By Richard Gootee
EVANSVILLE — Speaking to hundreds of pro-life supporters in Evansville Thursday evening, Michael Reagan reminded the crowd that both of his father’s wives, as well as himself, were adopted.
“Think about how the world would have been different if we had not been adopted,” said Reagan, son of the late President Ronald Reagan and his first wife, Jane Wyman. Looking down at a list of adoptees listed in the event’s program, he added, “If none of these were adopted and all were aborted, where would we be today?”
More than 1,500 people, including several political candidates, attended the Right to Life of Southwestern Indiana’s annual spring banquet at The Centre, which had the theme of “We the People Believe in Life.”
During the last few years, the event has brought high-profile keynote speakers to Evansville to speak against abortion. Last year, Pam Tebow, mother of New York Jets’ quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, addressed the crowd. In 2009, former vice presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin spoke at the banquet.
Reagan, a political commentator, author and former radio host, was introduced by Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, a former Vanderburgh County commissioner who is challenging U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar in next month’s Republican primary.
During his speech, Reagan said his father “lived the Bible” and said those who chose adoption are truly doing God’s work. He encouraged those in attendance to make previously unwanted children the responsibility of their faith communities, not the government.
“There are 500,000 children in foster care today. There are 100,000 children waiting to be adopted,” he said. “If every church in America found one couple in every church to adopt a child, there would be no need for foster care in America.”
Reagan shared his own story of the fear of telling his father that he was sexually abused by a day camp counselor when he was 8, even many years later. He urged those at the banquet to be open and willing to talk to those around them, including their own children, about the possibility of unplanned pregnancies so they know they have support, just in case.
“We parents need to be dying sometimes for our own children’s sins,” Reagan said, though he noted every young fearful mother should be considered a daughter to advocates.
The banquet serves as a fundraiser for the Right to Life of Southwestern Indiana. Tickets to Thursday’s event cost $39.90 each. The night included the reading of proclamations from Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and Vanderburgh County Commissioners Stephen Melcher and Marsha Abell. Recording artist Steve Amerson, who is a friend of Reagan’s, served as the event’s emcee.
Mary Ellen Van Dyke, executive director of the local Right to Life chapter, recognized two Evansville high school seniors during the event. The organization gave $1,000 scholarships to Memorial High School students Elizabeth Conkling and Lisha Murphy. Van Dyke also gave the lifetime achievement award to Michael and Mary Jo Jackson of Evansville, who have seven biological and 27 adopted children.
Van Dyke told the crowd to “be pro-life in every aspect of your life,” and speaking out against Planned Parenthood said “there is no parenting at Planned Parenthood” because the organization offers abortion. In March, the Right to Life chapter sponsored a rally for religious freedom and to oppose the new federal health care law.
“If there was ever a time to step up the pro-life effort, that time is now,” Van Dyke said.
The next mother who chooses to have her baby might just be giving birth to someone who will change the world, Reagan concluded.
“If you do your job by supporting what’s going on here tonight, the next life you save,” he said, “the next child that is born, may someday grow up to be the president of the United States.”