ADVANCE PRAISE FOR LIFE IS WINNING
“Whatever your political beliefs, whatever your faith, indeed, if you are an atheist, liberal or conservative, please read Life is Winning. It has the power and strength to change and save lives.” — Kathy Ireland, Chair, CEO for Kathy Ireland Worldwide, Life Advocate
“Read Life is Winning. You’ll understand how the pro-life message wins elections, and will be inspired with lessons from a woman with whom I’ve been privileged to collaborate for decades!” — Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life and Co-Chair, Pro-life Voices for Trump
“I commend Marjorie for having the courage to follow the truth, to share her story and insights in this enlightening book, and most importantly, to act and speak out for those who have no voice. Life is winning because pro-life is pro-love and because every human being has inherent dignity.” — Abby Johnson, Pro-life advocate, bestselling author, and speaker; CEO and founder of And Then There Were None ministry
“Life is Winning offers a rich account of the great modern-day civil rights cause that is the pro-life movement. Her compassion for mothers and babies, tenacity in fighting for justice, and faith in the American people guided by God shine throughout.” — Kay C. James, President, The Heritage Foundation
“As Life is Winning so persuasively argues, despite growing extremism on the pro-abortion side, the pro-life movement is stronger than ever. This is a battle we must win – and by God’s grace and thanks to the tireless work of pro-life advocates across America, we are winning.” — U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), Founder of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus
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About the Author
Marjorie Dannenfelser (Washington DC) is President of Susan B. Anthony List, a national pro-life group that has helped elect more than 117 pro-life candidates to the U.S. House of Representatives, 26 to the U.S. Senate, and 25 to statewide offices. In 2018, Dannenfelser was named to Politico’s list of 50 leaders influencing American politics. During the 2016 election she served as National Chairwoman of then-candidate Donald Trump’s Pro-life Coalition after securing unprecedented pro-life commitments from the nominee. SBA List visited more than 4.6 million voters over the last three election cycles, having helped elect President Trump and win a pro-life Senate. In 1992 Dannenfelser, who had worked for Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, built and grew the Susan B. Anthony List with the goal of increasing the number of pro-life women in federal and statewide office. Under Marjorie’s leadership, SBA List become the leader of the pro-life movement in America, with undisputed influence at the highest levels of policy and politics Marjorie is a convert to the pro-life cause who once described herself as vehemently pro-choice. Her conversion and subsequent leadership in American politics has been profiled by New York Magazine, The New Yorker, The Telegraph, The Washington Post, The New York Times, as well as The Hill. She was named one of Politico Magazine’s Top 50 Influencers of 2018 and is counted among The Washington Examiner’s top ten “Political Women on the Move,” Newsmax’s top 25 Most Influential Republican Women and among Newsweek’s top ten “Leaders of the Christian Right.”
The Susan B. Anthony List is a political powerhouse that delivered millions of pro-life votes key to Donald Trump’s victory in 2016. Life is Winning: Inside the Fight for Unborn Children and Their Mothers is the inside story of how the SBA List grew from a small political action committee dedicated to electing pro-life women to the House of Representatives to become the political muscle of the pro-life movement in America, with undisputed influence at the highest levels of policy and politics. Like Trump, SBA List’s founder and leader, Marjorie Dannenfelser, is a convert from pro-choice to pro-life. Her conversion anchors her personal commitment to fight for unborn babies and their mothers and her pledge to hold politicians accountable at the ballot box through the Susan B. Anthony List’s grassroots army.
The author lives & works in the Washinton DC metro area.
