"I want to be a part of the intellectual discussion defending family issues and life," Yoest says she told Dr. Cook. "He was wholly unimpressed. He said, 'Go write me a paper on why abortion should be legal.' Apparently, I didn't do a great job at it. He really helped me focus on where I didn't understand my whole argument. It changed the whole way I think about the issue. He really challenged me – defend it, defend it, defend it."
Yoest says she learned that her adversaries' arguments shift ground and divert attention from what she believes is the essential fact: Abortion takes a human life.
If there was any sign of Yoest's future calling, it was that she was always "a little adult" – eager for dinner-table discussion of the topics she read about in Newsweek, recalls her mother, Janice Shaw Crouse.
Though Yoest was born in Lexington, Ky., the family, which included a younger brother, moved frequently for the Crouses' doctoral work and teaching assignments. They bounced from Indiana to upstate New York, and then overseas when Mr. Crouse won a Fulbright Fellowship to teach at National Taiwan University in Taipei.
The two years abroad were formative for Yoest and her brother, who were elementary-age students old enough to appreciate the journey, which included swim meets in Okinawa, Japan, and a summer traveling with their parents around Europe.