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WASHINGTON, D.C., January 23, 2014 ( – In relay races, runners pass a baton. In the Olympics, they pass a torch. But on Tuesday a key leader of the pro-life movement handed off a nail – specifically, a Crucifixion nail.

On Tuesday the recipient of the inaugural Law of Life Achievement Award, John-Henry Westen of, handed the honor to Michael Hichborn of the American Life League.

Hichborn was responsible for performing the research that found that Catholic charities, such as the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) and Catholic Relief Services, had given grants to organizations that support “family planning” and mainstream homosexual activity, and that fund Planned Parenthood in defiance of the dogmatic views of the Roman Catholic Church. His revelations have met with substantial resistance.


The award – a replica of a Crucifixion nail – “is an award that speaks of suffering endured,” Westen said. “When you go out to do the right thing, it is most painful when [persecution] comes from those who should normally be on your side. When a stab comes in the back is when it's most painful.”

Westen said that Hichborn's investigations have “enabled activists like us to pursue the truth, to insist upon it, and to act upon it.”

“While this good fellow might not receive commendations from many, he will from us,” Westen said.

Hichborn quoted Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen's saying that the Crucifixion of Christ becomes every Christian's autobiography. “'The skin of Christ is the parchment, His Blood the ink, the nails the pen,'” he said. “Now I have a pen.”

Choking back tears, Hichborn said: “I'm humbled. I'm honored. And I'm very touched.”

His award was one of two given at the annual Law of Life Summit. Operation Rescue President Troy Newman received the lifetime achievement award, after being selected by Dana Cody, executive director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation.


“He's what I'd call a street fighter, and I say that in the most complimentary sense possible,” Cody said in an emotional speech. “He's done a lot of research in the last few years that has closed a lot of the abortion clinics” that have shut their doors around the country. “He gets results.”

She remembered meeting Newman at a city council meeting in San Bernadino, California, where she “saw him speak the truth boldly – no compromise, no euphemisms.”

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Newman accepted the award, which looks like a gavel, before encouraging the VIP crowd by assuring them that the tide is indeed turning.

“We can objectively say we are winning this fight,” Newman said. “We can say we're winning, because 73 percent of all the nations' abortion mills have closed – closed and not reopened.”

“When abortion clinics close, that translates into saved babies,” he said.

He noted the change in the way Operation Rescue works stemmed from his own metamorphasis. “I'm sitting in jail” after a protest, he said, “and I thought, 'We don't need to be going to jail. We make the other guys go to jail.' From that day in 1999, we took Operation Rescue from a protest organization to an organization that seeks justice.”

Citing the closure of abortion facilities in Ohio and Indiana, he said victory has come because of “the whole mosaic of the pro-life movement working together toward a common goal. Our goal is to end abortion and save babies. That's it.”

That progressive undermining of the culture of death gradually, but definitively overturns Roe v. Wade, he said.I don't care what the Supreme Court says. We're doing it right now.”

The annual summit – which featured 32 speakers in two hours – was co-hosted by the Life Legal Defense Foundation, Americans United for Life, the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, and National LIFE Runners. Dr. Patrick Castle of LIFE Runners served as emcee.