By Carol Tobias, President, National Right to Life
Editor’s note. These remarks were delivered at the North Carolina Right to Life Prayer Breakfast which took place January 21.
Good morning. It is such a pleasure to be back in North Carolina, to be here with all of you. I love meeting pro-life people across the country because your hearts have been touched by the plight of the helpless. You have heard the call of the innocent and I thank you for listening to your heart and answering that call.
Do you ever have those times that you think everything is going so well you almost can’t believe it? You want to pinch yourself to see if you’re awake or if you’re having a dream? I’m going through that right now. Almost everything is going right for the pro-life movement.
I’ll admit there were tears of joy streaming down my face yesterday as I watched Donald Trump and Mike Pence take their oaths of office and we said goodbye to Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Lest we forget…
When President Obama took office in 2009, he restored U.S. funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to the tune of $50 million. Under Presidents Reagan and both Presidents Bush, U.S. funding to the UNFPA was cut off because of the UNFPA’s support of China’s population-control program, which includes forced abortion. In 2011 Vice President Joe Biden went to China and gave a speech in which he stated that he wouldn’t “second-guess” their population control policy, that he “fully” understands it.
Stories abound of pregnant women in China who are dragged out of their homes, taken to “family-planning” centers against their wishes, and have an abortion forced on them. The abortion can be so violent that the women die along with their full term babies.
It is estimated that there are 37 million more males than females in China. 200,000 children a year, usually from poor families, are seized or sold as child brides. Families are buying little girls so their son will have a wife when he grows up. Girls from surrounding countries are kidnapped or lured under false pretenses and forced to work in brothels.
And Vice President Biden wouldn’t “second-guess” the Chinese policy. When I heard this, I thought, “We need to introduce this man to the Wizard of Oz, because he needs a brain, a heart, and a backbone.”
I can’t say that anymore but, believe me, I’m extremely happy to throw that line into the garbage can.
So what’s going right? After eight years of the most pro-abortion president ever, we are looking at change that will provide REAL hope.
We have a new pro-life president and vice president. Doing what many “experts” deemed almost unimaginable, pro-life Republicans maintained control of both the U.S. House and Senate. We elected a record number of pro-life legislators in state legislatures, and we received the extremely encouraging news this week that abortions in the United States have dropped to levels not seen since 1974.
Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” For more than 40 years pro-lifers have not grown weary while doing good.
Pro-lifers are the most dedicated, energetic, committed people I know. I think we are reaping some benefits of that endurance and perseverance.
Let’s take a look at each of these. The biggest news, or course, was the election of Donald Trump.
President Obama was very active on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton, asking voters to support her as a way of continuing his legacy. In a radio interview, Obama stated, “Everything we’ve done is dependent on me being able to pass the baton to someone who believes in the same things I believe in. So if you really care about my presidency and what we’ve accomplished, then you are going to go and vote.” (For Clinton, of course.)
We recently found out how frightful a Clinton presidency would have been when a Washington DC reporter secured a list of the cabinet Hillary Clinton’s campaign team had started to assemble so she would be ready to go once she “won” the election.
Who was slated for her administration? John Podesta was the leading candidate for Secretary of State; Loretta Lynch would likely have remained as Attorney General; and Neera Tanden would be Secretary of Health and Human Services. Ann O’Leary would head up the Domestic Policy Council and Maya Harris would have been Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations.
Who are these people? John Podesta was the Hillary Clinton campaign chairman whose emails were leaked by Wikileaks. Those emails showed him corresponding with an advisor who shared plans to overturn the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funding of abortion. The emails also exposed Podesta, a Catholic, as having “transparent contempt for the teachings of the Church,” with “the intention of creating dissident ‘Catholic’ organizations bent on defeating (and if possible, changing) those teachings.
