WASHINGTON — The mass excitement, interest and outrage that ensued following the release of the Center for Medical Progress' undercover Planned Parenthood videos last summer "is dead," a pro-life author asserted Thursday.
Trillia Newbell, who is the director of community outreach for the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and author of the 2015 book Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves, participated in a panel discussion at the 2016 Evangelicals for Life conference where she discussed how millennials are impacting the pro-life movement.
Newbell was asked by moderator Briana Stensrud about the CMP Planned Parenthood undercover videos that showed the inhumane realities behind the practices at abortion clinics and what they have done to change the abortion landscape in communities.
Although the videos caused an initial pro-life uproar on social media and serious concern among many millennials who would not consider themselves to be pro-life, the furor that was displayed months ago is now gone, Newbell asserted.
"[These videos] put reality and life to it. We can't unsee it. We have seen and we know the truth. I think for millennials and for anyone, we have seen it and we know what is really behind the scenes going on. And the thing that I think is sad, and we see this all the time, we get kind of excited about something for several weeks or a month or a day and then it's dead," Newbell said. "I feel like that has happened with this, it is [excitement] and then it's dead."
As Newbell was speaking at a hotel ballroom filled with individuals who are avid pro-life advocates and activists on the day before the annual March for Life in Washington, she argued that there needs to be a push to get more concerned citizens who are not the usual pro-life leaders out on the "front lines" of the pro-life movement.
"I know that many of you on this panel are really involved in the pro-life movement, making waves and encouraging millennials, but if you look at the broader audience, there aren't as many people who are on the front lines," Newbell stated. "I think what we see is, we see this excitement and then it dies down."
"One of my prayers is that we would continue with the actual pursuing this topic beyond just 'OK, these videos came out,' and we would continue to engage in it and see some [new] faces in this movement," Newbell added.
Stensrud, who is Focus on the Family's director of sanctity of life and community outreach, interjected by saying that there is a pattern with millennials that when they get upset or inspired by something, they tend to post about it on social media then never follow up with true action. Newbell agreed.
"I know sometimes millennials think that if they send a tweet they have done their job, but we have to take it a step further," Stensrud said.
Stensrud suggested that a way to get even more millennials on the front lines of the pro-life movement, pro-lifers need to do a better job of explaining that pro-life issues are pro-justice issues.
"Millennials seem to get very excited about pro-justice causes. Human trafficking seems to be the hot topic to be involved with," Stensrud explained. "Millions of dollars are donated through Christian conferences and youth events, which is a very good thing. But, one thing in the pro-life movement is that we want to help people see that pro-justice causes are pro-life causes."
Although the excitement regarding the Planned Parenthood videos may have decreased over the last few months, Mollie Hemingway, who is the senior editor for the Federalist and a participant in the panel, argued that there will be a significant and lasting impact benefiting the pro-life movement because of the possible legal ramifications of these videos.
As Planned Parenthood filed a federal racketeering lawsuit against the Center for Medical progress and its founder David Daleiden earlier this month, Hemingway suggests that was a mistake on Planned Parenthood's part because there could be "big consequences" that come from the lawsuit.
"Planned Parenthood for some reason decided to sue David Daleiden, which I don't know why they are exposing themselves," Hemingway wondered. "When you sue someone, that gives the person being sued the opportunity to get into your records a little bit. There will big pieces of information and consequences coming out of this. Some people didn't really investigate but other people will investigate. That is huge and important and I think this is a very big moment for the country to be forced to deal with what is going on."
While the pro-life movement took many strides forward throughout the last year, ERLC Director of Policy Studies Andrew T. Walker warned that voting for the wrong candidate, like billionaire Republican Donald Trump, could potentially harm the progress that the pro-life movement is making.
Walker pointed out that during a 1999 interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," Trump explained why he was pro-choice even though he can't stand abortion. During the interview, Trump stated that he would not ban partial-birth abortions.
"I think we should pause for a second and say that the pro-life movement is at a point where we have momentum, we shouldn't sacrifice momentum just for expediency for the campaign trail," Walker stressed. "So, as we are evaluating as pro-life individuals, we need ones who are principled, not just ones who are filling in that bubble just to get our votes."