2011: A Year of Tremendous Progress by the Right to Life Movement

By Dave Andrusko

Friday’s stories are the final NRL News Today posts of 2011, and I couldn’t encapsulate these past twelve months better than the headline on a Washington Post article that ran yesterday: “2011: The year of the abortion restrictions.”

This particular story, written by Sarah Kliff, does not mention the latest “restriction”: on Thursday Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed into law new state rules that require abortion clinics that perform at least five first-trimester abortions to be regulated like hospitals. There was the same weeping and gnashing of teeth that we witnessed a week ago when Pennsylvania’s Senate Bill 732 was signed into law– the requirement  that the state’s 22 freestanding abortion clinics meet the same safety standards as ambulatory surgical facilities. (See “Virginia Gov. McDonnell Signs New Common-Sense Abortion Clinic Regulations into Law.”

The beauty of National Right to Life News Today’s format—unlimited space to write as much copy as we have time for Monday through Friday (through Saturday, starting in 2012)—is that we’ve been able to track developments virtually in real-time. (If NRL News Today is not being sent to your in-box, you are missing a vital resource. It’s free. Just take 60 seconds and sign up at www.nrlc.org/join_our_mailing_list.htm.)

Kliff’s story is awash with graphics attesting to one of the central truths of 2011: that, by golly, all those pro-life state politicians who were elected in 2010 actually WERE serious about attacking the culture of death.

The pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute concludes (Kliff writes) that states “passed 83 laws restricting access to abortion, nearly four times the 23 laws passed in 2010.” Likewise, “This year, the number of states with fully anti-abortion governments — in which both the governor and the legislature oppose abortion rights — increased from 10 to 15.”

National Right to Life’s State Legislation Department has substantially different numbers—pro-abortionists inflate the numbers to gin up hysteria in the ranks—but we happily concur with Kliff’s characterization that “2011 marked a sea change”  in that “a wave of state-level abortion restrictions that passed this year have reshaped access more than any other year in three decades.” (Happily, the “sea change” was not limited to state legislation, important as that was, as we’ll see momentarily.)

Four more states enacted the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which protects from abortion unborn children capable of experiencing pain. Since (at least for public consumption) even the PPFA and NARAL types are squeamish about pulverizing babies who can feel their arms and legs being yanked off, they must insist that all this is hooey.

But it’s not hype or hyperbole, it’s science. (See www.doctorsonfetalpain.com.) And this attention to older unborn babies was not confined to enactment of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

The actual raid on abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s “House of Horrors” took place in February 2010. But it was in 2011 that a Grand Jury produced a devastating 281-page report that indicted the entire local and state health regulatory system for allowing the owner of the Women’s Medical Society—a  man accused of eight counts of murders–to go virtually uninspected for decades.

Late, late-term babies were aborted alive and Gosnell is accused of murdering seven of these viable babies by snipping their spinal cords. That is all he can be charged with; the Grand Jury believes there were many, many more viable babies who were killed in the same manner, but the evidence is there only for the seven.

The eighth murder count is for a woman who died from a drug overdose. Her family is suing Gosnell, who authorities say made millions off of poor immigrant women.

And just today we read an Associated Press story about “Two out-of-state doctors who traveled to Maryland to perform late-term abortions have been arrested and charged with multiple counts of murder under the state’s viable fetus law, authorities said.” The next time some pro-abortionist tells you Gosnell is one of a kind and abortion clinic regulation is a needless impediment, tell them about Steven Brigham. What he is accused of doing—which includes a baby believed to have been aborted at 36 weeks—could make him a matching bookend end for Kermit Gosnell (See “Notorious Abortionist Steven Brigham Arrested, Charged with Numerous counts of Murder.”)

All this is to say that 2011 has produced a different chemistry. You don’t hear any talk about an abortion “stalemate” anymore. To be clear changes were always taking place, they just went unnoticed. The tectonic plates were busy grinding away, shifting at the edges, but only those with the right “equipment” know about the impending earthquake. Not so anymore. The change is visible to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear.

Planned Parenthood still enjoys favorability ratings with the public and the Media Establishment could not love them more. But we have chiseled away at the veneer, exposing the truth that lies underneath: PPFA is the largest abortion provider in the world whose voracious appetite for expansion seemingly has no limits.

As NRLC Director of Education Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon wrote yesterday, PPFA is a $1 billion corporation that performed 332,278 abortions in 2009. At current rates for abortions, that amounts to at least $149.9 million in revenues–more than a third of PPFA’s clinic revenues. 

Dr. O’Bannon also reminded his readers of all the money PPFA receives in revenues from “Government Grants & Contracts”: $363.2 million in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009. And is it an accident that the number of abortions increased at Planned Parenthood at a rate that very neatly paralleled the rate of increase in government funding? I think not. (See www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2011/12/years-of-patient-pro-life-education-pay-off-in-2011/)

One other area, of many, that I could mention as 2011 comes to a close: the impact of young people who have swollen our ranks and infused the Movement with enormous energy. Let me put their contribution in context. 

In one of his most influential books, C.S. Lewis wrote of change versus transformation. “It is the difference,” he said, “between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through.”

When we first became involved, I suspect for many of us, our embrace of life may have been like a first coat of paint. We didn’t know enough, hadn’t been involved enough, hadn’t learned enough yet for it to be deeper.

But the longer we carried the banner, the more we were changed. As the knowledge of what abortion does to unborn children, their mothers, and our great nation deepens, we were transformed. As a consequence we become, as someone once described it, “Lifers for Life.”

In an environment awash in information and ultrasounds, young people are not only able to make that conscience-driven move to greater intensity faster, they are also more willing to reach out to their friends. There results a kind of multiplier effect where the original “investment”—convincing one young person to work on behalf of the unborn—pays off in the recruitment of additional pro-lifers who in turn bring in still more young men and women.

Which leads me to the mournful and very telling observation of NARAL President Nancy Keenan. In a story that appeared in the April 15, 2010, Newsweek written by Kliff, she writes about the perceived waning power of the Abortion Establishment, particularly in light of the aging of its leadership.

“And what worries Keenan is that she just doesn’t see a passion among the post-Roe generation-–at least, not among those on her side. This past January, when Keenan’s train pulled into Washington’s Union Station, a few blocks from the Capitol, she was greeted by a swarm of anti-abortion-rights activists. It was the 37th annual March for Life, organized every year on Jan. 22, the anniversary of Roe.  ‘I just thought, my gosh, they are so young,’ Keenan recalled. ‘There are so many of them, and they are so young.’”

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