Nellie Grey, "the mother of the March for Life" each year in Washington, D.C., has died.
Miss Nell devoted the last 39 years of her life to overturning the Supreme Court's 1973 decision that legalized abortion. That Roe still lives on in law and Nellie Grey is dead will cause some critics and cynics to suggest she failed in her greatest pursuit.
Don't believe it.
The story of Miss Grey's life is a tremendous testimony to the power and significance of a single soul consumed by a magnificent obsession.
She has taught us many things about fighting evil in general and abortion in particular. Here are just five of them:
1. When fighting evil, be willing to sacrifice. Nellie Grey had spent 28 years as a federal employee, and went to Georgetown Law School at night. She could have retired and lived on her pension and practiced law on the side. She could have lived a quiet and comfortable life. Instead, she gave up everything she had in order to do what she could to protect unborn children.
2. When fighting evil, be bold. "I find it the most odious thing that could happen," she told The New York Times in 1981, "that Americans have to fight for the right to live." Critics dismissed her as an extremist. Miss Grey was courageous. She was not afraid to speak truth. Nellie was the Iron Lady of the Pro-Life Cause.
3. When fighting evil, embrace unconventionality. Miss Grey did not wait to start the March for Life until her budget was right or an attractive office space was rented. She started in her basement and worked among boxes and stacks of paper. She didn't care much what people thought of her. She cared about the innocent babies dying by the thousands per day.
4. When fighting evil, strive for unity among fellow believers. In her last email correspondence to fellow pro-life advocate Fr. Frank Pavone, just last week, she expressed her ongoing passion for all Christians to coalesce behind the defense of life. "We can stop this killing when all of us who say we are 'prolife' become unified on the Life Principles – no exception-no compromise – and vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. We can do that! We view March for Life as all-American, all-inclusive, and we really hope that all prolife people and organizations will unify under one banner."
5. When fighting evil, be persistent and long-suffering. Miss Grey was 49 years-old when the Supreme Court legalized abortion in all 50 states. She picked up the cause and for the next nearly 40 years of her life she pursued the abolition of this evil act. Did she grow weary? I would imagine. Did she become frustrated? I would think so. But did she give up? No!
My colleague in Washington, D.C., Tim Goeglein, knew Miss Grey very well and wrote me this morning about her passing.
"I was dazzled by her love for the innocent, preborn child," he reflected. "The angels are singing this morning in a remarkable, heavenly chorus."
Thank you, Lord, for loaning us Nellie Grey. Her soul now joins that chorus, of which is made up of, among countless others, the nearly 50,000,000 children Miss Grey sought to save.