Good morning, pro-lifers! Thank you for coming to beautiful Jacksonville, Fla. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules, and making this time commitment and financial commitment to come this week to educate yourselves, to meet other pro-lifers, and to get new ideas to take home so that you can make a difference in your state and in your local community.
You, the grass-roots pro-lifers, from all over the country, are amazing. Because of your efforts, unborn children WILL some day be protected by law, and protections will be restored for the elderly and disabled, whose lives are threatened by assisted suicide, euthanasia, and rationing of medical care. The work you do -- educating your communities, lobbying your elected officials, and helping to elect pro-life candidates to office at every level -- is making an impact.
You are the voice of National Right-to-Life in your local community. Your efforts are helping to spread the message that is being heard in every community across the nation. You are making a difference. And you came here, to Jacksonville, to learn and to get re-energized so that you can do even more. You are my heroes.
How many have been to a previous NRL convention? How many are here for the first time? We’re so glad you came. What can you learn in the next three days?
If you have an interest in education -- the impact of abortion on women and men, abortion and breast cancer, adult stem cells, knowing more about Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the nation – we have workshops for you.
If you have an interest in legislation at the federal or state level -- we have workshops for you.
If your interest is politics and the 2012 elections -- we have workshops for you.
If you’re concerned about euthanasia, rationing, the devaluation of life after birth, we have workshops for you.
For those who want to know what’s happening on the international scene to protect innocent human life -- we have workshops for you.
For those who want to learn how to get the pro-life message out; how to work with members of the media – we have workshops for you.
Whether you want help with chapter activities or fundraising ideas, guidelines for working with the IRS or learning new ways of reaching people through the social media, such as Facebook and Twitter -- we have workshops for you.
You can even learn if you’re green or orange and how people with different colors can work together. We have something for everyone …
This afternoon we’ll hear from Abby Johnson, the former director of a PP clinic. Tomorrow at the prayer breakfast, we hear from Melissa Oden, who survived a saline abortion. I got to meet her daughter, Olivia. She’s an adorable little girl, and we’re so glad to have both of them here.
Saturday night, at the banquet, we’ll hear the story of the incredible photo, showing an unborn baby grabbing the doctor’s finger during surgery.
There is so much packed into these three days that you’ll probably go home physically tired, but hopefully, you will be mentally and emotionally ready to charge onward; ready to meet the challenges that lie ahead. And we do have challenges. Although the number of abortions is slowly decreasing, we still lose more than a million unborn children to abortion each year.
Another challenge is the way technology is being used. Technology is wonderful, but not when it is being used to make abortions easier in more remote parts of the country. In a telemed, or webcam abortion, a doctor sits in his office in one city, talks to a woman in another city, via computer. After this “expert consultation,” he pushes a button on his computer so a drawer in her room opens to reveal two pills. She takes one, then goes home; takes the other pill a day or two later, and expels her dead baby.
Computer medicine may be a good way to help those who are underserved medically, but it is certainly not something that should be used in a way that is certain death for the unborn child and very dangerous for the mother. Another big challenge we have is to overturn President Barack Obama’s health-care law. There are many ways abortion can get into this system, notwithstanding an ineffectual executive order.
The law provides $7 billion for the nation’s 1,250 community health centers. There is no abortion restriction on this money; pro-abortion groups are campaigning for the health centers to perform abortions, so this law allows direct federal funding of abortion-on-demand through the health centers. The law provides another $5 billion for temporary high-risk health insurance pools and $6 billion in grants for health co-ops. No restrictions are placed on these funds, so they also may be used by pro-abortion appointees to pay for abortion.
Other new programs will be established that, again, have no limits or restrictions on abortion. If this law is allowed to fully take effect, the $363 million in tax money given to Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the country, by various government entities, will be peanuts compared to the money and programs that will be available through Obama’s health-care law. If this law is allowed to go into effect, it will also set up a system of rationing that is unfathomable in the land of the free.
The Obama health care law sets up an 18-member “Independent Payment Advisory Board,” with the duty of limiting government Medicare payments to below the rate of medical inflation. Under the Obama law, not even Congress can increase Medicare payments limited by this board. This is part of how, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the Obama law will cut $555 billion from Medicare over 10 years. Seniors just won’t get the medical care they want or need.
Less widely known, and what you can learn more about this week, is the law’s provision allowing Washington bureaucrats to prevent older Americans from making up the Medicare shortfall with their own funds – taking away senior citizens’ right to spend their own money to save their own lives. This “Independent Payment Advisory Board” is also charged with making recommendations to the federal department of Health and Human Services to limit how much of your own money you, as a private citizen, are allowed to spend on health care for you and your family members so that it is below the rate of medical inflation. This limit will apply to all Americans, not just senior citizens on Medicare.
