Live From CPAC: Conservative Leader Calls for ‘Esthers to Rise Up for Life’

Leading pro-life voice Penny Nance has a message particularly for women. She sees the current outrage over late-term abortion as an opportunity for the cause of life.

By Josh Shepherd Published on March 1, 2019

This weekend, tens of thousands of conservative activists from across America descend on the Washington, D.C. area for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. Millions of others tune in to the live stream via C-SPAN and other outlets.

In addition to elected officials, TV personalities and conservative policy leaders, President Donald Trump will speak Saturday at CPAC 2019 and Vice President Mike Pence will speak on Friday. The recent election loomed large, as conservatives — including Concerned Women for America president Penny Young Nance — grappled with new dynamics in the House.

“We are seeing the election of the most leftist, openly socialist, anti-life, anti-Christian, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic people in the history of our country,” said Nance in an interview. It followed a CPAC panel she hosted with HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.

“They are bold about their positions — and, honestly, I’m thankful for it,” she continued. “When they tell the truth about what they believe and what their goals are, then we can take them on and win.”

In dialogue on the CPAC Hub exhibit floor, Nance discusses pro-life momentum, her disappointment with some on the right and what it means for women to “be an Esther.”

The Fight for Life

Your main stage CPAC panel discussed the wave of late-term abortion laws being proposed in several states. Why are these bills coming now?

Penny Young Nance

Penny Young Nance

Penny Nance: It’s clear that the Left is worried about the overturning of Roe v. Wade. When Roe is overturned, abortion policy goes back to the states.

The laws they’re working on ensure that the most liberal states will allow abortion at any point, which is basically in line with Roe and Doe v. Bolton. So nothing would change if you are in New York or some of these other states.

We knew all along that when Roe is overturned, we will have our work cut out for us in particular states. Some states will have perhaps no abortions. Currently, about five states are down to one abortion clinic. But some will be extremely liberal — places like New York, California and others.

In those states, we’ll make the case to the people why life is important. Upholding the sanctity and dignity of human life has implications for all of society.

The balance of the Supreme Court will play into any case that challenges Roe. Do you see a potential vacancy on the high court happening in the coming months or years?

Nance: I have no idea. Only God knows. Someone could retire — certainly we didn’t think Scalia was going home to be with Jesus when he did. No one ever knows that. A bunch of people in Washington, D.C. like to pretend they know things, but no one knows.

Whether there is a retirement or vacancy for whatever reason, we are ready. Concerned Women for America worked to mobilize support for Justice Gorsuch. Then the fight over Justice Kavanaugh was tremendously difficult. Whatever happens next, I believe it will be even harder.

Disappointment and the ‘Dirty 44’

Some are discouraged by how public funding of Planned Parenthood persists. Over two years, a Republican-majority House and Senate did not change this policy. Is it really a priority?

Nance: There is no excuse, as it was a missed opportunity. We fought hard for it. $500 million of our tax dollars could be spent on maternal health needs rather than Planned Parenthood.

This president, however, has been stellar and unwavering on the issue of life. I wish the Republican leadership would have been as rock-ribbed as he is. I wish their spine had been as stiff as his on this issue.

Elections have consequences for life. We have work to do. The filibuster exists, for better or worse. We have to bring people to our side. That’s why the vote this past week was significant. These “Dirty 44” Senators who stood on the side of infanticide have got to hear from people.

We can’t let them get away with this. They have to understand what they have done.

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In the past, Planned Parenthood was able to hide behind this thin veneer of respectability. Like somehow they were there for mammograms — which they don’t even do. Now the mask is off and the gloves are off. They have awakened a sleeping giant.

I just saw a statistic that African-American women suffer at least double the number of maternal deaths that others face. There is no excuse for that. Yet taxpayers are still giving Planned Parenthood a half-billion dollars annually.

Let’s reprogram those funds to shore up community health projects in minority and rural communities. Then these women will receive the kind of maternal health care they deserve.

For Such a Time as This

In your CPAC remarks, you called on women to “be an Esther” during this time. Could you explain what that means in the current context?

Nance: In Jewish and Christian traditions, the Old Testament has the Book of Esther. She was a sixth-century B.C. orphan with no real family connections. She didn’t plot out her rise to success and fame. She was plucked from obscurity by the hand of God and made the queen of the vast Medo-Persian Empire.

At first, Esther enjoys the rich life of having plenty. Suddenly, it comes to her attention that there is a sixth-century version of Adolf Hitler who is getting ready to wipe out the Jews.

It’s in that moment, through her uncle, she realizes she has to take a risk to speak truth to power. She must risk her life to speak on behalf of her people and the least of these. Prayerfully, earnestly, strategically, she does it. And she saves the Jewish people.

I believe that American women are in an Esther moment. We are being called upon to speak truth to power and take great risk. We must tell the truth for the least of these — for the unborn, for people with disabilities, for the elderly. It is our time.

At Concerned Women for America, we give them the data and statistics they need to fulfill this obligation. My book Feisty and Feminine gives them the tools they need to speak on a whole range of issues. We can do this.

It would be a shame for conservative women to get caught looking at their shoes just because they don’t know what to say. We are going to equip them. We are calling on them to speak truth to power, step forth and be the Esthers of this generation.

Watch the full CPAC 2019 panel: 


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