upon receiving the Defender of Life and Faith Award

at the January 18, 2020 Respect Life Dinner

at Immaculate Conception Church in Westerly


(Transcribed by Jane Brockman from handwritten notes)


You should have awarded this to my wife, the “Lionness” in the Pro-Life Movement. [The Governor became choked up, remembering his wife of 53 years, “Sue”, who passed a year ago this last November].


I’ve always loved Westerly. Do you remember Fr. Francis Giudice? When I was first running, he told me that I’ll definitely get Westerly. He said he told all his parishioners to vote for Carcieri. You know, you get the attackers that come in (to your office) all the time, but then you get good people like Fr. Giudice, and Fr. Capoverdi, and Maria Parker – the ones in the trenches – and it was always so nice to see them.


So I want to talk about my wife a little bit. By the time we were 29 years old, we had 4 kids. (Being so young, with so many kids, people jokingly ask, “What, are you some kind of sex fiend?” And we’d say, “No. We’re Catholic.”) Anyway, our youngest, Sarah, was born on July 26, 1971. Eighteen months later, on 1/22/73, Roe v. Wade was handed down. Five judges “found” an unprecedented, unheard of right of privacy that gave a woman the right to kill her own child. The decision has set the country into turmoil ever since. It just didn’t seem right to many people. 


In Rhode Island at the time, there were 3 Catholic “Lionesses: Diane Manning, Anna Sullivan, and JoAnn MCosker. One the first anniversary of that terrible decision, there was a March for Life in Washington, D.C. Sue was on that 1st bus from RI to that 1st March. She came back all fired up and said, “Don, you’ve gotta go!” And that next year, I did. (The 1st years, I stayed at home to babysit the kids, and the next year when we both when, I don’t know who took care of the kids. Maybe it was your grandparents [he said looking at his daughter Sarah Compton, who attended tonight’s dinner with her husband Adam.]) It was crazy – there had to have been 100-200,000 people marching those first two years!


There was a confluence of 2 or 3 things that led up to the Roe v. Wade decision. One was “women’s lib.” Now, my wife Sue, she was a strong advocate of women’s lib. She was the first woman biology major to graduate from URI. In all our years of marriage, whenever we had a disagreement, she always won. I remember she once gave me a plack that said, “save yourself time, just assume I’m right.” (I remember another one she had: “Shopping with your husband is like hunting with the Game Warden.) But she intuitively knew that abortion had nothing to do with enhancing women’s opportunities in the work force or with self worth. All this pro-abortion propaganda were really attacks on motherhood! She knew it was a lie! All the propaganda that abortion was good for women was really be perpetrated ON women, against women! The two (abortion and women’s lib) were not connected.

A second factor was the so-called “population bomb” – Paul Erhlick – which warned about overpopulations and predicted that by the 70s, 100s of millions of people would die of starvation, because there’d be too many people, we were growing too fast. But you look at the world now, and you see that population and birth rates are way down.


And the third was Planned Parenthood, a.n organization that was founded on racist principles: to get rid of the “unfits,” which to them, were poor blacks. Planned Parenthood is a big money machine.


There was an unholy alliance between these three forces. The objective of the far-left radicals was (1) to undermine families, and (2) to undermine the faith. And they have done a good job of it: they are well-organized and have been at it a long time. Their strategy is to get a representative here, get a senator there, and build slowly. It succeeded. They been working at it. 


But no longer.


The lie has been exposed, and we will win. (We – people who believe that babies in utero should be protected.) Why? Two things have changed the game, and it’s technology: sonograms and neonatal care.


The other side changed the vocabulary. They use the terms fetus, clumps of cells, things, not babies. They never say pro-abortion. They say pro-choice. Why are they afraid to say pro-abortion? Why can’t they call it babies and abortion? Because they know it’s all a lie – those terms are used to try to hide the truth.


I’m a new first-time great-grandfather. Now, new parents want to show you the sonogram picture of their child.


Sue & I made it clear from the start: we’re pro-life. People knew that about us. I remember after the end of a long day of campaigning, I came into the office & was told that a woman wanted to see me.  So I went in. The woman was my age. She told me, “I’ve been pro-choice my whole life, and I’ve been pretty outspoken about it. And I that you have a different point of view. Well, I agree with you. I’m no longer pro-choice. I’m pro-life.” I said, “That’s wonderful. What caused you to change your mind?” She said, “I saw a sonogram of my first grandchild and thought, ‘Wow! This really is a baby, my grandchild!’”


