Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life
The Obama administration’s string of pro-choice appointments and actions in its first 100 days has awakened pro-life Americans in a growing tidal wave of enthusiasm and action.
“There was a concern that after the president was elected, the pro-life movement would be so demoralized that it would be almost a death blow,” said Charmaine Yoest, president and chief executive officer of Americans United for Life, the oldest national pro-life organization in the country. “But in fact, just the opposite is true.”
Yoest told WND that news of Obama’s victory in November launched an immediate surge of pro-life activism, including over 700,000 people who have signed the group’s petition to stop the Freedom of Choice Act, which Obama has said he would support and sign into law upon passage through Congress.
“Immediately after the election, our servers melted down from so many people looking to take a stand against an abortion agenda,” Yoest told WND. “Subsequently, what we’ve found over the last several months is that every time we’ve asked people on that list to do something, the response has been overwhelming.”
“A lot of activists are waking up,” said Joy Yearout, political director of the Susan B. Anthony List, to Politico. “For eight years we had President Bush and his veto pen to protect us – and we don’t have that anymore.”
The Susan B. Anthony List, a political action committee that helps pro-life women gain election to Congress, told Politico that its supporters have sent more letters, e-mails and faxes to Washington in the first quarter of 2009 than during each of the last two years.
And as WND reported, the Red Envelope Project, which encouraged supporters to send Obama red envelopes symbolizing the empty promise of lives snuffed out in abortion, buried the White House in a flood of nearly 2.25 million envelopes.
“I’ve been here 35 years, so I’ve seen presidents come and go,” a White House mail worker calling himself “Steve” told WND. “This campaign ranks up there with the big ones.”
Red envelopes aren’t all pro-lifers have been sending. The American Life League told Politico that financial donations are up 30 percent over last year.
Bishop Paul S. Loverde with 189,000 postcards opposing FOCA at Capitol Hill
The Catholic Herald of Arlington, Va., reports that in late March, Bishop Paul S. Loverde visited the Capitol and personally delivered 189,000 postcards opposing FOCA to Virginia’s legislators in Washington, D.C.
And at press time, over 262,000 people have signed a petition asking University of Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins to rescind the Catholic university’s invitation to Barack Obama to speak at its May 17 graduation ceremony.
The White House has attempted to assure Americans that Obama is not an advocate of abortions, but only of abortion rights.
“The president understands that this is a difficult issue with strong perspectives on both sides,” White House spokesman Reid Cherlin said in a statement. “He looks forward to working with a range of partners to reduce unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, encourage adoption and reduce the need for abortion.”
From his first days in office, however, Obama’s actions have given pro-life Americans plenty to protest.
As WND reported, just three days after his inauguration, Obama repealed a ban on U.S. taxpayer funding of foreign abortions. He also overturned the nation’s ban on experimenting on human embryos for stem cell research and moved to overturn conscience protections the Bush administration drafted for medical professionals.
Obama’s appointments – including radical pro-abortion Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to serve as the Health secretary and Dawn Johnsen, the former legal director for the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel – have also antagonized pro-lifers.
Lingering over the abortion issue is Obama’s promise from July 17, 2007, when he told the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, “The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing that I’d do.”
Opponents of FOCA argue that the sweeping plan would repeal all national and state regulations of abortion passed over the last 35 years.
Even among those pro-lifers that may have supported Obama’s election, there are many who have become disillusioned by the president’s persistent direction of policy.
“President Obama is losing favor with many who might have supported him at first but have become very disturbed with his actions on pro-life issues,” said Rev. Frank S. Page, a member of the president’s Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. “Some of us have been disturbed with the rapid pace he has moved to dismantle some of the few protections that remain for the unborn.
“The verbalization that he wishes to find common ground – we are just not seeing that,” Page told Politico. “I am seeing an increase in activity amongst groups that it is time to make the decision makers know what we feel.”