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Response to Nancy Keenan in Salon: Let’s Set the Record Straight on Millennials and Abortion. Again

12:54 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Nancy Keenan

Written by Julia Reticker-Flynn for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Another day, another article about whether or not Millennials care about access to safe abortion care, this time in the form of an interview with outgoing NARAL President Nancy Keenan in Salon in which the commitment of our generation to this issue is once again questioned.

It is time to put to rest the questioning about Millennials and whether they care about access to safe abortion care. It is time to get to work. Too much is at stake, too much ground has been lost, and, for far too many women, safe and affordable abortion care is out of their reach.

So, let’s set the record straight. Again.

Yes, Millennials care about ensuring access to safe, affordable abortion care. They care — deeply and passionately — and many are working tirelessly on this issue.

This generation of young people is more likely to care about the whole range of sexual health and rights issues than older generations. Whether we are talking about LGBT rights, contraception, or abortion, Millennials are taking center stage, and no one should doubt this or call it into question. This generation may just be the most pro-sexual health generation in U.S. history.

In fact, we find Millennials more supportive of access to abortion services in their communities — 68 percent compared with 58 percent adults overall. And, two thirds (67 percent) of Millennials of color agree that “regardless of how I personally feel about abortion, I believe it should remain legal, and women should be able to get safe abortions.” Three-quarters of African American (75 percent) and Asian Pacific Islanders (75 percent) young adults agree with the statement. Six in ten (59 percent) Latinos express support for legal abortion in response this question. 

But even more important, Millennials are showing up on the front lines of this issue.   

Millennials like Carly who did not stand by when anti-choice activists came to her campus but instead was motivated to build a strong base of support for abortion access at the University of Michigan. Carly has started facilitating small group sessions focused on discussing personal experiences with abortion and the ways to address stigma and promote access to safe abortion care. Millennials like Tyler and Eriauna at the University of Kentucky who are standing outside their local clinic every Saturday to ensure people can access services without fear or intimidation.   

Millennials like Delilah and Jess at the University of Virginia who talk to their peers in the center of campus holding signs that read “1 in 3 women will have an abortion in her lifetime, these are our stories.”  

From campus activists to clinic escorts to hotline volunteers to directors of abortion funds to doulas to bloggers to policy advocates, Millennials are fearless, bold and innovative activists in support of abortion care.  We should not be ignored, and our commitment to abortion access should not be questioned.  

The work of Millennials — and in fact of the entire movement — will continue to be strengthened if we spend less time asking where they are and more time continuing to train young people in grassroots organizing, to mentor new leaders, to fund their work, and most importantly to respect and value their skills, energy, and leadership.   

Let’s get to work.

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ELECTION 2012: The Power of the Youth Vote

1:51 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Debra Hauser for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Yesterday, any doubt about the power of Millennials was laid to rest. Young people voted at record levels, representing 19 percent of the total voting public — the largest percentage ever, including in the 2008 presidential election.

This generation of youth represents one of the most influential, diverse, and socially progressive generations in our history, and they are engaged and taking part in our country’s political debate and as advocates and leaders in the reproductive and sexual health field.

A few facts about Millennials.

Millennials are growing in influence. Globally, almost half the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — under the age of 25.  The reproductive and sexual health decisions these young people make will determine the size and health of our planet for decades to come.

Here in the United States, there are approximately 64 million Millennials who were eligible to vote in the 2012 election. This means they represented approximately 29 percent of all eligible voters. Early poll data shows that of those who voted in this election, one in five was between the ages of 18 and 29.

Millennials as a group are expected to grow by four million every year through 2020, when they will number 103 million of voting age. Ninety million Millennials will be eligible to vote in 2020, representing almost 40 percent of all eligible voters.

Millennials are diverse. Currently 39 percent of Millennials are young people of color compared to 30 percent of the general population. Nationwide, communities of color are growing. In fact, between 2000 and 2008, communities of color grew by approximately 20 percent accounting for more than four-fifths of U.S. population growth.  Demographers tell us that by 2050 America will become a Minority-Majority nation.  Communities of color will make up fifty-four percent of America and Latinos/Hispanics will make up 30 percent of the total population (up from 15 percent).

Much of this change is fueled by youth. In fact, people of color will represent a majority of young people by the year 2023.

And all of this matters to those of us who care about progressive issues, because Millennials are more socially progressive than their older counterparts. Whether the issue is immigration, race and gender equality, religious freedom, environmental and economic justice, or access to reproductive and sexual health services, including abortion, Millennials are more progressive than their older counterparts.

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As we continue to get more data, it is likely that young people played an important role in a string of progressive victories: reelecting President Obama; turning the tide in favor of marriage equality with wins in Maryland, Maine, and Minnesota, with Washington poised to join them; defeating an anti-choice ballot measure in Florida; electing the largest cohort of women ever to the Senate, including America’s first openly LGBT Senator; and making history with the passage of the Maryland Dream Act.

Over the next four years, young people will continue to lead us towards new solutions and lasting change. We have a responsibility to work alongside them and we call on President Obama and elected leaders across the country to do the same.