By Holly Gatling, Executive Director, South Carolina Citizens for Life
Five months after I graduated from the University of South Carolina with my degree in journalism, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landscape altering 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. I wasn’t paying attention, even as a young journalist. I had other things on my mind, my all-important career being one thing. Besides I didn’t know anyone who’d had an abortion. It didn’t seem important to me because I thought Roe v. Wade was about legalizing abortion for rape victims.
Very soon, however, I became roommates with a young woman my age and as we got to know each other better she told me that she’d gotten pregnant in high school and that her mother took her to New York to have an abortion. That was before 1973. What troubled me about the conversation was her revelation that she didn’t want to have an abortion. It had nothing to do with rape. I tucked that information away to think about for another day. I did not know it at the time, but after the fact I now see that this would prove to the first step in my pro-life journey.
Fast forward into my career. As I became aware of more and more young women my age who had had an abortion – some more than one – the issue began to bother me. But I was busy writing about the most gut-wrenching ghastly crimes imaginable in South Carolina. Mass murder, dismembered homicide victims—grisly, horribly shocking stories.
And then there was Jesse Floyd, M.D., the most infamous abortionist in South Carolina history.
The case I covered involved a murder charge against Floyd who aborted a little boy who lived 21 days. The issue wound up in the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals which was on my beat.
The decision was in Floyd’s favor. Why? It was not illegal to abort a baby who could survive outside the womb; therefore the killer could not be charged with murder, the 4th Circuit decision held.
While disturbing, it was just another story of the day. Again I tucked the information away for “later.”
But the Floyd trial was only one thread in a larger tapestry. The abortion issue was heating up in the national news, and more and more horror stories of late abortions were being exposed. In some ways they remind you of what took place in abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s House of Horrors. It was bothering me more and more.
As the crime reporter – the “if it bleeds it ledes” star of the newsroom – I personally witnessed the results of innumerable savage acts of inhumanity – murder, rape, child abuse, animal abuse. I saw it all and while it is hardly a badge of honor, I had the stomach to investigate these acts of savagery.
Then one day someone showed me a photograph of an aborted child. My knees buckled. I was sickened by the fact that what I was looking at looked like a crime – but it wasn’t. It was legal to butcher a baby in this country.
Finally, I got it.
That was my turning point. I could no longer store that away for “later” consideration. I went from being bothered by abortion to being determined to do something to stop it.
Naively I thought that all it would take to stop this scourge on our society was the news media exposing this holocaust. I had no idea that the root of the problem was the institutional news media itself until I went to my editor and said I wanted to cover the right-to-life issue because I didn’t think the paper was being fair.
With gentle sanctimony, my editor informed me that the editorial position of the paper was in keeping with the corporate position which was “pro-choice.” I knew that day I would not retire from the corporate media world. I would have to quit. And I did.
I’m skipping a lot of details here – a book full in fact. But the sagas of all pro-lifers are complex and lengthy.
The bottom line is I never thought I’d be working full time in the pro-life movement. Never. But when God asks you to do something – and it’s always an ask, never an order – you have a choice.
On December 23, 2016, I marked my 23rd year as executive director of South Carolina Citizens for Life. I have now been in the pro-life movement three years longer than I was a reporter. Our General Assembly has passed 15 right to life laws since 1990 and abortions occurring in our state have declined by 59 percent. In 2016 South Carolina passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that ends abortion on demand in our state when a baby can feel pain, scientifically documented at 20 weeks.
My career as a reporter was exciting and at times fulfilling. Working in the pro-life movement, however, has exceeded my wildest expectations for living a fulfilling life. In a way it is like marriage for me – something the news business never was.
I’m in it for the long haul. I’m in it for life ‘til the end of the deaths of unborn babies do us part.
As a postscript to this whirlwind autobiography, there is an ironic twist. I call it the irony of ironies. The office of South Carolina Citizens for Life is now located in the former abortion office of Jesse Floyd who died in 1995 in an automobile accident.
In another ironic twist, South Carolina Citizens for Life exposed his hideous unsanitary practice. Floyd was grinding up aborted babies in a common kitchen sink disposal. We used this information and other abortion atrocities in South Carolina to spur the State Legislature to pass the Abortion Clinic Regulation Act.
Of course the abortion industry fought us all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court by way of the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. This time the court ruled in favor of regulating filthy unborn child-killing centers. All but three abortion businesses closed in South Carolina. At one time there were 14. The number of abortions has declined by 57 percent. If you are interested in seeing the correlation between passing prolife laws and the decline in abortions, go to our webpage www.sclife.org and click open the graph on the home page.