Trey Gowdy spent 20 years in the courtroom using the art of persuasion as a prosecutor. On Tuesday he told the Vitae Foundation supporters in Columbia, Mo., when you mix that art with something as significant as a life-affirming messaging or a culture, it was an “irresistible invitation” to come help support Vitae’s work.
“I want to thank Vitae for using the art of persuasion in creating a culture of life,” Gowdy told over 500 people on Tuesday at the Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center. “It reminds me of what I used to do for a living. No, not congress!”
The former congressman did tell some funny stories related to his 8-year stint representing South Carolina’s 4th congressional district, but he primarily captivated the audience with stories from his prosecutor days—stories that paralleled so poignantly with why life matters.
“My convictions, my beliefs, my thoughts on the issue of life were formed in a very unusual way in a very unusual place. For two decades I was in a courtroom surrounded by intense inhumanity toward man; surrounded by all that is heinous and bad; surrounded by the alternative to life, as a homicide prosecutor,” Gowdy told the crowd.
Trey Gowdy said yes to Vitae because of the work it is accomplishing in using digital strategies to reach abortion-determined women and connecting them to Pregnancy Help Centers around the country. Vitae Senior Market Director Stacey Kromer noted that Vitae has invested millions of dollars in psychological research to better understand the mind of the woman considering abortion.
This investment has been incorporated not only into ads that steer a woman to life-saving resources, but also into radio ads in MLB and college sports venues that help build a culture of life. It’s also being used in the development of a middle-school curriculum.
“Even elementary schools are not immune to the Planned Parenthood brand which has embedded itself in public school health curriculums,” Kromer stated. “Kids are smart, self-thinkers, and influence one another. We will give them the tools to communicate their convictions in a way that will move others instead of polarizing them further.”
In the culture that is our judicial system, Gowdy said there’s a presumption of innocence, no matter the depravity, no matter how heinous the crime alleged. There is presumption of innocence that our culture attaches even to the most culpable. The jury doesn’t get to be 11-1 or 7-5, it must be 12 to nothing.
That presumption of innocence bears the highest burden of proof that our society knows, beyond a reasonable doubt. “You don’t have to convince a jury just once; you have to convince a jury twice—once if he or she did it and once that it’s the proper punishment,” Gowdy noted.
“I will have this phrase going through my mind, long after I forget lots of other things. It will be a judge looking at twelve of my fellow citizens saying, ‘You can pick life for any reason or for no reason.’ That’s how fundamental our culture’s belief in life is for the most heinous, depraved fellow citizens,” Gowdy explained.
As a son, husband, brother and father, Gowdy shared how one case affected him while prosecuting a rape case. It was a crime that happened in his home town, when a young woman left the local mall and was abducted, raped and left naked outside of town.
While prepping for the trial, Gowdy couldn’t help but notice that she was expecting. As they prepped, he assured her she would make it through the trial.
He told her, “You’re tough; you’re strong; you’re courageous; you’ll be fine.” When they finished, he told her she was free to leave but he’d like to say one more thing if she allowed it.
“I can’t help but notice that you are expecting. I don’t know what your plans are, and you don’t have to tell me what your plans are. But if you are even entertaining the thought of having that child, and you are wondering who will take care of it, my wife and I will,” Gowdy shared. “She said ‘thank you. I am going to have the child. We’re working with an adoption agency. Thank you for asking. Thank you for volunteering. I’ll see you in court.’”
She had the child, and what Gowdy and his wife were willing to commit to was far more than the four weeks it took to prosecute that case. It left him posing the question, “What are you willing to do?”
Vitae President Debbie Stokes said that the times we now live require us to be prepared for the worst. With U.S. Supreme Court appointments of conservative justices, pro-life laws being enacted over pro-abortion laws at a rate of 5-1, it can sometimes seem like the abortion issue will be taken care of for us. That is not the case, Stokes warned.
“This could cause an even more severe reaction from abortion advocates, and we’re seeing this today,” Stokes stated. With the New York law that allows abortion up until birth—and even after, other states rushing to pass infanticide laws, and last week’s Kansas Supreme Court decision to securely maintain abortion rights in its constitution, she said now is not the time to be complacent.
“The abortion advocates are waging war, and we refuse to let them win. There are many battles ahead of us, and it’s going to take more money, more staff and a lot more prayer to win this war,” Stokes urged.
Mr. Gowdy wrapped up his emotional talk asking the audience what they were willing to do to be life-affirming.
“How convicted are you? What are you willing to invest? What are you willing to do to live that authentic life from which there is no cross examination?” Gowdy asked. “I’m not asking you to die for this cause. I’m asking you to live for it.”
If you were unable to attend Vitae’s Columbia event and would like to help Vitae further its mission, please donate today.