Marjorie Dannenfelser Awards and Accolades:
- Politico Magazine’s Top 50 Influencers of 2018
- The Washington Examiner’s Top Ten “Political Women on the Move”
- Newsmax’s Top 25 Most Influential Republican Women
- Newsweek’s Top Ten “Leaders of the Christian Right”
- Winner of the Robin and Jocelyn Martin Young Leaders Program Distinguished Intern Alumni Award from Heritage Foundation, 2017
Marjorie Dannensfelser Professional Affiliations:
- National Co-Chair, President Donald Trump Campaign’s National Pro-life Coalition: “Pro-Life Voices for Trump in 2020”
- Member, Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission - appointed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
- Member, Council for National Policy
- Member, Conservative Action Project
- Member, Chosen Families
- Member, Life Perspectives’ Task Force
- Board Member, Alliance Defending Freedom
- Women Speak Out
Read an Excerpt
Chapter One to Life is Winning: Inside the Fight for Unborn Children and Their Mothers by Marjorie Dannenfelser
The Beginnings of Conversion
I am a convert. There was a time when I believed abortion was a good and moral choice. I argued that Roe v. Wade was the linchpin of women’s rights. I came dangerously close to choosing abortion for myself.
One of the benefits of being a convert is that I recognize the phenomenon in others. I have had the privilege of meeting thousands of pro-life converts. Some have been women who regret their own abortion. Many have been men who are profoundly ashamed of their failure to support both mother and child.
My conversion was akin to what writer Madeleine L’Engle described as “an intellectual acceptance of what my intuition had always known.” Some people, however, experience a moment of clarity or a sudden encounter with the truth. Whatever the mechanism, the process of conversion indelibly transforms one’s life. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah captures it perfectly: “Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43: 18-19).
When I helped start Susan B. Anthony List more than 25 years ago, I hoped and prayed that our nation would experience a conversion that would restore the inalienable right to life for all. The pro-life movement, rooted in the deep soil of the American founding and the character of the American people, has tenaciously worked to restore legal protection for the unborn, and has borne much fruit. I never imagined, though, the role that would be played by a playboy real estate tycoon from New York City who was in the news the year of SBA List’s launch for divorcing his wife and marrying his mistress, who two months before the wedding had given birth to his child.
Nancy Pelosi once said, “Nothing surprises me. One thing I don’t have in my world is surprise.” She must have been the only one, then, who was not surprised when Donald J. Trump turned out to be the most pro-life president in American history. I wonder what she was thinking when, as Speaker of the House, she sat behind him during the State of the Union address on February 5, 2019 and heard him say:
"There could be no greater contrast to the beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child than the chilling displays our Nation saw in recent days. Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother's womb moments before birth. These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world. And then, we had the case of the Governor of Virginia where he basically stated he would execute a baby after birth.
To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother's womb.
Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life. And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: all children — born and unborn — are made in the holy image of God."
I hope when she heard those words a spirit of conversion started to kindle in her heart as well.
I was with President Trump outside the Oval Office the night before he gave that speech. A small group of leaders of outside policy groups, along with Vice President Mike Pence, Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and presidential advisors Kellyanne Conway and Mercedes Schlapp had convened to hear a preview of the speech’s main themes. The first issue President Trump brought up when he entered the room was the statement Virginia Governor Ralph Northam had made a few days earlier in defense of an extreme pro-abortion bill that had narrowly been defeated in Virginia’s legislature. The bill’s sponsor, Delegate Kathy Tran, had made clear that her bill permitted abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, even as “she’s about to give birth.” Asked by the media what this would mean if a full-term baby survived an abortion attempt, Governor Northam, a pediatrician, said that the baby would be “resuscitated if that’s what the mother and family desired,” and the baby would be “kept comfortable” while doctors and parents conferred about whether to provide the care necessary to keep the vulnerable baby alive.
Northam’s statement provided an alarming level of clarity about the true intentions of the abortion movement — unlimited abortion on demand, up to the moment of birth and even beyond — a position at odds with the views of the vast majority of Americans. Polls consistently show that only a small minority of Americans support abortion beyond the first trimester of pregnancy. President Trump, a gifted politician as well as a convert, knows a wedge issue when he sees one. The line about Governor Northam was added to the speech on the spot and continues to be a huge applause line at Trump rallies.
Lawmakers in Virginia, New York, and other states were pushed to take such an extreme stance on abortion by an abortion lobby that fears, with good reason, that Roe v. Wade’s days are numbered. That fear was on full display during the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh was Trump’s second appointment to the high court, and the first that could tip the balance against Roe.
