(Photo: Jay Premack)
WASHINGTON – Americans United for Life celebrated its 40th Anniversary Gala Wednesday night at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
Chairman of the Board for AUL Jay Cunningham kicked off the evening with a brief history lesson to remind the 300 in attendance what the world was like 40 years ago when AUL began, and said their vision had not waivered for the unborn.
AUL works so that the unborn will be “welcome in life, and protected in law,” he said.
Charmaine Yoest, president & CEO of AUL, echoed those thoughts in her speech. She said a picture from the popular children’s book Horton Hears a Who! hangs in her office with the words “A person is a person no matter how small.”
AUL is working to make that statement true. Yoest said every day in the United States 4,000 babies are lost due to abortion and the fight against abortion is the “great human rights struggle of our day.” Even though Yoest shared hard truths about the “culture of death” prevalent in society and the 300,000 lives Planned Parenthood takes each year, her message was not without hope.
She described the victories and accomplishments of AUL, and said even if it take 40 more years they will continue to fight. We are “restoring the culture of life in America,” she said.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), one of the special guest speakers at the event, spoke about the founders of AUL, saying they “stood as powerful witnesses to life and liberty.” From its inception, AUL “committed itself to overturning Roe, and they realized the need to change the composition of the courts,” he said.
AUL began in 1971, just two years before Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
Carly Fiorina was the keynote speaker for the anniversary celebration. Fiorina was the first woman to lead a Fortune 20 company during her time at Hewlett Packard and today is the vice chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. She ended the night by saying the pro-life movement can save lives by embracing science and technology in the 21st century, and that the movement has facts and reason on its side. She called for pro-lifers “to move forward with calm determination.”
In the aftermath of Roe v. Wade, AUL turned the organization over to medical attorney Dennis J. Horan whose vision was this: AUL and the pro-life movement needed a legal defense fund. Drafting laws that would save the unborn should be the number one priority.
In 1976 the AUL Legal Defense Fund was born out of that vision. Just four years later, the group won a successful case before the U.S. Supreme court in the defense of the Hyde Amendment, blocking federal funding for abortion.
Among other notable accomplishments, AUL has established civil rights protections for handicapped newborns, led the fight against the Freedom of Choice Act, testified in four Supreme Court confirmations, and led the opposition to pro-abortion justices, most recently with Elena Kagan. In 2011, AUL published an expose of Planned Parenthood that helped launch a Congressional investigation and efforts to defund the organization.
Other notable speakers at the event included Brent Bozell III, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) and a video message from George Weigel.