Editor’s note. The following are the remarks of NRLC President Carol Tobias at the opening session of NRLC 2013.
Good morning, pro-lifers! Thank you for coming to the wide open spaces of beautiful Texas. “It’s like a whole other country,” isn’t it, Governor? Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules, and making this time commitment and financial commitment to come this week to educate yourselves, to meet other pro-lifers, and to get new ideas to take home so that you can make a difference in your state and in your local community.
You, the grassroots pro-lifers, from all over the country, are amazing. Because of your efforts, unborn children WILL some day be protected by law, and protections will be restored for the elderly and disabled, whose lives are threatened by assisted suicide, euthanasia, and rationing of medical care.
The work you do—educating your communities, lobbying your elected officials, and helping to elect pro-life candidates to office at every level—is making an impact. You are the voice of National Right to Life in your local community. Your efforts are helping to spread the message that is being heard in every community across the nation. You are making a difference.
And you came here, to the 43rd annual National Right to Life convention, to learn and to get re-energized so that you can do even more. You are my heroes.
There is so much packed into these three days, that you’ll probably go home physically tired, but hopefully, you will be mentally and emotionally ready to charge onward; ready to meet the challenges that lie ahead.
We all have a love for life and a respect for the dignity and sanctity of every human life. There are no strangers here, so use this time to visit with others, learn how something you’re doing can maybe be done more effectively. Share your successes and your ideas so others can be encouraged.
This past January, we marked the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the Supreme Court decisions that gave us unrestricted abortion on demand throughout pregnancy. Those decisions have resulted in the deaths of more than 55 million unborn children. Almost a fifth of our entire population, that number is equal to the population of the entire middle portion of the country. It’s about the population of New York and California combined.
But over the past 40 years, through many legislative and court battles, we have seen pro-lifers consistently move forward, enacting legislation that will protect unborn children and their mothers.
We were thrilled with a vote taken by the United States House of Representatives last week on landmark legislation that would protect from abortion unborn children who can feel pain. There is a substantial body of medical evidence showing that the pain receptors are present by at least 20 weeks gestation. Killing an unborn child that can feel pain during the abortion is cruel.
For the first time, a house of Congress passed a bill that would ban abortion nationwide on a specific class of unborn children. It is time now for the Senate to step up and do the same.
Recently, abortionist Kermit Gosnell was convicted of three-counts of murder for delivering babies at this stage, then severing their spinal cords. What is the difference between doing that and pulling the baby apart piece by piece in the womb? Same baby, same deadly, painful result.
These late abortions are performed using a variety of techniques, including a method in which the unborn child’s arms and legs are twisted off by brute manual force, using a long stainless steel clamping tool.
I have to wonder about the people who defend this cruel practice. Have they no compassion? Have they no heart?
A dog’s gestational life is about 60 days. Can you imagine the outcry in this country if someone said it was just fine for a veterinarian to tear the legs off of a puppy at 40 or 50 days into that gestation? Or to argue that it shouldn’t even have to be a veterinarian who does the killing?
Would Nancy Pelosi still be in Congress if she had said that killing cute little unborn puppies in this manner was “sacred ground?”
What would be the reaction if the U.S House of Representatives passed a bill to say that legs and the head cannot be pulled off unborn puppies in an effort to end those lives, and President Obama issued a statement to say that if this bill passes, he will veto it?
And yet, we allow this to happen to children.
As pro-lifers, we need to do even more to strengthen our efforts to educate fellow Americans on the basics so that they understand that we’re talking about little people.
When fertilization takes place, a unique human being is present.
By day 22, a new heart is beating with a blood type different than her mother’s
By week 5 – eyes, legs, and hands begin to develop
Week 6 – brain waves are detectable, fingers are forming
By week 7 – eyelids and toes are formed, baby is kicking and swimming
Week 8 – every organ is in place, fingerprints that no one else has ever had or ever will have are forming
By the 10th week, teeth are forming, fingernails are developing, the baby can frown
By week 11, the baby can grasp an object placed in her hand
And by 20 weeks gestation, that baby can feel pain.
Nine states have already enacted laws to protect unborn children who can feel pain. And we know that Texas is going to try very hard to become the tenth.
Back in 1989, Harrison Hickman, a pollster for the National Abortion Rights Action Leagues, stated, “Probably nothing has been as damaging to our cause as the advances in technology which have allowed pictures of the developing fetus, because people now talk about the fetus in much different terms than they did 15 years ago. They talk about it as a human being, which is not something that I have an easy answer on how to cure.”
Our opponents have succeeded in killing unborn children for 40 years. They will not have another 40. Technology does show us that abortion stops a beating heart. The abortion lobby does not want women to see an ultrasound of their unborn child because they are afraid that she just might change her mind.
We also have the most powerful tool on our side; one that scares them more than anything. And that is young people. We have the future of the country working with us to protect the innocent and vulnerable.
It is exciting and reassuring to know that our work will continue because of the passionate, dedicated, and enthusiastic young people who are committed to ending the horrible practice of abortion. Teens and college students have long been a vital part of NRLC and I am proud of the many avenues we have available for young people to get involved.
Meeting here this week is the National Teens for Life convention. Teens who are bringing energy to the pro-life movement. These teens make a difference in their schools, churches, and communities. They are the ones most likely to know if a fellow student is pregnant and considering an abortion. They are the ones who can reach out to her with friendship and understanding, encouraging her to let her baby live.
High school students, when educated on the pro-life issues and encouraged by the adults around them, are the ones who will speak up in class, defending innocent babies and urging respect for all innocent human life.
We have college students here, some of them interns in our office and some who are attending our five-week academy, all of them preparing themselves to make even more of a difference in our world than they are now.
National Right to Life is working to train leaders for the future, but we know that the young people we work with are leaders for their generation now. We are blessed by their courage, their energy, and their passion.
The right-to-life movement really is a movement of love. We work to save unborn babies from abortion and to help women who are facing a difficult time in her life because of a pregnancy. We welcome with open arms women who have had an abortion. We work to save elderly and disabled persons from euthanasia and rationing of health care.
Our love is also endless in that we will never give up.
The late Bob Casey, former governor of Pennsylvania, said, “In the long term, our cultural unease with abortion, this refusal to drop the subject, is our most hopeful sign of health. Other countries, sadly, have more or less learned to live with it; they don’t see it as anything to get worked up about. But not here. This thing—this horrible thing, so contrary to our ideals, our inclusiveness, our kindness, our love for one another—has been grafted onto American society. But it is not a functioning organ … . It won’t take. It won’t heal. The body rejects it.”
You are the reason America is still uneasy about abortion. Thank you for everything you do. Enjoy these three days, learn much and go home motivated and energized to continue our work of love.