Trump’s first appointment was of Neil Gorsuch to take the place of Justice Antonin Scalia, whose unexpected death in February 2016 had in part laid the groundwork for Trump’s victory. Exit polling on Election Day revealed that the future composition of the Supreme Court was the top issue for 21 percent of all voters — and they preferred Trump to Hillary Clinton by a margin of 56 to 41 percent. Eleven days after his inauguration President Trump delivered on his promise to appoint a justice “in the mold” of Scalia, a brilliant jurist who, according to legal scholar Edward Whelan, “vigorously exposed the lie, first propagated in Roe v. Wade and then perpetuated in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that the Constitution somehow denies American citizens the authority to protect the lives of unborn human beings.”
SBA List mobilized all of our resources to support Gorsuch’s nomination, and the pro-abortion forces did the same in opposition. But given that his confirmation would not fundamentally change the balance of the Court, the effort on both sides felt a bit like Captain Louis Renault in Casablanca rounding up the usual suspects. A Justice Gorsuch was necessary to overturning Roe, but not sufficient.
Justice Kavanaugh, on the other hand, may be sufficient.
Justice Anthony Kennedy’s decision to resign in June 2018 and allow President Trump to appoint a successor decisively shifted the momentum on the abortion issue in favor of the right to life. The abortion lobby knew it immediately and reacted with a fury unlike anything I have ever witnessed. The target of that fury was Trump’s nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.
Because of SBA List’s efforts on behalf of Justice Gorsuch’s confirmation, we were privy to some of the discussions that led to Kavanaugh’s selection. I was happy with the choice. Kavanaugh was known as an originalist jurist and he had a strong record of protecting life and constitutional rights. I was at the White House for the announcement and pledged that SBA List would mobilize the pro-life grassroots nationwide and in key Senate battleground states. I knew that, given what was at stake in the confirmation process, it would be much more difficult than Gorsuch’s. I knew we could take nothing for granted. But I also knew that there was a pro-life majority in the Senate — one we had worked hard to elect — and I believed that ultimately Kavanaugh would easily have the votes to be confirmed. Boy, was I wrong about the easy part.
Maybe I should have taken a page from Nancy Pelosi’s book and not been surprised, but I was taken aback by the extremes to which the opposition would go to smear Justice Kavanaugh. The last-minute emergence of a woman accusing Kavanaugh of teenage sexual misconduct — accusations that Kavanaugh unequivocally denied and for which there was not one shred of corroborating evidence — was handled in a duplicitous and reckless way. But it also laid bare a crucial and encouraging fact: the citadel of Roe v. Wade had been breached, the walls were crumbling, and its defenders were under siege.
I was invited to sit in the Senate Judiciary hearing room on the days when Judge Kavanaugh and his accuser testified. It was a surreal experience. I sat down next to a woman I had never seen before. Watching from our offices in northern Virginia, SBA List’s Communications Director, Mallory Quigley, texted me to say the woman was actress/activist Alyssa Milano, a vocal abortion advocate and a leader of the #MeToo movement against sexual assault. It is easy to demonize from afar; it’s much more difficult face to face. Despite being on opposite sides of the issue at hand — and many others — our interactions were marked by mutual kindness. I profoundly opposed her efforts and those with whom she was allied to unjustly accuse Brett Kavanaugh in an effort to defeat his nomination. But at the end of the day, we took each other’s hands and I said, “I know we don’t see eye to eye on some things, but I want you to know how deeply I admire what you’ve done to help women who have been abused.” She replied, “I appreciate that so much. Makes me a little weepy.”
The #MeToo movement and the pro-abortion movement had merged, and little wonder. Women are the first victims of abortion, an outcome too often forced on them by predatory men who have sought pleasure without any concern for the consequences. The Kavanaugh nomination had become a proxy for all that pain; defeating Kavanaugh was to them defeating every man that had hurt them or their friends, or might one day hurt their daughters. I hope that one day they will see that it is abortion itself which opened wide the door for the use and abuse of women without constraint by predators who care nothing for their well-being. The founders of the feminist movement knew this — that’s why they so vigorously opposed and denounced abortion. I believe that a re-founding of that movement in a post-Roe world will embrace this truth again.
