Ben Johnson

Howard Phillips, “a good man who devoted his life to fighting the good fight,” dead at 72

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

VIENNA, VA, April 24, 2013 ( – Howard Phillips, whose pro-life activism in the 1970s led to the formation of the modern Christian conservative movement, passed away at his home Saturday at the age of 72. He died of Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) and Alzheimers Disease, according to family.

In addition to running for president three times, Phillips founded a new brand of conservatism that motivated values voters to put social issues – especially abortion – first in their voting patterns.

He helped create numerous pro-life and pro-family organizations, headed a major federal agency during the Nixon administration, and testified against two Republican Supreme Court nominees that he accurately predicted would favor abortion-on-demand.

“The overarching moral issue in the political life of the United States in the last third of the 20th Century is, in my opinion, the question of abortion,” he told then-Senator Joe Biden during the confirmation hearings of David Souter.

“Howard Phillips, a friend of half a century, was a conviction politician,” Pat Buchanan told “He stood up for his beliefs, he stood by those beliefs, and he did not hesitate to go down to defeat if necessary for those beliefs. High among them was his unshakable belief in the inviolate right to life of the unborn.”

“Howard was a good man who devoted his life to fighting the good fight,” he told LifeSiteNews.

Phillips campaigned for Ronald Reagan but testified before the U.S. Senate against his first Supreme Court nominee, Sandra Day O'Connor. Her record in the Arizona state senate and as a judge proved she would favor abortion, he said.

A few years later, Phillips showed remarkable prescience as the only witness to testify against David Souter from a pro-life perspective. He was troubled by Souter's law school thesis, and by the fact that two New Hampshire hospitals opted to perform abortion-on-demand while Souter was a trustee. Phillips said, “One must conclude that either Mr. Souter accepts the view that the life of the unborn child is of less value than the convenience and profit of those who collaborate in the killing of that child, or that...he lacked the moral courage or discernment to help prevent the destruction of so many innocent human lives.” (You can watch the video here.) 

Both Souter and O'Connor would affirm Roe in the 1992 Casey v. Planned Parenthood decision.

In a 2005 interview with LifeSiteNews, Howard Phillips analyzed that Chief Justice John Roberts “knows what the Constitution stipulates, but I think that for the sake of his career he will often set it aside in favor of what he believes is a more pragmatic course of action.” Conservatives accused Roberts of seeking mainstream approval in switching his decision on ObamaCare.

Phillips participated in the founding of Young Americans for Freedom, Concerned Women for America (CWA), the American Life League (ALL), and the influential Council for National Policy (CNP). In 1979, he and a group of conservative activists met with a dynamic preacher in Lynchburg, Virginia, and encourged him to bring evangelicals into the political arena. The United States, he told Jerry Falwell, still had a “moral majority.” With his impetus, the face of the Republican Party changed.

Phillips' insight came from years of study.

“Howie,” as friends called him, was born on February 3, 1941, in Boston. The grandson of Jewish immigrants attended Boston Latin School and Harvard College. He became a top youth volunteer for Richard Nixon in 1960 and then the leader of Boston's Republican Party as he devoted his life to doggedly climbing the political ladder.

In 1968, he was campaign manager of the successful U.S. Senate race of Richard Schweicker, a liberal Republican with whom he differed profoundly. GOP aides asked him to run a hopeless race for Congress in Massachusetts against Democrat Michael Harrington as a political favor. (He lost 59 percent to 37 percent.) That put him on the radar of the Nixon administration.

The president named him director of the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) in January 1973 with a promise to close the agency. Phillips called his time at OEO “the most important experience of my life...I really surrendered conventional ambition.”

He discovered the agency gave taxpayer dollars to anti-American radical organizations. Attending one such demonstration, he watched in shock as a black militant grant recipient led a crowd in chanting “F--- America!”

The administration, Phillips said, hoped the funding would convince left-wing groups to vote Republican.

