One year ago, on July 22, 2014, the Pro-Life movement lost an irreplaceable leader: Texas Right to Life founder Dr. Joseph Graham. Dr. Graham died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 88, but his life’s work continues. His Pro-Life endeavors have grown by leaps and bounds in his keenly-felt absence over the past year, with remarkable strides made in state and federal legislation, numerous abortion mill closures, and a visible culture shift in Texas and throughout the world.
In spite of the many hurdles he had to overcome to cultivate Pro-Life sentiment throughout the state, Dr. Graham was undeterred. As a professor of Thomistic Philosophy, Dr. Graham was encouraged in his knowledge that his commitment to defending Life was unequivocally the right stance, even as the nation grew more and more relativistic, and he never wavered. Dr. Graham recognized Texas’ dire need for a solid Pro-Life organization; thus, under his leadership, Texas Right to Life was born. Growing from humble origins, Texas Right to Life was guided by the steady hand and hard work of Dr. Graham as the organization grew into the premier Pro-Life organization in the Southern United States.
Thanks to Dr. Graham, Texas Right to Life has played an enormous role in shifting the abortion tide in Texas. Our state, once led by anti-Life or apathetic leaders, has been steered firmly in the direction of Life by Pro-Life Governors, Lieutenant Governors, Attorneys General, and countless elected officials – the top priority for all of whom is the defense of LIFE. This is no coincidence: Their leadership was made possible by the grassroots efforts of Pro-Life leaders, chiefly Dr. Graham.
Since his passing, significant Pro-Life achievements have swept Texas. During the 84th Legislative Session, long-fought legislative battles to protect vulnerable minors and hospital patients finally saw success as new legislation reforming the judicial bypass process and Texas Advance Directives Act, respectively, crossed the finish line. Both victories occurred on what would have been Dr. Graham’s 89th birthday. In addition to Life-saving legislation, Texas has seen the closure of numerous abortion mills over the last twelve months. This means that Lives are being spared the horrific fate of abortion, and mothers are seeking alternatives that respect their dignity.
Also during the week of Dr. Graham’s birthday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act by a strong margin that was only achieved by the dedication of Pro-Life elected officials. These men and women had to overcome the opposition of both anti-Life Democrats and rogue, anti-Life Republicans alike to ensure success for the monumental bill. The dedication of these legislators bespeaks a nationwide surge of support for the Pro-Life cause: Public opinion is changing, and a strong majority of Americans are Pro-Life, with most opposing abortion in all or most cases.
Finally, the Dr. Joseph Graham Fellowship for College Pro-Life Leaders, named for and dedicated to Texas Right to Life’s beloved founder, continues to flourish in his absence. This fall, there will be 77 Fellows spreading the Culture of Life on 26 college campuses across the state. These dedicated college Pro-Life leaders are not only the future of the Pro-Life movement, they are the Pro-Life movement.
During his life, Dr. Graham had a remarkable impact the Pro-Life transformation of Texas. The existence of thousands of Texans can be attributed in some way to his endeavors. And those endeavors live on to tell the story of what just one man can accomplish when he persists in the belief that all Life is sacred. The many Pro-Life victories of the year thus far demonstrate that his legacy continues. One might say that Dr. Graham is helping us to accomplish more than ever before from his home in eternity. On this sad day when we commemorate his passing, Texas Right to Life proudly carries on our founder’s mission, and we will continue until Life has the final word.