Pro-Lifers: light keepers in a time of darkness

Editor’s note. This is the lead editorial in the current digital edition of National Right to Life News. Everything–articles, President’s column, commentary–that makes up this 50-page issue can be read at Please share using your social media contacts.

lighthousereAs I write this editorial, it’s just been a few hours since the Supreme Court agreed it would delay the impact of two provisions of Texas’ omnibus pro-life bill H.B. 2 scheduled to go into effect July 1 until the High Court acts on an appeal pro-abortion litigants will file later, five days out from the 4th of July, and nine days away from the beginning of the 45th annual National Right to Life Convention. Let’s take a few minutes together to tie together these developments—and several more—to see what they might tell us.

When you page through this massive digital edition of National Right to Life News, you could easily misread the signs. Oh, no, an individual judge, a panel of judges, a state Supreme Court, or even the United States Supreme Court has waded in, usually to put on hold (enjoin) a piece of pro-life legislation or something else that a knowledgeable body has put into place to protect women from the rapacious abortion industry.

But that’s what they do, that’s what they’ve always done. I hope this doesn’t come as a surprise to you but as a whole the judiciary is not friendly to the right to life cause. So if they temporarily—or even longer–bring to a screeching halt legislation that has been overwhelmingly approved by a state house and senate and signed by the governor, you have to understand what else is new? We win, acting as the handmaidens of the Abortion Industry they strike it down, we appeal and offer higher courts the invincible rationale for the law.

For example, the Iowa Supreme Court recently struck down a rule issued by the Iowa Board of Medicine requiring abortionists to be present and perform a physical examination on a pregnant woman prior to dispensing abortion pills. (Key to webcam abortions are never having the abortionist in the same room as the pregnant woman.) Six justices concluded this represents an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to abortion and violated both the state and federal constitutions.

That’s hooey and we’ve explained why multiple times in NRL News Today and in the story on page 38. If you want to know why the public is so often misled, read the Des Moines Register editorial praising the decision and calling (politely, of course), for a purge of the Board of Medicine.

Understand that the babies killed in webcam abortions using abortifacients are up to 9 weeks old. The Register—which knows better—describes these deliberately induced deaths as a “miscarriage.” They are shameless.

It is regrettable that the United States Supreme Court did not review the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturning parts of North Carolina’s ultrasound law. Refusing to grant certiorari leaves the state of ultrasound laws in confusion and conflict.

Without getting too technical, pro-lifers (and others) thought the High Court’s 1992 Casey case resolved the whole “compelled speech” claim in the abortion context.

“The 4th Circuit, however, rejected Casey and applied what is called ‘heightened scrutiny’ to North Carolina’s law which was almost identical to the Texas law upheld by the 5th Circuit,” said NRLC director of State Legislation Mary Spaulding, JD. “In fact, in the North Carolina case, Stuart v. Camnitz, the Fourth Circuit expressly admitted that its use of heightened scrutiny conflicts with decisions in the Fifth and Eighth Circuits.”

Spaulding Balch concluded, “This, one would think, is a classic conflict in need of resolution by the Supreme Court.”

And it comes as no surprise that the High Court would review the portions of HB 2 which require that abortionists have admitting privileges at a local hospital in case of medical emergencies and that abortion clinics meet the requirements of ambulatory surgical centers. There are conflicting circuit court decisions, which invites the justices to reconcile the differences.

Why do the pro-abortionists rage over pro-life legislation? Because they make a difference. Take Minnesota’s parental notification law, for example.

The annual number of minor abortions in Minnesota peaked at 2,327 in 1980, the year before the parental notification law first went into effect. Teen abortions then began to steadily decline. Since 1989, the last full year before the Supreme Court ruling, abortions performed on minors have dropped 79 percent. In 2013 (the latest year for which data is available), minor abortions fell to 295, the lowest number on record (statistics for minors go back to 1975) and only 3 percent of all abortions.

