By Holly Gatling, Executive Director, South Carolina Citizens for Life
My mother, may God rest her soul, had a saying: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” That saying really puzzled me as I was growing up because everything was changing every day before my very eyes. But now that I’m entering my 30th year as the executive director of South Carolina Citizens for Life, I finally understand what Mama meant.
Recently someone asked me, “How are you doing?” Instead of saying, “Great! How are you?” I decided to tell my acquaintance exactly how I’m doing. “My life,” I said, “feels like I live in the movie ‘Ground Hog Day.’ The only difference between the movie and my life is that in the movie nothing changes, and in real life nothing changes except I get older.” I wasn’t complaining, I promise. I was stating a fact.
I vividly remember my first day on the job, December 23, 1993, with South Carolina Citizens for Life. My computer had a floppy disc. Cell phones were called “bag phones.” I had to learn to use a PhoneTree – the latest technology for the fastest communication of Legislative Action Alerts. The South Carolina General Assembly had passed its first pro-life law, the Parental Consent Act, and I was taking over in the middle of a two-year session with every pro-abortion roadblock being used to prevent passage of our next pro-life law, the Woman’s Right to Know Act.
Here’s my point. Everything I learned in my first year as the executive director and lobbyist for my state’s oldest and largest single-issue pro-life organization is still in play. Technology has improved. E-mails, social media, and cell phones are the latest ways of getting the pro-life message out. Those things may change, but our message doesn’t.
Honestly, I didn’t believe I would see Roe v. Wade overturned in my lifetime. My imaginary world of a culture without abortion meant I’d retire and do something else. Wrong. Absolutely wrong.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
After the stunning June 24, 2022, U.S. Supreme Court Dobbs decision overturning Roe, I’m still planning for our October pro-life booth at the State Fair where our baby models have been on display since 1974; I’m still planning for the Stand Up for Life March and Rally which has occurred every year since 1974 regardless of South Carolina’s unpredictable weather conditions in January; I’m still working on drafting life-protecting legislation because we won’t stop with the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act; I’m still relying on the talented, knowledgeable staff of National Right to Life to guide our effective, life-saving legislation. And on it goes.
South Carolina Citizens for Life will celebrate its 50th Jubilee Anniversary in January. I could never have imagined thirty years ago reaching this milestone. Our theme is “Choose life so that you and your descendants may live” Deuteronomy 30:19.
I could not have imagined my feelings of joy and satisfaction for the accomplishments of the pro-life movement in South Carolina, the growth of pregnancy care centers, the passage of numerous life-protecting laws, and the election of so many pro-life legislators and executives.
My heart is filled with gratitude for the many donors who have kept our doors open, the young and talented staff members who have passed through our office on their way to careers in law, medicine, lobbying, counseling, ministry, and raising families (the most pro-life activities anyone can undertake).
When we choose life, we are choosing the path of our ancestors and paving the way for our descendants. Technology changes but human nature doesn’t. I think that is the real meaning of my mother’s wisdom.