Are we there yet?

May 26, 2014

The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat
The soldier’s last tattoo;
No more on life’s parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.

Bivouac of the Dead

I still remember the Memorial Day afternoon many years back when my wife and I decided to do something different with the kids. We packed the cooler, loaded up the van, and headed down the road for a destination that we purposefully kept from our young travelers. 

You guessed it. Maybe fifteen minutes into the trip my oldest daughter, who was nine years old at the time, asked that classic road-trip question parents have heard from the beginning of time: are we there yet?

No, not yet. In fact, ahead of us lay a roughly three-hour trip through Kentucky’s beautiful Land-Between-The-Lakes region, a meandering drive that included a good old-fashioned picnic stop, a buffalo farm, and even a peek at an old restored farmstead. This was Memorial Day, and Memorial Day just seems custom-made for drives like this. But these were all side trips, a few early summer pauses on our way to something better.

When we at last reached our destination we had no hassles with holiday traffic. Parking? Plenty to be found. Admission? Not one dime. Accessibility? Unparalleled.

Crowded? To the contrary – save for a couple in the distance and a playful squirrel or two, we were alone in a quiet world where the only sounds were the occasional snapping of flags in the breeze and a handful of honeybees drifting among the clover.

We had arrived at Fort Donelson Military Park and Cemetery outside of Dover, Tennessee. This is the place where future president Ulysses S. Grant won his first military victory, where he earned the nickname “Unconditional Surrender,” and where a glimpse of the tenacity that would bring a bloody war to a grinding halt made its first appearance.

We stood beholding the eternal calm after the storm.

We stood on hallowed ground.

Hundreds upon hundreds of simple marble slabs baked on the sun as they silently marked the graves of unknown Union and Confederate soldiers who gave what Lincoln termed “the last full measure of devotion.” Other graves bore the names of those whose remains lay beneath, boys from the same states often resting side-by-side.

To our left were the graves of many more from latter day wars who laid down their lives on foreign soil. A 19-year-old who died in Vietnam. A 31-year-old who died in France. A 50-year-old who died in Korea.

They died for the freedoms we now take for granted. They died for the flag we now burn. They died for a shining city on a hill whose light grows just a tiny bit dimmer each time an unborn child’s life is ended by the cruelty of abortion.

They gave all. We are tempted to give so little.

Small American flags fluttered at each headstone, occasionally making soft popping noises that one might imagine to be rifles far off in the distance. Here and there loved ones had placed flowers. Two elderly men wandered silently on the grounds. All else remained still.

“This,” I told my three children, “is what Memorial Day is all about.”

And it occurred to me that the honor of those who fought for our freedoms will never be diminished, even if no other living soul ever ventures to this place again.

There will always be a place of honor for a nation that cherishes freedom and protects its people – even the smallest and most helpless.

Are we there yet?

By Mike Fichter, President and CEO of Indiana Right to Life

On Anniversary of Gosnell Conviction, Indiana Right to Life Urges Donnelly to Protect Unborn Children

May 13, 2014

Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act Would Protect Babies after 20 Weeks from Abortion

INDIANAPOLIS – On May 13, 2013, late-term abortionist, Kermit Gosnell, was convicted of first-degree murder of three infants born alive after botched abortions and involuntary manslaughter of an adult patient. On the anniversary of the conviction, Indiana Right to Life urges Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) to cosponsor the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in the U.S. Senate.

“The Kermit Gosnell case, despite its limited media coverage, showed the public the gruesome practices used in the abortions of late-term babies,” stated Mike Fichter, President and CEO of Indiana Right to Life. “Kermit Gosnell snipped the necks of these babies he killed. Other late-term abortionists deliver a legal injection through the unborn baby’s heart. In Texas, employees say a late-term abortionist twisted the necks of infants born alive. No matter the procedure, science shows that babies feel pain after 20 weeks.

“Only seven countries in the world allow elective abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The United States joins China, North Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada and the Netherlands in that startling distinction. The United States should recognize the humanity of babies after 20 weeks and they pain they feel by bringing our abortion laws up-to-date to scientific advancements.

“The U.S. House of Representatives already passed the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that would protect most children after 20 weeks of pregnancy from abortion. Forty-one senators support the legislation in the Senate, but Majority Leader Harry Reid has not yet scheduled a vote. We call on Indiana’s Sen. Joe Donnelly to cosponsor the legislation. Sen. Donnelly has long-claimed to be a pro-life advocate. Now is his opportunity to prove it.

“Sen. Donnelly, please protect unborn babies capable of feeling pain. Your constituents are counting on you.”

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act was introduced November 7, 2013 by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). It currently boasts the support of 40 cosponsors, including Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN). The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act enacts nationwide protection for unborn children capable of feeling pain, beginning at 20 weeks fetal age. The House of Representatives passed companion legislation in June (228-196) with the support of all Indiana Republican representatives.

In January, Indiana Right to Life and the student-focused Friends for Life group delivered 1,619 petitions urging Donnelly to cosponsor the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and encourage Senate leadership to allow a vote on the legislation.

Indiana Right to Life’s mission is to protect the right to life, especially of unborn children, through positive education, compassionate advocacy and promotion of healthy alternatives to abortion.

