Paying respect to the achievements of the past while forging a way forward to success in the future: the 50th NRL Convention

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

Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, confers with Patricia Sandoval, the featured speaker at Friday night’s General Session.
Photo Credit: Lisa Andrusko

I walked into the National Right to Life Convention not knowing quite what to expect. After all, the nation is recovering from a worldwide pandemic which has dramatically altered just about every facet of life. I wondered if people would turn out, if our interactions would be awkward, and if this convention would measure up to the high bar set by conventions in the past.

What I found was a gathering of individuals on fire for life—perhaps even more so, having had endured the Coronavirus crisis.

What I also discovered was that I was walking among heroes.

For instance, there was the mother of 10 who brought with her one of the youngest convention-goers—a baby who delighted with his wide smile and pleasant demeanor.

I also encountered another mother of 10 who accompanied her son to the convention’s oratory contest. Hearing her talk about her amazing family, I knew I was face-to-face with a real American hero.

And then there was the young woman who ultimately won the oratory contest, boldly proclaiming the fundamental and inescapable truth that abortion does not empower women. Hers was one of the finest pro-life speeches I have ever been privileged to witness.

(Left to right) James Bopp, Jr., NRLC General Counsel; Darla St. Martin, NRL Co-Executive Director; David N. O’Steen, Ph.D., NRL Executive Director; Carol Tobias, NRL President; and Jennifer Popik, J.D., NRL Federal Legislative Director.

On the other side of the spectrum, I looked with awe at the people who have poured 40 years into service in the pro-life movement, devoting themselves to defending the lives of people whom they may never have an opportunity to meet. They are completely committed to a cause greater than themselves—a devotion that I hope to emulate.

I also had the chance to witness an electrifying speech by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, who told the powerful story of standing vigil in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with his son Daniel. “Every life, born and unborn, is worthy of protection,” the Senator remarked.

The 50th National Right to Life Convention informed and energized, paying respect to the achievements of the past while forging a way forward to success in the future. I will never forget it, and I will always remember the heroes I met there, who inspire me to fight even harder for preborn babies, their mothers and fathers, the frail elderly, and people with disabilities. It is a heroic venture, and I am grateful to be part of it.