Wednesday, March 24, 2010

From Americans United for Life

Dear Friends:

After the last week of such intense work to try to keep funding and mandates for abortion out of health care, capped by the sudden collapse of “the Stupak bloc” which led to Sunday night’s tragic vote in favor of pro-abortion health care, the question on everyone’s minds right now is: what’s next? So I’d like to take a minute to tell you about AUL’s plans.
But first let me begin with a tremendous thank you for your support in the firestorm of this last week. The overwhelming response AUL received was deeply meaningful to the entire AUL team and a great encouragement. You are partners with us, so we work knowing that we are a team in the effort.

Together, we were able to really dig in during the lead up to the vote. AUL Action's “Life Counts” campaign was so significant that the New York Times and Politico both featured it.
I spent all of Saturday and much of Sunday at the Capitol while the AUL legal team was working at our offices near the White House and another part of our team was on the Hill making sure that the remaining “undecideds” had AUL’s legal analysis. In fact, the Washington Examiner ran an oped by our Sr. VP, Bill Saunders, about the Executive Order which was cited on the floor of the House by Congressman Sensenbrenner.

In the end, however, it came down to four votes. The bloc of Representatives led by Congressman Stupak, who had committed to casting a pro-life vote, failed to withstand the intense pressure from Speaker Pelosi and the President.

I cannot adequately express how heavy my heart was as I made my way back to the AUL office after Congressman Stupak’s press conference where he had announced that he cut an empty deal with the President.

When I arrived, however, I found our legal team already finishing up our newest piece of model legislation: a bill that would allow states to prohibit health plans offered through the Exchanges in their states from offering abortion coverage. I hope that encourages you as much as it did me!

We’ve already heard from legislators in Georgia and Kansas who want to get this legislation passed in their states. And let me assure you - we have more responses in the works, both on the state and the federal level. There is much more to come and a number of ways for us to respond pro-actively and aggressively. With AUL’s history working in the states with legislators across this country, and in the courts, we are uniquely positioned to respond to this new threat to Life. And we will.

On Monday, we spent some time together as a team, reviewing the events of the weekend; I told everyone assembled that we needed to focus on two central questions: What are we made of? And what do we believe?

The answer to the first question came in the form of that ready-to-roll piece of legislation. Our team may be tired, but we are relentless and we will press forward, creating a path toward restoring our culture of life.

The second question will keep us focused beyond this temporary setback. The answer is this: we believe that abortion is the great evil of our age. A surrender to complacency and discouragement is not an option. We are engaged in the great human rights struggle of our time. Our fight is waged with the abolitionist movement and the civil rights movement as our great heritage.

So let me conclude with a final reflection on that heritage. I had the privilege of beginning the day on Sunday at a non-denominational and bi-partisan service held in the Capitol Rotunda. It was awe-inspiring to sit in Statuary Hall, surrounded by statues of the great heroes of our history and the leaders of today.

The service was organized by a friend of mine and a friend of Life, Congressman Randy Forbes. We began by singing “Amazing Grace.”

This is a hymn that has deep meaning for many of us. I used it to sing my children to sleep all through the years when I paced the floor with restless babies. Those nights seemed endless then, but they are a sweet memory now.

Our times of challenge pass. History moves quickly and we have to seize the moment. “Amazing Grace” was written by the reformed slave-trader, John Newton, the friend and mentor of the great abolitionist, William Wilberforce. As I heard those beautiful words, sung a capella, in the soaring space of Statuary Hall, I knew a great peace about the day yet to unfold in front of us.

Of course the day ended in stunning disappointment. But Wilberforce and Newton knew those times too. Yet ultimately, they prevailed.

We have no promise that we will see the same triumphant outcome that they did. Although I believe that we will if we persevere.

In that time of unknowing, we press on. Last week my uncle sent me a column written by one of my favorite writers, Paul Greenberg:

Even if nothing practical comes of standing up for principle, something will have been accomplished. Future generations will know that this whole culture of death, of which abortion has been so central a part, was not imposed on America without resistance. Call it bearing witness. Voices in the wilderness have been known to prove prophetic. Some day, some way they will be heard. Or maybe not. But at least they will have been raised.

Or as Walker Percy [once wrote]: “To pro-abortionists: According to the opinion polls, it looks as if you may get your way. But you’re not going to have it both ways. You’re going to be told what you’re doing.”

Today I say this, to Nancy Pelosi and Cecile Richards:

You may have gotten your way. But you’re not going to have it both ways.

Friends, come with me and let us bear witness. That is what’s next.

Yours for Life,

Charmaine Yoest, Ph.D.
President & CEO
Americans United for Life

PS: Please contact us at to get more information about how to get your state legislators interested in passing the model legislation which will enable YOUR STATE to opt-out of the abortion mandate in the new health care system. Our goal is to see states all across the country passing this ban.

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