A couple who’d attended the Michael Reagan speech Tuesday night became lost deep in the recesses of the Augusta Convention Center before a kindly staffer shepherded them out.
“Man, that was powerful testimony,” the staffer said of Reagan’s speech.
That’s how penetrating and powerful the former president’s son’s life story is – and its lessons for a society increasingly devoid of boundaries and self-control.
Reagan, 72, told of his adoption as an infant by Reagan and then-wife Jane Wyman – and his subsequent sexual abuse, including photographs of him at the tender age of 8, by a day-camp counselor. The experience, which he kept secret until well into adulthood, tormented him for decades – filling him with anger, self-doubt, angst about release of the photos (particularly as his father sought the presidency) and a hostile relationship with God.
It took a stalwart and accepting wife, and an occasional epiphany through the years, to help him heal, and to mend and improve relationships with family and God.
At a particularly poignant moment, a slice of humor: When he finally mustered the courage to tell his father about the abuse many years later, the elder Reagan – in his soft but indomitable way – asked his son if he wanted him to kick the abuser’s rear end.
Ultimately, the younger Reagan’s message to the annual Augusta Care Pregnancy Center banquet was one of triumph – over abuse, hurt, hostility and isolation. And it was about the beauty of life and the glory of adoption – which he said several other Reagans had their own experience with.
Yet, the dominant culture today seems to push abortion infinitely more than it encourages adoption. One young woman in a Care Pregnancy Center video played for the audience of nearly 700 said she was essentially coerced into an abortion against her wishes at 14 – by her parents and by staff at the abortion clinic, who condescendingly dismissed her objections out of hand.
That’s choice? Hardly.
Reagan, a former talk show host, said fancifully that he once polled his audience and found that 100 percent of those who’d been adopted preferred that to having been aborted.
It is perverse, frankly, that abortion clinics are so well supported by federal tax dollars while entities such as Care Pregnancy Centers – which provide women and girls with caring counsel on a much wider and uplifting range of issues and options – must make their own way with the good graces of benefactors.
But that is its own triumph.