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Legates band together for life

Legatus’ annual pro-life conference in DC draws big names, inspires leaders . . .

It wasn’t meeting with high-level politicians or a tour of the U.S. Supreme Court that had Legatus members all abuzz at this year’s annual Pro-Life Conference. Rather, it was the invigorating power of gathering with like-minded individuals on a quest to defend women and their unborn children, Legates said.

“Sometimes in the pro-life struggle you feel alone,” said Steve Peroutka, a member of Legatus’ Baltimore Chapter and founder of National Pro-Life Radio. “You come to something like this and find that there are many people around the country doing so many good things. It gives you courage. We all wish we could have courage all the time, but it’s a lot easier to have courage when you stand side-by-side with others.”


Peroutka was one of 40 Legates from across the country who gathered in Washington, D.C., for Legatus’ 10th pro-life conference from April 30-May 2. The gathering kicked off with delegates attending a Heroic Media event with Sarah Palin.

Speaker of the House John Boehner addresses the annual Legatus pro-life conference

The event continued Sunday with Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, followed by brunch with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) at the Willard Hotel.

Boehner, who also attended Mass at the Basilica, told Legates about his efforts to tackle massive government spending and his pro-life convictions.

“My pro-life position is not really a position,” he said. “It’s what I’ve believed my whole life. It’s what I was taught. It’s not my political position, it’s who I am.

“You’ve seen us take some real stands, in the last year especially, in Congress. Chris Smith has a bill that makes it clear throughout the entire government that public funding of elective abortion is not going to be the policy of the United States.”

Boehner poses with Legatus’ executive director John Hunt and his wife Kathie

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced a bill to ensure that no taxpayer dollars are spent on abortion. It passed the House 251-175 on May 4. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act codifies into law the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds in appropriations bills from being spent on abortions.

A similar measure, introduced by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) on May 5, faces an uphill battle in the Democratically-controlled Senate. The White House has threatened to veto the legislation if it makes it to the president’s desk.

Longtime pro-life activists Dr. John Willke and his wife Barbara, members of Legatus’ Cincinnati Chapter, said they were encouraged by the conference and by the momentum the pro-life movement has gathered over the last several decades.

Pro-life activist Lila Rose addresses Legates

“We have a small group of people here, but the enthusiasm is like the movement is just beginning,” he explained. “That’s not the way it ought to be 40 years into a social movement. We ought to be tired and dejected by now. We’re not!”

Barbara said she was particularly energized by the enthusiasm of young pro-lifers like Live Action founder and president Lila Rose. The 22-year-old activist has made a name for herself by conducting videotaped sting operations on Planned Parenthood facilities across the country. Her efforts have led to dozens of bills to defund the abortion giant in the U.S. House and in state Houses across the country.

Making a difference

Rose, who spoke just minutes after Boehner left the stage, told Legates that young pro-lifers are using social media to educate the public about abortion and the lies upon which Planned Parenthood operates.

“We’re going to work tirelessly to be a social media game changer, to make a difference for life,” she said. “It’s happening in incredibly ways in our country. There is so much reason to hope.”

Rose urged delegates to get involved because abortion, she insisted, affects each and every American in one way or another.

Fr. Frank Pavone celebrates Mass with Fr. Rob Schenck during the annual Legatus Pro-Life Conference

“This is not an issue that is separate from us in another country or another city or another place,” she said. “It’s in our very midst. It’s in our churches; it’s in our families, our extended families, in our friendships. It’s every day. It’s children who have just died, who are scheduled to die. It’s children that God had a plan for.”

Legates were fed by daily Mass, the rosary and the opportunity for Confession. They heard homilies from Fr. Paul Schenk, chairman of the National Pro-Life Center, and Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.

“Such a conference wouldn’t be a Legatus event without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,” said Legatus executive director John Hunt. “The liturgies supply us with the power to fight the evil that abortion inflicts upon women and their children.”

Heartbeat International president Peggy Hartshorn speaks during a panel discussion on advances in the pro-life movement. Looking on are Alan Sears and Day Gardner

Legates like Kathie Lund found the liturgies inspiring and the speakers motivating.

“Each day got better,” said Lund, a member of Legatus’ Pasadena Chapter and board president of the Right to Life League of Southern California. “It’s reassuring to know that there are so many people out there doing similar work every day.

“You are lifted up by other like-minded people,” Lund added. “There is power in working together. There’s power when you’re all working for the same end. It’s also encouraging to see that we have a pro-life Congress. I need to life them up in prayer by name. We need to pray for the abortion doctors. Pray with your family with your kids, grandkids to support this and challenge heaven to come down and help us. We’re ready!”

Patrick Novecosky is Legatus Magazine’s editor.