I admired President Trump’s willingness to stand by his nominee despite the media and political frenzy and the hand-wringing of some weak-kneed members of his party in the Senate (looking at you, former Senator Jeff Flake). But still I worried a little after the bruising battle to confirm Justice Kavanaugh that President Trump might become warier about engaging in the pro-life battle. Instead, it has emboldened him. The President’s comments on life in the State of the Union were the most explicit made on the issue by any president in that address. Shortly thereafter, the White House asked SBA List to coordinate a group of people to meet with the President to underscore his commitment to signing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, legislation to ban abortion after five months of pregnancy, at a point at least by which unborn babies can feel pain.
The date the White House chose was February 14th — Valentine’s Day — the perfect date to celebrate the love which propels and sustains the pro-life movement. Among the people there were Micah Pickering and his parents, Clayton and Danielle. Micah was born after just 22 weeks in the womb. Doctors told Micah's parents he would suffer from severe disabilities and asked if they should resuscitate him upon birth. Clayton and Danielle said “yes” without hesitation. Today Micah is a perfectly healthy eight-year-old boy. He has become the face of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which has been nicknamed “Micah’s Law.”
Also present was Melissa Ohden, who survived a late-term abortion and was given medical care by nurses over the objections of some medical personnel; today she is the mother of two and the nation’s leading advocate for infants born alive after abortion. Christina Marie Bennett, whose mother walked out moments before aborting her after a hospital janitor encouraged her to have her baby, was there, as was Katie Shaw, an adult with Down syndrome whose parents made the increasingly rare choice not to abort her. Katie offered key testimony in support of a law protecting children with disabilities from abortion that was signed into law in Indiana by then-Governor Mike Pence and is now before the Supreme Court.
Most of the guests were meeting the President for the first time, but one — five-year-old Katharine Alexander — was renewing her acquaintance with an old friend. Katharine first met President Trump a year earlier, at SBA List’s annual gala. At that event the President told Katharine’s story to a hushed crowd of more than 1000 people gathered at Washington, D.C.’s National Building Museum.
"This organization bears the name of one of the greatest champions of freedom in American history: Susan B. Anthony. She fought for decades to end slavery, to secure women’s right to vote, and to respect the dignity of every single person. A great person, a great woman, was she.
Now we have a chance to honor her legacy and restore the first right in the Declaration of Independence. It’s called the right to life. Here with us this evening are Lisa and Bruce Alexander, and their family, from Gaithersburg, Maryland. Good place. In January of 2012, the Alexanders attended the March for Life, and God put it in their hearts to adopt a beautiful child. Two years later, in January of 2014, the Alexanders got a call that a baby had been born, who was opioid-dependent. She desperately needed a loving home. She was in serious, serious trouble. And the Alexanders welcomed her into their home with wide-open arms.
After the baby was treated for opioid withdrawal, they brought home their new and very beautiful daughter, Katharine. Hi, Katharine. Hi. Come on up here, Katharine. Come on. Katharine is four years old, and she is full of incredible energy, spirit, and talent. At the age of two — come on up, Katharine — she memorized “America the Beautiful.” She recites poetry. And recently she announced to her dad that when she grows up she wants to be a famous police officer. And then, when she gets tired of that, she wants to become President. That’s okay with her. She’ll be President someday.
Every time Katharine’s older siblings come home from school, Katharine runs into their arms and gives them a great, big, beautiful hug. They’re amazed by how much she loves them and how much they love her.
So tonight, we celebrate you, Katharine. We celebrate your life. Thank you, darling."
I knew the President was going to talk about Katharine and her parents in his speech that night, but I never thought he would invite her up on stage. What an incredible moment that was. The President showed to the whole world watching that evening via the news media who and what the pro-life movement is all about — the precious child, the loving family, the hope for the future.
Katharine — about to be reunited with her friend the President — bounced into the room when the Oval Office doors opened. With me in introducing the other guests was Dr. Alveda King, one of the most effective pro-life spokeswomen in the world, who seamlessly connects the civil rights struggle led by her uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to the battle to protect the unborn; and the President’s friend and advisor Pastor Paula White. President Trump then gave remarks to a group of thousands of people assembled on a conference call in which he introduced the group with him in the room, called attention to the extremism of today’s Democrats, and reiterated his pledge to fight for the unborn, especially babies who survive failed abortions.
