Washington, D.C., October 16, 2012 (LifeSiteNews) – Thousands of high school and university students in dozens of countries have taken vows of silence today as part of the “Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity.” Wearing red tape inscribed with the word “life” across their lips or as bands around their arms, these young people will go about their daily lives at school, work and elsewhere. But they will do so silently, in protest of the silent slaughter of an estimated 125,000 human lives every day via abortion.
The Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity is a project of Stand True, a youth outreach program of Priests for Life. Musician and pro-life activist Bryan Kemper started the effort in 2004 in response to students he met at speaking engagements who asked what they could do as youth to make an impact for life.
Kemper says he asked himself, “What if we got students to not only act in solidarity with others, but also with the children that are dying every day?” The Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity was his answer.
Since then, the movement has grown to encompass at least 25 countries and boasts participation of around 200,000 young people. “This gives students from around the world a chance to do something in concert with each other,” Kemper said in an interview with LifeSiteNews. “You have students on thousands of campuses around the world, all doing the same thing on the same day, acting in solidarity with those who die from abortion.”
For many of the youth, said Kemper, this is their first real exposure to activism and the reactions it can provoke in others. “So many of them write me letters about how they either got yelled at, or how people came and talked to them the next day.”
As for the non-participants, said Kemper, “We always hear back from young people who ended up changing their minds [about abortion] and end up keeping their babies because of someone else’s participation in this day.” He said that seeing the impact of their advocacy on others often inspires participants to become more engaged in the pro-life movement.
Sometimes the impact hits close to home. Kemper shared the story of one young girl who asked to remain anonymous who, on the morning she was to participate in the Pro Life Day of Silent Solidarity, woke up, got dressed, and went downstairs wearing red tape across her mouth. As she was getting ready to leave, her curious mother confronted her and asked what she was doing. The girl removed the tape and explained that she planned to be silent for the day in solidarity with children dying from abortion.
Kemper’s voice cracked with emotion as he relayed what happened next. “Her mother broke down crying,” he said, “and said, ‘I have an appointment tomorrow to get an abortion.’ That girl was able to talk her mother out of an abortion, and saved her own sibling’s life.”
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Not every young activist has such a receptive audience. Kemper says that dozens of lawsuits are filed every year as a result of the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity and the controversy it causes on school campuses. For this reason, the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom has offered free legal assistance to U.S. public school students who participate in today’s protest. They also put out a legal memo advising students of their legal rights when it comes to peaceful protest.
“Students retain their First Amendment liberties while on campus,” the memo states. “The Supreme Court has rightfully pointed out that ‘it can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.’”