Pro-life leadership, energy trends young

With each year, Roe v. Wade falls further into the past, and those who have been born since the decision have not known a world where abortion is not legal. But that doesn’t mean these young people are going to sit idly by and allow this to continue. Throughout the country, and all over the world, the pro-life movement has a young, vigorous and determined face. And these young men and women can even be found in the official pro-life arm of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

One such person is Anne McGuire, the assistant director of education and outreach for the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, which staffs the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

McGuire’s office develops educational materials on pro-life issues; conducts educational campaigns in the Church and public square; encourages and enables programs to meet the needs of pregnant women, children, persons with disabilities, the sick and dying, and those who have been involved in abortion; and much, much more.

Equipping leaders

In her role, McGuire develops resources that help the public understand the pro-life message of the Church. She also aims to equip leaders with resources that can help them as they try to build a greater culture of life in their own communities.

There are all sorts of materials that are produced to help people in the pro-life cause: everything from digital subscriptions with regular updates, to 9 Days for Life, a novena prayed every January. McGuire coordinates these resources and activities, with a great deal of help, she insists, in collaboration with other offices of the USCCB.


Just 29 years old herself, McGuire has lived her whole life under the shadow of Roe v. Wade. She therefore is keenly aware of why young people must be the driving force of the pro-life movement.

“It’s certainly important for young people to be involved in the pro-life movement because respect for life is something that is part of who we are as Catholics,” she said. “It’s not just one issue or another, it’s foundational; it’s just part of who we are.”

As Catholics, she said, we recognize that each person is made in the image and likeness of God, and that this fact is the source of our inherent dignity, “and that naturally extends to protecting and cherishing every person’s life.”

“It’s important because it’s part of our identity, being Catholic, so it is something that all of us need to be aware of and embrace, whatever our age, which certainly includes young people,” McGuire said.

Furthermore, McGuire points out that older generations have already done so much to contribute to the pro-life cause and creating a culture of life, and there is a great deal that young people can learn from them. “So it’s important because we are all in this together, and we need to continue both receiving and passing on that respect for life,” she said.

Pro-life projects

“We’ve certainly been facing challenges for decades in our own country, but we’re continuing to see other issues becoming more and more of a threat, like the attempted legalization of assisted suicide,” said McGuire. “It is legal in certain states, and there has certainly been a larger push for that in recent times. There’s definitely quite enough work to do that it’s not something that is going to be ending any time soon!”

McGuire does not see that as cause for discouragement, however. The vibrancy and youth of the pro-life movement in the United States gives a great deal of hope, as does the foundational principles of our faith. “Because of who we are as Catholics, we are rooted in Christ, he gives us our own little pieces of the vineyard to tend.”

One particular pro-life initiative that gives McGuire hope is 9 Days for Life, a novena prayed in late January. McGuire feels that this can be a great way to get started for those who do not know just what to do to help the pro-life cause.

“Many of us do respect life, but are often unsure of what our role should be beyond attending an event like the March for Life once a year,” she said. “9 Days for Life is another great way to help.”

The novena surrounds the anniversary of Roe v. Wade on January 22, very intentionally, and is meant to highlight other issues related to respect for life in addition to abortion. “The overarching intention is the end to abortion, but it goes much farther beyond that,” McGuire said.

The website gives suggested action ideas and different ways to build a culture of life in local communities, which can give people something concrete to do. “There may be a lot of people who share this respect for life but may not know what to do aside from just agreeing. This novena helps provide a context for what it means to build a culture of life year round, and to live this out as part of our lives.”

According to the novena‘s website (, 9 Days for Life is an annual period of prayer and action focused on cherishing the gift of every person’s life. While focusing primarily on bringing an end to abortion, the novena “also highlights other facets of respecting each person’s God-given dignity, especially by respecting human life at every stage and in every circumstance.”

The novena surrounds the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.

“As Catholics, we recognize the inherent dignity of every person in every circumstance and at every stage of life,” the event’s website continues. “Yet we continue to see many threats to life and violence against it. We cannot look the other way.”

Paul Senz writes from Oregon.

Overcoming Apathy in the Pacific Northwest
Far from Washington, D.C., in the Pacific Northwest, the dignity of human life is under almost constant attack. The area has some of the least restrictions on abortion in the country and physician-assisted suicide is legal in both Oregon and Washington. But there is no need to despair; there is a strong and vocal minority that is working for life.