After the call, the President had an intimate conversation with the group and heard their stories. He listens well. At the end of the conversation, the President specifically wanted a picture with the children — Katharine Alexander and Micah Pickering. Katharine immediately ran up behind the desk with the President. The President, broadly smiling, looked at us and said with a wink, “I’m not going to compete with her!”
Table of Contents
Life is Winning: Inside the Fight for Unborn Children and Their Mothers
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction by Vice President Mike Pence
Foreword by Sarah Huckabee Sanders
I. The Beginnings of Conversion………………………………………………1
II. Donald Trump Closes the Gap……………………………………………..11
III. “What if I’ve Been Wrong?”……………………………………………….34
IV. The Great Unfilled Need…………………………………………………...44
V. The Party of Abortion and the “Year of the Woman”……………………...54
VI. The Pro-life Movement Flexes its Muscle…………………………………66
VII. Flipping the Script: The Fight to Ban Partial-Birth Abortion……………...77
VIII. The Republicans……………………………………………………………90
IX. Going on Offense: A Sleeping Giant Awakes……………………………101
X. Obamacare, Betrayal, and a Supreme Win for Free Speech……………...109
XI. A One-sided “Truce”……………………………………………………...124
XII. They Feel Pain…………………………………………………………….139
XIII. The Abortion Industry Exposed…………………………………………..153
XIV. Fighting to Win…………………………………………………………...164
Introduction by Vice President Mike Pence to Life is Winning: Inside the Fight for Unborn Children and Their Mothers by Marjorie Dannenfelser
More than 240 years ago, our Founders wrote words that have echoed throughout the ages. They declared “these Truths to be self-evident,” that we are, each of us, endowed by our “Creator with certain unalienable Rights, [and] that among these are, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Forty-seven years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States turned its back on the unalienable right to life. But in that moment, a movement began – a movement that continues to win hearts and minds, a movement defined by generosity, compassion, and love, and a movement that today, with President Trump leading the charge, is energized and unified as never before.
From preventing taxpayer dollars from funding abortion overseas to empowering states to defund abortion providers and Title X, to nominating judges who will uphold our God-given liberties enshrined in the Constitution of the United States, President Trump has been a tireless defender of life and conscience in America.
Today, thanks to the leadership of President Donald Trump and the compassion, persistence, and prayer of the pro-life movement, life is winning in America.
Life is winning in a new generation of pro-life leaders who have stepped forward from the White House to state houses across the country. Life is winning through the generosity of millions of adoptive families who open their hearts and homes to children in need. Life is winning through the compassion of caregivers and volunteers at pro-life pregnancy centers and faith-based organizations who minister to women in cities and towns across America. And life is winning through the steady advance of science that illuminates daily the humanity of the unborn child and the truth about when life begins.
Life is winning through the quiet counsel between mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters, between friends across kitchen tables and over coffee on college campuses. The truth about abortion is being told. Compassion is overcoming convenience, and hope is defeating despair.
The battle to restore the Right to Life has been long and hard-fought – and for many years now, my friend Marjorie Dannenfelser has been at the vanguard, bringing both wise counsel and principled leadership to the cause. As president of the Susan B. Anthony List, she has led an impressive effort over the last three elections to reach more than 4.6 million voters and elect a pro-life President and a pro-life majority in the United States Senate.
In these pages, Marjorie has precisely captured how far the pro-life movement has come and how much we stand to achieve at this pivotal moment. It has never been more critical for each of us to continue to stand up and speak out. As Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”
This moment calls for every ounce of our energy and enthusiasm. It requires our full determination and conviction, our passion, and our prayers. It will be the ultimate test of the character and faith at the heart of this movement. But I trust that this important book will encourage and inspire government to play an even greater role in restoring the sanctity of life to the center of American law and to encourage us never to doubt that the Author of Life is with us in these efforts.
Life is winning.
Vice President Mike Pence