Pro-life teen activism? There's an app for that.

two white teens wear prolife t shirts. this is a staged photo 

I know it seems like National Pro-Life Cupcake Day was just yesterday, but there's another way to engage young people in the anti-choice movement: National Pro-Life T-Shirt week!!

four photos of young people posing with Madonna's vogue hand gestures while wearing pro life t shirts
The "Vogue" task...wouldn't "Papa Don't Preach" have been more appropriate?
Via the NPLTW Facebook page

Yep, you can partake in the American Life League-sponsored "Yo, Where's the Shirt?" by taking pictures of pro-life tees and racking up points on an online contest. Now in its third year, the event has harnassed the power of new media, and with Twitter, Facebook, and even an iPhone app the campaign is definitely setting itself up for viral popularity. Although any anti-choice tee will do, NPTWL has two in particular that go for just $6.50 a pop. There's the "Abortion Kills a Person," and the less incendiary and more affirming "It's okay to be pro-life." (I must admit they're a bit more aesthetically pleasing than the fetus-heavy 2008 versions). If you don't want to pony up the cash to complete your anti-choice wardrobe, you can stick the "Personhood now!" sticker (or if you must, just cut it out and tape it) on whatever you're wearing. You earn points by taking pictures that satisfy daily "tasks," which include things like wearing your t-shirt in front of a sign, doing a silly face, or posing with a friend. What's notable is that the most point-worthy tasks are often the most political, or involve sharing pro-life messages with other people. For example:

  • Trying to touch your nose with your tongue. 1 pts
  • Making some smores. 1 pts
  • With a nurse from a crisis pregnancy center. 3 pts
  • Find and show us a DVD of one of these movies: Bella, The Waitress or Juno. 3 pts
  • Outside, wearing a pair of pants that has PRO-LIFE sewn down a leg. 4 pt
  • Help assemble a Cemetery of the Innocents display. 5 pts
  • Holding a printed page that says: TEXT RFL TO 90999. [RFL=Rock for Life, a benefit concert series] 5 pts 

Notice the disparity? See a full list of tasks and points here.

And the thing is, for every single task, at least one person has taken a picture, these kids are in it to win it! From the benign ("Enjoy a donut in a donut shop"), to the bizarre ("Make a Lego creation with a pro-life message"), to the disturbing ("Dress like a doctor and hold a sign that says End Abortion Now.")

a girl with glasses sits behind a yellow block of legos where the word LIFE is written in red legosa girl happily bites into a donut while wearing a blue shirt with pictures of fetuses on ita blurry picture of a kid in a labcoat holding a homemade sign that says End Abortion Now


While all I really want to do is make fun of the contest (again, it's actually called "Yo, where's the shirt?") The fact is, the anti-choice movement is hell-bent on targeting young people for their cause, and they're doing it by making it fun and trendy. Who's thinking about a woman's right to choose when you get to do quirky poses? Why consider problematic parental consent laws that affect your peers when you can win a $30 iTunes gift certificate? Like the rest of us, pro-life organizations are adapting to new technology and media to get their message through. Only it seems they're using it to virally encourage kids and teens to recruit others to their cause with a reward system. How bout a task flipping the bird to insidious campaigns? 

by Kjerstin Johnson
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Kjerstin Johnson is a writer and editor in Portland, Oregon. She is the former editor in chief of Bitch. She tweets at @kajerstin

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15 Comments Have Been Posted

These people piss me off.

These people piss me off. They are not pro-life!!! They are ANTI-CHOICE. And I am so sick of these people. I recently read an article (I can't remember where... It may have even been in Bitch) that reported on girls who protested at a clinics would get an abortion at a clinic and then be back in the protests against them within days. I also volunteered at school some years back and, while I did agree with the reasoning, I felt it so frustrating. What we did was gave people an alternate route to places around campus where the G.A.P. people held up their horrifying images. Our policy was not to engage in a discussion or argument with anti-choice people, or anyone really, because to do so would legitimize their claims or stance.

I'm so sick of these people and these young people who don't know what they're talking about. [sigh]

These are the same folks who

These are the same folks who don't want healthcare. Of course, they don't mention HOW we are supposed to take care of the babies once they are born, and don't seem to give a rat's patootie about kids already born who are living in dire poverty, stuck in the welfare system, or have any kind of illness or disability.
Pro-life? Hardly!!!!!


And I don't believe they recognize their own hypocrisy, sadly. Too blinded by their own belief that women should be punished for their actions to realize that the ultimate punishment is with the mother, or with the child she chose to bring into this world, who may have to bear the brunt of living in a household where it's needs can't be met, or even with being resented by the mother for how the child may have delayed her own plans. No one really wins here if women are forced to have children they don't want or can't care for, and it is infuriating that people protest this right. It's a human right, I don't understand why that's questioned. Makes no common sense.

You miss the truth about yourself.

What if an abandoned child was left on your front doorstep? Would you kill it, raise it or give it up for adoption? What I think young women should do about this is to keep their panties on till they want to have a child.

I find it appalling that

I find it appalling that they are trying to make being anti-choice "hip" and "trendy" so kids are more likely to buy into it. These teens are being human billboards and don't even realize it. It's unfair of them to target such young and impressionable people who will easily buy into their scams. The kids clearly think this is a cool way to win free stuff, when in reality they do not understand all of the seriousness behind this issue.

Hip and trendy with itunes

Hip and trendy with itunes gift certificates? Dude, it's 2010. NO ONE BUYS MUSIC. Next thing you know they'll be offering a free movie rental from blockbuster.

Dude ...

