develop an interest in philosophy and was privileged to explore many works on the Christian faith by Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Augustine, C.S. Lewis, and Dr. Peter Kreeft. We memorized formal logical fallacies and talked about formal arguments for God’s existence. I considered myself an academic/intellectual Christian who did not like stepping outside the comfort zone of the classroom. I was strong in my faith and knew the “right answers” about the Christian stance on social issues, but I had zero interest in rattling the corrupt and misguided cultural cage. I knew what was wrong with the world, but I wanted to be comfortable more than I wanted to fix it.
By the time I started college, I began dating my future wife. She was in the process of starting a SFLA group at her university. Mostly because of her passion on the issue, I joined the Students for Life group at my own college. The following January, I took my first trip to the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C.. It was also during the activities of March for Life, that I attended the Students for Life of America conference. That day was a turning point for me.
The Students for Life of America Conference was, and still is, the largest pro-life conference in the country. I was immediately blown away by the size and composition of the attendees. There were almost 3,000 people, most of whom were high school and college students. Abortion suddenly did not seem like an issue that should only be quietly dissented; rather, on that day, I realized that it is an issue which I could actively do something about and which my peers were already actively doing something about.
At the Conference, I was particularly impacted by those speakers who talked about “Pro-Life Apologetics.” They made a logical, formal, and powerful academic case against abortion. Their words took root in the fertile soil of my mind that had been nurtured by my Catholic school and my love of philosophy, and things began to click. Talking about the reasons why we oppose abortion had the philosophical depth I desired, but it also had an immediate call and impact on what needed to be done about it TODAY. We knew in our hearts that we were right in our position—and that meant that we had to do something about the thousands of pre-born who were dying daily. For the first time, I understood abortion and its impact on a level I had never encountered before.
During the ride home from the conference, I recalled when I was five years old and learned about the slavery of African-Americans. I could not understand how anyone or government could allow another person to be enslaved. Even as a child, I thought that, if I had during the times of slavery, I would surely be an abolitionist. As an eighteen year old, I realized I would not have fought against slavery in yesteryear if I was unwilling to fight against abortion today.
With my newfound passion and understanding, I became more involved in the SFLA group at college. By the end of my freshman year, I was elected as the president. I applied to, and was accepted into, the William Wilberforce National Leadership Fellowship through Students for Life of America. This helped me get connected with pro-life leaders on a national level and learn vital skills about being a pro-life activist. I began reading and studying pro-life apologetics. While continuing to grow and work with my SFLA chapter, I later interned with Students for Life of America. Before I graduated college, I even participated in two formal debates about the morality and acceptability of abortion on college campuses.
All of my involvement in Students for Life, and the relationships I formed through it, led to me becoming the Great Lakes Regional Coordinator for Students for Life of America after I graduated. Day-in and day-out I am blessed to work with amazing people in an organization that makes a real difference in the lives of young women and men throughout college campuses and in high schools in America. Because of them, I truly believe in the mission of Students for Life of America—that we WILL abolish abortion in our lifetime.
Also, we need would like to include some sample stories about the impact of SFLA at-large or the Great Lakes SFLA specifically. One or two testimonial-type stories would be ideal.
R.J. MCVEIGH (firstname.lastname@example.org) was raised in Holt, Michigan and is a graduate of Grand Valley State University. He and his wife celebrated the birth of their daughter in 2013. McVeigh can be contacted to help start or train a pro-life group in the Great Lakes Region (Michigan, Indiana, Ohio).