NRL News

Why We Do What We Do

by | May 20, 2014


By Carol Tobias, President, National Right to Life

Editor’s note. This appeared in the May issue of National Right to Life News which can be read in its entirety at

startedsameThere are many ways people can make a difference in the pro-life movement. National Right to Life focuses on what I call the three-legged stool– education, legislation, and political action. Let me tell you why.

Education: When Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973, certainly fair-minded people knew that the unborn child was a human being, even though the court referred to a “fetus” or a “potential human life.” However, the pro-abortion forces put forth the myth that the unborn child wasn’t human. He or she (or “it” as they would say) was just a “fertilized egg,” a “blob of tissue,” or “a mass of cells.”

Pro-lifers needed to, and still need to, educate fellow Americans to the ABCs of human biology–that a baby’s heart begins to beat at 18 days after fertilization, and that brainwaves are present after six weeks. We needed to, and still need to, bring the humanity of the unborn child into the forefront in the public debate. The subsequent use of sonograms, now in full-color,3D and 4D imaging, helps us all to recognize the unmistakable face of a child, not a blob.

We need to educate our youth. Not only can they influence their peers, they will create a vision for where they think our nation should go and will set future policy for subsequent generations. With our help, they will look at the last 40+ years of abortion on demand and say, “Never again!”

Legislation: The law is a great teaching tool. It also saves lives– often on a massive scale. Starting in 1976, Henry Hyde, a congressman from Illinois, was successful in getting Congress to pass an amendment to the Health and Human Services appropriations bill to prevent funding of abortions through the federal Medicaid program. Pro-lifers fought hard for many years, year after year, to keep that amendment in place.

A conservative estimate finds that more than a million Americans are alive today because of that one amendment. Over a 37-year period, that averages out to 27,000 children per year. We fight for each and every baby, and one life saved is to be celebrated, but few, or no, other activity can claim that kind of success.

Other laws — requiring that women, often in a crisis, be given clear and specific information before making a final decision on abortion, notifying parents before their minor daughter can get an abortion, banning webcam abortions – all have an impact in saving the lives of the preborn little ones.

If National Right to Life had a legislative motto, it would be “save as many babies as possible as soon as possible.”

Legislative activity doesn’t necessarily put us in direct contact with the babies we save, but there are millions of people alive today because of those efforts.

Political Action: The need for pro-lifers to be involved in politics directly correlates to the desire to pass life-saving legislation. If we don’t have pro-life elected leaders, we don’t have pro-life laws.

President Obama has two more years in the White House. Imagine a pro-abortion victory in the elections this fall — the Senate remains under the control of Majority Leader Harry Reid, a staunch ally of abortion advocates, and Nancy Pelosi (or someone with the same militantly pro-abortion mindset) takes over the Speaker’s gavel in the U.S. House of Representatives. That would pave the way for

*Two years to push forward on Obamacare, two years to further undermine the Hyde Amendment;

*Two years to increase funding to the United Nations Population Fund, which contributes to China’s forced-abortion policies;

*Two years to push the so-called “Women’s Health Protection Act” (WHPA), a bill introduced last November by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct.) that would invalidate nearly all state limitations on abortion. This act would invalidate the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection laws enacted by 10 states — and further, would require all states to allow abortion even during the final three months of pregnancy based on an abortionist’s claim of “health” benefits – which Blumenthal acknowledged, in an interview with The Weekly Standard, includes claims based on emotional and psychological “health.”

*And two years to convince one or more Supreme Court justices to retire so that a pro-abortion president and Senate can nominate and confirm one or more new, young pro-abortion justices who will serve for decades.

On the other hand, consider a scenario where President Obama has to fight a House and Senate under pro-life leadership, where he has to veto pro-life bills and fight for his pro-abortion nominations to various positions. Just thinking about that possible scenario makes me smile.

On the other hand, consider a scenario where President Obama faces a House and Senate under pro-life leadership, where pro-life bills are passed and sent to his desk and where his pro-abortion nominations are sent to a pro-life Senate. The last two years of an Obama administration could be stymied as we make his abortion agenda fall apart.

This three-legged stool of education, legislation, and political action not only gives us a firm, unshakeable foundation, it also allows us to reach the most people and have the most impact, saving as many babies as we can as soon as we can.

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