... some people like me do, too, buy music. I'd rather pay good money to hear good creativity than steal something only to hear crappy-quality material by bands who work day-jobs to in order to support a "hobby" they should be able to make a living doing.

There was a time, not long ago, where musicians made their living being musicians. Being a musician is supposed to be a full-time career, a labor of love. That needs to continue happening, even in this digital age ...

File-sharing music is STEALING, affecting one's livelihood. It is wrong, no matter your political persuasions.

If you don't laugh at it, you'll have to cry.

<i>Wouldn't "Papa Don't Preach" have been more appropriate?</i> HA!

I'm disgusted, but not surprised, that there's a week devoted to wearing these shirts. The part that really irks me is that they're making it into this carnivalesque contest, full of irrelevant/innocuous kid activities (Touch your tongue to your nose and eat junk food, wheeee!) and presenting the appealing aspect of competition as a convenient distraction from the ethics, or lack thereof, of anti-choice rhetoric. The movie bit is irritating too, very symptomatic of how the movement conflates giving birth with being anti-abortion. (Personally, I found <i>Bella</i> to be anti-choice propaganda, but not the other two.)

Cemetery of the Innocents, in particular, is appalling. The most recent display near here (might have been CotI; same concept anyway) equated aborted fetuses with Holocaust victims, and thus 1 in 3 women with Nazis. Do I need to explain what's wrong with that? No, thank goodness; I don't think I have to here.

I wish I could say adult anti-choicers are at least more conscious of what they're doing, but I'm not sure that's the case.

This isn't funny at all ...

The anti-abortion movement never sleeps. They are working aggressively to change our society backwards, into a possibly very frightening one that's depicted in <a href="">this book</a> you should read and weep to. My grandmother lived in it and it was no joke at all. She knew something was going on that was terribly, terribly wrong in that time, but couldn't speak out for fear of the consequences that were prevalent in that time (Severe livelihood-affecting shaming in one's community was one).

<a href="">Also read this</a>. Everyone concerned about CHOICE and the ownership of one's body needs to stop <a href="">their</a> <a href="">bickering </a> over petty denials and start working for the fundamental human right of CHOICE that many of us of varying ages DO agree on. The pro-choice movement needs to be working as hard, if not harder, as the anti-abortion movement, because future generations will be living in frightening times again (Where the feminism that they will need could be banned, even!) if we do not act now.

to clarify ...

I agree with <a href="">these</a> <a href="">links</a>. The problem is with this Newsweek <a href="">article</a>, which featured certain "elders" in the pro-choice movement expressing denial in the existence of younger pro-choice activists. I thank for addressing the matter. Personally ... I thank anyone and everyone for their involvement. All that said, pro-choice activism need to step things up a notch for the importance/emphasis/preservation of reproductive freedom and its place in a civil society - that's the point I was trying to make.


I didn't mean to make light of the defense of choice or imply that the anti-abortion movement is not a problem, deeply concerned one. I'm sorry if it sounded that way; I referred to laughing to comment on the ridiculousness of the antics concerned in the article. This doesn't mean they don't anger me -- oh, do they ever -- or that I don't recognize the threat.

I'm one of the pro-life

I'm one of the pro-life teens who you all seem to think are uninformed or brainwashed. But I assure you, I am VERY well informed and am not brainwashed- I made my decision to be pro-life by myself after a lot of thought and study, like most Pro-life teens. I find it devastating that you think we are "anti-choice" because it is simply not so. We believe in choice. The choice to have sex responsibly (during marriage) or not. We also believe in the choice of raising your child or putting it up for adoption. You see, we believe in a choice, it is you who are PRO-MURDER, worse yet the murder of innocents! People who support murder are barbarians! My mother at the age of 15 gave me life. She choose adoption, and that is part of the reason i support life. Because I know if she would have choose abortion my parents would be out a child, my sister would not have a big sister, my friends would never had known me. I would have never known life. those of you who say the right wing is taking away womans rights, well I laugh in your face because it is the LEFT who are taking away woman! TEENS GIRLS FOR LIFE!

6.50$? That isn't the price

6.50$? That isn't the price for such an app. Hopeit will soon be available for otherplatforms, like Android or indos Mobile.
Jenny and my <a href=” " title=" mobile app development">mobile app development</a>

I am also a member of the

I am also a member of the pro-life youth generation. Maybe the abortion supporters think nothing of the first nine months of my existence or the first nine months of my daughter's, but I am highly insulted that my nation's laws and people such as yourselves shrug off that part of our lives as another person's right to destroy. THAT is real anti-choice. THAT is the ultimate insult to the female members of the human race, both prenatal and postnatal. The pro-aborts who get their panties in a twist about active pro-life teenagers and twenty-somethings seem to forget that a whopping third of OUR generation paid the ultimate price for YOUR convenience-god of the sexual revolution. We've been blessed with unbiased medical information regarding human development and the technology to prove it. We've been instilled with enough morality to know that all people are created equal and that a person's size, level of dependence, environment, or development does not make him or her someone else's "right to choose". We aren't going to accept your lame semantics or your exploitation of rape victims to justify the slaughter of innocent human beings. We won't appease your sensibilities by parroting empty "choice" rhetoric. We refuse to remain silent, and we aren't going away. In order to restore true dignity for all people, both male and female, we must respect it from the moment of conception of each individual onward. *Bitch* all you want, the truth is our bodies began at conception and abortion is the ultimate violation of bodily autonomy.

I am a pro-life young person!!

And there are many, many of us. More than in your worst nightmares, pro-abortion forces.

And we will WIN.

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