By Paul Bremmer
The Susan B. Anthony List has hired popular pro-life activist Jill Stanek, a former WND columnist, as its new national campaign chair, and an official announcement is expected Wednesday.
Stanek will travel the country on behalf of SBA List, speaking to activists, donors and voters. She will attempt to build support for passage of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which is SBA List’s highest legislative priority, and also for the election of a pro-life president in 2016.
SBA List Executive Vice President Emily Buchanan said this is a brand new position and Stanek is the perfect person to fill it.
“When we were looking at adding this position and really thinking about who would be the best person to add to Susan B. Anthony List to amplify our message and grow our organization, Marjorie [Dannenfelser, SBA List president] and I both agreed that Jill was the right person,” Buchanan told WND. “So we are excited that she said yes and that she’ll be joining our team.”
In an exclusive interview with WND, Stanek said she was pleasantly surprised when Buchanan emailed her out of the blue to offer her this new opportunity.
“When they approached me, I thought they were going to ask me to embark on another bus tour with them, as I did in 2012, and this position was far greater than that, and I’m humbled,” Stanek said. “It’s very important, this next election – they always are – but I’m just humbled to be a part of helping elect a pro-life president and shepherding the Pain-Capable Act to fruition.”
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The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which passed the House in May but has not been brought up for a vote in the Senate, would ban abortions after 20 weeks.
The bill is important to Stanek on a personal level, for she witnessed many late-term abortions as a registered nurse at Christ Hospital in Chicago. The irony is that she initially took a job with that particular hospital in order to avoid abortions.
“When I went to work at Christ Hospital, I would have probably been a closet pro-lifer – you know, personally pro-life, but certainly not invested in the pro-life movement, and I went to work at Christ Hospital because I didn’t want to participate in abortions,” she revealed. “I thought I would be safe there because of the name of the hospital.”
Pro-life leader Jill Stanek
But to Stanek’s horror, she soon discovered that not only was Christ Hospital performing abortions, but some babies were aborted alive and then left to die in the hospital’s utility room. At one point, Stanek cradled a 21-week-old abortion survivor in her arms for 45 minutes until he died. That was the catalyst that launched her career in pro-life activism.
“It was actually those 45 minutes that changed my life and took me from somebody who was ambivalent about the issue to someone who was just totally committed, and I suppose you could say obsessed, with stopping abortion,” she said. “I’m sad and embarrassed that it took that for me to become an activist, but I would say that just about anybody who held an abortion survivor like I did would be compelled to promote the life issue after that.”
Stanek confronted her superiors at Christ Hospital about the brutality of their abortion practices, but they said they would not stop. She spoke out publicly against their practices while she was still a nurse, but the hospital eventually terminated her because of her outspokenness.
Stanek then became a full-time activist. She rose to national prominence after confronting then-Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama over his opposition to legislation that would require medical personnel to take every measure possible to save the life of a baby born alive after an attempted abortion.
In March, she was arrested outside of Speaker John Boehner’s office for taking part in a protest over the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Act, which had not yet been put to a vote in the House at that point.
Buchanan praised Stanek for her tireless advocacy on behalf of unborn children, including her numerous testimonies before the House of Representatives and various state legislatures. She said such advocacy is exactly what SBA List is looking for.
“We’ve just seen her be outspoken and aggressive in communicating on behalf of unborn children, and that is very much in line with the spirit of Susan B. Anthony List,” Buchanan said. “I think she has a very unique and compelling story that will resonate with the people that we’re communicating with.”
Stanek, for her part, praised Susan B. Anthony’s List for being aggressive in raising money to elect pro-life politicians and defeat pro-abortion ones.
“Susan B. Anthony List isn’t shy about their agenda, about calling legislators into account who are both pro-life and pro-abortion, and I really admire Marjorie Dannenfelser because she just speaks her mind, and is just relentless, and I think that is indicative of how all of the people who work for Susan B. Anthony List are top-notch people,” she said.
Stanek said she doesn’t look at this new position as advancing her career, because she doesn’t think in terms of a career. Rather, she thinks in terms of where God wants her to be next.
“When this opportunity presented itself, it just became clear to me pretty quickly that this is where I was supposed to be next,” she revealed. “That’s just how I look at what I do to promote a pro-life culture and stop abortion, just, ‘Where am I supposed to go next? What am I supposed to do next?’”
In fact, Stanek said her faith is everything to her. Faith kept her at Christ Hospital for two years after she found out it was aborting babies, and faith led her to see the humanity in unborn children.
“We are created in God’s image,” Stanek asserted. “Preborn babies aren’t hamsters or little acorns; they’re human beings created in His image, and so knowing, like Jeremiah 1:5 says, that even before we were formed, God knew us, that He has a plan for all of us, is what drives me.”
Many liberals frame the abortion debate as a question of “a woman’s right to choose.” Stanek conceded that getting pregnant is by and large a woman’s right to choose, but everything changes after that.
“After a woman is pregnant, she’s a mother and it is not just her body anymore,” the former nurse said.”There’s a distinct other human being inside of her and she holds a responsibility.”
Stanek noted that people admire animals when they act on their maternal instinct to protect their babies. And yet, pro-abortion advocates want to snuff out that maternal protection instinct in humans.
“It’s just tragic that in our culture, we’re not only trying to quell the human maternal instinct to protect her baby, but literally kill this instinct, and encourage women to forgo their maternal instinct to protect their babies and say it’s okay, even admirable to kill their babies, which is horrible.”
Stanek believes respect for the life of the unborn is a foundational issue that informs everything else a politician believes. In other words, if a politician is pro-abortion, she doesn’t trust him or her to respect post-born human life, either.
“The Declaration of Independence talks about being free to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and you can’t have liberty and the pursuit of happiness without having life,” Stanek observed. “So it is foundational for all other thoughts and actions that politicians have, and from that belief system stems, I think, all other actions that they make, good and bad.”
It is for this reason that Stanek believes it is essential to elect pro-life leaders who will pass pro-life laws. She thinks she is the right person to do that. She pointed to the many connections she’s made since she started blogging and speaking across the country. She also pointed to her experience confronting Obama in Illinois. She believes this will make her an effective national campaign chair for Susan B. Anthony List.
“I understand the need to elect the right political leadership to pass the right laws, and I understand that laws truly do impact the culture,” she said. “So I think all of my experiences to this point, even public speaking, having had that experience for so many years, just worked well to take me to the point of working with Susan B. Anthony List in this role. I know politicians now. I just think it has all come together for this.”