Upon receiving the a lifetime achievement award from the March for Life, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus reflected on the accomplishments of the pro-life movement and emphasized four of its pillars.
Anderson spoke during the virtual Rose Dinner Gala Jan. 29 after receiving the 2021 Pro-life Legacy Award.
“I am very honored to receive the March for Life lifetime achievement award and to have the opportunity to speak to you about this great cause,” he said.
His commitment to the pro-life movement began over 50 years ago as a college student. Even though abortion had not yet been made legal, he said the abortion lobby had a strong influence and was backed by organizations such as American Law Institute, the American Public Health Association, the American Medical Association, and The New York Times.
After finishing law school, he came to Washington D.C. in 1976 and advocated for life alongside Nellie Gray, who launched the annual March for Life in the U.S. capital, and former Congressman Henry Hyde, who introduced the Hyde Amendment to stop the use of federal tax dollars to pay for abortions.
As the counselor to the Under Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, he said the HHS was able to pass legal protections for new-born infants with disabilities.
During his time in the White House staff under President Ronald Reagan, Anderson also helped develop and implement Reagan’s Mexico City Policy, which prevents American foreign aid dollars from promoting abortion overseas.
“We have accomplished much since that time. These are just a few examples of how far we’ve come through the dedicated action of so many - many of whom are no longer with us. But I am always aware of their presence and the power of their prayers,” he said.
“All of us have our own reason why we are part of this great pro-life cause. For me, it’s best summed up by the saying: ‘whoever saves one life, saves the world.’”
Anderson emphasized four pillars that are essential for the success of the pro-life movement. He pointed to the movement’s continued commitment to justice, truth, kindness, and democracy.
He said the right to life is at the heart of the U.S. justice system, but abortion has been veiled under a false language of freedom. If a government will sanction the deaths of innocent children, he said, it is capable of sanctioning anything.
He said the abortion movement is based on the lie that the decision of Roe v. Wade provided women with more respect. He said pro-life advocates must insist that governmental institutions provide the entire truth to the public and resolve pro-life concerns. He said the Supreme Court failed this test in 1973.
“The Supreme Court said it did not need to resolve the question of when human life begins. Then it went on to act as though human life only begins at birth. Falsehoods and misstatements of history riddle the Court’s opinion. But this one is the worst.”
“If courts refuse to recognize and respect the reality of the objects in the case before them, then justice becomes impossible, since it is impossible to know that to which the parties in the case are entitled.”
He also said a pillar of the pro-life cause is compassion and generosity. He said the pro-live movement should be committed to view strangers as neighbors and neighbors as family, especially those who are suffering.
He said that during his experience in pregnancy counseling centers and other pro-life programs he has seen numerous women supported through post-abortion trauma.
“The strength to offer a helping hand and the courage to love another especially when that person is in need is often hidden from public view, but it is nonetheless very real. A culture of compassion and love quietly permeates the pro-life cause. It is the wellspring from which all else flows,” he said.
He said all the legal progress for the pro-life movement has been conducted through the exercise of constitutional rights, such as peaceable assembly and petitions for elected officials.
While political tides ebb and flow, he said, it is a mistake to believe the pro-life movement is not alive today. He said unjust laws are only temporary.
“After nearly 50 years, Roe v. Wade and its supporters have failed to convince the American people that the decision is something other than ‘an exercise of raw judicial power.’ And it shows that Roe v. Wade is not settled law,” he said.
“No matter how entrenched, no matter its claim to stability, in America no unjust law is sustainable.”