Views of Millennials on Abortion and the Brand of the Pro-Life Movement

In December 2014 and January/February 2016, Students for Life commissioned several polls with the Barna Group. The questions we asked them to research revolved around the overall millennial views of the pro-life movement, abortion, and Planned Parenthood; the use of graphic/abortion victims imagery with millennials; as well as pastor views and involvement in our movement. The following paper is a summary of the first portion of that research as well as our unique experience at Students for Life starting and leading more than 1,000 millennial-lead pro-life groups on campuses nationwide.


When conveying an important message to win over converts to a cause, knowing one’s audience is of fundamental importance. As pro-lifers, understanding our audience allows us to use the right language, the correct message, and the appropriate tone to convey what we believe and make the truth of our message so appealing that others are encouraged and empowered to come over to our side.

Two generations have been born since Roe and Doe were decided. One of them, the millennials (those born between roughly 1982 and 2004), grew up entirely within the realm of legal abortion. Generation X (those born roughly between 1961 and 1981), on the other hand, straddle Roe and Doe, while all previous generations grew up when abortion was illegal. Different tactics and strategies are required for sharing the pro-life message with each of these generations. Younger generations, for example, trend more politically liberal than their parents’ generation, except on abortion. Because generations often think and communicate in distinct ways, movements benefit from mimicking corporate marketing strategies, which take generational uniqueness into account when determining messaging.

Despite the many challenges facing pro-life students on campus, we know that this generation of millennials is pro-life. Poll after poll has shown that young people are majority pro-life an initiative of Students for Life of America (see full report for examples). As of June 2016, there are over 1,030 Students for Life groups compared to the just 275 that Planned Parenthood claims. Pro-life candidates have been winning at the state level all over the country, and more pro-life legislation has been passed in the last five years than ever before.