National Right to Life Committee

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The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) is the oldest pro-life organization in the United States.[1] The organization now has over 3,000 organization chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In 1999, NRLC was ranked the eighth most influential lobbying group in Washington, D.C. by Forbes magazine.[2] The Washington, D.C. based organization publishes a monthly newsletter which is subscribed to by nearly 400,000 people. President George W. Bush praised the bi-partisan organizations work on abortion, calling the group,

"Fearless shepherds of the innocent and the unborn. You've been faithful stewards of our Declaration of Independence's promise that all people have an inalienable right to life, through your witness, you have helped more of our citizens understand that the mark of [a] great ... nation is the respect that we give to every single human life."[3]

Roughly 1000 supporters attended its annual convention in Jacksonville, Florida, in June 2011, and many Republican candidates for president addressed the crowd.[4]


It was founded in 1968 as the "Right to Life League" under the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB). In 1973, it was changed to the "National Right to Life Committee" and separated from the NCCB. This was intended to gain more broad support, as the organization rose to the challenge of dealing with the Supreme Court ruling that same year on Roe v. Wade (which legalized abortion in all 50 states). One of its founders was Mildred Jefferson.


According to the National Right to Life Committee, its goal is to:

Restore legal protection to innocent human life. The primary interest of the National Right to Life Committee and its members has been the abortion controversy; however, it is also concerned with related matters of medical ethics which relate to the right to life issues of euthanasia and infanticide.[5]



The National Right to Life Committee stands against abortion, and criticizes pro-abortion organizations such as Planned Parenthood.[6] The NRLC website provides studies and information on the abortion procedure and the medical danger it causes to women.[7] NRLC actively involves itself in lobbying for pro-life causes. The organizations praised the Supreme Court's ban on partial birth abortion. NRLC Legislative Director, Douglas Johnson commented, "Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and their allies blocked this law for 12 years -- but finally, it is illegal in America to mostly deliver a premature infant before puncturing her skull and removing her brain, which is what a partial-birth abortion is." [8]

Although the NRLC has made a psitive impact, they have also sometimes aligned itself with politicians who have pro-abortion or pro-Planned Parenthood records, such as Mitt Romney and (in Nebraska) Jon Bruning.


The National Right to Life Committee has condemned measures to allow for federal funding for embryonic cloning initiatives. They called the United States House of Representatives bill, H.R. 2560, which would allow for increase cloning, "a clone-and kill bill."[9] The organization praised President Bush's veto of a bill which would allow for federal funding for embryonic cloning. The bi-partisan organization also criticized Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for stating that science had shown that embryonic stem cells have the "power to cure." Douglas Johnson stated, "since not a single human being has benefited from any procedure using embryonic stem cells, Pelosi's statement is yet another demonstration that the congressional Democratic leadership is more interested in demagoguery than in supporting the most promising types of stem cell research, which do not require killing human embryos." [10]


The organization is against all forms of euthanasia. To support their position, the organization cites studies which show that most of the recipients of assisted suicides suffer from mental health problems, which does not allow for them to make a rational decision to commit suicide.[11] They also state that problems should be dealt with by counseling, not assisted suicide. The organization says that if poor quality of life justifies the ending of life then, "we have taken a step down a slippery slope that places all of us in danger."[12]


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