By Dave Andrusko
This is my 31st National Right to Life Convention and I am composing this exactly half-way through the three-day convention which is taking place in Jacksonville, Florida. I want to thank those of who have responded so kindly to the two reports filed from the convention yesterday. These are very exciting times, and I am enjoying myself as much as I have at any convention since my first one in Omaha, Nebraska.
As you can imagine, trying to attend all the general sessions and as many workshops as possible makes it impossible to file the eight to ten items we usual offer at National Right to Life News Today. If it’s okay, I’d like to use this entry to cover a lot of territory by offering my impressions of some of the workshops as well as a few remarks about a general session I did not have the opportunity to talk about yesterday.
On Thursday afternoon, attendees were treated to a seminar on the largest abortion provider in America: “Planned Parenthood: The Hyper-Political, Under-regulated, Out-of-Control, Mega-Marketer of Abortion.” The genius of the session were the talents and expertise brought together by convention director Jacki Ragan.
Most pro-lifers know about Abby Johnson, who, as she said in her book, was “loved out” of her job as director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas. We all know that she was an “employee of the year” one minute, told to crank up the number of [revenue-producing] abortions at her clinic the next, and then a blink of an eye later ousted by Planned Parenthood which tried unsuccessfully to use legal means to silence her.
In the midst of all this she assisted in an ultrasound-guided abortion, which shook Johnson to her core. It all came together and “I realized it was all built on a lie,” she said. “Eight years of my life was a lie.”
National Right to Life Director of Education Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon has researched Planned Parenthood for 20 years. The audience profited from that immense bank of knowledge when O’Bannon followed Johnson’s personal story with a debunking of the statistical lies PPFA dishes out.
Suffice it to list a few highlights, one out of eight patients walking into Planned Parenthood obtains an abortion; over a third of PPFA’s clinic income comes from aborting babies; PPFA is attempting to create a near-monopoly by creating mega-abortion clinics; and going hand-in-hand with that expansion and consolidation is “webcam” abortions where the abortionist is not even in the same room as the woman. He dispenses the abortifacient RU486 by means of a video conferencing system.
Mary Spaulding Balch, NRL director of State Legislation, completed a dynamic session with an overview of what states are doing to try to rein in Planned Parenthood. A lot was done this legislative session, but there is much more to do.
Okay, now a Cliff Notes overview of several workshops. (I will talk at some later time about the pro-life movie “Doonby” that was shown Thursday night.)
One traditional convention favorite is “We are the Sheep….Where are the Shepherds?” How to activate reluctant pastors is a topic pro-lifers can never get enough of. I learned more tips, came away with more insights, and was made aware of more resources than I would have imagined possible.
Vera Faith Lord offered a fascinating workshop she titled, “The line in the sand,” a “step-by-step plan to bring your frustrating middle-of-the-road friends over to the Pro-Life side.” Vera offered three different routes to persuading the “mushy middle,” each designed to appeal to the heart as well as the head.
“Surviving Unplanned Pregnancies” is probably a must-attend workshop for all pro-lifers. You listen to the stories and you quickly realize why parental involvement laws are essential.
There were dozens and dozens of workshops I couldn’t attend, so I shouldn’t start talking about any lest I omit other important workshops. (But given NRLC’s heavy involvement, I should mention that there were several workshops on how to effectively use the Internet/Social Networks which received rave reviews.)
Finally, in this list of thumbnail sketches, is this morning’s Prayer Breakfast. The guest speaker was Melissa Ohden, an abortion survivor, whose story of living through a saline abortion—and all that ensued—is nothing short of miraculous.
Her powerful testimony was beautifully enhanced by two wonderful songs, performed by Christian recording artist Jaime Thietten, and a brief but inspirational speech delivered by Bishop Felipe Estevez, Bishop of St. Augustine, Florida.
Over the next few weeks I will be listening to CDs and offering some of the core insights. But there is no substitute for actually listening to the CDs. Next week I will be posting a complete list and how you can order CDs for your chapter and/or personal use.