# # #

Swayze Hired by Susan B. Anthony List and Indiana Right to Life

May 12, 2014

Swayze

Swayze

Swayze Returns to Pro-life Policy Arena as National Women’s Pro-life Caucus Coordinator for Susan B. Anthony List and Vice President of Public Affairs for Indiana Right to Life

INDIANAPOLIS – Susan B. Anthony List, based in Washington, D.C., and Indiana Right to Life have hired longtime pro-life advocate Sue Swayze. Swayze will serve Susan B. Anthony List as its National Women’s Pro-life Caucus Coordinator and Indiana Right to Life as its Vice President of Public Affairs.

In Susan B. Anthony List’s newly created position of National Women’s Pro-life Caucus Coordinator, Swayze will be responsible for implementing the program’s mission of advancing women lawmakers who are dedicated to ending abortion and protecting women’s health through legislation.

As Vice President of Public Affairs for Indiana Right to Life, Swayze will assist in pursuing life-saving public policy and organizational development strategies. She will also serve as the organization’s media spokesperson.

Swayze brings a long history of public policy work to her new positions. Most recently, Swayze served as the Communications Director for the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency. Prior to that role, she worked for the Indiana Family Institute and Indiana Right to Life. At the Indiana Family Institute, she ran the Hoosier Congressional Policy Leadership Series and coordinated its marriage and relationship enhancement programs, primarily in jails and prisons. While at Indiana Right to Life, Swayze was the organization’s chief lobbyist and developed policy initiatives. Swayze also brings experience from roles with the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Central Indiana and the Children’s Coalition of Indiana.

“The SBA List is proud to partner with Sue Swayze as we build a community of pro-life women lawmakers across the country and connect them with the resources they need to pass pro-life laws. Sue’s prior leadership and coalition building experience make her an ideal choice for this new position,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Sue’s passion and dedication to the pro-life movement are unmatched. We are pleased to have her on board and to share her leadership with Indiana Right to Life.”

“We’re thrilled to have Sue back on board advocating for Hoosier women and children,” stated Mike Fichter, President and CEO of Indiana Right to Life. “Her skillset will allow Indiana Right to Life to more actively pursue its mission of protecting life in Indiana. Sue has been successful in previous legislative sessions as she urged for the passage of pro-life laws, and we are certain she will continue to apply her passionate advocacy. We’re pleased to share Sue’s time with Susan B. Anthony List because we know that Sue will directly impact the national pro-life community like she has done in Indiana.”

“I’m thrilled to be back in the pro-life movement full time because my heart is with the women and children affected by abortion,” shared Swayze. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve two outstanding pro-life organizations on both a national and state level. I look forward to working with female candidates and legislators across the country through Susan B. Anthony List’s National Women’s Pro-life Caucus and local legislators and pro-life advocates through Indiana Right to Life.”

Swayze’s official start date with Susan B. Anthony List was May 5. Swayze’s official start date with Indiana Right to Life is May 12.

Click here for a full biography about Swayze. Click here for a headshot.

The Susan B. Anthony List is dedicated to pursuing policies and electing candidates who will reduce and ultimately end abortion. To that end, the SBA List emphasizes the education, promotion, mobilization, and election of pro-life women. The SBA List is a network of more than 365,000 pro-life Americans nationwide.

Indiana Right to Life’s mission is to protect the right to life, especially of unborn children, through positive education, compassionate advocacy and promotion of healthy alternatives to abortion.

# # #

Meet Sue Swayze

May 12, 2014

Swayze

Swayze

Sue Swayze hails from Indianapolis, Indiana where she has worked for more than 25 years in policy development, program design and implementation, lobbying and political strategy.

Sue is the Vice President of Public Affairs for Indiana Right to Life where she assists in developing public policy and development strategies and serves as its primary lobbyist and media spokesperson on issues of human life. She also serves as the National Pro-Life Women’s Caucus Coordinator for the Susan B. Anthony List in Washington, D.C., where she is responsible for implementing the program’s mission of advancing women lawmakers who are dedicated to ending abortion by passing laws that save lives.

Before working in these positions for Susan B. Anthony List and Indiana Right to Life, Sue served as the Communications Director for the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency. Prior to that role, she worked for the Indiana Family Institute and Indiana Right to Life. At the Indiana Family Institute, she ran the Hoosier Congressional Policy Leadership Series, a leadership program that trains conservatives for community service and policy leadership initiatives. She also coordinated its initiative to provide marriage and relationship enhancement programs, for which she is also a certified facilitator, primarily in jails and prisons. While at Indiana Right to Life, Sue was the organization’s chief lobbyist and developed policy initiatives.

Sue is a former Vice President with the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, where she represented the business community, working with local and state officials to advocate for business-friendly regulations and legislation on tax and fiscal issues, infrastructure, environmental and local and government consolidation. She also staffed that chamber’s Political Action Committee. She was also the first Executive Director for the Indiana Christian Chamber of Commerce.

Prior to her years at the chamber, Sue was Policy Director at the United Way of Central Indiana and was active in such issues as child abuse, senior citizen’s services and welfare reform. She founded the Children’s Coalition of Indiana, a statewide children’s advocacy group, which played a key role in the creation of Indiana’s “Kids First” license plate.

Specializing in planning and management, Sue has a master’s degree in Social Work from Indiana University.

Sue resides in Indianapolis where she attends Northside Baptist Church. In her free time, Sue enjoys gardening, reading and all outdoor activities. Sue’s Christian faith has led to her commitment to working in the public policy arena on issues affecting life, marriage and the family.

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