Wham, Bam, Sonogram! Meet the Ladies Setting the New Pro-Life Agenda.
"We're having a party," Charmaine Yoest tells me when I arrive for a lunch meeting at her office on a sweltering summer day in Washington, DC. I'd expected a one-on-one interview with the charismatic president and CEO of Americans United for Life, the legal arm of the pro-life movement, but she's brought along four other women: AUL's vice president of external affairs, two staff attorneys, and her 19-year-old daughter, Hannah.
Everyone is charming and chatty; they ask me about my wedding a few days earlier. There's salad all around, which seems to be AUL's lunch of choice when female reporters are invited over. It's all part of the girls club environment that Yoest and her colleagues cultivate, distancing AUL from other, largely male-dominated pro-life organizations.
Outside Yoest's fourth-floor corner office hangs a large print that could pass for a Mondrian in black and white. She informs me that it depicts a human DNA sequence. "We wanted to do something that was nonbaby," she says. Keeping things nonbaby is one of Americans United for Life's main strategies for promoting anti-abortion legislation, and it's made AUL one of the most effective anti-abortion organizations in the country, even though its $4 million budget is less than half that of the National Right to Life Committee. No pictures of infants decorate its headquarters, and the bloody fetus posters common at anti-abortion rallies are conspicuously absent. The only obvious nod to the unborn is a Dr. Seuss quote on the wall above Yoest's desk: "A person's a person, no matter how small."
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