Editor’s note. These are the opening remarks delivered this morning to the annual NRLC National Convention by National Right to Life President Carol Tobias.
Good morning! I am so excited that you are all here in the great city of Milwaukee to celebrate LIFE at the 47th annual National Right to Life convention.
Our theme, “Keeping Tomorrow Alive,” demonstrates our 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.
We have fantastic speakers with us this week. Ben Shapiro is here to get us started. We will also hear from David Daleiden, Ann McIlhenny, Ryan Bomberger, Wesley Smith, and Carter Snead. We are honored to have Wisconsin leaders here—Rebecca Klayfish and Brad Schimal. On Saturday, we will have former Congressman James Sensenbrenner, and tomorrow morning, not listed on your printed schedule– Governor Scott Walker.
Add to that amazing list an extensive array of speakers and topics with all the workshops and the “Gosnell” movie tomorrow night. You won’t want to miss any of these next three days.
If you hear something you want to share with the world, please use the hashtag NRLC2017. That’s #NRLC2017. And if you don’t know what that means or you want to learn more about it, then you might want to attend one of our many workshops on how to use social media to advance the cause of life. #NRLC2017
The Right-to-Life movement has been in existence for about 50 years. Many of our state affiliates were organizing long before the Supreme Court decisions of Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton. While most people would have accepted abortion as “settled” law, there were pro-life heroes who decided to fight, determined to awaken the conscience of America to the plight of her littlest, most vulnerable ones.
Some of those early organizers are no longer with us, having gone on to eternal life. Fortunately, many of those early organizers are still with us, laboring in the fields with the many, many more who have joined the fight.
Although those early organizers were hopeful that there would be a quick end to abortion, their efforts helped keep tomorrow alive by continuing the struggle and bringing new recruits into this battle for Life. Keeping Tomorrow Alive is now up to us.
This is two-fold theme. We keep tomorrow alive by bringing more and more people into the right-to-life movement to keep this fight going; people who will work beside us in our endeavors to protect innocent human life. But it’s also about an idea, a goal, that human life is to be valued and cherished and respected. Life is to be lived!
Throughout history, there has always been death and destruction. There has always been the leader or the government who didn’t care about people, or who placed one group of people above others. Our objective, our vision, is to make the death of innocent human beings unthinkable. We keep tomorrow alive by establishing a standard that human life is precious.
Certainly, we face challenges. We live in a society where too many people think unborn children have no more rights than an appendix. We are dealing with a culture that increasingly believes children who may have disabilities would be better off never being born.
There is increasing pressure on people with disabilities to opt for assisted suicide. Some insurance companies and a state-run health plan in Oregon have offered to pay for assisted suicide for patients, rather than life-sustaining treatments. Legislatures are continuously pushed to legalize assisted suicide because our society can’t imagine why anyone would want to live with an illness or disability.
And, of course, we deal with the Planned Parenthood pablum that abortion is “health care.”
But pro-lifers are eternally optimistic—we know we will win. We are encouraged that more and more people are getting involved in the fight against abortion and euthanasia.
We keep tomorrow alive by changing hearts and minds, educating newcomers and bringing them into the movement; by educating our young people so that they have the arguments to bolster their pro-life convictions, and by helping women who have aborted a son or a daughter to realize that they are welcomed and encouraged to join our ranks in the fight to protect innocent human life.
We know our efforts are working. Earlier this year, we found out that 926,190 abortions had been performed in 2014. That is the first time since 1974 that the number of abortions performed in the United States dropped below one million. That is a 42% drop from our all-time high of 1.6 million abortions in 1990. Abortion rates and ratios are at their lowest point since 1973. We are making a difference because more and more women are choosing life for their children.
We keep tomorrow alive by making our voices heard in the voting booth as we elect more pro-life candidates each election cycle, seeing pro-life legislation passed and pro-life policies enacted, at both federal and state levels.
One great example of political success making a difference is the new version of the Mexico City Policy. When President Trump issued a Memorandum in January, he didn’t just reinstate the Mexico City Policy that had been rescinded by President Obama, he broadened it and renamed it “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance.” The revision covered more programs and agencies than previously covered, placing restrictions on more funds than the original policy. The United States is raising the banner for LIFE throughout the world. We are not going to tell poor, developing countries that the way to improve their living conditions is by killing their children.
Pro-life political success also translates into the appointment of a well-qualified, very intelligent justice to the Supreme Court. I’ll admit, I enjoyed reading the reactions some people had on Twitter when Supreme Court decisions on other issues came down this week. Some tweeters had apparently just realized that Justice Gorsuch is a conservative– and he could be on the Court for 30 years! Oh, what horror! No, what joy!
We are having success in state legislatures as we pass more laws to protect unborn children who can feel pain and to prevent the killing of unborn babies by the gruesome dismemberment abortion. States are enacting laws to require that women seeking an abortion be given the opportunity to view an ultrasound of her unborn child.
And an exciting new proposal– passed in four states now– that women seeking a chemical abortion must be told that if she changes her mind after the first step in the process, it may be possible to reverse the effects of that chemical abortion. There are a few hundred children living today because their moms sought help and did not complete the abortion process.
And an amazing fact that we celebrate is that 17 states, this year, had measures to legalize assisted suicide; every one of those efforts failed. This battle is by no means over, but that is a huge victory.
And we know that public opinion is coming our way. A Gallup poll, conducted last month, found that 54% of Americans think abortion should be illegal or legal only in a few circumstances, compared to 42% who think abortion should be legal under any or most circumstances.
Life is winning as we see more and more young people getting involved. I’m excited to have the National Teens for Life convention here. This is the 32nd annual convention for young people eager to learn and to meet other from around the country. Their enthusiasm, new ideas, and boldness will have an impact on generations to come.
We have high school students from around the country who will compete Saturday in our national oratory contest.
And also here are college students participating in the college-accredited National Right to Life Academy, now in its 11th year.
The energy, enthusiasm, commitment, and dedication of every pro-lifer will bring us much closer to that inevitable day when abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia, and the devaluing of innocent human life are thrown onto the ash heap of history. We will keep tomorrow alive—both in the day-to-day battle and the long-run vision for America. Life is precious.