By Carol Tobias
Welcome to the 46th annual National Right to Life Convention. We are so glad you are here. The theme of this convention—Building a Pro-Life Future—demonstrates the Right-to-Life movement’s excitement and optimism about the future. We expect great things from this convention and even greater achievements when we all return home to put into action what we have learned.
How many of you were in New Orleans last year? Welcome back! And welcome to all of you new friends (first-timers) and to those who haven’t been for a while. You’re not old friends, but long-time friends. It’s wonderful to have all of you here.
Shortly after leaving our convention in New Orleans last year, we started seeing the videos that exposed the callousness and disregard that Planned Parenthood has for unborn children. Of course, we knew that– they kill more than 300,000 unborn children every year, but it was galling to see and hear it so clearly stated. That led to a special panel established in the U.S. House, the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, to collect information about abortion service providers and the procurement organizations who sell baby body parts.
And we saw both the House and the Senate vote to defund Planned Parenthood. Of course, not unexpectedly, President Obama vetoed that bill.
Are you all familiar with the story of Pinocchio? A wooden puppet is created by a woodcarver who wishes this puppet would become a live boy; and he does. But Pinocchio’s nose grows longer when he tells a lie. So the Washington Post uses Pinocchios to rate whether or not a story or statement is true.
I have to admit, I never thought I’d see this but, last fall, the Post did a “fact-check” story on Planned Parenthood and gave three out of four pinocchios to its supporters for slippery language, when they claim that the abortion giant provides mammograms. It may take a while, but the truth eventually comes out. Or in this case, the falsehood came out, in a very public way.
Continuing a very brief recap of the past year, we were thrilled to see two states– KS and OK– become the first states to enact a law to ban dismemberment abortions. Unfortunately, judges in those states enjoined the laws, deciding that the abortion industry has a right to kill an unborn child by tearing her apart, limb by limb.
This year, we saw four more states pass laws to stop this brutal form of killing– WV, MS, LA, and AL. We also have states passing laws to protect unborn children who can feel pain, to prevent an abortionist from distributing a chemical abortion to a woman over the internet, and making an ultrasound available to women who are seeking abortion, among many others. Not all the bills pass; if they do they may be challenged in court. Even then, there is an educational impact that is immeasurable. The people are hearing about unborn babies who can feel pain; they are hearing that babies bleed to death as their arms and legs are being torn off in a gruesome procedure. We make people question why anyone would oppose letting a woman see an ultrasound before she makes that life or death decision.
These efforts to protect babies and their mothers, along with everything else you do, are making a difference.
The Centers for Disease Control released abortion figures for 2012, showing a 4.2% drop in the number of abortions performed compared to the previous year, meaning 31,000 more babies are alive because of your efforts. There was a decrease in abortion for all age groups as more and more women choose life for their babies.
This is just some of what leads up to where we are now. We use this convention to renew our efforts to build a pro-life future.
When we think about a pro-life future, our thoughts might go to the young people in attendance at our convention. This year marks the 31st convention for National Teens for Life. Many activists in the right-to-life movement spent time at these conventions, learning the issues and meeting other young people from around the country.
We are joined by college students enrolled in the National Right to Life Academy, now in its 10th year, as well as by interns who work in the NRLC office through the summer months. Many states hold oratory contests for high school students; the winners will compete on Saturday for the national title.
And of course, we can’t forget the younger generation at childcare. We certainly hope that as they grow older, they’ll keep coming back for the teen and eventually adult conventions. Talk about building a pro-life future!
That future, though, relies not just on the younger generations, but on all of us.
We are faced with an abortion industry that wants to use aborted unborn children for research, or maybe as “spare” parts. This is an industry that has shown it doesn’t care about the women involved in abortion. They oppose laws that would require women be given specific information about abortion and alternatives that are available. They oppose giving her the opportunity to view her child via ultrasound. Abortionists prescribe chemical abortions to women over the internet, leaving the women on their own should complications arise from the abortion. In short, the abortion industry takes advantage of women in order to make a profit.
We will hear from speakers who have worked in abortion facilities, who have had an abortion, and who survived an abortion. We can take the knowledge of their personal stories home with us so we are able to communicate even better with those in our communities who find themselves in similar circumstances.
Although many people are drawn to the right-to-life movement because of their desire to protect unborn children, we know that we must also fight to protect the elderly and those with disabilities because their lives, too, may be threatened, by assisted suicide, euthanasia, and rationing of medical treatment.
We aren’t surprised to find that when a society devalues life at the beginning of the life cycle, it will also devalue life at the end of the cycle–or somewhere along the way–if that life is determined to be less than perfect. We will hear from parents who had to fight to get medical treatment for their children.
Food and water, or nutrition and hydration– now defined as “medical treatment”– are routinely withheld from the elderly in hospitals and nursing homes. It is also withheld from those who are disabled, but not dying, or not dying fast enough for some. We have sessions on euthanasia, the assisted suicide battles in our state legislatures, and advanced care planning.
On top of that, you can learn more about using social media, chapter projects, reaching out to the religious community, and many, many other topics.
Grassroots pro-lifers are constant and consistent–educating, working on legislation, working at pregnancy centers, talking to friends and neighbors, working with young people. That faithfulness is making a difference. Your presence at this convention shows your dedication and determination to keep making a difference.
During World War II, as you might expect, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had some dark days, but he didn’t necessarily look at setbacks as defeat. He asked a friend, “Why do we regard history as of the past and forget we are making it?”
We, right now, are making history. We are fighting for what is right, defending the defenseless and speaking up for the voiceless. Future generations will look back on our efforts as a bright light during a very dark period in our nation’s past. We, here today, are making history– building a pro-life future in which all human life will be respected and protected.
Thank you for being here.