Six Takeaways from a memorable 43rd NRLC National Convention

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-Life Texas Gov. Rick Perry answers reporters' questions following his address to NRLC 2013

Pro-Life Texas Gov. Rick Perry answers reporters’ questions following his address to NRLC 2013

Editor’s note. While my family and I are on vacation, we are running some of our favorite NRL News Today stories from the last four months, entries from our “Roe at 40″ series, and an occasional update.

All this week, beginning today, we’ll be reflecting back on the 43rd annual National Right to Life Convention which was held last week in Dallas, Texas. This particular post is an overview, the kind that is one man’s perspective on his 33rd NRLC convention.

#1. You cannot exaggerate the buzz that surrounded the appearance of major pro-life Texas politicians such as Sen. Ted Cruz, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, Attorney General Greg Abbott, and, of course, Gov. Rick Perry. The media were everywhere for the governor’s remarks, which opened the convention Thursday morning.

Naturally, what he said was grotesquely distorted, particularly the remark he made about pro-abortion state Senator Wendy Davis. Davis, who led the filibuster against the omnibus pro-life bill, is a heroine in her circles, which is fine. What is not okay is that what Gov. Perry said about her was translated into a “personal attack.”

It was nothing of the sort. What he simply said was this:

“Yes, many children are born into difficult circumstances, but there is no such thing as an unwanted child, because no life is trivial in God’s eyes.

“Who are we to say that children born into the worst of circumstances can’t grow to live successful lives?

“In fact, even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances, the daughter of a single mother and a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas Senate.

“It’s just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example: that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential; that every life is precious.”

(You can read the full text of his prepared remarks elsewhere today at National Right to Life News Today.)

#2. And related. The backdrop for the three-day convention was not just the pro-abortion filibuster but what Perry (and others) rightly referred to as “mob tactics” and the “hijacking of the democratic process.” He was alluding to the jeers and screams and catcalls from a gallery filled with pro-abortion supporters that—regardless of your position on the bill—was frightening to those of us who understand how fragile the democratic process is.

As we wrote elsewhere today, “Late Tuesday night, the entire world watched the angry mob of abortion activists disrupt the proceedings of the Texas Senate, screaming, stomping, and chanting so loudly from the gallery that the Senators could not hear the proceedings on the Senate floor below. Senate Bill 5, the Pro-Life omnibus bill, did pass, but the formal processing of that final vote was not finished before the midnight deadline.” (See

Undeterred, Gov. Perry announced that he was calling a second Special Session (that began today) in which he vowed that he would put “pro-life measures at the top.”

#3.  A friend and colleague of mine told me this morning about the last workshop she gave—in fact, it was in the last bloc of workshops on Saturday by which time people have been listening and interacting for three days. Two things stood out.

First, the level of intensity and enthusiasm at a time when attendees must have been dragging. Second, she did not recognize a single person in the room from previous conventions. That is hugely significant.

#4.  For an old geezer I am fairly (all right barely) tech savvy. Naturally every young person had (at a minimum) a lap top and a Droid, but their level of sophistication about the web was in some respects astonishing. Why is this obvious fact of life in 2013 significant?

Their ability to use social media to persuade people to attend NRLC 2013 was impressive. Their capacity to make the convention alive to people who weren’t in Dallas via a host of mechanisms was awesome. And the promise it holds for the future is nothing short of inspiring.

Don’t get me wrong, it would be nice to have the “mainstream” media more open to our messages. And we should never, ever give up the task of persuading reporters to look beyond their own biases. But what we were shown coming up to, during, and after the convention is the remarkable capacity of social media to effectively bypass hostile traditional outlets.

#5.  I’d like to refer back to the intensity factor for a moment. There were upwards of a hundred workshops, general sessions galore, and a closing Saturday night banquet. The audiences listened so raptly you could almost hear their brains processing the information. There were many opportunities for getting to know one another and building camaraderie. But this group of grassroots pro-lifers had come hundreds of miles to soak up information.

Please note: These sessions will be available as MP3’s on after July 15th.

#6. and finally I’d like to use a workshop I gave with Lori Kehoe of New York State Right to Life to illustrate something else. Our topic was abortionist Kermit Gosnell, and specifically what the Abortion Industry knew about a man who was recently convicted of three counts of first-degree murder.

The “mainstream” media played as little attention as possible, while pro-life outlets like National Right to Life News Today did our best to fill in the gaps. Lori and I were greatly pleased to see how much our audience already knew about Gosnell and his Women’s Medical Society abortion clinic in West Philadelphia. That tells me that you are taking advantage of NRL News Today, the reason, of course, that we write Monday through Saturday.

Please come back to during the day, today and every Monday through Saturday, for continuing updates.

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