Lone Conservative contributors Caleb Slater and David Suggs interviewed Emily Faulkner and Nathan Berning, the founders of Let Them Live.
Q: How did you first get involved in the pro-life movement and what inspired that involvement?
Emily: I grew up in a Catholic family always surrounded by the idea of being pro-life but never fully embraced it until my sophomore year of college. I am not really sure what prompted me to take over the Students for Life chapter at Colorado State University but, when I did, I fell in love with pro-life activism. My biology background also helped shape my scientific perspective on the issue.
Q: I understand that you took an active role in spreading the pro-life message at Colorado State University. Considering that Lone Conservative is written by students, for students, what advice can you give to students that wish to advance a pro-life message on campus?
Emily: Always be courageous and stand for what you believe in. There will always be people in the world who disagree with your opinions, but there will always be people who will stand behind you no matter what. And in the process you might just change a few hearts and minds and save a life.
Q: How can college students, who may be pro-life but have never engaged in any kind of activism, be motivated and take steps to get started in pro-life advocacy?
Emily: The best way to get the fire burning in you for pro-life activism is to read up on your pro-life apologetics. Stand for Life by John Enser and Scott Klusendorf and Persuasive Pro-Life by Trent Horn are both great starts! Work with established groups like Equal Rights Institute, Justice For All, Students for Life, Leadership Institute, and Let Them Live to get trained on activism and apologetics and you will be doing pro-life activism in no time!
Q: On Facebook, “Let them Live” is described as an organization that has a mission to identify, train & mobilize pro-lifers to end abortion in their community. In what ways do you work to achieve your mission?
Emily: A lot of our identifying we do on Facebook and through the network of college students that we have established. There are many organizations that provide activism training and many that provide apologetics and we combine the two. Let Them Live has so much experience in pro-life activism, so we are well equipped! After we have identified and trained pro-life advocates at a local level, we mobilize them to go into their community and end abortion. We are essentially making clones of Nathan and I to continue real hardcore pro-life work at a local level.
Q: Can you walk us through the process that led to the creation of Let them Live?
Emily: It really all began when I realized that my life work is to do pro-life work. Nathan told me in the car one night “You are pro-life Emily, this is what you do.” I came into that identity when I started realizing that I was the go-to person for almost all of my friends (pro-life and pro-choice) when they had questions on abortion.
Q: Can you explain the importance of taking an active role on the local level to organize and protect life?
Emily: In our life, I believe that we can achieve a lot and it starts at a local level. The most fruitful conversations I have had with pro-choicers were when I took the time to have discussions in my local community. If we can increase the amount of hearts and minds changed on the issue of abortion and even train those people to then go out and do the same, we will see an expansion of the pro-life community across the USA. I believe at that point, we can begin looking at abortion from a national scale.
Q: Did you initially envision Let Them Live as an organization that would combat abortion, not just in the United States, but abroad as well?
Emily: I initially did not, but it soon became apparent that abortion happens worldwide and because it is a moral wrong in the United States, it is also a moral wrong everywhere else.
Q: So you set your sites on the recent Irish referendum- first, give us a little background on the vote. What was the 8th Amendment, and what do you believe motivated the repeal effort?
Both: The 8th Amendment was a constitutional amendment in the Irish Constitution that granted the unborn protection and guaranteed their right to life. I believe there were 3 factors that motivated the repeal effort:
1) There have been numerous other referendums in the past with the goal to repeal the 8th which failed. I think this time around was a result of many years of preparation.
2) The media and politicians played a huge role in influencing voters. Almost all of the politicians Including the minister of health, Simon Harris, advocated for a Yes vote and even went so far to chalk up the vote to women’s health, when in reality it will allow legislators to legalize abortion on demand up to 12 weeks.
3) There has been a major drift between the Irish people and tre Catholic Church. One of the main teachings of the Church is life begins at conception and abortion is immoral. There were some problems with the church in Ireland and I believe a lot of people went to the polls to vote Yes to spite the Catholic church, not really knowing what they were really advocating for: dismembering of unborn children.
Q: What inspired you and Nathan to travel to Ireland and protect the Eighth?
Emily: Abortion is an international Human Rights issue. It happens all over the world, sadly. But a child in the womb, anywhere in the world, deserves protection and a chance at life. Ireland is also unique and was a beacon of hope for the world when they had protections for the unborn. That is why it was so important to go there.
Q: You set up a GoFundMe page to personally go fight this effort. How much did you raise overall and what were your initial plans?
Emily: We raised somewhere around $9,000 and we were intending to go and talk to the Irish people in town centers about the biology of development in the womb and about abortion.
Q: What kind of preparation work did you find necessary going into a venture like this?
Emily: We mostly focused our efforts on fundraising and designing our literature. We didn’t know what to expect going in so we prepared as much as we could and then went with the flow when we arrived in Ireland!
Q: How long were you in Ireland?
Emily: We were there for 1 month.
