By David N O’Steen, Ph.D., Executive Director
Editor’s note. This appeared on the front page of the first-Post Roe v. Wade issue of NRL News. Please be sure to share this story, and all the stories on this 41 edition of the ‘Pro-Life Newspaper of record.’
Forty-nine years, five months, two days; that was the time I had really been in the right to life movement. It was also the age of Roe vs. Wade when it finally fell.
I had left the University of Houston in the summer of 1972 to take a position at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN. That summer I met two of my math majors, who turned out to be the best students I ever had in my short teaching career.
More important, when they found that I shared their conviction that killing babies by abortion was wrong – that unborn children should be protected – they introduced me to the local chapter of the state pro-life group Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). That chapter was without a chairman
and that fall, in my absence, the group elected me the chairman.
I said no. I wasn’t a speaker, an organizer, an activist. I did not even know that a case involving abortion was before the Supreme Court and I had never even heard of a pro-life organization before. I paid the chapter dues, $15, I think, and wished the group well. Someone else could do this better than I.
On January 22, 1973, the same two students came in my office and told me that the Supreme Court had struck down every law restricting abortion in the country and ruled that there was a constitutional right to abortion–for any reason. That was the day I truly became part of the right to life movement.
I was stunned! I happened to have a booklet with a copy of the Constitution in my desk. I read it immediately that day. It was clear that there was nothing in the Constitution about abortion or forbidding the states, under the Tenth Amendment, from protecting unborn children from abortion. As quickly as I could I obtained a copy of the Court’s opinion and read it. It was so much tragic nonsense!
And I immediately told the MCCL chapter that was still without a chairman that yes, I would do it. In 1975 I said yes again when asked to be Executive Director of MCCL. And in 1984 I became Executive Director of National Right to Life, the federation of the state pro-life organizations.
Forty-nine years, five months and two days later I was stunned again. I always believed Roe would fall. Surely the final decision of the United State of America would not be that the best we had to offer our children was to kill them. The fall of Roe would come someday – by God’s grace and in His time.
But I had increasingly come to often think that it would not come in my lifetime on earth.
I was in the best possible place to be when the news of the decision came – the National Right to Life Convention surrounded by fellow pro-life friends and workers. I confess that my eyes became rather misty. Long time National Right to Life General Counsel James Bopp, Jr. laid his hand on my shoulder–his eyes were misty too–as were most in the room as the enormity of what had happened sank in.
I couldn’t help but think of the many, many pro-life friends and co-workers who were no longer with us to see this – both those whose names are known only in their own chapters and communities and those whose names are legend, like former National Right to Life President, Dr. Mildred Jefferson. But I do believe they each knew when Roe fell.
How did it happen? How could it have happened with the vast financial resources of the abortion industry and Planned Parenthood and the constant pro-abortion propaganda of almost the entire media and entertainment industry arrayed against the grassroots; volunteer based right to life movement?
It happened because we never gave up and had/have both committed people in every nook and cranny of America and had/have the truth–the truth that killing innocent human beings is wrong, wrong, wrong and that our unborn children are the most innocent of human beings.
We educated, we organized, we put forth legislation, and we voted. And during those dark years when the Court held firm for death we kept working for Life.
We drove down the annual abortion numbers from a high of about 1.6 million to about 900,000 today. We never even considered quitting no matter the setback.
Finally, there was a majority of Justices who would honestly interpret the Constitution according to what was actually written and meant by its authors.
And Roe was gone.
What we have won is freedom, the freedom to work in our states and with our elected state legislatures to secure protection for unborn children. But freedom is a fragile thing and must always be carefully guarded and protected.
Killing unborn babies is the epitome of evil and evil when cornered and corralled will fight back ferociously with tooth and claw. We are witnessing that today, from the lies and hysterical distortions in the media to the violence and threats against right to life groups, pregnancy help centers and even the Court and Justices themselves.
We know that the Democratic party of abortion plans to use every trick at their disposal to try to thwart the Constitution and thwart the right of the people to govern themselves through their elected representatives. Court packing, creating new states, passing a federal abortion until birth paid for with tax dollars law–anything goes for them as long as it prolongs the killing.
We know that we cannot protect life immediately in many Democrat controlled states. But in many states, we can and will and are. And we will organize, educate, legislate, and vote until we can protect children everywhere in America.
We have been there before. We will not quit. There is an election this fall.
We will be there.
Forty-nine years, five months, two days. And worth every minute of it.