"We have to be stronger than ever in 2011 and 2012": an interview with NRLC's Jacki Ragan.When I sat down recently with Jacki Ragan, director of NRLC's State Organizational Development Department, the very first thing she said was to remind me that "our people are not basking in the glow of the November elections." No pro-lifer "is saying we are 'taking a year off'--that's not where they're at--they understand pro-lifers have a window of opportunity that they must take advantage of," she said.
That opportunity is courtesy of an unprecedented campaign by NRL PAC and the PACs of National Right to Life's 50 state affiliates.
In addition to the arrival of a huge number of new pro-lifers in the state Houses and state Senates, 13 new pro-life Republican governors will replace pro-abortion Democratic governors--a net gain of 11 pro-life governors. (In two states retiring pro-life governors were replaced by pro-abortionists.) At the federal level there has been an overall net shift in the pro-life direction in the House of Representatives of 40 to 55 votes, depending on the issue, and between four and seven in the Senate, again depending on the issue.
To take maximum advantage pro-lifers are simultaneously looking straight ahead--to the 2012 elections--and to either side--to passing protective legislation in both the state legislatures and in Congress.
However, the extent to which the Movement takes full advantage of the openings provided in November will, as always, depend on the energy, drive, and focus of grassroots pro-lifers. Jacki wears many hats at NRLC, but it is at educating, organizing, and motivating pro-lifers in communities around the country that her skills are unmatched.
In our discussion Jacki checked off, one by one, the many projects in which NRLC its affiliates are involved. In addition to such important ongoing activities as church bulletin inserts (see story page 5) and the petition to "Support the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" (see pages 16 and 17), there are a number of new initiatives, some of which are already in motion, others about to be launched in early 2011.
There is, for example, "Rose's First Photo Album," an extraordinary collection of prenatal photos and drawings available in six different size formats--from key-ring-size to 11"x17". (See the story on page 5.)
"We know there is no more effective educational tool in the pro-lifer's toolbox than photos that remind people that unborn babies are just like us, only smaller," Ragan said.
Speaking of motivation, nothing seems to motivate Jacki more than talking about the growing importance of young people in our Movement and the heightened involvement of churches.
"Young people are coming out of the woodwork," Jacki said. "I've never anything like this in all the years I've been in the Pro-Life Movement."
How do you measure this? I asked. "It's easy," she responded. "Look at the number of young people who want to intern for NRLC and our affiliates; who've enrolled in the NRLC Academy; who go the camps put on by six of our state affiliates; and who are attending the Youth Summit in Washington, D.C."
Young people, she said, "are already making a real difference."
Churches have always been a mainstay of the Movement. "But it's been decades since we've seen the kind of response we've witnessed since pro-abortion Barack Obama was elected President," Jacki said.
One example illustrates her point. Each year NRLC sends out a mailing to pro-life churches.
"Only this time I've had many churches call me before I called on them," she said. Those not already members of NRLC want to become members, Jacki said.
One of the benefits of membership is a package of information and DVDs and the like which make it possible for them to easily conduct their first meeting. Jacki's goal is to double the number of identified pro-life churches.
Our conversation concluded, as it always does, with Jacki singing the praises of pro-life chapters. "They are the face and voice of NRLC in their communities," she said.
At a time when few organizations are able to convince people to attend meetings, NRLC local chapters are a conspicuous exception. "There is nothing like that face-to-face contact to create a sense of companionship and to stimulate new ideas," Jacki said.
What she called "brick-and-mortar" chapters are supplemented by other local chapters that use the tools of social networking--Facebook, YouTube, Twitter--to educate their communities. What few people realize is that more and more chapters are becoming independent sources of ongoing information. For instance, in addition to linking them to Today's News & Views and National Right to Life News Today, many now send out their own news summaries of stories relevant to pro-lifers.
Looking ahead to 2011 and 2012, Jacki asked that I pass along the importance of e-mail addresses. "This is a way of having the maximum educational impact with the minimum expenditure of money," she said. "If you would, please ask your pro-life friends and family if they would be willing to receive emergency legislative alerts and occasional fundraising appeals."
When they do, please send their e-mail addresses along to Jacki at Jragan1@aol.com.
All of this is in service of deepening and widening the strength of grassroots pro-life America. "Obama will be President for two more years," Ragan said. "If we are going to thwart his pro-abortion initiatives and regain ground lost the past two years, we have to be stronger than ever in 2011 and 2012.">END