On March 12, 2014, pro-life Americans gathered at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for the Susan B. Anthony List’s 7th Annual Campaign for Life Gala. Former presidential candidate and FOX television host Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) was the keynote speaker.
Transcript – Gov. Mike Huckabee at 2014 SBA List Gala
Thank you very much. Thank you.
This is one of those occasions when the introduction is a whole lot better than the speech (laugh from audience). I knew when they asked Gary Bauer to do the introduction, I was cooked. I said because the guy is one of the most articulate spokesmen we have in the conservative cause.
I want to say what an honor it is to be here tonight, and I mean that with all my heart. I love the Susan B. Anthony List and all that they do to get pro-life people elected to the House, to the Senate, and to Statewide office. And since their inception in 1992, this organization has helped 97 members of Congress take pro-life seats in the House of Representatives, 13 United States Senators take seats in the US Senate, and 15 Statewide office holders in governor and attorney general. And by the way, this year, 2014, those numbers are going to dramatically increase because of your efforts in this room and your generous contributions.
I’ve even been a donor to SBA because I believe in what they are doing to the point that I want to give them money to help them do it and I believe they use it as wisely and effectively as anybody in the country when it comes to races. In fact, if you look at their success record, it’s beyond admirable. Because I know organizations that’ll raise millions of dollars and nothing to show for it. In 2010, SBA targeted 15 seats in Congress and won 10 of them. Folks, in Republican circles for 2010, that was a remarkable effort. And the cause of the sanctity of Life was greatly enhanced because so many of you in this room were willing to make contributions to fund candidates who had the courage of their convictions to stand for the value of every human life.
Marjorie Dannenfelser is one of the true heroes of the pro life movement of our nation. I love Marjorie and all that she so energetically does. Marjorie, thank you for your great efforts. (audience clapping throughout)
You know I’m mindful in any background like this – the fact is Jesus never spoke at one of these. You may say, “how do you know that?” I’m going to explain it. You see, I know this, if Jesus ever done it after another speech there would have been one more beatitude in the book of Matthew. “Blessed are the brief for they shall be invited again.” (audience laughing) Of this I am certain.
One of the reasons we join here tonight is because we’re committed to the idea that every person is created equal. As Gary Bauer quoted the Declaration of Independence, I thought there’s no better way for me to segway from his introduction. To say that this really is the very heart of who we are as a country. Any great civilization is known for how it treats other people. Ultimately it’s how it will be remembered. And I can’t think of any more appropriate way for America to be remembered that -America would be remembered as the nation that treated everyone with dignity and believe that every single human being had intrinsic worth and value. And that there was no such thing as a person who was disposable, that no such person was expendable, that we’d never came to the place as a culture and a society where we thought that some people were better than others and some people were not as good as others. What makes us unique as a country is that sense of equality that has been the bedrock of this great republic of ours.
Since 1973, we have wondered from that course to an embarrassing figure of some 55 million unborn children who’ve never taken their first breath not because they were sick, not because there was something that interrupted their birth process. It was because someone interrupted their birth process. And I always like to remind people that there are two victims in every abortion. One of them is the unborn child for whom our tears should be shed, but let us never forget that so very often, the other victim of the abortion is the birth mother herself.
Often pressured, talked into a decision that years later she will regret and will live with the guilt and the weight and the shame of that, sometimes turning with anger and hostility trying to defend a decision that in her own heart she knows she can’t. And if you wonder how could I know that is because those 12 years I spent as a pastor some 30 years ago were the years in which I really, already while pro life, solidified my understanding because I cannot tell you how many times a woman in her late 20s or mid 30s or early 40s sat in front of me weeping openly, sobbing uncontrollably, because she had made the decision 20 years earlier to abort a baby and now as she was raising a family, she wondered where would that baby be. And it was the most God awful experience I ever had to listen to the – just grief and the shame. And I came to understand that there have been many lies told about the whole business of abortion, but one of the biggest lies is that this is just a blob of tissue. You really won’t feel any pain, and you’ll get all of this behind you. And you’ll be over it.
And I hope that those of us in the pro life movement will never cease to be filled with compassion not only toward the unborn children but also to the women who I tell you are often, maybe more often than not, true victims of the process. Somebody’s making money off of them, somebody is exploiting their pain, their situation, and we need to do everything we can to make sure that there are alternatives. But we also need to make sure that we do everything possible to pass the kind of laws by getting the kind of lawmakers who respect human life from the moment of conception. And it will fight in whatever way is possible at the moment to save every life that we can save. (audience clapping)
The notion of equality is at the heart of who we are as a country to the point that if it were not, so most of us would not be here tonight. If we lived in a culture where wherever it is that you started – that’s where you were stuck, well I can tell you I certainly wouldn’t be here. I’ve often said, and this is so very true, I grew up with a whole lot more in common with folks working in the kitchen than I ever did people sitting at the head table. I had to learn how to sit at the head table. I didn’t know. I did not grow up around people of influence. I did not grow up where people wanted my father to endorse their candidacy. They didn’t care. He was just some working stiff, and nobody really cared at all.
The fact is in America – this is a country where no matter who you are when you’re born, it doesn’t mean that you’re stuck in that spot for the rest of your lives. It’s still a land where opportunity exists. That’s what the extraordinary American experience is all about. Because we do not say that one person is inherently better than another. If I had believed that as a kid, I would never have left 2nd street in Hope, Arkansas in the little rent house that I lived in.