Neera Tanden is President of the Center for American Progress (CAP), a liberal think tank in Washington, DC. In an August 2015 Op-Ed for MSNBC, she attacked Congress for its efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. Last summer, she cheered the Supreme Court decision striking the Texas abortion law. There is absolutely no doubt that, had she become Secretary of HHS, she would have aggressively sought increased government help for Planned Parenthood and promoted abortion funding in Obamacare.
Ann O’Leary was a Senior Fellow at CAP and a senior policy advisor on Hillary Clinton’s campaign. From September 1999 until President Clinton left office in 2001, O’Leary served as Special Assistant for Domestic Policy to President Clinton. Her records at the Clinton Presidential Library show her work on various issues and are labeled: Abortion Safety, abortion Clinic Violence, Partial Abortion (sic partial-birth abortion), and Women’s Choice. Again, there is no doubt that she would have helped to promote a pro-abortion agenda in another Clinton White House.
Maya Harris is an attorney, also a former senior fellow at Center for American Progress, and former Executive Director of ACLU of Northern California. Her sister, Kamala Harris, is a new pro-abortion senator from California, endorsed by the radical, pro-abortion group, EMILY’s List. Kamala Harris was the California attorney general who raided the home of the Center for Medical Progress’ David Daleiden after he released undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials haggling over pricing for body parts harvested from aborted babies.
Contrast that with the men and women Trump has nominated for his cabinet. I breathe a huge sigh of relief when I think of the pro-life people who will be serving in the Trump administration– Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Tom Price as Secretary of HHS, Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the United Nations, Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff, Kellyanne Conway as Senior Advisor to the President, and many more. Unborn children will have staunch defenders and advocates at critical positions in the new administration.
Reports are that Trump will reinstate the Mexico City Policy tomorrow, on the 44th anniversary of Roe v Wade, so that our tax dollars will not be given to organizations, like International PP, that perform abortions or work to overturn pro-life laws in other countries. [Editor’s note. He did the following Monday.]
Through administrative and legislative action, there will be real change in Obamacare– abortions will not be covered by tax-funded insurance subsidies, and the conscience rights of health care workers will not be ignored or trampled. And we will see almost half a billion dollars transferred away from Planned Parenthood to community health centers that offer more services and real health care for women and their families.
But the biggest and longest-lasting change will come through the courts. President Trump promised to appoint pro-life justices to the Supreme Court. I think that commitment will carry through to federal district and appellate courts as well. As you know, judges can be in that position for many years. The average length of term for Supreme Court justices is about 26 years.
There is a majority on the current Supreme Court that wants to uphold Roe. A solid replacement for Antonin Scalia will not change that. I pray that some other members of the court, the pro-abortion members, will decide they want to spend more time with their grandchildren or do some extensive world travel. I want President Trump to have the opportunity to appoint more men and women to that court.
In the past two years, the House has voted 15 times to advance the cause of life– passing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, voting to repeal Obamacare, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, and much more. The problem is in the Senate, where 41 senators can filibuster a bill and prevent it from getting a vote. You can be sure we will be working with members of Congress to do as much as we can to protect unborn children, given current judicial restraints, but we’ll also see what can be done through the executive branch.
But the bottom line is the courts. As long as we have a majority on the Supreme Court refusing to acknowledge the humanity of the unborn child, getting them to uphold legislative measures will be difficult. However, that doesn’t mean we won’t pass them in the hope a more responsive High Court will see the wisdom and constitutionality of these measures.
I said that we did well in electing pro-life legislators in the states. Continuing what we have seen for many years, more pro-life legislation will be enacted into law, and even though some of those laws are challenged in court and overturned or enjoined, there is a tremendous educational aspect that goes along with the legislative endeavors.
In the 1990s, when Bill Clinton was president, we had a national debate over partial-birth abortion. Was it appropriate, and should it be legal, for an abortionist to partially deliver, in a breech position, an unborn child, stab the baby in the back of the head, remove the brains, then complete the delivery of the now-dead baby.
