From the Right



When Dick Durbin Defended the Right to Life

Terence P. Jeffrey on

Dick Durbin was the man in charge.

It was Jan. 17, 1982, when the Springfield Right to Life Committee held its annual gathering at the Illinois Capitol to protest the Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.

As the master of ceremonies that day, Durbin presided over an event that opened with a prayer delivered by Bishop Joseph McNicholas of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield.

Durbin, who had worked as a staffer in the Illinois state senate, was running for Congress that year against incumbent pro-abortion rights Republican Rep. Paul Findley.

On March 14, 1982, Durbin sent out a letter on his campaign's stationary, specifically stating his position on abortion.

"My record of opposition to abortion on demand has been public record for eight years," Durbin wrote in the letter, which (along with the program for the Right to Life protest at the state Capitol) is now posted on the website of the National Right to Life Committee.


"Long before my opponent moved to this district I worked closely with Springfield Right-to-Life and served as master of ceremonies at the annual banquet," wrote Durbin. "As recently as this January I was honored to serve again as Master of Ceremonies at the Annual Observance in the State Capitol for the fifth time."

Durbin sent a similar letter to the editor to The Decatur Herald-Review.

"I oppose abortion on demand," he told the paper.

"I have worked with the Springfield Right to Life Chapter for eight years and have served repeatedly as moderator at the Right to Life observance in the State Capitol each year," he said.


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