Politics

Pro-Life Activists Converge on the First Coast

National Right-to-Life Committee continues fighting against abortion
By: Kevin Derby | Posted: June 23, 2011 12:18 PM

Illustration of Mom and Baby

Credit: Shutterstock- Complot

The National Right-to-Life Committee (NRLC), the nation’s largest organization opposing abortion, opened its annual convention in Jacksonville on Thursday, encouraged by recent electoral successes and cheering encouraging news across the nation.

Founded in 1968, with more than 3,000 chapters across the nation, leaders of the NRLC said their organization would continue to fight against abortion at the political and grass roots levels, pushing legislation and educational programs. Besides standing against abortion, the NRLC, a recognized nongovernmental organization at the United Nations, also opposes euthanasia, assisted suicides and medically mandated death. The group last met in Florida in 1998 -- when, as now, the Sunshine State was ravaged by wildfires.

In a videotaped greeting to the convention, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a rising star for conservatives and Republicans, praised the group for its commitment to fighting for life.

“Our rights come from God, our Creator,” said Rubio who referred to the Declaration of Independence. Florida’s new senator encouraged the pro-life activists to continue their efforts. “That’s what you’re doing -- fighting for the rights of unborn people.”

Rubio also praised the NRLC for selecting the conservative First Coast to hold its convention. “It has constantly stood for the rights of the unborn,” said Rubio.

National Right to Life Convention

Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, meets fellow pro-life advocates Thursday in Jacksonville / Credit: Kevin Derby

While Rubio spoke by recorded message, three prominent Republicans in the Florida House of Representatives were in attendance -- Larry Ahern of St. Petersburg, Dennis Baxley of Ocala and Charles Van Zant of Palatka.

Mary Spaulding Balch, the director of state legislation for the NRLC, praised the Sunshine State’s political leadership for passing measures requiring women considering abortions to have ultrasounds performed. While the measure passed the House and the Senate in 2010, then-Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed the measure. Gov. Rick Scott is expected to sign the bill, which also passed both chambers in 2011.  

“We like the ultrasound bill,” said Balch. “It gives a face to the unborn child.”

Randall O’Bannon, the director of education and research for the NRLC, noted that there were 1.6 million abortions performed in America back in 1990 as opposed to 1.2 million last year. He pointed to a number of political battles -- including pushing for ultrasounds and parental notification for minors looking to have an abortion performed -- as reasons why abortion is on the decline.

“There’s a long way to go still and we’re doing all we can,” said O’Bannon. He added that pro-life activists will continue to fight taxpayer-funded abortion. He also added that repealing the federal health-care law backed by President Barack Obama will remain one of the chief priorities of the NRLC.

The convention brought in more than 1,000 pro-life activists to Jacksonville. Presenters included noted political pundit Fred Barnes, former Planned Parenthood worker turned pro-life activist Abby Johnson, and Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life.

Five candidates for the Republican presidential nomination -- U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and businessman Herman Cain -- will address the group on Friday.

NRLC officials continued to stress that polls found more and more Americans were turning against abortion. In her opening remarks to the convention, Carol Tobias, the president of the NRLC, noted that a recent Gallup poll found 61 percent of those surveyed were either pro-life or opposed to abortion except for the most rare cases of rape, incest and danger to the mother’s life.

“More and more people are embracing the pro-life label and are increasingly becoming vocal,” noted Derrick Jones, the director of communications of the NRLC.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.

Comments (3)

tampabucks
8:45AM JUN 24TH 2011
Mr. Derby. Once again, it surprises me to no end that you claim to be a journalist when most of your stories are about anti-choice organizations. The reality of the situation is that abortion has been legal in this country since 1973 and the only "encouraging" news you report is that women in some states are now forced to undergo an unwanted medical procedure in the form of an ultrasound to "put a face" to an embryo. Please, resign your position as pretend journalist. Journalist write about facts. The fact is that women's right to abortion has been protected in this country for 38 and we will not ever turn back. The fantasy stories that you "spin" out have to place in any respectable news forum. Once again, you clearly have issues with women's rights. It would be great if Sunshine State news decided to use serious journalist like Mr. Ward instead of "journalist" like yourself who regurgitate press statements from right wing groups and call it writing.
RepublicanConscience
5:52AM JUN 24TH 2011
I lost respect for this organization. They have supported pro-abortion candidates when they feel that candidate will win so they don't get them angry, while legitimate pro-life candidates are abandoned. They have even given a pass to Rick Santorum, who campaigned for and endorsed Christie Todd Whitman of NJ in 1997, and Arlen Specter in 2004. They chose that strategy, so I left them 5 or 6 years ago.
RepublicanConscience
5:50AM JUN 24TH 2011
I lost respect for this organization. They have supported pro-abortion candidates when they feel that candidate will win so they don't get them angry, while legitimate pro-life candidates are abandoned. They have even given a pass to Rick Santorum, who campaigned for and endorsed Christie Todd Whitman of NJ in 1997, and Arlen Specter in 2004. They chose that strategy, so I left them 5 or 6 years ago.

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