Commentary by Judie Brown
As the year comes to a close, dozens of commentaries will be written with the goal of encapsulating the entire year into a few thousand words. As I firmly believe that only a fool would attempt to condense 365 days of activity into a few paragraphs, I won't even try.
My approach is to whet your appetite so that you will learn more about a particular event this past year, and in the process become committed to living out a pro-life commitment in word and deed.
Over the last twelve months two of the most articulate defenders of life, and most ardent opponents of Planned Parenthood, covered the nation talking and teaching average Americans about the threat that Planned Parenthood poses to their children and grandchildren. In the process, David Bereit, American Life League's executive director, and Jim Sedlak, ALL's vice president, motivated thousands of Americans. During this time, Planned Parenthood closed 13 clinics and currently operates its lowest number of facilities since 1987. That is very good news for expectant mothers, preborn children and youngsters.
Though this does mean that there are 817 of these operations still in place, there is every reason to believe that Planned Parenthood is shrinking and will continue to do so.
It is also clear that Planned Parenthood's multi-million dollar taxpayer subsidized package, arriving in its bank accounts annually, is at risk. Thousands of Americans signed on to our Stop Planned Parenthood Tax Funding petitions in 2006. The reality that we Americans are supporting Planned Parenthood with our tax dollars attained a level of discussion that nobody could have expected when 2006 began.
South Dakotans took an enormous leap of faith this year by making an effort to end all surgical and medical abortions in their state. The media consistently beat up on the pro-life side, as did many of our so-called friends in the pro-life movement. But important things happened in the state despite the powerful opposition that pro-lifers faced. For the first time in American Life League's history, we were part of a winning strategy to teach the American people the truth about why every single abortion is a crime. This made a tremendous impact on the citizens of South Dakota, and even though the effort lost at the ballot box, it won the hearts of thousands of people and set the stage for a second attempt to pass the same law in precisely the same way.
We are often told that victory can be grasped from the jaws of defeat. The people of South Dakota have proven that this is so, for rather than licking their wounds after the votes were tabulated, they stood up to attest to the fact that their cause is right, their goal is clear and they will not be deterred. I would suggest to you that while we lost a skirmish, we are far from losing the war. I am positive that time will prove my analysis correct.
It was also a privilege to work with heroic men and women in Missouri, where a human embryonic stem cell vote was lost because voters did not understand the confusing language on the ballot, and in Michigan where the Prenatal Child Protection Amendment was defeated by pro-lifers and Catholic bishops rather than pro-abortion zealots. In each of these cases a temporary setback provided valuable lessons to be applied to future struggles designed to end the gruesome crime of abortion in our nation.
We have learned that there truly is a growing split in the pro-life movement; a separation of mentalities if you will. There are those who remain focused on the reality of what abortion does to preborn children and their parents, and there are those who are comfortable working within the confines of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. This second group argues that doing something is better than striving for the "unattainable." These are people who tell us that it is not realistic to work for a law like the one attempted in South Dakota, or to support a constitutional amendment to protect every preborn baby like the one proposed in Michigan. They tell us the nation is not ready and that such measures go too far according to opinion polls and political friends. They claim "the timing is not right." They are wrong.
In 2006, this split was clarified and defined in ways we never could have imagined. Now that we know who our true friends are, we are poised to make stunning progress in the coming year. More and more Americans are realizing that compromise spells defeat for babies, and that is unacceptable.
Less encouraging, however, is the fight to protect the elderly, infirm and disabled. In the aftermath of Terri Schiavo's parents' struggle to protect their daughter from death by starvation came a deafening silence from the media. In 2006 we learned that as far as many political analysts and media types are concerned, the death of Terri Schiavo meant the end of any debate on the subject of taking the life of a vulnerable human being. Some "pro-life" politicians even suggested that trying to save Terri's life was a mistake.
What a tragedy this could have been had it not been for the heroic efforts of Terri's parents and siblings. The nation should not be allowed to forget the terrible injustice of Terri's death and the remarkable resilience of those who love life more than they love their own convenience. We owe Terri's family a debt of gratitude.
In 2006 the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a stunning document on the Holy Eucharist and how Catholics should prepare to receive the Sacrament. In that document the bishops stated that those who are not prepared to accept all the teachings of the Church should not come to the sacrament, but the bishops failed to demand enforcement of the section of canon law that prohibits obstinate sinners from receiving Holy Communion.
American Life League is grateful to the bishops for taking that first step in delineating Catholic teaching. We hope they go the rest of the way in the not too distant future and make it perfectly clear that people like Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should not be receiving the Eucharist and will be denied the sacrament if they fail to publicly repent of their support for the act of abortion.
In 2006, we saw the Food and Drug Administration cower before the likes of Planned Parenthood and its allies as it approved over-the-counter status for the morning-after pill, a concoction that can take the life of a preborn child prior to implantation in his mother's womb. It appears no one in authority wants to hear the truth about these pills.
Equally disturbing is the amount of power and authority vested in celebrities, the status that such people bring to the table, and the influence they wield over average Americans.
I wonder why Michael J. Fox joined the proponents of human embryonic stem cell research and allowed them to use his public identity to foster the idea that those of us who respect the human embryo as a fellow human being are cruel and inhumane. What has he been told? Who does he believe? Where did he get his information?
I wonder why President Bush gave his support to the abortive morning-after pill, Plan B, when he suggested that as long as the pill was not given to teens without a prescription, he had no problem. For a president who claims to be pro-life to endorse such a deadly pill sends the kind of message to America that confounds the mind and confuses the electorate.
Why do such notable people as Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore and Kevin Bacon go out of their way to promote the agenda of organizations like Planned Parenthood? Where is their sense of justice? Do they ever consider how grateful they should be that their mothers did not abort them?
Yes, 2006 provided pro-life America with a smorgasbord of opportunities, and for each and every one of them we are grateful. We look forward to 2007 with great joy as we use the lessons of 2006 to save babies, protect mothers and fathers from the pain of abortion and encourage our elected officials, our Catholic bishops and our fellow Americans to leave no stone unturned in the quest to end the culture of death.
Release issued: 29 Dec 06