So the board will impose limits on Medicare recipients and make recommendations for everyone else. Federal bureaucrats can implement these recommendations administratively, meaning no congressional oversight or review is necessary. To do so, the Obama health-care law gives them power to impose so-called “quality and efficiency” measures on hospitals, requiring the hospitals to report on how they are complying with these standards. Doctors will have to comply with the quality measures in order to be able to contract with any qualified health insurance plan.
Treatment that a doctor and patient think is necessary or advisable to save that patient’s life or improve the patient’s health -- but which goes against the government-imposed standards -- will be denied, even if the patient is willing and able to pay for it.
This is rationing, and the only way to stop it is to repeal the Obama health-care law. Which brings us to our next challenge – the 2012 elections.
This organization is the most comprehensive pro-life organization anywhere: we have an organization in every state with local chapters; we do education, outreach to various religious and cultural communities, legislation at the state and federal levels, international work -- at the U.N. and other venues. We don’t do everything, but we have a broader reach than any other pro-life organization.
We need to use all these tools to change the hearts and minds of America, to bring America back to life. But quite frankly, it is through the elections and subsequent legislative work that we will reach our goal of stopping abortion, euthanasia, and all related threats to innocent human life. We need to elect pro-life candidates who will pass pro-life laws and will appoint and confirm judges who will uphold a culture of life and not make up laws from their post on the bench.
The importance of preparing for next year’s election cannot be overstated. We appear to be one justice short of having a majority to overturn Roe v. Wade. But obtaining one more justice requires the election of a pro-life president and retaking the U.S. Senate. The same requirements are necessary to repeal Obamacare. Our success in restoring protection for innocent human life at all ages and all stages depends on our success in the 2012 elections.
You know we face challenges; that’s why you’re here. You came so you can learn, and grow; so that you can make even more of a difference. Can one person make a difference? I came across a story lately that intrigues me. William Carey was a Baptist minister in England. He decided he wanted to be a missionary in India and convinced his family to move there with him. In his last sermon before leaving England, he proclaimed, “Expect great things from God! Attempt great things for God.”
When Carey arrived in India in 1793, infant sacrifices were common; babies were left outside, exposed to the elements, or thrown into the Ganges River to appease the gods. Carey was jarred at finding the remains of a baby eaten by white ants.
The culture placed a low value on females -- often female babies were smothered at birth. Women who lost their husbands had tremendous pressure put on them to become part of their husbands’ funeral pyre so that they would be burned alive. He came across one situation where the widow was an 11-year-old girl. She died as part of her husband’s funeral.
Euthanasia was practiced as the sick and elderly were left by the riverside -- exposed to extreme temperatures, crocodiles or insects. Lepers were burned alive. Carey began a campaign to change the culture, to place value on human life. He established there the first school for girls. He set up a newspaper in the local language so he could reach more people with his message.
William Carey spent 41 years in India campaigning for human rights, along with his missionary work. Life was hard for him. He lost one son and his wife. He lost another son and a second wife. But by the time he died in 1834, India had changed. The British government, ruling India at that time, had outlawed infanticide, as well as widow- and leper-burning. One man with a mission made a tremendous difference.
You don’t have to go halfway around the world to make a difference. You are doing that in your own hometown. Your efforts, like those of William Carey, are making a difference, and we have reason to be optimistic. You did a fantastic job in the elections last year, putting new pro-life men and women into office. That hard work in the elections bore fruit in this year’s legislative sessions.
States are passing effective laws to protect unborn children. Five states now protect the life of unborn children who can feel pain. Several states have passed “opt out” legislation so that the state health exchanges they are required to maintain, because of Obamacare, will not include abortion coverage.
States are passing parental consent or notice laws, and women’s right-to-know laws, and placing restrictions on tax-funding of abortion.
Other states are passing ultrasound laws, requiring the abortionist to do a sonogram before the abortion and let the woman see the picture of her unborn child. More to be optimistic about:
A Gallup poll released last month found that 61 percent of Americans believe abortion should either be illegal in all circumstances or legal only in a few circumstances. That has increased a few points from just a couple of years ago.
As pro-life Congressman Chris Smith stated on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, earlier this year, “America has changed and today is more pro-life than ever.”
We are especially encouraged that young people are pro-life. A “Marist Institute for Public Opinion” poll found that almost 60 percent of people under the age of 45 believe that abortion is morally wrong. We are winning the battle for the hearts and minds of young people.
Frances Kissling, former president of the pro-abortion group Catholics for a Free Choice, once told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that there's no denying that most of the anti-abortion camp is getting younger, adding: “The abortion-rights movement is not.” I love that one.
We have a great teen convention going on on the next floor. On Saturday, we will conduct the annual oratory contest, with the winner giving his or her speech at the closing banquet that evening. Young people are ready and willing to get involved, to help us make a difference.
We have challenges, and we don’t take them lightly. But we also have opportunities and prospects for REAL hope and change. I know that you are up to the challenge as we “expect great things from God, and attempt great things for God.” Thank you.
Carol Tobias is president of National Right-to-Life. This is her opening address Thursday at the organization's annual convention in Jacksonville.