OTTAWA, Ontario, December 1, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Abortion is “so unnatural that it’s not going to be here in another fifty years,” American pro-life pioneer Dr. Jack Willke declares in an exclusive LifeSiteNews video interview, taped last month. “We’re convinced of this. I hope it’s not here in another ten or fifteen.”
Speaking alongside his wife, Barbara, at the International Pro-Life Conference in Ottawa, the octogenarian described the couple’s introduction to pro-life work, shared some of the highlights of their forty plus years in the movement, and spoke about their upcoming book on the history of the pro-life movement. Coming from the Willkes, this book has already been hailed, even before its completion, as a landmark must-read for pro-life activists.
Dr. Willke explains how he was content to remain a family physician but was drawn into pro-life work through the promptings of revered pro-life missionary Fr. Paul Marx and others. “If we get started in this, it’ll swallow us up,” they told the priest.
Those remarks, it turned out, were prophetic.
The couple, parents of six and grandparents of 22, have lectured in 85 countries and authored numerous books on abortion and sexuality, including the famous Handbook on Abortion, which has sold millions of copies and been translated into 22 languages.
Dr. Willke is a founding member and long-time president of the International Right to Life Federation, a former president of the National Right to Life Committee, and the founder and president of the Life Issues Institute, a nationwide educational organization.
He’s been a radio and TV host, appeared on almost every major network show in the United States, and has created numerous videos, audio/visual sets, pamphlets, articles, movies, brochures and CD’s.
They are currently putting the finishing touches on their history of the pro-life movement, which Dr. Willke describes as their “last book.” The book, which treats of the worldwide movement while focusing on North America, devotes a chapter to every year from 1971 to the present. It is likely to be published within a year.
“We’d like to think our final epistle here will be something that will be in libraries all over the world,” Dr. Willke told LifeSiteNews.
Jim Hughes, national president of Canada’s Campaign Life Coalition and vice-president of the International Right to Life Federation, noted that Dr. Willke is known as “the father of the pro-life movement in the United States,” and praised him for the “outstanding leadership” he has given to the pro-life movement worldwide.
“I hope that pro-lifers will read the book, be inspired by it, and redouble their efforts,” said Hughes. “I especially hope that the younger pro-life people will read it and see what they’re building on. Certainly Willke provided a huge blueprint for us to follow.”
Brad Mattes, executive director of the Life Issues Institute, said that “there has never been any couple that has done more to impact the issue of abortion than Jack and Barbara Willke, and that is no exaggeration.” Mattes, whose organization was founded by the Willkes, won an Emmy award this fall for his pro-life TV show Facing Life Head-On.
“God gifted them with genius, I believe, in a way to analyze how to present the pro-life message effectively,” he added.
Mattes said he is “very excited” about the upcoming book, saying “there is nothing like it in the history of the movement.”
The book is loaded with historical detail and “insider information” about the pro-life battle that would not otherwise be recorded, he explained.
He pointed out, for example, that the book records Dr. Willke’s decisive role in changing President George H.W. Bush’s position on abortion. While the future president was running as a vice-president alongside Reagan, Dr. Willke spent several hours with him at the Bush summer house in Maine. “That education was critical in him functioning as president, signing pro-life legislation, vetoing pro-abortion legislation, executive orders,” said Mattes.
“The average person doesn’t have an understanding or grasp of the impact he and Barbara have played,” he said, “and that’s why I’m so excited to see this book written and published, because a lot of people then will know so much valuable information.”
Dr. Willke told LifeSiteNews that he hopes he and Barbara will be looked on in the future as pioneers in the pro-life battle. “I hope that in years ahead as people look back on these years, if our names are known, we’ll be known as pioneer pro-life people who started the counter-attack against the anti-life movement,” he said, “and that what we did helped to fuel it to become ultimately successful.”