So now, they just say it’s ok to kill it. If you have a discussion with a pro-choicer these days, if you really are able to press them, “if it’s not a baby, not a person, then what is it?” Well, pretty soon, they’ll concede it is a baby. So then it comes down to that they just think it’s okay to kill it.


So now we have the advances in neonatal care, where a 22-week-old baby can survive outside the womb.


The game is over. I think the abortion movement is in its death throes. Just look at the extreme nature of all of the bills being passed. Partial birth abortion! You have a Governor down in Virginia [Gov. Ralph Northam, M.D.] who’s also a doctor, and he talks about keeping a newly-delivered baby “comfortable” which the mother decides if she wants it. It boggles the mind! They’ve over-played their hand. Average-thinking people are offended.


Look at the backlash you’re seeing: ambitious bills – states passing heartbeat bills, outright bans on abortion. These are major confrontations to the abortion jurisprudence. 


There is a spiritual/moral battle going on. Life is winning right now. There have been some positive developments on the spiritual front. Catholic Relevant Radio (550 AM) is phenomenal. They have apologetics. They’re answering the kinds of questions we all have. They’re reaching 200 million people, 2/3 of the U.S. population is in their transmission area. It’s the greatest Catholic evangelization media I’ve seen in my life, since Bishop Fulton Sheen on TV some time ago.


And then you have movies like Unplanned about a Planned Parenthood Director who converted to become pro-life. A movie about Norma McCorvey, the original Roe in Roe v. Wade who says she was wrong. There’s Bernard Nathanson, the #1 abortion provider in the U.S. who said it was all a lie, it was terrible, he repented and became an ardent pro-life advocate.


Right now, it’s all about the politics. Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry is well-organized, well-funded, and they’ve been at it for decades. In my day, the Speaker of the House and the Senate President were both pro-life, and they knew that I would veto anything pro-abortion. This last go-round in RI, the abortion bill barely passed. Had there been a pro-life Governor who vetoed the bill, they wouldn’t have had enough votes to override it. … They recruit candidates and they target. Rhode Island was targeted. This last year, they bullied the Speaker and Sen. President – they threatened to run candidates to defeat them. The Speaker and the Sen. President were vulnerable. Some politicians will sell their souls to hold a seat.


If you even got 3 of the ardent pro-aborts defeated, it would send tidal waves. It would send a message. 


The timing is right. The polling is in our favor. As to things like partial birth abortion – people say, “that’s not right!”  


This is our time. But you say, “Don, we just got banged over the head!” But discouragement is the work of the devil. These things run in cycles. Life is going to win. 


[Standing ovation.]


[Then he opened it up for questions from the audience.] 


Question from Jane Brockmann: “Well, you just laid our all the reasons why you should run again.” 

Carcieri: “I’m 77 years old. Of course, you look at the Presidential candidates running, and …. But I’m a great-grandfather.” 

Jane interrupts: “I’ll babysit.” 


Question from Sam ____________ asks about what can young people do.

Carcieri: Young people are where the future is. … The other side tries to make you feel like a weirdo if you’re pro-life. Don’t let them bully you. This is the generation that are trying to figure out what their lives are about. Young people are searching for a mission. Get behind good candidates. They need legs, leafleting, going door-to-door. And remember that the politicians that have been in there for a while, they get complacent, and they stop working the district. 


Question from Representative Azzinaro (very passionate) : When I got up to speak against the abortion measure this last term, I said, ‘I can’t tell a woman what to do with her body, but there’s another body involved! … You know, we have Sen. Algiere here, Blake Fillippi, and Brian Kennedy – we’ve got to knock out the radicals.


Question: What did you mean that we’ve lost our moral compass? If you don’t value life at its most basic form, then what are we about? If it’s okay to kill them, why not you? The old person in the nursing home? LIFE IS AN ABSOLUTE! People try to be relativistic in their morality, but if everything’s gray, you have no solid footing, no moral compass.

Other questions were taken.

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