The abortion advocacy group NARAL has selected a left-wing activists to take the place of Nancy Keenan, who quit her position as its president citing the fact that she is older and the organizations needs an infusion of younger leaders.
Ilyse Hogue has been chosen to succeed Keenan as president of the organization, but she doesn’t solve the group’s problems in terms of its inability to connect with millenials. Hougue is not part of the post-Roe generations and was born two years before the Supreme Court handed down Roe v. Wade, that allowed virtually unlimited abortions throughout pregnancy for any reason.
“I am absolutely thrilled to be given the honor of leading this great organization,” Hogue said. “This is a critical moment to engage a new generation of young people in the conversation about what choice means in a modern age. We have a unique opportunity to ignite the pro-choice values most Americans share, solidify our longstanding pro-choice base, and expand its reach moving forward.”
Hogue joins NARAL Pro-Choice America as the former co-founder and co-director of Friends of Democracy Super PAC, a liberal campaign finance reform group. She is also a former senior advisor to Media Matters for America, a left-wing group that has been exposed numerous time for its misleading and inaccurate political advocacy. She is also the She is also a former senior advisor to Media Matters for America, a liberal pro-abortion advocacy group.
Janet Denlinger, chair of NARAL Pro-Choice America’s board of directors, said the organization was fortunate to find such a uniquely qualified candidate to lead the organization.
“I am delighted by this decision,” Denlinger said. “Ilyse is the ideal candidate to build on the legacy of the pro-choice movement and raise this cause to new heights. Not only does she have a strong background in political and multi-issue organizing, Ilyse also has conveyed passion and a vision to rally a new generation of young people around the issue of choice.”
In May 2012, Nancy Keenan, who became president of NARAL Pro-Choice America eight years ago, announced that she would retire in the hopes that a new leader would take the reins and inspire the next generation of voices to embrace their pro-choice values.
Keenan, who took the reins of the organization in December 2004, will continue heading up the organization’s political action arm until a replacement is found.
“Part of my decision was that, at 40, you have the opportunity to engage a new generation, the Millenials, because they are so huge, and that the person at the helm of this organization could reflect that youth and a younger generation,” Keenan said in an interview with The Hill. “Because now the responsibility lies with these next generations to be vigilant.”
She admitted younger Americans are not as energized about promoting abortion.
“This isn’t on the top of their list of issues that they’re concerned about right now,” she said. “And so we have to close that intensity gap, we have to make the case for the importance of the vigilance around this issue.”
“This Millennial generation… they are pro-choice, but there is an intensity gap and there still has to be some connecting the personal to the political,” Keenan said, although polling data shows young Americans are more pro-life than older generations.
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, the head of the pro-life women’s group, responded with comments to LifeNews about Keenan’s retiring.
“Nancy Keenan explains the situation quite well,” Dannenfelser said. “Americans across the board and particularly the younger generation are increasingly identifying as pro-life and more likely to support commonsense pro-life laws that groups like NARAL stubbornly oppose.”
Dannenfelser continued: “America’s youth reject the extreme position shared by Keenan, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the rest of the abortion lobby, which supports taxpayer funded abortion for any reason, up until the moment of birth. Pro-life intensity on this issue is not going to diminish anytime soon. Keenan and her colleagues are fighting against the tide.”
She said Gallup polling from 2010 revealed that pro-life sentiment has grown among young Americans aged 18-29 with three out of four young Americans rejecting the status quo of abortion on demand, as only 24% say abortion should be legal under any circumstance.
Gallup’s 2012 polling further confirmed this trend noting a seven point drop in young people identifying as “pro-choice” from 2001-2008 to 2009-2012. The pro-choice identification drop among the 18-34 age group was the largest of all age groups surveyed.
A 2010 internal NARAL survey examined the views of young Americans and found a stark “intensity gap” on abortion. Some 51 percent of the under 30 voters who are pro-life call opposing abortion a “very important” voting issue compared with just 26 percent of abortion backers. The poll found a pro-life gap, too, with older voters but it was smaller.
At that time, Keenan talked about the emerging pro-life generation with Newsweek and said her concern is that abortion advocates are dominated by women over the age of 50 and that younger generations aren’t filling the ranks of pro-abortion groups the same way young pro-life advocates are getting involved in the pro-life community.
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Anecdotally, Keenan related the story of getting off her train in Washington during the weekend of the March for Life, which saw 400,000 pro-life advocates fill the nation’s capital to rally against abortion.
She saw huge numbers of teenagers and young adults that she doesn’t typically see at pro-abortion rallies.
“I just thought, my gosh, they are so young,” Keenan recalled. “There are so many of them, and they are so young.”