By Carol Tobias, President, National Right to Life
Those who have been around for a while will remember the name of Bob Packwood. A former Republican senator from Oregon, Packwood was a staunch supporter of abortion who served almost 30 years in the Senate before resigning amidst charges of sexual abuse and assault.
In 1965, Packwood, then a state representative, founded the Dorchester Conference which has become an annual event. Becoming concerned with the tone of this year’s conference, a coalition of groups, including Oregon Right to Life, wrote to the president of Dorchester, stating, “Even though initially Dorchester was designed primarily with moderate Republicans in mind, over time the Conference became a gathering place where all Republican viewpoints were welcome.
“Sadly, in recent years this bridge has become fragile due to a trend among some Dorchester organizers to move the Conference in a direction that conflicts with conservative viewpoints and the Oregon Republican Party Platform. This trend is particularly evident this year. For example, a 2014 Dorchester promotional video features former Senator Bob Packwood and celebrates a vote in 1967 by Dorchester delegates that abortion should be legalized without restrictions. It is the rare Republican, conservative or moderate, that would find reason in promoting abortion in a Conference video considering the 56,000,000 abortions and the deaths of two generations of future Americans that have resulted from unrestricted abortions since that vote in 1967.”
Oregonians for Conservative Values, a quickly-compiled coalition, organized a freedom rally in Clackamas, just outside of Portland, on Saturday, March 8, as an alternative to Dorchester. I had the pleasure of speaking at the event and reminding attendees of a Packwood quote in a 1983 interview: “Abortion is an issue that burns real hot and like any fire that burns red hot, it won’t be long before it burns itself out!” As Mr. Packwood has probably figured out, we’re still here– we’re not quitting and this fire isn’t burning out! Although the rally was put together in just ten days, more than 750 people attended!
I have to admit, I feel sorry for Mr. Packwood. He started his public service more than 50 years ago. He was in the United States Senate for almost 30 years, and he’s been involved in many issues. But in a promo video for the Dorchester conference, to celebrate its 50 years, Mr. Packwood stated that the abortion resolution adopted at the conference in 1967 stands out as the “most memorable” moment for him.
Can you imagine looking back over a 50-year career and thinking that the highlight of your legacy involves the deaths of millions of children?
How much better it is to have joy in your heart and peace in your soul, knowing that you worked to cherish life, to protect life; to offer hope and encouragement, not death and despair.
We know we still have a long road ahead of us, but we will continue to keep the fire going, to carry light to a darkened world.