I recently interviewed Thomas Glessner, founder and president of the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates ("NIFLA").
In the interest of full disclosure, I serve — in a volunteer capacity — as a member of the board of directors for the NIFLA-affiliated Forestville Pregnancy Center. (If you know of anyone facing a crisis pregnancy, please contact your local pregnancy resource center, for the well-being of unborn children, as well as their mothers and fathers.)
On June 26 of this year, NIFLA was victorious in a [surprisingly narrow] 5-4 ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court case "NIFLA v. Becerra." You can read more about this crucial case here.
I thank Mr. Glessner and his staff at NIFLA for their vital work in protecting children and their families. Enjoy the interview transcript below.
1.) As the president of NIFLA, please tell us - what vital role do crisis pregnancy centers play when it comes to supporting the unborn and their parents?
Pro-life pregnancy centers provide life-affirming resources that empower mothers to choose life. NIFLA has more than 1,400 member centers nationwide. Of these, nearly 1,200 operate as medical clinics. NIFLA's medical member centers provide medical services to mothers considering abortion, such as ultrasound confirmation of pregnancy. Ninety percent of mothers considering abortion who see an ultrasound image of their baby prior to making a final decision will choose life. Because of the life-affirming services provided by pregnancy centers in every community in the nation, we are building a culture of life, and abortion numbers continue to decrease. Thus, the work of pregnancy centers, both medical and nonmedical, are protecting the lives of the unborn and providing their mothers with hope for the future.
2.) Why was the June 26 U.S. Supreme Court's NIFLA vs. Becerra ruling in favor of NIFLA a victory for children and their parents, not to mention for religious liberty?
If the California law had been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, government would have been allowed to compel pro-life centers to become abortion referral agencies against their fundamental values, and if they refused to comply, be closed down. The abortion industry has attempted to close down pro-life centers for over 30 years. This law, if upheld, would have become a statute to pursue across the nation. Beginning with blue states, such laws would have passed that would have effectively destroyed the work of pro-life pregnancy centers nationwide. Anne O'Connor, NIFLA's Vice President of Legal Affairs and co-counsel in arguing the case before the Supreme Court, added the following, comprising the remainder of the response to this question [#2]: NIFLA v. Becerra is not just about whether or not to hand out abortion information on a piece of paper or post it on the walls of our pro-life centers. It is about the right belonging to all American citizens to be free from government-compelled speech, and from being coerced into promoting a message that contradicts their values. The NIFLA v. Becerra case stands to prevent government-compelled speech, as well as unconstitutional targeting of those with differing viewpoints. Ultimately, the NIFLA v. Becerra decision is a win for pro-life pregnancy centers and the free speech rights of Americans nationwide.
3.) Were you surprised that the ruling was so close, at 5-4?
We were, of course, hoping for a wider margin. It was anticipated that the vote would be 7-2. However, the broad scope of the opinion that answered all of our concerns was outstanding. Most likely, the opinion would have had to be more narrow to obtain the votes of other justices. We are thrilled with the language of the opinion and its broad implications for free speech in areas beyond the pro-life world.
4.) I always ask this of my interviewees - do you have a favorite scriptural passage, and why?
There are so many, but if I have to pick one, it would be Revelation 21:4, which tells us that one day, “God will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” That is so very encouraging, because it assures us of ultimate victory in our battle against evil. One day, there will be no more divorce, no more child abuse, no more war, no more suffering, no more sickness, no more pain and no more abortion. Praise God!
5.) What are some signs of hope for the pro-life cause in the United States and around the world?
The annual numbers of abortion have decreased from a high of nearly 1.6 million a year in 1992 to approximately 900,000 today. While 900,000 abortions each year is still a tremendous tragedy, a decrease in the number of annual abortions by nearly 700,000 in a 26-year period is a remarkable achievement. We are headed in the right direction. We must stay focused, with our eyes on the prize. Together, we can achieve an abortion-free America where all life — born and unborn, regardless of infirmities, handicaps, age or gender — is protected under the law and cherished in the hearts of the citizens of our republic.
If you, or someone you know, are pregnant and are worried, scared, pressured by a boyfriend or family member to get an abortion, or otherwise, please know that you have alternatives. There are numerous pregnancy resource centers nationwide, with free resources available to help you, often including sonogram technology and other services to help you choose life. Please reach out to your local pregnancy resource center on this clickable map to learn about the specific resources provided either there or at another facility nearby. All human life is sacred, beginning in the womb and throughout the life span, and there are multiple resources available to support you, especially including a counselor's listening ear.