NRLC Helps Build Pro-Life
By Olivia Gans
Americans are aware of the high level of pro-life activity taking place
throughout this country. The educational efforts of the local and state
NRLC affiliates help to keep debate alive in communities in all 50 states.
At the same time efforts to save the lives of unborn children continue apace
here in the United States, pro-life activity is increasing abroad, although
it goes mainly unnoticed by many, including the media.
A case in point was the persistence of a coalition of pro-life forces at the UN Population and Development Conference held in Cairo, Egypt, in 1994. Although over 52 pro-life groups from all over the world attended as non-governmental organizations, the media attempted to present an image of but a lone Vatican delegation voicing opposition to what we knew to be the radical pro-abortion agenda of that conference.
The fact is that there is as diverse a face on the international pro-life front as there are countries in the world. In Europe, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, countries where abortion is predominately legal, the activities of the organized pro-life groups are quite similar to the American efforts to reinstate the most protective laws possible.
From the earliest days of this tragic period in the world's history, pro-lifers have sought each other out. They have drawn on common experiences to help them protect the unborn, the elderly, and the disabled. The National Right to Life Committee continues to serve as a steady source of reliable educational resources for many of these countries.
Notable among those efforts have been NRLC's contributions to help develop the burgeoning pro-life movement in Russia. Since 1991, shortly after the opening of borders between East and West, it became apparent that Russia had been devastated by policies which had led to rampant abortion on demand throughout pregnancy. The average Russian woman has had about five abortions in a country where there is little help for crisis pregnancies or post-abortion complications.
NRLC has helped to establish an office in Moscow to provide a true Russian pro-life presence at the Russian parliament and to help generate debate in the Russian media. Headed up by the stalwart efforts of Mrs. Olga Selikova, Association Life has become a powerful pro-life voice in the Russian legislative body, the duma, and has had a major impact on legislation there. NRLC's ongoing support and pro-life materials have allowed Association Life to develop a growing number of educational projects as well.
Another example of successful cooperation is the young but rapidly expanding Swedish pro-life movement. Early in the 1990s a young man named Michal Oscarson sought out NRLC's support for a study project that allowed a few volunteers to come from Sweden and spend time here in America with NRLC staff and affiliates with a view to building a strong and effective pro-life movement in that country. In the six years that have followed that venture Ja til Livet has grown to 200 chapters throughout Sweden. Recently they helped to elect 12 new pro-life parliamentarians, including Michal Oscarson himself.
The Swedes are also responsible for the original production of the marvelous handout about life in the womb, "When Does Life Begin." Working with the NRL Educational Trust Fund new versions of the original Swedish have been written and printed in English, Spanish, and Russian. That project has produced one of the pro-life movement's most effective educational resources. (See story, page 14.)
Pro-lifers from other European countries who have taken advantage of opportunities to come to Washington, D.C. to observe the programs of NRLC include Poland, France, Germany, England, and Ireland, among others. Opportunities abound for representatives like NRLC President Wanda Franz, Ph.D., to conduct leadership training seminars, such as one held recently in Germany, and make pro-life education material available for future activity. NRLC is pleased to offer time and information to the important process of building a stronger pro-life presence around the world.
Thankfully, throughout much of the world there are still laws in place which do respect the right to life of the unborn. In most of South America and Africa there is a strong tradition of protection for life in the womb. In some countries, Argentina for instance, the constitution actually includes sections that guarantee protection of human life from the moment of conception.
There are strong, vocal pro-life groups in many of these countries that are deeply aware of the threat posed by pro- abortion groups working to undermine their protective laws, using U.S. tax dollars. NRLC has reached out to form alliances with some of these groups to fight the strong-arm tactics of International Planned Parenthood and others. Future plans include international educational leadership conferences designed to encourage the development of stronger organizations.
Asia is a complicated situation where abortion is generally legal in countries such as North and South Korea, Japan, India, Vietnam, and, of course, China. Much of the Middle East, influenced by Islamic traditions, is also working to preserve protective laws, but pro-abortion pressure grows in that part of the world every day.
For the most part, the pro-life movement is in its infancy in the majority of the countries. But contacts formed through the different UN conferences that NRLC representatives have attended will hopefully allow new educational projects to evolve.
Already hundreds of thousands of pieces of pro-life literature have been distributed to doctors, teachers, politicians, and others at these conferences, planting seeds of information across the region. There is absolutely no doubt that because there is such a great deal of interest in Western technology, such as ultrasound images of the unborn, NRLC and pro-life Americans can make a significant contribution.
The bottom line is that there is a world of activity going on out there and what we do here in America does make a difference overseas. Pro-life members of governments as far flung as the Philippines to Slovakia have approached NRLC for guidance on legislative efforts in their own countries. Young women and men who will lead their homelands into the next millennium are willing to come to America to see how we do it so that they can go home and become pro-life educators of the highest quality.
All of this is possible because of the steady and reliable support of pro-life Americans who continue to believe that this is a nation that loves life.
Olivia Gans is the director of American Victims of Abortion (AVA).