Last week, NDRL hosted our Spring Banquets in Grand Forks and Minot. I was very encouraged by the leadership of our youth at these events. Our masters of ceremonies were seventeen and twenty-one years old respectively, and both did a great job. We also had two dynamic teens for life reports on the March for Life. These reports contained a lot of insight. It was immediately clear, our youth understand the importance of being involved in the pro-life movement.
Emily Dosch, our Teens for Life presenter in Grand Forks, pointed out the joy that was present at the March for Life. Even though we were there to lament the loss of life abortion causes, we are also there to celebrate life. Life is precious. The pro-life movement will continue to celebrate the lives of the living including but not limited to unborn children saved from the destruction of abortion. We will not give in to the culture of death.
The vociferous defense of life these young people gave was refreshing; the next generation understands that every human life is worthy of respect. Their witness reminds me of the preface to Jean Garton’s classic Who Broke the Baby? when Dr. Garton relates how she was putting together a slideshow on abortion to show to medical students when “Suddenly I [Dr. Garton] heard, rather than saw, another person near me. At the sound of a sharp intake of breath, I turned to find that my youngest son, then a sleepy, rumpled three-year-old, had unexpectedly and silently entered the room. His small voice was filled with great sadness as he asked, ‘Who broke the baby’”
Our teens know who broke the baby and have an extensive understanding of the issue, yet they still recoil at the horror of abortion and gasp. Like the child in Dr. Garton’s story our teens understand the value of all human life intuitively. However these teens also understand the issue logically, and understand the ethical reasons why all human beings deserve to have their lives protected.
Joy is a powerful weapon, when we go to pro-life events and show ourselves to be joyful people working to extend the paramount human right: the right to life to our fellow humans, we break the stereotypes that the media has created about us. We are not angry white old conservative men; we are joyful people of all colors, genders and ages. We are not a movement of abortion and death, but one that rejects abortion, doctor proscribed suicide, and euthanasia. Ours is a movement of joy, a movement of hope, a movement of life.
Daniel Kraemer - Master of Ceremonies at the Grand Forks banquet.
Brock Schmeling - NDRL Legislative Director at the Grand Forks banquet.
Emily Dosch - March for Life report at the Grand Forks banquet.
Susan Thom - Master of Ceremonies at the Minot banquet.
Katie Brunner & Kenzie Leintz - March for Life report at the Minot banquet.
Olivia Gans-Turner - keynote speaker.
North Dakota Right to Life is proud to be hosting two spring banquets with guest speaker Olivia Gans Turner.
The banquets will be held:
Sunday, April 12th
Grand Forks, ND @ Alerus Center
5:30 PM - Social
6:30 PM - Dinner and Program
Monday, April 13th
Minot @ Grand Hotel
5:30 PM Social
6:30 PM Dinner and Program
Olivia Gans Turner will be giving a talk entitled, 40 years after Roe v. Wade, who are the hidden victims of the abortion culture?
Olivia Gans Turner directs American Victims of Abortion (AVA), an outreach project of the National Right to Life Committee. Mrs. Turner helped to organize one of the nation’s first peer-to-peer post-abortion support groups in the New York City area after almost two years of suffering through an acute emotional reaction to her own abortion experience as an unwed college student.
Mrs. Turner has spoken widely on post-abortion syndrome and other abortion-related issues in the United States and in Europe. A frequent witness before legislative bodies, she provides testimony on informed consent laws and parental notification laws as well as abortion complications. In the nineteen years since she became AVA director, she has traveled to over seventeen countries. Between 1994 and 2000, Mrs. Turner was a non-governmental organization delegate to numerous United Nations conferences. Those include the 1994 World Population and Development Conference held in Egypt; the 1995 United Nations Conference on Women held in Beijing, China; and the 2000 World summit on Children held in New York City. Mrs. Turner has appeared on such nationally syndicated programs such as Nightline, Good Morning America, and Hannity & Colmes, and on C-SPAN, CNN, and National Public Radio news programs.
In addition to her duties at the National Right to Life Committee, Mrs. Turner currently serves as the president of the Virginia Society for Human Life.
It was a sad Friday for the pro-life movement. We lost two very great pro-life men in Dr. Jack Wilke and Bro. Paul O'Donnell.
Dr. Jack Wilke
Dr. Jack Wilke was an enormous figure in the pro-life community. He served as President of the National Right to Life Committee for 10 years, helped found the International Right to Life Federation, and was Co-Founder and President of the Life Issues Institute.
Dr. Wilke was an asset for all pro-lifers; giving us such materials as Abortion, Questions and Answers: Why Can't We Love Them Both and the Handbook on Abortion, among numerous other books. The materials of Dr. Jack Wilke and his wife, Barbara, have educated millions around the world, having been translated into 32 different languages. Dr. Wilke died at the age of 89. He was loved by so many and will be missed by us all.
Bro. Paul O'Donnell
Bro. Paul O'Donnell died in his sleep yesterday at the age of 55. Bro. Paul was a founder and President of Pro-Life Action Ministries, a board member of the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network, and Guardian Overall for the Franciscan Brothers of Peace.
Bro. Paul was a warrior for those who were vulnerable. He was there to fight for Bro. Michael Gaworski (the Founder of the Franciscan Brothers of Peace) during his death. He was there for Terri Schiavo and the Schindler family as Terri was being starved and dehydrated to death. He was there for baby Joseph Maarachli and for Jahi McMath. Bro. Paul was there for those who needed help protecting the dignity of their lives. Bro. Paul was an inspiration for us and will be missed.
I was lucky enough to have met both Dr. Jack Wilke and Bro. Paul O'Donnell. I remember Bro. Paul speaking at a North Dakota Right to Life convention a few years back; and I remember speaking with him at different National Right to Life conventions. He was always so kind, so joyful, and so passionate about helping those who are vulnerable. Bro. Paul reminded you what our purpose was in being pro-life; that we cannot get so caught up in the battle that we forget to truly care about and care for both those who we are fighting for and those who we are trying to convert. He was a great man and I know that I will miss him.
I was lucky enough to have met Dr. Jack Wilke at this past years National Right to Life Convention in Louisville, KY. I remember learning about him when I started getting involved in the pro-life movement. I remember his materials being a starting point for my own education on life issues. This was a man who everyone recognized as having an impact on their being pro-life. I was honored to have been able to meet someone who not only impacted my own life, but who I know educated and helped millions of others. Dr. Wilke, even being gone, will continue to be a rock for all of us who are pro-life.
Governor Dalrymple has once again declared January 18 - 24 Sanctity of Human Life Week in North Dakota.
We thank Governor Dalrymple for recognizing the intrinsic value of every human life and setting aside a week for us to remember that all life, no matter what stage of development it is at, is important and must be protected.
As we celebrate this day, let us be mindful that as pro-life people we should be joyous! While we mourn the atrocities that are committed against those who are the most vulnerable among us, we cannot forget to also celebrate life.
On Thanksgiving Day, 1963, then President John F. Kennedy proclaimed, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them."
In order to truly advocate for life, we must be an example for others. It is not enough to say we are pro-life, we must also live it. It is not enough to condemn the attitudes of those who do not respect life, we must also show them how to respect it.
On this Thanksgiving day, I ask you to take time to celebrate life. Give thanks for life; give thanks for your parents choosing life; give thanks for the ability to fight for the right to life of all human beings. Be a shining light for all those in the darkness and show them what living life is truly all about.