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In July 2019 the Committee of Right to Life Australia supported me to travel to attend the USA National Right to Life Convention 2019 held in Charleston, South Carolina. There were approximately 700 delegates to the conference.   In addition, in adjacent rooms young pro-lifers held their own 2day conference called the National Teens for Life Convention.

It was uplifting to visit a country which has prolife bills being debated in various states and a good opportunity to network and be in the company of pro-life Americans.   I found it difficult as a trained dietitian to see, however, the number of morbidly obese people living in the USA where a diet of fat and sugar is promoted by signs everywhere!

At the opening lunch on the first day of the Convention we were honoured to have as guest speaker Governor Henry McMaster.

Governor Henry McMaster – South Carolina and myself at the Opening Luncheon

Governor Henry McMaster (South Carolina)
and myself at the Opening Luncheon

 Governor McMaster pledged to do what he can to politically support the efforts of prolife South Carolinians related to a personhood bill which would stipulate that life begins at conception and grant the unborn at that moment all rights as any other citizen. He added he would also be supportive of the state’s “heartbeat bill,” which passed the House 70-31 on April 24 and has yet to get a hearing in the Senate.

He said  “When the personhood bill gets to my desk, I will sign it,” to our cheering and clapping.

A few of the interesting speakers: 

James Bopp Jnr JD is counsel for National Right to Life and gave a very interesting presentation called “Pro-life Strategy Issues”.  The presentation centred around his opinion that currently only Justice Thomas has said, in a judicial opinion that Roe v Wade should be overturned. He stated that the Supreme Court must be willing to consider overturning Roe v Wade and that this was an incremental process, not just related to the appointment of a prolife Supreme Court judge.  He said the Court is loathe to switch sides just because a new Justice joins the court.

Governor Henry McMaster – South Carolina  and myself at the Opening Luncheon

 A joint presentation was given by Ashley Bratcher and Melissa Cole.   Ashley is the actress in the movie “Unplanned” currently being screened in Australia.  She gave a very emotional testimony which included little known fact that her mother nearly aborted her.

Melissa Cole gave birth to her baby boy 20 years ago and gave him up for adoption.

Her story is remarkable as she was almost to have an abortion and “leapt off the table” at the last minute, deciding she didn’t want to go through with it.

There was absolute silence in the room when she spoke about escaping the abortuary, and what it meant to give up her baby.  She has recently reunited with her son and the video of this joyous event was shown at the convention. 

After the convention many of the delegates had not returned home to their prospective cities so it was not possible to meet with them in their states.  Very kindly - a conference delegate Ana Maria Blevin offered to drive me from South Carolina to Atlanta, Georgia  which is an 8 hour drive and where my return flight was commencing from.  I really enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with her as we talked about the movement, her family and general life in USA.  She told me she and her husband have been involved in the movement for over 20 years.  In Atlanta, I contacted Holly Gatting, Executive Director of Right to Life South Carolina, who offered to help us in Australia at any time.  It is comforting to know that colleagues over 16,000 km away will assist us in our opposition to the killing of the unborn, the frail and vulnerable.

Some of the attendees were not directly involved with National Right to Life, but are members of Super PACs. (Political Action Committee). These businesses are very active working to elect prolife representatives into USA legislatures raising large amounts of money for this purpose.  One of the people I met, Marie Guthrie with PAC National Fundraising and Communications for Restoration Super PAC.  She has already sent me some of their marketing material and asked for my opinion, so I feel honoured that I can give back their hospitality in some small way. 

One of the most delightful speeches at the Conference was from Kurt Kondrich.  Both Kurt and his delightful 16 year old daughter, Chloe travel around the country advocating on behalf of children born with Down syndrome.  Kurt - previously a police officer in Pittsburgh for 20 years - is President of Chloe’s foundation, which has the motto “Embrace Don’t Erase,’ and provides support to children with Down Syndrome and their families.

Chloe has had photos with both President Donald Trump and Vice President Pence at the White House for the 2018 March for Life.

Right to Life Australia has purchased audio recordings of the Convention. We could make these audios accessible to others, if you would like to have this opportunity please contact mary.collier@rightotlife.com.au 

I would like to thank Right to Life Australia for the opportunity to go to the Conference – I met and made many people who I am now able to keep in contact with.  Staff at Washington USA have already provided me with assistance which has been made possible because I met at the conference. 

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