People were horrified at the thought. Congress passed the bill, twice. Bill Clinton vetoed the bill, twice. Congress passed it again and a new president, George W. Bush, signed it and the Supreme Court actually upheld the law. So unborn children are no longer allowed to be killed in that horrible manner.
This many-years-long debate had a huge impact on our country. People who described themselves as “pro-choice” decided they weren’t going to be pro-choice if they had to support that kind of barbarism. For many younger people, that was the abortion discussion they heard when they were growing up.
We want to create that same culture shock with a ban on dismemberment abortions. No unborn child should be subjected to the brutality of having her arms and legs torn off with steel tools that grasp, tear, and crush. Six states have passed laws to ban this unthinkable act and I want you to pass the bill in North Carolina. Make the pro-abortion legislators explain to their constituents why it’s okay to kill little babies by tearing off their arms and legs so that they bleed to death.
I expect to see many varying types of pro-life laws passed this year and next.
I mentioned several things when I said everything seems to be going well for the pro-life movement– that we saw figures this week showing abortion numbers at their lowest number since 1974. That report came from the Guttmacher Institute, which used to be the research arm of Planned Parenthood.
For the first time since 1974, the number of abortions performed in the United States has dropped below one million– 958,200 in 2013 and 926,190 in 2014. That is a drop of 12.5% from just three years earlier. The worst year for unborn children was 1990, when more than 1.6 million were killed. These latest numbers show a drop of more than 42% from that year.
The abortion rate tells us how many abortions were performed for every thousand women of child-bearing age, 15-44. The abortion ratio gives us the number of abortions for every 100 pregnancies ending in abortion or live births. What is so encouraging is that both abortion rates and ratios are down to levels below what they were in 1973.
One explanation Guttmacher likes to give for the drop in number of abortion is the improved use of contraceptives. That may play a part, but for the first time, the authors of the study, Rachel Jones and Jenna Jerman, conceded that laws passed by the state, “abortion restrictions” as they call them, “may” have been a factor.
But remember, along with the protections provided in pro-life laws, there is a tremendous educational factor. People hear about babies having heads, arms, and legs. One state may pass a law with a lot of public debate or discussion, and someone in another state is hearing about it because a friend posted a story on her Facebook page, or some national news outlet talked about the bill.
There may be a lot of reasons that fewer women are having abortion, but I have no doubt that a major factor is pro-lifers who didn’t grow weary in doing good. We are reaping the harvest of our labors and babies are being saved.
But we must continue. 926,190 babies dying is still 926,190 too many. Pregnant women still need our help. Many women who had an abortion are hurting. Men and grandparents who lost children and grandchildren are still grieving. The elderly and those with disabilities still need our protection. We’ve come a long way but we still have a long way to go.
In Colossians 3, we are told to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, and, over all these virtues, to put on love. Right-to-lifers take that admonition to heart, more than any other group of people I know. That winsome attitude, combined with perseverance, is having a lasting impact on this nation.
I encourage you to keep working.
I am an optimist and a realist– I think we will make monumental gains in our efforts to protect unborn children, but I also think it’s going to be very difficult. The abortion industry is not going to give up without a fight. As we come closer to that day of overturning Roe v Wade and protecting unborn children; the battle is going to be fierce. If you think people are rude and angry and militant now, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
So I leave you with these words, from Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
We don’t want to offend others, we don’t want to cause arguments or fights, we don’t want to upset our friends or family or neighbors. But we have the truth. We have the facts. We need to have the courage to stand up for those whose lives are being threatened.
To quote the late, great Dr. Jean Garton, author of “Who Broke the Baby?” “If unborn children are to be protected from death by abortion; if newborn handicapped children are to be protected from death by infanticide; if the elderly, the ‘non-productive,’ the dependent are to be protected from death by euthanasia; and if the Sanctity of Life is to be affirmed and protected, then our voice is essential.”
Thank you for being a voice for the voiceless. Thank you for everything you do. And remember, be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.