And, of course, the abortion industry looks at the overall 12% decrease in the number of abortions just since 2010—the same people who warn that “anti-choice” legislation will cut into access and availability—and nonchalantly announce that these “evils” had nothing to do with this huge reduction in the number of abortion. They are simply shameless.

When we assemble in New Orleans beginning July 9, we will talk about state legislation, and court decisions, and passage in two states of the historic Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act? (Does it surprise you in the least that one Kansas judge not only would enjoin the law but also suddenly find a “right” to abortion in the state constitution?)

The attendees will feast on a menu of educational entrees fit for a king. Name it and either a workshop or general session (or both) will take you through the ins and outs.

From the very first general session when you will hear Dr. George Delgado talk about the development of a technique to reverse what was the inevitably fatal effect of the RU-486 abortion pill to the closing Saturday night Banquet when Weekly Standard reporter John McCormick discusses how to be a voice for the voiceless in the media, grassroots pro-lifers will learn from the best minds in the Movement.

No, I didn’t forget the 4th of July. This celebration of our nation’s founding seems best addressed at the end of this editorial. Let me draw on the insights of NRLC President Carol Tobias from her column on page three and the late Rev. Richard John Neuhaus.

Carol, “being a good pro-lifer,” tells us she “loves our country’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence. We all know those famous words, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal , that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’”

While most of us may know those stirring words, are they inscribed on the inner walls of our conscience? Has the head knowledge that, in America, we all possess these rights worked its way into heart knowledge?

Carol quotes historian Joseph Ellis who called George Washington the “Foundingest Father” (primus inter pares) of them all, and then segued to make clear that the right to Life is the “Rightest Right” of them all. Without it, no other right matters.

Which brings us to the late Rev. Richard Neuhaus, a man I knew for decades, interviewed several times, and quoted dozens of times. I would strongly urge you to read the story I wrote about his speech to the 1982 NRLC Convention. Many people, including me, consider it the greatest pro-life speech ever.

Here’s how I ended.

The authentic liberal vision of American, Neuhaus said, is one that “is hospitable to the stranger, holding out arms of welcome to those who share the freedom and opportunity we cherish.”

But, tragically, American, a land of immigrants, has closed its doors to the ultimate immigrant. Neuhaus said: the unborn child.

Those threatening newcomers “are stopped before they enter our line of moral vision,” Neuhaus said. “They are stopped early, still in the darkness of the womb, before they can force us to recognize them as ourselves, before their all too person-like appearance can lay a claim upon our comfort and maybe upon our conscience.”

In its Roe v. Wade decision, “the court invoked the darker side of our national character,” he said. “We were given license, indeed encouragement, to close our heart to the stranger, to patrol the borders of our lives with lethal weaponry.”

Later in his speech, Neuhaus again challenged the mythology that portrays pro-abortionists as a liberal, progressive force and the pro-life movement as an anti-liberal force. On the contrary, it is the members of our Movement who “are light keepers in a time of darkness.”

Indeed, “You are not the defenders of an old order but the forerunners of a world yet to be,” he noted. “What we would retrieve from the past is the promise of the future.”

Neuhaus said he believes “this great testing of the American experiment” will prevail on the side of life. “And yet, if that hope is deferred for a time, we must not be discouraged,” he said. “We are recruited for the duration, we must be long distance radicals; we must never give up.

Referring to the convention’s theme, “A New Birth of Freedom,” Neuhaus concluded, “I do not know if there will again be a new birth of freedom–for the poor, the aged, the crippled, the unborn. But we commend this cause to the One who is the maker and the sure keeper of promises, to the Lord of life.

“In that commendation is our confidence: confidence that the long night of Roe v. Wade will soon be over; confidence that the court will yet be made responsive to the convictions of a democratic people; confidence, ultimately, in the dawning of a new and glorious day in which law and morality will be reconciled and liberty will no longer war against life.”