“What I saw seemed to me to be so evil that it didn't matter what happened to me personally,” he said. “I was so outraged at what I saw that I just had to fight it, and basically give up any hope of conventional political success.”

He had heavyweight opposition and received insufficient help from his sometime-patrons, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

“He had a real kind of intellectual conversion of sorts during his service in the Nixon administration,” his youngest son, Sam Phillips, told “He saw that Republicans were really just interested in maintaining power and not really advancing and sticking to principles. He left that.”

He went through another conversion, as well. He converted to Christianity.

Tied down by the exploding Watergate scandal, President Nixon reneged on his promise to close the agency. Phillips resigned.

In 1974, he founded The Conservative Caucus (TCC). Within six years, he had more than 300,000 members and had held rallies in all 435 Congressional districts.

Phillips became a founding father of The New Right along with such likeminded activists as Richard Viguerie, Paul Weyrich, Ed Feulner, and Morton Blackwell. Unwilling to back pro-choice Republican Gerald Ford, he briefly helped Viguerie seek the presidential nomination of the American Independent Party (AIP), the vehicle created by George Wallace. (They deserted the party when its nomination instead went to Lester Maddox.)

In 1978, Howard sought the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in his native Massachusetts, aiming to topple two-term liberal Republican Edward Brooke. He crossed party lines, because he believed only a Democrat stood a chance at winning statewide election. He came in fourth behind eventual winner Paul Tsongas. Both would seek the presidency in 1992.

One of TCC's organizers proved to have better luck the same year. Gordon Humphrey won his U.S. Senate race in neighboring New Hampshire, holding the seat until 1990.

It was in promoting moral values and founding pro-family groups that Howard would find his greatest success. With Phyllis Schlafly, he created the grassroots movement that stopped the surging Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). He drove U.S. opposition to the Panama Canal treaty, a position held by future president Ronald Reagan.

Phillips was one of a select group of leaders present when Reagan announced he had chosen George H. W. Bush as his vice presidential running mate in 1980. Phillips had lobbied for the more conservative Senator Paul Laxalt of Nevada. It would not be the first battle he lost against his friend.

TCC had blocked the adoption of the SALT II Treaty signed by Jimmy Carter. Reagan campaigned against it – but abided by its terms as president. Phillips sued to force Reagan to stop observing the treaty, losing in court. Another treaty would prove his undoing with many of his colleagues.

His moment of combustion came during 1987's signing of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) arms reduction treaty. During a press conference, he called President Reagan “a useful idiot for Soviet propaganda.” The term, coined by Lenin, was perceived as a personal insult. Howard dug in his heels and was largely left in the cold by the Republican Party.

“He certainly had great respect for Reagan, but there's a problem when we begin to treat our poltiical associations as if they are our religious affiliation,” Sam Phillips said. “He would side with whomever he believed was right on an issue.”

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

The abandonment seemed to hurt Sam more than his father. “Dad wouldn't be frustrated, but he would just kind of shrug it off,” he said. “He always had a spirit of gratitude, and he was very thankful. That was from his Christian faith.”

In time, the Soviet Union he so long opposed would collapse. “Two decades ago, in the final hours of the USSR, a small group of us under Howard's leadership traveled through Poland and the Baltic republics in one of the unforgettable trips of my life,” Buchanan told LifeSiteNews.

As Eastern Europe moved to the Right, Phillips saw the GOP under Bush-41 moving to the Left. He founded the U.S. Taxpayers Party in 1992; in 1999 it was renamed the Constitution Party. He offered its nomination three times to Buchanan, who declined. Ron Paul, then between Congressional stints, addressed its founding convention.

Over the years former Arizona Governor Evan Mecham, Senator Bob Smith, and Ambassador Alan Keyes would express interest in the nomination. But Howard served as the party's standard bearer in 1992, 1996, and 2000.

