Over 250 people descended upon the state capitol yesterday from all areas of the Commonwealth. People traveled from the Shenandoah Valley, the Beach area, the Southside, Northern Virginia, and far Southwest Virginia to join The Family Foundation’s Day at the Capitol. If you'd like to share your experience, use the comment section below. The day began with coffee and discussions in the halls outside the theater in our new office building. Interested faces browsed the ministry tables, which included, among others, Liberty Law School, the Virginia Society for Human Life, and the Cornwall Alliance.
I welcomed the bustling crowd and a powerful opening prayer came from Dave Barrett, who chairs the Board or Directors of The Family Foundation. I explained to the crowd that we are incredibly hopeful that some real progress can be made on the pro-life front this year. For too long now, the Senate Education and Health Committee has been the graveyard of pro-life legislation, dominated by pro-choice legislators. But that is no longer the case.
Delegate Ben Cline, Senator Steve Martin, and Senator Mark Obenshain then each gave inspiring encouragement to the crowd, thanking them for their attendance and exhorting them to play an active role in getting legislation passed this year. They talked about a variety of issues, from prohibiting embryonic stem cell research to education freedom.
Our keynote speaker, Jill Stanek, spoke powerfully about her very personal experiences while working as a nurse in the labor and delivery unit of Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois, near Chicago. She spoke of first learning that the hospital, even though run by a religious denomination, performed abortions, even induced labor abortions. She elicited tears from the audience as she described her experiences of commonly seeing babies surviving abortions, only to be left to die on their own with no medical intervention. In one case, she couldn’t stand the fact that a child who survived the abortion would die alone, so she took him into her hands, cradling and rocking him during the last hours of his strained life. She took her objections to the hospital leadership, but upon their repeated refusal to make changes, she went public with the information, provoking a national outcry. Once laws were proposed to stop this kind of treatment, she argued in committee with then state Senator Barack Obama over the merits of the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act. After she continued to speak out, she was eventually fired from her job at the hospital. As witnessed by the crowd here in Richmond yesterday, Jill continues to speak eloquently for her cause. She urged the crowd to be bold in encouraging their legislators to pass life-saving pro-life initiatives.
She also shared that her story and advocacy eventually led to the federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act, signed into law by President George Bush. Unfortunately, that law requires the U.S. Justice Department, now controlled by the Obama Administration, to apply the law.
After Jill finished her remarks, I put out the call for the crowd to make their way up the hill and meet with their legislators. For the rest of the day, extraordinary citizens, just like you, took to the General Assembly Building, meeting with legislators to let them know where they stand on the most critical issues of the day. There’s no doubt in my mind that these active citizens had a profound impact on their legislators yesterday. This was a day of democracy in action.
To everyone who attended yesterday, please accept The Family Foundation’s thank you for coming to Richmond and making your voice heard!