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SPECIAL: Interview with AUL Action's Charmaine Yoest on 'Open Letter to Barack Obama'

By Deacon Keith Fournier
October 31st, 2008
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Catholic Online's special interview with Charmaine Yoest, PhD,President & CEO of AUL Action on their "Open letter to Barack Obama."

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - I recently had the opportunity to interview Charmaine Yoest, Ph.D., a long time leader in Pro-life and pro-family efforts who is now the President & CEO of AUL Action, the legislative arm of Americans United for Life (AUL). I last spoke with Charmaine when she worked with another Pro-Life leader, former Presidential candidate, Governor Mike Huckabee. I set forth the interview for all of Catholic Online's readers:

QUESTION: Charmaine, it is great to speak with you again. I have long admired your tireless work on behalf of what I like to call our "first neighbors", children in the first home of the whole human race, their mothers womb. Congratulations on your new position. Please explain AUL Action, its goals and your role for the global readers of Catholic Online

ANSWER:Americans United for Life Action (AULAction) is the legislative arm of Americans United for Life. We are a public interest, non profit law firm and policy organization devoted to defending life in law. We've been involved in every life-related case that has come before the Supreme Court since Roe and our ultimate objective is to see that decision reversed. I joined the organization as President and CEO in August because I believe we are at a historic moment in the life movement with both remarkable opportunities and pressing challenges in front of us. We are seeing a generation of young people who self-identify as pro-life at higher rates than their parents, yet at the same time Planned Parenthood's annual budget (largely subsidized by our tax dollars) just passed the $1 billion mark this year. And we have a Supreme Court where six of the justices are over 69 years old. So in just a few short years, we will see the composition of the Court dramatically change.

As the legal arm of the pro-life movement, I believe AUL is uniquely situated to make a difference in this environment. Our objective is to produce Constitutionally sound model legislation that pro-life legislators across the country can feel confident promoting. . . and none of our legislation has been struck at the state level. It has been a real honor for me to join this great team that has that kind of track record, and such a deep commitment to building a Culture of Life where everyone is welcomed in life and defended in law.

QUESTION: Charmaine, AUL Action has just released and published a very well done "Open Letter" to the Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama. Please tell our readers what the letter is hoping to accomplish, where it was published and how they can participate in educating all voters to this critical issue.

ANSWER:We've faced a real challenge during this presidential election. AUL has always been committed to being nonpartisan and we work very closely with pro-life legislators in both political parties. We have a close working relationship with Democrats for Life and ultimately want to see both parties working to defend life. But the reality we are confronted with is that Senator Barack Obama has a radical record on the life issue. There is, of course, his refusal to vote in support of protection for babies born alive during an abortion which has been so well-documented by Gianna Jessen and at bornalivetruth.org.

Less well-known is his commitment to supporting the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA)-- a really radical piece of abortion legislation that would wipe out every piece of pro-life abortion-limiting legislation that Americans have passed over the last thirty years -- including common sense legislation that has very high levels of public suport like bans on partial-birth abortion and laws requiring parental involvement.

Last summer, Senator Obama spoke at a Planned Parenthood event and promised them that FOCA would be the FIRST piece of legislation he would sign as President. Pro-life voters need to know this before they make a decision about their vote on Tuesday. So we established a one-stop website that has all the FOCA information, including the video of Obama's promise to Planned Parenthood and a Consititutional analysis of the bill from our Vice President of Legal Affairs.

That website is at www.FightFOCA.com. We also have a petition against FOCA there that we would love to have your readers sign and also tell their friends about.

The Open Letter to Barack Obama that we released this week (which is posted at the FightFOCA.com site) is intended to underscore the importance of parental involvement laws for abortion. The letter tells the story of a 14-year-old girl who was impregnated by her 22-year-old soccer coach. He took her to Planned Parenthood. They turned a blind eye when he claimed to be a family member, and gave her an abortion, a Depo-Provera shot and a bag of condoms. Her parents eventually found out and the soccer coach was convicted of seven counts of sexual battery and served three years in prison. But not every parent is going to find out that their child is being sexually abused. AUL is involved in the civil case that these parents have now filed against Planned Parenthood -- the parents are trying to find out how many other young girls have had the same experience in this Planned Parenthood clinic and of course Planned Parenthood is trying to block them.

We hope our letter will draw attention to how important parental involvement laws are in protecting young girls from sexual abuse. We need to keep these laws and rigorously enforce them. But FOCA threatens all legislation that would limit abortions in any way.

QUESTION: Charmaine, please tell us more about your plans, as the President of AUL Action, in our mutual effort to expose and oppose the lies of what was rightly labeled the "Culture of death" by the late Servant of God John Paul II, and, even more importantly, yours and AUL Actions plans to help replace it with what he also rightly called a new "Culture of Life" and "Civilization of Love.

ANSWER:In fact our mission is to advance a Culture of Life where everyone is welcomed in life and defended in law. Our objectives to that end are to reverse Roe and defeat Planned Parenthood. I believe both of these goals are acheivable in our lifetime if we remain committed, focused, optimistic and strategic. Although of course, in the end, the battle is not ours -- our duty is to remain faithful to the calling before us. As you rightly say, we have to oppose the lie. . . and the best weapon in that effort is the light of truth.

As a team of Constitutional lawyers and policy experts, our focus is on crafting unassailable model legislation that can withstand the legal challenges our opposition always puts in play. At the same time, we have to be working on a parallel track to persuade the American people that abortion harms women as well as taking the life of the unborn. With the development of the amazing 4D sonogram technology, there are very few people left who are unpersuaded about the humanity of the unborn. Even the most ardent abortion rights activists do not want to engage on that ground. So the challenge in front of us is to educate the public on the truth about abortion's intrinsic harm to women.

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