Hope Abounds at 2016 National Right to Life Convention

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation

Maria Gallagher

Maria Gallagher

Poet Emily Dickinson once wrote a short, sweet poem with the title, “’Hope’ is the thing with feathers.”

The first stanza reads

’Hope’ is the thing with feathers —
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all…”

It was that hope that I rediscovered last week at the 2016 National Right to Life Convention.

Even in the wake of a disturbing U.S. Supreme Court decision last month basically declaring open season on women in abortion facilities, the hope of the national pro-life movement remains strong, vibrant, and very much alive.

I saw that hope in workshop after workshop, general session after general session.

I saw hope in former abortion center workers Jewels Green and Catherine Adair, who had each survived the dual trauma of personal and professional abortion experiences. They had at one time been ardent supporters of legal abortion, but eventually came to embrace the truth that abortion destroys children and damages women. Their testimonies about their transformations were heartfelt, riveting, and profound.

I was moved by that hope when I attended a workshop presented by Dr. Gunter Franz, a brilliant academic who reviewed the change in abortion statistics throughout the years. As Dr. Franz made clear, we haven’t seen 1.6 million abortions in a given year since 1990, when abortion totals were at their highest. Today, while still tragically high, the number is down to just over 1 million.

The downward trend for abortions has been going on for a lifetime now—and so many, many lives have been saved by the steady, stalwart pro-life movement.

I saw that hope in author, lecturer, and teacher Dr. Jean Garton, the legendary author of the classic Who Broke the Baby?

Garton reminded us that “time is the friend of truth.”

At age 88, Garton remains an eloquent and powerful spokeswoman for the pro-life cause. And she serves as a living reminder of what a treasury of truth older Americans hold for us.

And I saw that hope in so many gifted teenagers who offered creative, enlightening speeches during the convention’s national pro-life oratory contest. Showing wisdom beyond their years, this racially and geographically diverse group of young people mesmerized their audience with stories and statistics demonstrating the inherent rightness of the pro-life position.

It is an incredible feeling to hear a young woman and a young man speak with immense gratitude for the parents who adopted them and the birth mothers who had the courage and selflessness to place them for adoption. What incredible students these are. I couldn’t help but think of the more than 58 million other young people who never got a chance to speak because their lives were ended in the womb.

Most of the young attendees at the convention were too young to remember the legislative and court struggles over the grisly practice of partial-birth abortion. Thankfully, they have not had to confront such a heinous act, since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal ban on it years ago. The fact that they have been shielded from such an atrocity gave my heart hope.

The abortion industry, its advocates, and its media sympathizers would like the general public to believe that the pro-life movement is despairing after the Supreme Court’s Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt ruling which struck some provisions of a Texas law designed to ensure that abortion facilities meet basic health and safety standards. Why don’t pro-lifers just fold up their tents and move on?

Because pro-lifers have been down this road before–the road paved with bad court decisions, chest-thumping pro-abortion claims of victory, and a slew of news reports announcing our Movement is toast.

The outrageous practice of partial-birth abortion was not banned on the first try, thanks to Hillary Clinton’s husband, then-President Bill Clinton. And yet, in the end, truth won out, and a brutal abortion procedure is no more.

You see, hope—and the pro-life movement—are actually winning every day.

Every single time a mother chooses life over death…every time a depressed patient decides against doctor-prescribed suicide…every time an adoptive father holds his first child…victory over darkness and despair can be claimed.

And in those precious moments that you will not see broadcast on the national news, families win—and American wins.

That is the legacy that is celebrated at a National Right to Life convention. And it is a legacy which will live on.

That legacy lives on, thanks to the foundation that the pioneers of the pro-life movement have built. The dedication of the Millennials who proudly call themselves the Pro-Life Generation rests on the shoulders of these pro-life giants.

These young people are determined to defend the gains made by their grandparents, and to surpass them until the day comes that all children are welcomed in love and protected in law.