Q: What is the reaction you experienced from the locals upon arriving in Ireland?
Emily: The reaction was mixed; pro-lifers were so loving and welcoming and were so surprised and happy that we traveled all the way from the states to help save their babies. We made so many friends. There was also a major negative reaction from pro-abortion voters. We were met with hate and vile comments. We received death threats, reports to immigration and were even egged while doing outreach in Dublin.
Q: What were some of the more interesting personal interactions you experienced in the ground?
Nathan: Probably the most interesting encounter we had was when I handed a woman one of our flyers and began discussing the stages of embryology with her. She didn’t believe that the unborn child looked like it did in the images on our flyer, or that it had fingers, toes, a nose, a beating heart, fully functional organs, etc. She told me that she knew because she had an abortion at 16 weeks and it just was clump of cells. I let her know that this was because the baby was ripped apart as it was being removed. I showed her what the baby looked like at that stage of development and she was in shock. She told me that if Emily and I had been outside of her abortion clinic offering to adopt her child, she would have considered it. Then she took some flyers with her to read and distribute to others. It was a really crazy moment having an encounter like that because they don’t happen too often, but every hour spent is well worth the few minutes when it does.
Q: I read on CNN that you experienced an unexpected backlash from Irish pro-repeal groups. What sort of backlash did you receive?
Emily: I alluded to this above, but our Facebook ratings dropped significantly with hundreds of 1 star reviews, people trying to find where we were living for the month, reporting us to the authorities, throwing eggs at us and sending us death threats. I was also called a c**t about 10 times.
Q: A contentious issue leading up to the vote was the usage of social media for outreach. Although foreign advertising online is not illegal in Ireland, private organizations such as Facebook and Google pledged to ban ads relating to the vote. How do you think social media plays a role in a major political event such as the vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment?
Nathan: The Yes side depended on celebrity and political endorsements, as well as extensive media coverage, to try and push people towards a Yes vote. On the other hand, the No side had minimal media coverage, and it was mostly negative, and few celebrity and political endorsements, so the battle was stacked against them from the beginning. They relied mostly on grassroots support, postering and online ads.
Social media plays a huge roll in our democracy, especially for the underdogs like Save the 8th, or often conservatives here in the states, who sometimes need to bypass the media and connect directly with the people. To me, Google and Facebook’s moratorium on ads was cowardly and a direct assault on Ireland’s democratic process.
Q: Prior to the actual vote, polling data had it far closer than the landslide it actually was. What do you think influenced this dramatic shift? Do you think Facebook and Google’s blackout of foreign-funded advertising had an effect?
Nathan: About three weeks to a month out, the polls were showing that the gap had closed considerably. If you asked Irish pro-life campaigners why they thought the gap was closing, most attributed it to social media, which helped them to directly engage with potential No voters.
The No campaign had a highly sophisticated social media strategy. For example, the Save The 8th campaign was running micro-targeted ads aimed at those on the fence and had actually earmarked around 100,000 Euros for Google and Facebook ads in the two weeks leading up to the referendum- ads that they weren’t able to run due to the moratorium that Google and Facebook put on referendum related advertisements. This was unheard of, the first time they have done it, and represented a huge speech violation. In any modern democracy, tools like Facebook and Google are absolutely critical to get out the vote, and this ban was an assault on the democratic process, and certainly had an impact on the results of the referendum.
Q: Ireland has long been seen as a nation with some of the strictest abortion regulations in the developed world. The final vote was 68% in favor of the referendum and 32% against. That’s not a very tight margin. What do you make of this final result?
Emily: I was shocked. I thought it would be closer, but this outcome truly shocked me. It was a very, very sad day for Ireland.
Q: What did you learn from your interactions and efforts in Ireland that should be applied in pro-life efforts in the United States and elsewhere?
Emily: The interactions we had in Ireland are very similar to what we have seen in the USA. The big takeaway is that abortion happens everywhere and these conversations need to happen everywhere. In the USA (and all over the world) we will continued the fight. Being in Ireland only made us more courageous and fierce in our anti-abortion efforts.
Q: One of the things that makes Let Them unique is not just the bond the founders have with the pro-life movement, but with others within the organization. Can you talk about what it’s like to work in the pro-life movement with people that you have established close relationships with, such as the friends you traveled to Ireland with, or your soon to be husband?
Emily: it is the best thing in the world to work on such an emotional issue with my fiancé and close friends. It is important to have a close circle of pro-life people around you to support you emotionally and to fight hard against abortion with you.
Q: What is next for Let Them Live as an organization? Where can people go to get more information about your organization and get involved?
Emily: We plan on visiting many more countries on the brink of legalizing abortion, starting a Let Them Live Ireland chapter to mobilize the pro-lifers there and to help abortion minded women, and to continue training and mobilizing pro-life activists in the United States to end abortion! Visit or Facebook page @LetThemLiveOrg and send us a message on our website at LetThemLive.Org!
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.