He believed the GOP would fall apart over its refusal to oppose abortion and homosexuality, and he wanted his party to be positioned to take its place. In 2010, it did precisely that on a state level, as former Congressman Tom Tancredo became its candidate for governor of Colorado, earning three-times as many votes as the Republican nominee.

He also maintained a close affiliation with Christian Reconstructionist R.J. Rushdoony, a firm believer in a theocratic government, calling him “my wise counselor.”

When asked by one of Rushdoony's disciples to name the best decision he ever made, Phillips replied, “That's easy – choosing my wife and the mother of my children.”

Phillips retired from TCC in late 2011 when his affliction became apparent. Family members say his sharp wit allowed the symptoms to go unnoticed for a long period of time.

Howard Phillips died at his home in Vienna, Virginia, on Saturday. Family members call his repose “peaceful.”

The New York Times' obituary called him a “stalwart conservative.” Texas Congressman Steve Stockman remembered fondly, “Over the years, Howard stood firm to conservative principles when it was often easier to compromise with establishment RINOs.” Feulner, who founded the Heritage Foundation, said some of Howard's principles “were a bit quirky, but Howie always believed and always led.”

“All who love freedom under God’s laws are deeply in your debt,” Richard Viguerie wrote in a touching tribute. “Rest in Peace, my friend.” Media Research Center founder L. Brent Bozell III wrote, “Most conservatives wouldn't be here but for men like Howard Phillips. They are his legacy.”

But his son Sam respectfully disagrees. “His children were his legacy,” he said.

Howard is survived by his wife Margaret (“Peggy” née Blanchard), six children, 18 grandchildren, and his sister, Susan Phillips Bari.

His children include Brad Phillips of the Persecution Project Foundation; Doug Phillips of Vision Forum; Elizabeth Lants (who goes by Amanda); Jennifer; soprano opera singer Alessandra Rossi-Filippi; and Samuel Joshua Phillips.

Visitation is scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday at Money and King Funeral Home in Vienna. His funeral service will be held next Monday at The Smith Center of McLean Bible Church. Pastor Chuck Baldwin, the 2008 Constitution Party presidential candidate, will deliver the eulogy.

FREE pro-life and pro-family news.

Stay up-to-date on the issues you care about the most. Subscribe today. 

Select Your Edition:

Share this article

Featured Image
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

Pelosi asked: Is unborn baby with human heart a ‘human being’? Responds: ‘I am a devout Catholic’

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

Tell Nancy Pelosi: No, supporting abortion and gay 'marriage' is not Catholic. Sign the petition. Click here.

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 2, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Top Democrat Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, won't say whether an unborn child with a “human heart” and a “human liver” is a human being.

Pelosi, who is the Minority Leader in the House, was asked a question about the issue by CNS News at a press conference last week. The conservative news outlet asked, "In reference to funding for Planned Parenthood: Is an unborn baby with a human heart and a human liver a human being?”

Pelosi stumbled over her answer, saying, “Why don't you take your ideological questions--I don't, I don't have—”

CNS then asked her, "If it's not a human being, what species is it?”

It was then that Pelosi got back on stride, swatting aside the question with her accustomed reference to her “devout” Catholic faith.

“No, listen, I want to say something to you,” she said. “I don't know who you are and you're welcome to be here, freedom of this press. I am a devout practicing Catholic, a mother of five children. When my baby was born, my fifth child, my oldest child was six years old. I think I know more about this subject than you, with all due respect.”

“So it's not a human being, then?” pressed CNS, to which Pelosi said, “And I do not intend to respond to your questions, which have no basis in what public policy is that we do here.”

Pelosi has long used her self-proclaimed status as a “devout” practicing Catholic to promote abortion.

In response to a reporter’s question a proposed ban on late-term abortion in 2013, Pelosi said that the issue of late-term abortion is "sacred ground" for her.

"As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this," Pelosi said. "This shouldn't have anything to do with politics."

