Communications Department

National Right to Life Mourns the Loss of Founding Board Member and Former General Counsel Martin McKernan, Jr.

Aug 5, 2021 | 2021 Press Releases, Press Releases, Press Room

WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, former board member and general counsel for National Right to Life, Martin McKernan, Jr., passed away in New Jersey at the age of 75.

“As one of the founding members of National Right to Life, Martin McKernan will be remembered for his impact on the pro-life movement,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “Our prayers are with his family at this time.”

Martin McKernan’s legacy in helping to establish National Right to Life cannot be overstated.

Martin McKernan served on the board of directors and as general counsel for National Right to Life from 1971-1974. In March 1973, in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, he was elected by the board to a nine-member executive committee charged with incorporating National Right to Life and formalizing its representative board of directors. It is a corporate structure that continues to lead the movement to this day.

Anne Perone, president of New Jersey Committee for Life, stated, “We extend our deepest sympathy to the McKernan family for their personal loss and for the loss of our New Jersey pro-life champion.”

Years ago, pro-life statesman, Congressman Henry Hyde, made the observation about what it would be like to stand in the presence of God,

When the time comes as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I’ve often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates; you are there alone standing before God – and a terror will rip through your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there will be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world – and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, “Spare him because he loved us,” – and God will look at you and say not, “Did you succeed?” but “Did you try?”

“As Martin is ushered into the presence of his Savior, we are sure he is hearing the ‘chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world’ speaking up on his behalf,” said Tobias. “He was crucial in establishing the foundation of the RIGHT-TO-LIFE movement and we will forever be grateful for his work in protecting the lives of the most vulnerable among us.”

Founded in 1968, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the federation of affiliates in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia and more than 3,000 local chapters, is the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots pro-life organization. Recognized as the flagship of the pro-life movement, National Right to Life works through legislation and education to protect innocent human life from abortion, infanticide, assisted suicide and euthanasia.