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Keep the Movement Growing

by | Mar 11, 2015

By Carol Tobias

Editor’s note. This President’s column appeared on page three of the March digital edition of National Right to Life News. You can read this story and the entire 39 page issue at www.nrlc.org/uploads/NRLNews/NRLNewsMarch2015.pdf.

March2015FrontcoverIn the course of three days, I went from speaking at a college and meeting with pro-life students who want to impact their campus to the funeral of Dr. Jack Willke, 89, former president of NRLC. Jack was a giant, and a hero, to countless people who read his books or saw “the Willke slides.”

Our Movement has been fighting to reverse Roe v. Wade for 42 years. NRLC preceded Roe and is 47 years old. I know and love people who have been active for all or most of those 47 years. Do the math and it will come as no surprise that many of us in the movement are getting older.

We cannot know how long it will be before we have a Supreme Court which will recognize the horror forced on this country by the 1973 High Court and which will overturn Roe v. Wade. Even if that blessed reversal were to happen in the next few years, we would have a long road ahead of us as we battle in the states, or at the federal level, to pass legislation to protect unborn children.

But in the meanwhile we have a responsibility to the unborn babies, to the medically vulnerable, and to the elderly to keep filling the ranks, to bring in new people, to bring in young people, who will continue this fight for as long as it takes.

I was part of a Right to Life chapter in which we jokingly told each other, “you can’t retire until you find your replacement.” And that is taking place!

Many of those who have been involved for “a while” are encouraged by the fact that their efforts will continue unabated because of the young people who are moving into the front lines.

While we don’t want anyone to retire or quit, let’s look at some of the ways we can continue to find new recruits.

Encourage college students to attend the National Right to Life Academy this summer. This five-week intensive course will equip them with detailed information on a wide variety of pro-life topics. It will also train them how to use what they learn through giving speeches, lobbying legislators, and doing media interviews.

Graduates of the academy are already making a huge difference around the country. Many work for NRLC state affiliates. Others are promoting pro-life principles in their chosen career fields.

Unfortunately, for those dedicated pro-life students who enroll in the Academy, this means they are not able to hold a full summer job. So, on top of the cost of the Academy, they are not making money to pay for their regular schooling.

But you can provide a tremendous service by helping the students figure out ways to earn that money—asking friends and local civic groups, organizing church fundraisers, etc.  By helping these students, you are ensuring on-going leadership in the right-to-life movement.

Speaking of young people, we will be celebrating 30 years of National Teens for Life at the NRL convention in New Orleans this summer. If you are a former member of NTL, please come to the convention, which runs July 9-11, to help us celebrate. If you know someone who was involved with NTL, encourage them to come. (For more information about the NRL convention, see here.)

Many of our state affiliates operate youth camps for various ages, from middle school to college. Find out if your state participates; maybe you and some friends can help to get them started. (For information, see here.)

National Right to Life runs an essay contest for various grades; promote that among your local schools. Each summer during our annual convention, we conduct an oratory contest among high school contestants who have won their state contest, operated by our state affiliate. Encourage young people to participate.

Does your Right to Life chapter have a way to reach out to young people in your area, to educate them and to involve them in this, the greatest civil rights movement of our time? (In my humble opinion, the death of 57 million unborn children qualifies this as the greatest civil rights movement of ALL time.) Do you have a plan to bring in new people, of any age, to your chapter?

If you’re struggling in that area, contact our State Organizational Development office for ideas. You can reach them at stateod@nrlc.org or by calling (202) 378-8842.

Let me close with encouraging news—and from Nancy Keenan, former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, no less. When Keenan retired in 2012, the Washington Post reported, “In recent years, Keenan has worried about an ‘intensity gap’ on abortion rights among millennials, which the group considers to be the generation of Americans born between 1980 and 1991. While most young, antiabortion voters see abortion as a crucial political issue, NARAL’s own internal research does not find similar passion among abortion-rights supporters. If the pro-choice movement is to successfully defend abortion rights, Keenan contends, it needs more young people in leadership roles, including hers.”

NARAL’s own research showed that the passion among young people was on the pro-life side. But we can’t take that for granted. We need to constantly be promoting a culture of life among our young people.

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke before Congress on March 3, Professor and author Elie Wiesel was in the audience. Wiesel is a survivor of both the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps during World War II and is the 1986 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Netanyahu said, “Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words, ‘never again.’ And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past.  Not to sacrifice the future for the present…”

When we abort over 1 million children a year, our country is sacrificing the future for the present. We must work for a time when future generations are able to say “never again” to the killing of innocent unborn babies.

Categories: NRLC