By Mary Frances McCarthy
Catholic News Service
ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) Jennifer O'Neill, celebrity spokeswoman for the
Silent No More campaign, said that speaking at the
National Right to Life Committee's convention is like "preaching to the
At the closing banquet July 3, O'Neill shared the story of her own abortion
and offered encouragement to the men and women involved in the pro-life fight.
Every four years the National Right to Life Committee holds its convention
near Washington, in the suburb of Arlington, to "remind Congress, the Supreme
Court and the president of the grand principle expressed in the
Independence, namely that the right to life is an unalienable right 'endowed
by the Creator,"' said Wanda Franz, president.
For three days, 1,000 people gathered to learn more about the issues that
concern members of the pro-life movement and what they can do to help the cause
At the opening session, President Bush greeted convention participants via
video. "You believe as I do that every person, however frail or vulnerable, is a
blessing and has a place and a purpose in this world," he said. "We must stand
for an America in which every life counts and every life matters. Life is a
creation of God, not a commodity to be exploited by man."
Expanding on the theme of the convention - "Infinite Possibilities" -Rep.
Chris Smith, R-N.J., said that "a lifetime of memories" and "the ability to
contribute to society" are "snuffed out in abortion."
He quoted Alveda King, niece of
the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who said, "How can the dream go on if we murder
our children? If the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King is to live, we have to let
our babies live."
The conference had the feeling of a political convention at many sessions.
Speakers urged people to make their voices heard at the voting booth and to
encourage others to do so. Attendees were urged to vote not by party
affiliation, but to make their choices after examining their conscience and the
"It is not morally responsible to go into the voting booth and vote according
to the letter following the name," said Father Frank Pavone, director of Priests
for Life. "There is nothing wrong with belonging to a political party. There is
nothing wrong with being loyal to a political party.
"But there is something very wrong when our loyalty to a political party is
greater than our loyalty to God and to basic moral principles," he added.
Father Pavone advocated evaluating what candidates stand for on the issues.
While there are many issues to consider - such as health care, homelessness
and world hunger Father Pavone said the right to life is still the most
important right because- without life no other rights can be applied. And, he
said, "if a politician cannot respect the life of a little baby, how can he
Murder will never be moral, whether it is the murder of an adult in a
robbery, the murder of an unborn child through abortion, or the murder of a
defenseless woman, like
Terri Schindler Schiavo, through
starvation and dehydration, Father Pavone said.
Schiavo's case, he said, is "not about somebody's 'right to die' because
their suffering is too great. This is about the 'right' of some people to kill
because their inconvenience is too great."
Bobby Schindler, Schiavo's younger brother, addressed the conference at a
July 2 prayer breakfast. He said, "My sister has fallen victim to their agenda
and her alleged wish that she would rather be starved to death than be cared for
by her family."
According to Pat Anderson, attorney for the Schindler family, in the state of
Florida it is against the law to starve a dog to death, but she said a judge
ruled last October that Schiavo's estranged husband had the "right" to starve
her to death by having her feeding tube removed. It was removed Oct. 15, and
Schiavo was expected to die within two weeks.
But six days later Gov. Jeb. Bush ordered the feeding tube restored under an
emergency measure passed by the Florida Legislature; in May a judge overturned
that law as unconstitutional. The decision is being appealed to the Florida
Supreme Court, and Schiavo remains on a feeding tube and lives in a Clearwater,
Fla., nursing home.
"Terri lives the life of solitary confinement that, had it been happening to
a death-row inmate, the ACLU would be all over it," Anderson said.
"Terri has shown us in the way that counts that she wishes to live - by
continuing to live for 14 years," she said. "Who would choose death over life
considering the tender love of a younger brother or considering the
all-consuming, tender love of a mother and father? According to the judge, Terri