Director of nation's oldest pro-life org. steps down after 38 years

Exhibitors walk by the National Right to Life visitors' booth at the 43rd annual National Right to Life Convention in Dallas, Texas, June 27, 2013.
Exhibitors walk by the National Right to Life visitors' booth at the 43rd annual National Right to Life Convention in Dallas, Texas, June 27, 2013. | The Christian Post

The executive director of one of the nation's oldest and largest pro-life organizations is stepping down after 38 years, and a new director will assume the role after the new year. 

In a Tuesday statement to The Christian Post, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) said that Executive Director David N. O'Steen will step down from the position that he has held since 1984 on Saturday. He will continue working with NRLC in an advisory capacity.

David O'Steen speaks at the National Right to Life Convention on July 8, 2016.
David O'Steen speaks at the National Right to Life Convention on July 8, 2016. | Screenshot: C-SPAN

Incoming Executive Director Scott Fischbach will take over the position on New Year's Day. Fischbach served as executive director of National Right to Life's Minnesota affiliate, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). 

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"Words cannot adequately express our gratitude to Dr. David O'Steen for his unwavering dedication to the cause of life and his extraordinary leadership of National Right to Life and the right-to-life movement," Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, stated. 

"It is no understatement to say that under Dr. O'Steen's leadership, National Right to Life has been at the center of developing and executing the legislative and legal strategies that have not only saved millions of lives over the past four decades, but also directly led to Roe v. Wade's reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court last summer." 

Under his leadership, NRLC has been among pro-life groups at the forefront of pursuing state and federal legislative initiatives like the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and the Dismemberment Abortion Ban Act.

These bills restrict certain types of abortion procedures and enact limits based on the unborn child's state of development. The organization has also lobbied against abortion provisions in the Clinton Health Care Plan in 1994 and Affordable Care Act in 2009.

NRLC credits O'Steen with expanding its capacity to reach minorities, the younger generation and women wounded by abortion by overseeing the creation of outreach organizations such as Black Americans for Life, National Teens for Life and American Victims of Abortion.

He also established the Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics, a division of NRLC that advocates against expanding physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in the U.S.

"The work of National Right to Life goes to the very core of our society — a human being's basic right to exist," O'Steen stated. 

"What a blessing and privilege it is to be part of this great cause and work with the staff, volunteers, and affiliates of National Right to Life as we restore a culture of life in our country. As a right-to-life movement, we've made tremendous gains over the past 40 years, but we know there is still much work to be done." 

Before joining MCCL, Fischbach was a member of former Republican Sen. Rudy Boschwitz's campaign staff and the coalition director for Republican Sen. Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign. He oversaw the organization's annual oratory and essay contests intended to mobilize young pro-life advocates.

In a statement, Fischbach said it is "humbling" to step into the role that O'Steen previously held, showing gratitude for having been chosen to lead NRLC as its executive director. 

"Ours is the greatest human rights cause of our time and National Right to Life, with our national network of state affiliates and local chapters, is at the center of that great cause," he said. "I look forward to building on the successes we have achieved under Dr. O'Steen's leadership and capitalizing on the wonderful opportunities to save more and more lives."

Since 1968, NRLC and its affiliates have advocated against abortion in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, boasting more than 3,000 local chapters. The grassroots organization works to educate the public about issues like abortion and euthanasia and supports laws enacted against these practices. 

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follower her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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