In 2008, she was asked by then-Meet the Press host David Gregory about when life begins. Pelosi said that "as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue I have studied for a long time. And what I know is that over the centuries, the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition....We don't know."

The Church has always taught that unborn human life is to be protected, and that such life is created at the moment of conception.

Featured Image
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

New video: Planned Parenthood abortionist jokes about harvesting baby’s brains, getting ‘intact’ head

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

I interviewed my friend, David Daleiden, about his important work exposing Planned Parenthood's baby body parts trade on the Glenn Beck Program. David urged Congress to hold Planned Parenthood accountable and to demand the full truth. He also released never-before-seen footage showing a Planned Parenthood abortionist callously discussing how to obtain an intact brain from aborted babies.

Posted by Lila Rose on Monday, October 5, 2015


Sign the petition to defund Planned Parenthood here

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 5, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - In the newest video footage released by the Center for Medical Progress, a Planned Parenthood abortionist laughs as she discusses her hope of removing the intact "calvarium," or skull, of an unborn baby while preserving both lobes of the brain.

She also describes how she first dismembers babies up to twenty weeks gestation, including two twenty-week babies she said she aborted the week before.

Dr. Amna Dermish, an abortionist with Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, told undercover investigators she had never been able to remove the calivarium (skull) of an aborted child "intact," but she hopes to.

"Maybe next time," the investigator said.

"I know, right?" Dr. Dermish replied. "Well, this'll give me something to strive for."

Dermish, who performs abortions up to the 20-week legal limit in Austin, then described the method she used to collect fetal brain and skull specimens.

"If it’s a breech presentation [in which the baby is born feet first] I will remove the extremities first - the lower extremities - and then go for the spine," she began.

She then slides the baby down the birth canal until she can snip the spinal cord.

The buyer noted that intact organs fetch higher prices from potential buyers, who seek them for experimentation.

"I always try to keep the trunk intact," she said.

"I don't routinely convert to breech, but I will if I have to," she added.

Converting a child to the breech position is the first step of the partial birth abortion procedure. The procedure has been illegal since President Bush signed legislation in 2003 making it a federal felony punishable by two years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

According to CMP lead investigator David Daleiden, who debuted the video footage during an interview with Lila Rose on The Blaze TV, Dr. Dermish was trained by Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola.

Dr. Nucatola was caught on the first CMP undercover video, discussing the side industry while eating a salad and drinking red wine during a business luncheon.

Between sips, she described an abortion process that legal experts believe is a partial birth abortion, violating federal law.

“The federal abortion ban is a law, and laws are up to interpretation,” Dr. Nucatola said on the undercover footage. “So, if I say on day one that I don't intend to do this, what ultimately happens doesn't matter.”

Daleiden told Rose he hoped that Congressional investigators would continue to pressure the organization about whether the abortion technique it uses violates federal law, as well as the $60-per-specimen fee the national organization has admitted some of its affiliates receive.

Trafficking in human body parts for "valuable consideration" is also a federal felony carrying a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

"That would be enough to construct a criminal case against Planned Parenthood," Daleiden said.

Share this article

Featured Image
Nancy Flanders


He used to be an abortionist; now, he fights to save the lives of the preborn

Nancy Flanders
By Nancy Flanders

October 5, 2015 (LiveActionNews) -- In 1976, Dr. Anthony Levatino, an OB/GYN, graduated from medical school and was, without a doubt, pro-abortion. He strongly supported abortion “rights” and believed abortion was a decision to be made between a woman and her doctor.

“A lot of people identify themselves as pro-life or pro-choice, but for so many people, it doesn’t really touch them personally; it doesn’t impact their lives in the way that I wish it would. If nothing more than in the voting booth, if nowhere else,” said Levatino in a speech for the Pro-Life Action League. “But when you’re an obstetrician / gynecologist and you say I’m pro-choice – well, that becomes rather a more personal thing because you’re the one who does the abortions and you have to make the decision of whether you’ll do that or not.”

