Around Articles Columns Editorial Hispanic Apostolate Letters Opportunities Profile ShorTakes

June 8, 2015 | Volume 90 Number 16

ARTICLES

photo: Gelene Williams, right, stands with Lynda Bell who will succeed her as chairman of the National Right to Life Committee.
Gelene Williams, right, stands with Lynda Bell who will succeed her as chairman of the National Right to Life Committee.

Geline Williams has hope for pro-life cause

A fter 34 years as chairman of the National Right to Life Committee, Geline B. Williams has retired.

She holds unabated a long time admiration for what she feels is “the unparalleled leadership and competence the organization provides to the prolife movement through a program of education, legislation and political action on the issues of abortion and euthanasia.”

Mrs. Williams, a charter parishioner of St. Bridget Church in Richmond, felt it was the right time to take a less visible role.

“I stepped down because of my feeling of inspiration in the level of strength and progress achieved by the pro-life cause, especially by NRLC, and by my conviction of the continuance to do so.”

“We have increased competence in leadership and strategy for accomplishing pro-life goals,” Mrs. Williams continued. “Also there is momentum in the increasing enactment of effective legislation, both national and state.

“This year the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. This would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks because of the excruciating pain to the unborn child. Ten states have passed the same legislation into law.”

Mrs. Williams will be succeeded by Lynda Bell, a past president of Florida Right to Life and a former mayor of Homestead, Fla., her hometown.

But behind strategy and planning which seems to be doing well, is the reality of what abortion is.

“We need to educate the public and legislators about abortion and what it does,” Mrs. Williams asserted.

“Abortion is like a signpost or billboard which is a cover for killing the unborn child,” she explained.

Prior to 1970 most states including Virginia prohibited abortion by law except to save the life of the mother, Mrs. Williams noted.

She cited the 1949 Miller v. Bennett ruling by the Virginia Supreme Court which defined the purpose of the Virginia law.

In that ruling the judge stated that, “This statute was passed, not for the protection of the woman, but for the protection of the unborn child and through it, society,” Mrs. Williams explained.

“At that time,” she said, “abortion was considered so evil that rarely was the word even spoken.”

In 1970 the Virginia General Assembly liberalized Virginia’s abortion law. Alex Williams, Mrs. Williams’ late husband, was the first president of the Virginia Society for Human Life, founded in 1967. It was the first state pro-life organization to be established in the country. He recognized that the new law might be the “foot in the door” to abortion on demand.

“We must demonstrate a broader base of support for our convictions and encourage others who share our concern to join with us,” he wrote in a letter dated March 23, 1970, following the action of the Virginia General Assembly that legalized abortion in Virginia.

The VSHL leaders felt strong support from Bishop John J. Russell, then Bishop of Richmond.

“Bishop Russell was right with us and we with him,” Mrs. Williams said.

She will remain a member of a committee with the Virginia Catholic Conference used for consultation on legislation. She will also continue as a member of St. Bridget Respect Life Committee, and as Virginia Society for Human Life Delegate to the NRLC board of directors. VSHL is the Virginia affiliate of NRLC.

“A wonderful part of the pro-life effort are services caring for the mother and her unborn child,” Mrs. Williams said, adding that the ultrasound machine used at the Pregnancy Resource Center of Richmond is one of the advancements in medical science which encourage women to turn away from abortion as an option.

The use of an ultrasound machine has been a strong deterrent to abortion. Expectant mothers almost always choose life when they are shown an image of their child in utero.

“This is a powerful educational tool, a remarkable advancement in medical science which helps all of us to know more and understand more readily the humanity of the unborn child,” she said.

Pregnancy Resource Center and East End Pregnancy Test and Help Center are two non-profit pro-life agencies in Richmond which provide compassionate help to women unprepared for their pregnancy.

Mrs. Williams encourages more people to become involved in the pro-life effort.

“Many people are pro-life, but fail to become involved,” she said. Through continued education and action, Mrs. Williams believes strongly that progress will continue.

“We have come a long way, but must build understanding and interest in order to expand and build respect for human life in our communities.

In planning strategy to make others aware of the horrors of abortion,” she said, “we have to do what works and not waste our time on things that don’t.”

Mrs. Williams, a life-long Richmond resident, served on the Richmond City Council for 10 years, including a two year term as Mayor from 1988 to 1990.

“When I made the announcement I would run for office, I held a press conference at the Capitol.”

Members of the press and other media were present.

“A reporter asked the first question ‘do you think your anti-abortion stance will hurt your chances for election?’”

“I said, no. I felt it was the right answer,” Mrs. Williams said.

“It was a moment of truthfulness under fire with the ultimate favorable outcome proving to me that my dedication to the right to life cause was a positive and not a negative influence,” she said.

“The ‘no’ answer most likely helped because I won the election by a good margin.”

“I believe very much in our country and our freedoms,” Mrs. Williams continued. “The push for abortion is an attack on our country itself and the people. The abortion question is a matter of law as indicated by the Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion on demand legal. And it will stay that way until Roe is corrected or overturned.

“That’s what we’re working for. It’s going to take a long time, but we have strong proof in what we have accomplished and how it was done, as evidence that ultimate victory will be won.”

Among recent accomplishments are the previously mentioned Pain Capable Child Protection Act with 10 states enacting similar legislation into law, along with earlier federal law as well as action by Congress prohibiting the grisly Partial Birth Abortion procedure.

There is also the Dismemberment Protection Act which has been passed in Kansas and Oklahoma and signed into law by both governors.

“This law prohibits abortions that tear the child apart limb by limb,” Mrs. Williams said. “This information is powerful because when people hear what dismemberment is, it causes outrage and is educational in its exposure of what abortion is.”

The mother of five children, Mrs. Williams also has 12 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

back to top »