Following are the top 10 stories of greatest impact to the pro-life movement in 2009, in both my opinion and the opinion of my blog readers. I'm listing them in chronological order, not necessarily in order of significance.
1) Jan. 20: Inauguration of President Barack Obama, quick to please those hoping pro-lifers were right to assert he was the most anti-life politician ever elected to our highest office, when …
2) Jan. 23: President Obama signs an executive order overturning the Mexico City Policy, thereby reauthorizing taxpayer funding of international groups promoting and/or committing abortion. Obama defenders rationalize that at least he waited until after the Jan. 22 anniversary of Roe v. Wade, demonstrating a non-provocative tone … toward born people, anyway.
3) May 15: Gallup releases a poll showing that for the first time since it began asking the question in 1995, a 51 percent majority of Americans consider themselves "pro-life" as opposed to 42 percent "pro-choice." Gallup credits Obama for the shift, in part: "It is possible that, through his abortion policies, Obama has pushed the public's understanding of what it means to be 'pro-choice' slightly to the left, politically. While Democrats may support that… it may be driving others in the opposite direction."
4) May 17: President Obama speaks at Notre Dame University's commencement and is bestowed an honorary doctorate degree. The magnitude of protest incited by university president Father John Jenkins' invitation surprises just about everyone. Protestant pro-lifers join Catholics in strident opposition that includes billboard signs, an "abortion plane" and busloads of protesters. Eighty-eight are arrested.
5) May 31: Late-term abortionist George Tiller murdered in his Wichita, Kan., church by schizophrenic Scott Roeder, marking the eighth murder of an abortion doctor or staffer throughout 36 years of legalized abortion, the first since 1998.
6) Sept. 11: James Poullion murdered by Harlan James Drake in front of a high school, the first time a pro-life activist is killed while protesting abortion.
7) Oct. 10: The New York Times publishes graphic photos of aborted babies, a mainstream media breakthrough. Pro-life activists would have preferred the NYT show younger babies aborted by current methods rather than rarer late-term victims murdered via the antiquated saline procedure, but it marks the start of an honest nationwide visual conversation about the reality of abortion.
8) Nov. 7: The U.S. House, led by pro-abort Nancy Pelosi, stuns the abortion lobby by passing a health-care bill that includes the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which bars public funding of abortion either directly or indirectly. It remains to be seen whether an inability to compromise on abortion leads to socialized health care's downfall in 2010. If it does, Democrat pro-life Rep. Bart Stupak may earn the title of Most Influential Pro-lifer of both the first and second decades of the 21st century.
9) Dec. 2: The National Institutes of Health announces it will begin implementing President Obama's March 9 executive order authorizing public funding of embryonic stem-cell research. As wrote Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in a statement, "For the very first time in U.S. history, the federal government will now use taxpayer dollars to pay for research that relies on and promotes the destruction of human life at its earliest stages."
10) 2009: Nationwide explosion of the Personhood Movement. It was only last year that pro-life activists succeeded in getting the first "personhood" initiative on a state ballot. Colorado's simply declared, "The term 'Person' or 'Persons' shall include any human from the time of fertilization." It may have suffered a lopsided 73-27 percent defeat, but organizers certainly weren't crushed. Twenty-nine state groups are now at work getting personhood initiatives on their ballots, and it is predicted seven will reach the goal in 2010. While these efforts stymie some pro-life incrementalists, who may even oppose them as untimely, pro-aborts are alarmed. NARAL has nominated Personhood USA for its 2009 Hall of Shame, fearing "the strategy [could] outlaw abortion."
11) Honorable mention, Oct. 6: Bryan, Texas, Planned Parenthood manager Abby Johnson submits her resignation, leading quickly to her conversation as pro-life activist and speaker. Johnson said it was seeing a baby aborted via ultrasound that primarily changed her mind, although being pressured to sell more abortions in these economic down times turned her away from the industry as well.