October 21, 2016

Dinner recognizes ‘authentic feminist movement’ and its champions

Marc Tuttle, director of Right to Life of Indianapolis, left, poses with Charles E. Stimming, Sr., Pro-Life Award recipient Marilyn Schneider, far right, and the children of the second recipient, Mary Kay Overbeck, during the Celebrate Life Dinner at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis on Oct. 4. Receiving the honor on behalf of their mother are Kassy McPherson, second from left, Scott Overbeck, Dan Overbeck and Mary Lynn Lesnick. (Photos by Natalie Hoefer)

Marc Tuttle, director of Right to Life of Indianapolis, left, poses with Charles E. Stimming, Sr., Pro-Life Award recipient Marilyn Schneider, far right, and the children of the second recipient, Mary Kay Overbeck, during the Celebrate Life Dinner at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis on Oct. 4. Receiving the honor on behalf of their mother are Kassy McPherson, second from left, Scott Overbeck, Dan Overbeck and Mary Lynn Lesnick. (Photos by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

At the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis on Oct. 4, author Sue Ellen Browder declared those present at the Right to Life of Indianapolis’ Celebrate Life Dinner to be members of the “authentic pro-life family feminist movement.”

Browder was the keynote speaker at the annual dinner, which also honors local leaders for outstanding contributions to the pro-life movement, celebrates the victories of the movement and seeks to raise funds and awareness for the cause.

It was attended this year by more than 900 students and adults, including nearly 20 grade-school students from at least six schools plus home schoolers; about 250 high school students from nine Catholic and Christian high schools and at least six public high schools; 92 college students and 33 college seminarians.

Browder is the author of Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement. She shared with the event attendees the results of her investigative research on how abortion and contraception were meshed with the authentic feminist movement started in the late 1800s. (Related: Author reveals how authentic feminism was hijacked by proponents of sexual revolution)

Before Browder spoke, Marc Tuttle, director of Right to Life of Indianapolis, outlined the organization’s mission, which is “overall, to transform the culture,” he said.

Part of the mission, he continued, “is ensuring that the laws that are passed are enforced by the state. We’re a little bit of a watchdog organization in that respect.”

Timothy O’Donnell, a Right to Life of Indianapolis board member, expounded on the role of the organization.

“We also conduct health surveys of these [abortion] facilities, to make sure that [laws] are carried, and most importantly, that the state follows up on what [the surveys] find,” he said.

“When they find something, it’s Right to Life of Indianapolis who is often filling that role of making sure the state follows up on violations. … As a result of these activities, we were able to hold Dr. Ulrich Klopfer accountable for not reporting children as young as 12 years old who went to his clinic for abortions. How do 12 year olds get pregnant? It’s a crime, and we held him accountable because of your support. And because of your support of Right to Life of Indianapolis, he no longer has a license in the state of Indiana.”

O’Donnell also noted that in the last five years, the number of abortion facilities in Indiana has dropped from 10 to six.

Tuttle thanked the many pro-life politicians who work with the organization in this effort, including 13 political figures and two candidates either present or represented at the dinner.

“One of the other aspects [of Right to Life of Indianapolis] is developing that next generation of pro-life leaders,” Tuttle continued. “We’re beginning to see the payoff. More and more, I run into young adults who have been through our Teens for Life program in their high school, or who are involved with the Teens for Life groups in college.”

Another way the organization develops future pro-life leaders is by offering art, oratory and essay contests for youths. The winning drawing, created this year by Roncalli High School junior Rachel Knierman, appeared on the cover of the dinner program. Samantha Koval, a home-schooled high school senior from Mooresville, delivered her prize-winning speech at the event.

Three adults were also honored. Curt Smith, president of the conservative, faith-based, pro-life Indiana Family Institute and recent author of Deicide, received the organization’s Respect for Life Award.

“ ‘Deicide’ is Latin for eliminating or killing the deity,” he said. “As I work in public policy in the statehouse, I think that’s the big problem, that people are trying to push God out of the public square. It’s very alarming. We need to wake up the people of the church.”

Smith, a member of College Park Church in Indianapolis, said he holds “Right to Life in the highest esteem, so to be honored by this great organization means so much.

“[Indiana Family Institute] thinks the world of Right to Life, both the chapter in Indianapolis and the chapters across the state, as well as the state organization. We’ve been partners for going on 30 years on policy issues in the statehouse. We respect their consistent message on life, and their consistent message that the church and the Bible are clear: We need to stand up for life.”

His many accomplishments include working as a journalist for two newspapers while freelancing for

The New York Times, working in many roles for Sen. Dan Coats and Rep. John Hostettler, and serving as vice president and chief operating officer of the conservative think tank, the Hudson Institute.

His greatest accomplishment, perhaps, is being the father of four children with his wife, Debbie. The Smiths served as public Christian witnesses to God’s love earlier this year when their 25-year-old son Andrew, a former Butler University basketball player, died from non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia on Jan. 12.

“God is faithful and good in all circumstances,” said Smith. “We prayed for healing—we just didn’t think it would come in heaven. We were hoping it would come at the hands of a doctor.”

Two other award winners at the event were Mary Kay Overbeck and Marilyn Schneider, who together won the Charles E. Stimming, Sr., Pro-Life Award.

“As long as I’ve known them, they’ve always been a pair,” said Tuttle of the two women, who have both served on the dinner committee in various capacities for many years and co-chaired the event in 2010 and 2011.

“I’ve stayed on the dinner committee and do whatever they ask me to do, the things others are maybe a little too busy to do,” said Schneider, a member of St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Carmel, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese.

“I did not see this coming. I’ve looked at that [list of past winners in the] program and thought, ‘I’m not in this league.’ There are so many people who do more than I do. But I love what I do. I just think it’s so important. If you don’t respect life at all stages, what’s left? These little babies need someone to speak for them.”

Overbeck was unable to attend the event, but her award was received on her behalf by her children.

After the talk by Browder, people lined up to purchase her book.

Among those in line were Sonia-Maria and Konrad Szymanski, members of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis.

“What a powerful, powerful talk,” said Sonia-Maria. “It enlightens how much everything has been based on lies, and how much work we still need to do in order to keep removing those lies and keep telling the truth.”

Konrad likes coming to the annual event.

“It’s good to recharge your batteries,” he said. “When you go out there in the world, you very often feel alone [in supporting the pro-life cause], even though we might not be. We need that inspiration, a little boost.”

As for Browder’s talk, he said he “really liked that she was talking about the fact that the pro-life stance is the true stance, which is pro-woman, pro-child, pro-family, pro-human.

“There’s something to be said about knowing your own history. If you don’t know your own history, whatever someone tells you becomes the new history, even if it might not be true. And if you don’t know the truth, someone else writes it for you.”
 

(For more information on Right to Life of Indianapolis or to contribute to its cause, log on to rtlindy.org.)

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