Young, Biracial, and Standing for Life 

Young, Biracial, and Standing for Life 

By Ashley Gilliam

Ashley with her mother at her graduation from Tulane University in New Orleans

Some of my first experiences hearing about abortion were with my grandparents while learning about systematic race  issues. My grandfather, in particular, was adamant that I learn my African American heritage and history. Having five biracial grandchildren, three from my mother and two from his son, he knew the importance of encouraging us to learn about our history and societal issues that might not be taught in schools. I vividly remember watching a documentary on the dangers of legal abortion and how the abortion industry is targetting African Americans. 

When we look at the history of Planned Parenthood and the numbers and locations of abortion facilites throughout the country, we know this to be true. Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, was quoted calling African Americans “human weeds” and many major abortion facilities are strategically placed within walking distance of minoroity communities. The abortion industry was built on systematic racism and continues to perpetrate that system of oppression today. This understanding of the abortion issue and it’s prevalence in one of my communities encouraged my younger self to claim the title of “pro-life.” 

Ashley with Tulane’s Pro-Life Club, (TURTL)

After being raised in a small town in Arizona and then attending high school at a public school in Houston, I moved over to New Orleans, Louisiana to study Cell and Molecular Biology at Tulane University. There, I found myself so much more involved in pro-life activism. Although I had considered myself “pro-life,” I didn’t have a good understanding of what that encompassed or how to be an advocate for life. 

As my studies in biology and psychology progressed, I became increasingly interested in the intricacies of how our human bodies function, the science of fetal development, and life in the womb. I remember specifically learning about how the fetus begins to learn the sounds of his or her mother’s language while in the womb. As I grew in my knowledge of fetal life, I felt even more passionately about protecting the most innocent and vulnerable of our human family. My first semester at Tulane, I had joined the pro-life group, Tulane University Right To Life (TURTL), and by the end of my Junior year, I was the president of the organization. During this phase of my activism, I became so passionate about spreading this culture of love and creating a culture of life in our community that I decided to join Louisiana Right to Life as the Youth Programs Director. 

Ashley with Louisiana Right to Life’s College Display

After graduating from Tulane University last May, I have spent my past year working directly with Louisiana youth in order to educate and empower them to be pro-life advocates in their communities. In my experience, after being educated on fetal development, exposed to the brutality of the abortion procedures, and hearing the testimonies of the trauma women experienced during and after their abortions, many students feel drawn towards pro-life activism. It has been an incredible experience to see Louisiana students stand together for life and engage in local activism and service. At the same time, the culture of abortion among young people in Louisiana is still very strong. Many of the students I meet have had some type of personal experience with abortion, especially students in predominently African American schools. It is disheartening to see so many young people forced or coerced into abortion because they feel that is there only option, and that they must choose between themselves and their child. 

I feel privileged that I was exposed to the truth about the violence of abortion throughout my life. As a young, biracial woman, I am well aware that someone just like me could be sitting in the waiting room of the abortion clinic down the road, feeling scared, hopeless, and powerless. My goal as the Louisiana Right to Life Youth Programs Director is to spread awareness of the resources and support available in Louisiana so that young mothers are given hope by life-affirming solutions that truly empower them.