The Coalition That Could
A small pro-life nonprofit’s trip to Capitol Hill.

Susan Martinek testifies on Capitol Hill, June 4, 2013.


LOPEZ: What do you do to help women?

MARTINEK: We were co-organizers last year of an open-to-the-public educational event featuring Abby Johnson, a past Planned Parenthood manager who now works to empower women without the use of abortion, and another one earlier this year for Melissa Ohden, an abortion survivor who shares her story.

LOPEZ: Why did you wanted to retain the right to protest Planned Parenthood?

MARTINEK: Our intention was not to protest Planned Parenthood. We wanted to be able to go there and pray. We are praying for a better solution to unplanned pregnancy than abortion. Some people like to bring a sign. Since there were no guidelines in the 1023 application, I wrote the IRS seeking a definition of the words  “protest,” “picket,” and “organize.” We never received an answer.

LOPEZ: What made you decide to spend your retirement working at the Coalition for Life of Iowa?

MARTINEK: I feel called to work in this area because I believe abortion is a modern-day Holocaust. Actually, it is even worse, since about 55 million babies have been killed through abortion. At the end of my life, I want to be able to say, “I tried to stop the killing.”

LOPEZ: Did you feel intimidated by the IRS?

MARTINEK: Initially I thought, “Who fights the IRS? What would the repercussions be? Could we even win?” The IRS is big and powerful; luckily, we had legal help from the Thomas More Society. Without their help, I don’t know what would have happened to us. Are there other groups out there that were not able to stand up to the IRS? We did get our 501(c)(3) status in July of 2009 after a lengthy letter from our attorney, Sally Wagenmaker. We were lucky.

LOPEZ: What worries you most 40 years into legal abortion across the U.S.? Do you see things getting better or worse?

MARTINEK: Personally, I am very disappointed in our culture and our apathy on this issue. Our own government gives millions of our taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States, and even to Planned Parenthoods outside of the U.S.

LOPEZ: What gives you hope?

MARTINEK: When I’m with people who have no intention of giving up hope and who do hard work in defense of human life.

LOPEZ: What would you hope people would know and love and preserve about America?

MARTINEK: Their constitutional rights. Especially the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

LOPEZ: Were you encouraged at all on Capitol Hill?

MARTINEK: I was encouraged at the Ways and Means hearing.  The committee members seemed to really care, and most stated that they would pursue this further.

— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online.