October 16, 2015

‘Celebrate Life’ dinner highlights pro-life successes and heroes

Top left, Right to Life of Indianapolis director of programming Mary Dougherty, left, presents Charlene Witka, campus minister and Teens for Life coordinator for Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, with the Charles E. Stimming, Sr. Pro-Life Award during a dinner in Indianapolis on Sept. 29. Top right, former Indiana House of Representatives member Cindy Noe, left, receives a Respect for Life Award from State Sen. Scott Schneider during the “Celebrate Life” dinner hosted by Right to Life of Indianapolis at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis on Sept. 29. (Photos by Natalie Hoefer)

Top left, Right to Life of Indianapolis director of programming Mary Dougherty, left, presents Charlene Witka, campus minister and Teens for Life coordinator for Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, with the Charles E. Stimming, Sr. Pro-Life Award during a dinner in Indianapolis on Sept. 29. Top right, former Indiana House of Representatives member Cindy Noe, left, receives a Respect for Life Award from State Sen. Scott Schneider during the “Celebrate Life” dinner hosted by Right to Life of Indianapolis at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis on Sept. 29. (Photos by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

Two pro-life awards may have been presented at the Right to Life of Indianapolis’ “Celebrate Life” dinner on Sept. 29. But as keynote speaker Alveda King pointed out to the nearly 1,000 attendees, “Look at the person next to you. Chances are, you’re sitting next to a pro-life hero.” (Related story: Alveda King: from abortion recipient to pro-life advocate)

The dinner and fundraiser brought together pro-life advocates from across Indiana to the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis to celebrate the successes and heroes of the pro-life cause.

After an opening blessing by Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, Right to Life of Indianapolis president Marc Tuttle greeted the guests.

“The goal of Right to Life of Indianapolis is to ensure that we’re succeeding in building a culture of life here, and confronting the culture of death that has been such a drain on our community,” he said. “Just last week, three abortionists in Indiana went before the [Indiana medical] licensing board and were fined [for violations of abortion procedure record keeping]. That would not have happened without the help and support of people like you.”

Two of those people, Cindy Noe and Charlene Witka, received special recognition for their pro-life advocacy.

Former Indiana House of Representatives member Cindy Noe, who served from 2001-12, was given the Respect for Life Award for her promotion of pro-life legislation and her years of service on various boards related to the pro-life cause.

Legislation she promoted includes the Indiana Informed Consent Bill, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, safety regulations for chemical abortions, strengthening parental rights, preventing the mandatory administration of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination to teenage girls in Indiana, and putting in place the state’s first-ever abortion facility regulations.

“I rejoice that Indiana is a very pro-life state,” Noe said in her remarks after receiving the award. “And I’m happy because tonight there are lots of babies and children sleeping peacefully because of the pro-life force in Indiana.”

Part of that force was put in place by Witka, who received the Charles E. Stimming, Sr. Pro-Life Award.

More than 10 years ago, Witka helped found and still coordinates the Teens for Life group at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis. Through her leadership, the group holds an annual prom for senior citizens and participates in pro-life events and forums. Students in her group have gone on to be involved in Students for Life chapters on college campuses, and several of them have won Right to Life Indianapolis scholarships and contests, including this year’s oratory contest winner, Teresa Heckman.

Among the crowd were high school and college students, lay people, religious and public officials, including judges, city council members, state representatives and senators, and state Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

While unable to attend this year, Gov. Mike Pence recorded a message for the event.

“My administration remains committed to protecting the sanctity of life, and supporting the health and well-being of women and the unborn,” he said.

“We’ve ensured that no Hoosier is forced to subsidize abortions through their health premiums. We’ve enacted the first-ever state tax credit for people who adopt children. And when it was reported the Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the U.S., was engaged in the trafficking of human remains, my administration stepped in immediately to ensure that these appalling practices were not taking place in the Hoosier state. …

“I believe in my heart that a moral re-awakening is happening in our state and our nation on the issue of life.”

As proof, he cited the fact that 2014 marked the sixth consecutive year that the number of abortions declined in the United States.

Tuttle affirmed the trend to the nearly 1,000 pro-life advocates in attendance:

“I think it’s undeniable at this point that the momentum is on the side of the pro-life movement.” †

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