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When were you recruited?

by | Mar 3, 2015

By Lois Anderson, Director of Political Operations, Oregon Right to Life

Editor’s note. The speech Ms. Anderson is referring to was delivered July 5 at the close of the National Right to Life Committee’s 2008 convention. Robert P. George has called this address “the greatest pro-life speech ever given.”

Photo Credit: March for Life

Photo Credit: March for Life

January 22 is always a tough day for me as I am sure it is for many … another memorial, another anniversary, babies still being killed, and the nagging internal debate over whether I am doing enough.

Recently, I re-read a speech by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus. Neuhaus is the founder of the journal First Things and was the editor until his death.

He was the author of many books, including “The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America.” Charles Colson and Neuhaus were friends and leaders in bringing cooperation and unity between Catholics and Evangelicals, especially in the public square and the pro-life cause.

To say that Neuhaus was influential is an understatement. If you have not read any of his works, start with this speech.

In this speech, Neuhaus recalls the moment he knew he was recruited to the cause. He recounts the moment powerfully and then asks his audience, which includes all of us who labor together in this cause:

“Perhaps you, too, can specify such a moment when you knew you were recruited. At that moment, you could have said, “Yes, it’s terrible that in this country alone 4,000 innocent children are killed every day, but then so many terrible things are happening in the world. Am I my infant brother’s keeper? Am I my infant sister’s keeper?” You could have said that, but you didn’t … That horror, that betrayal, would not let you go. You knew, you knew there and then, that you were recruited to contend for the culture of life, and that you were recruited for the duration.”

Do you remember the moment? It was refreshing for me to remember mine. It was when I first came to work at Oregon Right to Life.

Of course, I was pro-life and had worked in campaigns and on legislative staff. I knew how to organize volunteers for everything from stuffing envelopes to lawn sign installation. I knew how to read a bill and craft a response to a constituent.

But there was so much more I needed to learn. Among the articles I was given to bring me up to speed was one describing an abortion procedure which we know as partial-birth abortion. I had never seen anything so horrible. This was my recruitment moment. From then on, every time I tried to do something else or felt the pull of a more prestigious, better paying job, it felt wrong.

It has been more than 20 years since that moment and every year the total number of babies killed by abortion grows. Honestly, it’s difficult and heartbreaking. But, I am recruited for the duration, are you?

Neuhaus concludes,

“The journey has been long, and there are miles and miles to go … until every human being created in the image and likeness of God is protected in law and cared for in life. We shall not weary, we shall not rest. And, in this, the great human rights struggle in our time and all times, we shall overcome.”

Categories: Pro-Lifers