The fact is, we live in a country that has always valued the notion that every person has worth and value. And I want us to be reminded of what takes place when a country begins to devalue any group of its citizens for any cause whatsoever. Once the devaluation of a certain segment of the population occurs – whether it’s because of gender, religion, race, creed, color… [pause] or the age of gestation – that anything is possible.
On Jan the 29th, I was at Auschwitz, when nearly 65 members of the Israeli Knesset flew to Poland and was on the grounds of Auschwitz for a special hearing. I cannot tell you how sobering it was to think that the very government of Israel – that should never have existed had Hitler had his way – there on that day stood in victory… Standing on the very ground that was supposed to be the last place where a Jew ever was to take a breath on planet Earth.
We look at the horrors of the Holocaust, and people say “How could that happen? How could one of the most sophisticated, well-educated, and scientifically advanced countries in the entire planet do something of such magnitude?” And I tell you, it didn’t happen overnight. It happened as slowly but methodically… human being were devalued. Devalued because of their IQ, devalued because of their physical abilities or lack thereof, devalued because of their faith. And once people are valued to be more or less valuable than others, anything is possible.
The fact is, we need to be concerned that if we teach the generation coming after us that some lives are expendable and disposable and that the reason they could be expendable and disposable is because some lives are a financial hardship to the family or some are a social disruption. Let’s face – those are the two basic arguments people use to justify an abortion. It’s going to be a financial hardship – “ I just can’t afford it.” It’s going to be a social disruption. “My boyfriend will leave me. I’ve got to finish law school. My parents will really disown me if they find out I’m pregnant.” Look, those are the two basic reason that are often given to justify this business of abortion. But let’s ask ourselves, if we teach the generation after us, the ones younger than us, that it is okay to terminate a human life because it represents a financial hardship or a social disruption, what if we taught that generation when they are our caretakers, and we are approaching the end of life at the other end of the spectrum? When we become a financial hardship to them, and when we are s social disruption because they have to come check on us on the weekend rather than to go to the lake? We’ve already given them the full capability to take us out. Now I’m not going to make it that easy on my children to get rid of me. I’m tellin’ you now… another good reason to be pro-life! [laughter and applause]
But the best reason of all is because I believe every life is made in the image of God and I have no right to disrupt that which he has initiated. It’s not my life, it’s His. I don’t believe I can own another person. I thought we’ve settled that after the Civil War. Or as some people in the South when I was young used to still call it, “the War of Northern Aggression”.
The fact remains, that for some what Gary said is so very painfully true – there are voices who have told us, “Please don’t bring those issues up. Because we want to win elections.” So do I. But I want to win them for a cause that’s worth fighting for. I want to win them in a way that protects and preserves human life. Whether it’s politically expedient or not is of no consequence to me. I tell people all the time, and this is the God’s truth – I did not become pro-life because I got into politics, I got into politics because as a pro-life person, I believe that if we get this issue wrong, we will get all the other issues wrong because at the very heart and cornerstone of our culture is the respect for human dignity of human life.
I know we like to pick at members of Congress, and nobody likes to do anymore than I do…I don’t do it completely for a living, but I play a guy on TV who does, okay? [laughter] But in all seriousness, earnestness, and fairness tonight – I hope that it is not lost on you that we have Members of Congress and the Senate, of all the places they could choose to be in Washington, DC tonight– and believe me, there are many, many pressures upon them to be a hundred places a night – at least a hundred a night – there are Members of Congress and the United States Senate who are here in our midst, some who had been here and had to leave to take part in other events, do not let it be lost on you, and please thank them – but also take note of who’s here. Because let me just say this to you – it take s a lot of courage for a member of the House and Senate in this kind of environment and in this town to show up at this event and to hang out with people like the rest of us who are unapologetically pro-life because it means that they are unapologetically pro-life. It means that they are willing to take a stand for what’s right. (applause)
And I want to say thanks to every Member of the House or Senate who has been a part of this wonderful event tonight for your affirmation that this is not an issue that we should abandon. I’m convinced that when I go into Baskin Robbins , one of the reasons that one goes there is because there’s more than one flavor. How many of you would go to BR [and one guy says?] … “What do you have today?” “We have vanilla. That it? That’s it. Vanilla. You want vanilla? We got vanilla. You want anything else? I’m sorry, we’re BR and we’re down to one flavor. It’s Obamacare turned ice cream. It’s one flavor. [laughter] It’s all you got. Folks, you know what would happen? People would stop going to BR if they were down to one flavor.
Look, I’m convinced that as a conservative, I can be a full-spectrum conservative. I don’t have to quit being pro-life and pro-family to also be a person who believes that the government should take less money from each family and should spend less. That a government shouldn’t spend money that it doesn’t have and borrow money it can’t afford. I’m also a person who believes it’s perfectly within my purview to also put in the spectrum of my conservativism that I believe in national security, that America is an exceptional country, that we are the strongest we can be when we have a military that is so overwhelmingly powerful that nobody ever wants to poke it and see what it will do. I totally understand that.
But having said that, it is not impossible for me to then say, “But I will not yield one iota on the notion that every human being made of 23 chromosomes from its mother and 23 from its father creating a unique DNA schedule, never having existed before, that unique human life that comes to be at the moment of conception , that I have a moral obligation before God and a political obligation unto the Declaration of Independence and our Constitutional form of government to believe that that life is a life worth living and a life worth protecting and we can run the full gamut of what we believe. We don’t have to be reduced down to one flavor. My dear friend, that’s not how we lose an election. That’s how we win elections. That is how we save this republic and change the country.
Thank you very much, God bless you all, and God bless the Susan B. Anthony List.