Levatino learned how to do first and second trimester abortions. Thirty to forty years ago, second trimester abortions were done by saline injection, which was dangerous.

"For the first time in my life, after all those years, all those abortions, I really looked, I mean I really looked at that pile of goo on the side of the table that used to be somebody’s son or daughter and that’s all I could see."

At that same time, Levatino and his wife were struggling with fertility problems and were considering adoption. They knew however, how difficult it was to adopt a newborn.

“It was the first time that I had any doubts about what I was doing because I knew very well that part of the reason why it’s difficult to find children to adopt were that doctors like me were killing them in abortions,” said Levatino.

Finally, in 1978, the couple adopted their daughter, Heather. Right after the adoption, they discovered they were expecting a baby, and their son was born just 10 months later.

Levatino describes a “perfectly happy” life at this time and says that despite those first qualms about abortion, he went right back to work performing them.

In 1981, after graduating from his residency, Levatino joined an OB/GYN practice which also offered abortions as a service. Saline infusion was the most common method for second trimester abortions at the time, but it ran the risk of babies born alive. The procedures were also expensive, difficult, and required the mother to go through labor. Levatino and his partners trained themselves to perform the D&E abortion procedure, which is used today.

In his speech, he describes what it’s like to perform the now routine procedure:

You take an instrument like this called a sopher clamp and you basically – the surgery is that you literally tear a child to pieces. The suction is only for the fluid. The rest of it is literally dismembering a child piece by piece with an abortion instrument […] absolutely gut-wrenching procedure.

Over the next four years, Levatino would perform 1,200 abortions, over 100 of them D&E, second trimester abortions.

But then everything changed. On a beautiful day in June of 1984, the family was at home enjoying time with friends when Levatino heard tires squeal. The children were in the street and Heather had been hit by a car.

“She was a mess,” he explained. “And we did everything we possibly could. But she ultimately died, literally in our arms, on the way to the hospital that evening.”

After a while, Levatino had to return to work. And one day, his first D&E since the accident was on his schedule. He wasn’t really thinking about it or concerned. To him, it was going to be a routine procedure he had done many times before. Only it wasn’t.

“I started that abortion and I took that sopher clamp and I literally ripped out an arm or a leg and I just stared at it in the clamp. And I got sick,” he explained. “But you know something, when you start an abortion you can’t stop. If you don’t get all the pieces – and you literally stack them up on the side of the table […] your patient is going to come back infected, bleeding or dead. So I soldiered on and I finished that abortion.”

But by the time the abortion was complete, Levatino was beginning to feel a change of heart:

For the first time in my life, after all those years, all those abortions, I really looked, I mean I really looked at that pile of goo on the side of the table that used to be somebody’s son or daughter and that’s all I could see. I couldn’t see what a great doctor I was being. I didn’t see how I helped this woman in her crisis. I didn’t see the 600 dollars cash I had just made in 15 minutes. All I could see was somebody’s son or daughter. And after losing my daughter this was looking very, very different to me.

Levatino stopped performing second trimester abortions but continued to provide first trimester abortions for the next few months.

“Everybody puts doctors on a pedestal and we’re all supposed to be so smart but we’re no different than anybody else,” he said.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

He realized that killing a baby at 20 weeks gestation was exactly the same as killing one at nine weeks gestation or even two weeks gestation. He understood that it doesn’t matter how big or small the baby is, it’s a human life. He has not done an abortion since February 1985 and says there is no chance he will ever perform one again.

Adamant that he would never join the pro-life movement because of the media’s portrayal of pro-lifers as crazy, he was eventually invited to a pro-life potluck dinner where he met people who he realized were intelligent volunteers who spent their time defending preborn humans.

After that, Levatino began speaking out against abortion specifically with young people, graphically describing for them what an abortion really is.

Levatino has also testified before Congress, asking our government to end legal abortion.

Reprinted with permission from Live Action News

Share this article


Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook