S.C. pro-life groups get inspiration from national consultant


CHARLESTON — Holly Miller, the 23-year-old field coordinator for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) in Washington, D.C., has been putting a lot of miles on her car lately.

For the past week, Miller has been in the Palmetto State overseeing chapter development meetings in Florence, Gaffney, Spartanburg, Beaufort/Hilton Head, Columbia, Charleston, Georgetown and Garden City.

All this after having just spent two weeks in our neighbor to the north, the Tarheel State. After departing from South Carolina, she will then venture to Virginia, South Dakota, and Arkansas, continuing her cross-country travels.

All of the mileage is paying off at the grassroots level, however. The NRLC was recently named at the top of a prestigious list of the most effective national lobbying groups. In addition, it was the only non-profit group organization to make the cut.

What makes this all the more remarkable, according to Miller, is that in the last election cycle it was outspent 10 to 1 on its lobbying efforts.

She gave an overview of the organization and its activities to a gathering of Charleston pro-lifers at a meeting at the St. Andrew’s Branch Library in West Ashley on April 15.

The NRLC is now working on a new campaign, themed “Roe vs. Wade equals partial-birth abortions.”

Miller said that last year’s Supreme Court decision in a Nebraska case setting aside state restrictions on partial-birth abortions used Roe vs. Wade as justification for keeping the procedure legal. The NRLC field coordinator explained that another Supreme Court decision, Doe vs. Bolton, defined “health” matters as including social, financial and psychological factors.

In discussing ways to promote the activities of local Citizens for Life groups, Miller cited petitions as one avenue to obtain contact lists.

In addition, she gave examples of ways to conduct petition drives. Miller told pro-lifers that, if soliciting signatures in front of a Wal-Mart, they should also have a list of supplies needed by a local crisis pregnancy center available to hand out to shoppers as they enter the store. As the customers exit they could then put their donations in a bassinet. Economic assistance such as this could prove useful in overcoming the possible objections of a location manager, Miller said.

Names garnered from the petitions could be used to develop an action alert phone tree and an e-mail list, she added.

The NRLC staffer also emphasized the use of bulletin inserts “to keep abortion issues in the mind’s eye. It let’s people know you are here.”

In the summer, Miller encouraged pro-lifers to attend as many local fairs and festivals as possible, using booths to display fetal models, air videos, and pass out educational material. During the fall season, she stressed the importance of having a liaison at each church to coordinate Life Chain arrangements.

“Also, have one event a season people can look forward to,” Miller said laughingly. “The pro-life movement isn’t all work and no play.”

In the Pee Dee, she said pro-lifers in Florence were going to explore the possibility of hosting a bluegrass festival.

These social activities provide a break from the annual schedule and are geared for young and old alike. “Time is the biggest inhibitor of people getting involved in the pro-life movement,” said Miller, former president of the National College Students for Life, citing family work and school obligations as reasons people “burn out” on additional activities. She said groups should keep their meetings to an hour’s time, with 15 minutes spent on education and 45 minutes planning the next event.

In further discussing local groups, Miller encouraged having membership cards for area Right to Life chapters and also developing pro-life business lists. “They are difficult to get started but expand as they go along,” she said.

Lastly, the field coordinator told the activists not to be discouraged. “Churches are a hotbed of pro-lifers. Educating their neighbors on the abortion issue is critical. We have to change hearts and minds.”

In closing, Miller handed out registration forms for the upcoming NRLC convention June 28-30 in Charlotte, N.C. For information, call the Washington headquarters at (202) 626-8800 Ext. 12.