On 3-State Speaking Tour, Eric Calls for Pro-Life Diplomats

Eric speaks on Defend Life Speaker Tour

Eric speaks in Anneville, PA Oct 14 [Photo by Henri Lively]

In October, I was honored to join the Defend Life Speaking Tour—the longest running pro-life speaking tour in the nation—at the invitation of stalwart Baltimore activist Jack Ames. Jack is famous for putting his speakers to work, and he managed to line up five talks for me in just two days.

I arrived the morning of Thursday, October 13 and was picked up at the airport by Fran Griffin, who helped arrange my speaking engagements. After lunch with some of the pro-life leaders of northern Virginia, we drove to Seton School in Manassas, founded by Catholic historian Anne Carroll, whose late husband Warren founded Christendom College.

I addressed the all-school assembly about how they can help restore a culture of life. After a brief overview of the humanity of the unborn child and the key facts about abortion, I explored how Catholics like them are called in a special way to actively fight against abortion.

Catholic devotion to the Blessed Mother and the Eucharist inspires us to be physically present where life is being destroyed in the womb. I also called upon the students to live out the Gospel of Life by cherishing sexual purity.

The talk was well received, and I was delighted to learn about the pro-life activities going on at Seton, including regular participation in the 40 Days for Life prayer campaign at a nearby abortuary.

How to Defeat Planned Parenthood

From Seton, Fran and I drove up to St. Michael Church in Annandale, Virginia, where Jack soon joined us. Setting up the room for my talk offered a great opportunity to catch up with Jack. I’ve visited the area several times to participate in Defend Life’s Truth Tours, so I was excited to hear the latest news—including Jack’s court case against the police who arrested 18 Defend Life activists in 2008. The county police settled out of court, and it is hoped the state police will do so soon.

Eric speaks on Defend Life Speaker Tour

Eric speaks at Seton School in Manassas, VA Oct 13 [Photo by Fran Griffin]

In my talk, I spoke about what I’m convinced is the key to defeating Planned Parenthood: one-on-one dialog by pro-lifers who have the tools and techniques they need to share the pro-life message effectively. Above all, this means being willing to listen to those on the pro-choice side, always seeking to build a relationship in every encounter.

Borrowing a phrase from noted skeptic Phil Plait—known for encouraging this kind of approach on the other side of the political spectrum—I said, “We don’t so much need warriors in the pro-life movement, we need diplomats.” To help my audience be effective pro-life diplomats, I gave everyone in attendance a copy of the League’s handbook, Sharing the Pro-Life Message.

What Does Planned Parenthood Have that We Don’t?

Eric speaks on Defend Life Speaker Tour

Eric speaks in Anneville, PA Oct 14 [Photo by Henri Lively]

The next morning, Jack picked me up from my hotel and we drove out to St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church in the tiny hamlet of Libertytown, Maryland, where I again spoke about the key to victory being one-on-one conversion of those who say they’re “pro-choice.”

For my talk that afternoon in the chapel at Our Lady’s Center in Ellicott City, Maryland, I began with a question: “What is the one thing Planned Parenthood has that the pro-life movement does not?” My audience offered such answers as “money,” “political clout,” and “friends in the media,” but I pointed out that the pro-life movement has these things, too, though in lesser quantities than Planned Parenthood.

In fact, I was asking a trick question. There’s nothing Planned Parenthood has that the pro-life movement doesn’t. But there is one thing we have that Planned Parenthood lacks: a grassroots filled with God’s grace. From there I returned to my theme that one-on-one conversion is the key to pro-life victory.

My whirlwind speaking tour concluded that evening at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church up in Anneville, Pennsylvania, where the Knights of Columbus gathered a huge crowd of over 80 for a spaghetti dinner, followed by my talk. I again shared my message on our need to be pro-life diplomats, and answered many questions from the audience on how we can do so.

I can’t deny that it was an exhausting two-day speaking Tour, but it was worth it to spend time in the company of so many devoted pro-life activists. I look forward to joining Defend Life again soon on the front lines.

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