What made NRLC 2012 so special?
By Dave Andrusko
It’s only been three days since pro-life Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback capped off what many attendees said was the best National Right to Life Convention they’d ever been a part of. Having been a small part of this annual conference of grassroots leaders since 1981, I asked myself what made this three-day conference so special?
Let’s start with the obvious and work our way outward.
- A treasure trove of tremendous speakers. We heard from congressional leaders, such as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Rep. Trent Franks (R-Az.), Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and pro-life champion Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ). A video from pro-life Mitt Romney was a big hit. But the list went on and on. To name just a few of the outstanding speakers, Steven Mosher, Lila Rose, Reggie Littlejohn, and Msgr. Jim Lisante—and that doesn’t address the roster of NRLC experts that included NRLC President Carol Tobias, Executive Director Dr. David N. O’Steen, Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics Director Burke Balch, Co-Executive Director Darla St. Martin, and Political Director Karen Cross.
- Clarity. Many staff told me they’d heard the same thing I did over and over: that the speakers had conveyed VERY complicated subject matter in a manner that the audience could understand and therefore be in a position to use. No better example could be offered than the Saturday morning general session on the rationing impulse of ObamaCare. Mr. Balch and his associate Jennifer Popik accomplished the near-impossible: explaining why rationing is inevitable under ObamaCare in clear, straightforward language.
- Testimonies. For sheer energy and anticipation, I’ve seen few general sessions that could match “’Where are all the Girls?’ The Social Consequences of China’s One-Child Policy.” The audience, of course, knew in general about China’s brutally repressive policy. But hearing Rep. Smith and Ms. Littlejohn (president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers) fill in these broad outlines with individual stories of inhumanity and savagery–but also bravery–captivated the audience. There were many examples throughout the three days of compelling stories that recharged us for what lies ahead in the next four and a half months.
- ObamaCare. The convention started virtually at the same moment the Supreme Court handed down its decision. As a result there was a near palpable sense of excitement in the air. Everyone hoped ObamaCare would be overturned and many anticipated it. When the decision came down affirming virtually all of President Obama’s “signature” domestic achievement, the audience momentarily bemoaned the decision and then looked to see what NRLC would say. The lead in NRLC’s press release said it all:
“Today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding most of the ObamaCare law is a call-to-action for the right-to-life electorate to work to elect a Congress and president this November committed to repealing ObamaCare in 2013, in order to prevent a future in which abortion insurance will be heavily subsidized by federal taxpayers and federal bureaucrats will be authorized to ration life-saving medical treatment.”
- Tipping points and NRLC. Citing Gallup poll numbers and the election of massive numbers of pro-life legislators and governors in 2010, Gov. Brownback spoke of the nation approaching a “tipping point” on abortion. There are many reasons America is without question moving in a pro-life direction. Among the most important is the leadership that NRLC continues to provide the Movement. You’d have been proud to hear elected official after elected official laud NRLC for its strategic insights; its ability to elect candidates to office; for being “integral” to making things happen on Capitol Hill (Majority Leader Cantor). Perhaps the most telling compliment of all came from Rep. Smith: NRLC is “smart and savvy but doesn’t stand up to get the applause.”
A great convention that you can still benefit from Please read “Goldmine of information from NRLC convention available to attendees and to everyone who could not make it.” You can write in to order CDs of virtually everything that took place and, beginning next week, you can download them directly onto your MP3 player.
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