The Road Not Taken, or Even Mentioned

by Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

My body is not their property. So said Madi, a 21-year-old college senior who was 13 weeks pregnant.  Featured in a recent ABC News story, Madi flew to Mississippi’s lone abortion facility, with her mother’s blessing nonetheless, to get the abortion she could no longer get in Texas, stating, “I had to keep in mind that I was doing this for me.” 

At 13 weeks, Madi was in her second trimester, and her child was about 3 inches long, the size of a peach. His heart was beating, his gender distinguishable, and his vocal cords newly formed. He could respond to light touch, turning his mouth toward it, an indication of the rooting reflex used when nursing. Madi’s baby could even hiccup. His little body was physically joined to but genetically separate from his mother. His body was not her property.

But no one seems to tell Madi this fact. Rather the entire ABC News segment focuses on aborting her child as THE only choice, leaving out information on any other option.

Missing is any evidence of an ultrasound, perhaps because seeing her baby would have changed Madi’s mind as it does to the majority of women considering abortion.

Missing is the hundreds of easily accessible pregnancy resource centers equipped to help Madi materially and emotionally through her pregnancy and long after.

Missing is the father of the baby, with whom she said she had been in a committed relationship.  Co-creator of this new life, he is denied any role as to whether his child lives or dies.

Missing is any mention whatsoever of the other A-word: adoption, and the fact that for every baby placed for adoption there are 36 couples waiting to grow their family.

Missing are specifics of how the “procedure” is done, whether the baby feels pain, and where his little body ends up.

And missing is just one person to say “Yes, you can do this and I will help you.” Even Madi’s mother is willing to exterminate her own grandchild so that her daughter can get back to her “typical college life.”

With abortion dominating headlines due to Supreme Court cases, we can expect more liberal media stories sympathetic to the abortion industry. Indeed, poor Madi is upheld as a new Norma McCorvey of sorts, the original Jane Roe, who was used by the abortion lobby and then tossed aside.  McCorvey actually never got an abortion though, and her daughter lives today. Madi’s child does not.

Among the many things Madi is never told in this thinly veiled propaganda piece is that she doesn’t have to choose between her child and her future.  That she should be empowered and supported to return to school and chase her dreams. That she can take responsibility for her child to whom she is already a mother.  That she engaged, by her own admission, in baby-making behavior that indeed made a baby.

Also unspoken are the long term consequences of abortion. While Madi gushes over the kindness of abortion staff, one must wonder where any of them will be when a more mature Madi, perhaps trying to conceive one day or watching her next child’s ultrasound, awakens to the reality of the precious life she sacrificed.  Where will the abortion advocates be when the anxiety, addiction, depression, relationship issues, and suicidal thoughts that plague many post-abortive women come to haunt Madi?

No one reminds her that pregnancy is temporary, but abortion forever. And forever is a long time to feel the ache of grief and guilt over a child needlessly killed.

Equipped with truth about the baby within her and supported by family and community, Madi might have taken another road. All she needed was someone to tell her the plain truth that yes, her body is not their property, and it never was…even when she was 13 weeks old in her own mother’s womb.

Letter to Pitt’s Board of Trustees

The Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation sent the following letter along with thousands of petition signatures on October 15, 2021.

Dear Trustees,

Enclosed please find the names of thousands of people who have signed our petition calling on the University of Pittsburgh to cease its research using the body parts of aborted babies.

These gruesome experiments, which include grafting human scalps onto laboratory mice, are unethical and a violation of time-tested principles of responsible research.

We are especially troubled by published reports alleging that human organs were harvested from babies whose hearts were still beating. These reports, based on documentation collected by the Center for Medical Progress and Judicial Watch, raise significant questions about whether the research at issue is in violation of state and federal statutes.

We have learned that you have hired an outside legal firm to investigate this research. But we are mystified by reports that the results of that investigation may not be released to the public. In the interest of complete transparency, we further call on you to make public the findings of this investigation.

As taxpayers whose hard-earned tax dollars help to support the University of Pittsburgh, we call upon you to stop conducting dehumanizing research using aborted baby body parts.

Sincerely,

Susan Rogacs                                                                        Michael Ciccocioppo

President, Board of Directors                                             Executive Director 

Why are we so afraid of Down syndrome?

Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

Brad was his name.  He was the first student I ever taught who had Down syndrome.

I was just entering my second year of full-time teaching.  I held a Reading Specialist certificate and had taken several special education courses. So one might think I’d feel well prepared.

Yet, I found myself a bit nervous about having Brad in my sixth-grade Language Arts classroom. While I admired my school district for blazing a trail with inclusive classrooms, I had no practical experience teaching students with an extra chromosome. In fact, at 25 years old I had very little life experience interacting with people with Down syndrome.

But I need not have worried.  Brad was an amazing addition to our class. He read on a sixth-grade level, better than some of his “typical” classmates. I loved when he volunteered to read out loud, showcasing his excellent decoding skills and impressing his peers.

Brad was pleasant and cooperative, not every day but most days– but the same could be said about the other 150 students I taught. Middle schoolers in general are a very fickle group!

On one of his tougher days, Brad hid under a desk for most of class. While his support teacher worked with him, his classmates dutifully carried on, modeling for Brad how he should behave.

On better days, Brad exuded love and happiness to the extreme!  He accepted everyone as his friend and found joy in the ordinary, modeling for us how we should behave.

What Brad contributed to our classroom was far greater than anything I expected. He brought out the best in all of us.  He challenged me to hone my teaching methodology so that concepts could be presented in novel ways, and in doing so, I was able to reach more students of varying aptitudes. I became a more creative, more thoughtful teacher with Brad in the room.

He challenged his peers to rethink stereotypes and perceived limitations, and to reach out to someone who was different but not less. It was heartwarming to see a student choose Brad to be his partner for a class activity or to see how several students welcomed him into a group project and helped him find a role. These students discovered that Brad was a just another human being, a person who laughed and cried, a person who achieved goals but also made mistakes, a person who had good days and bad.

And they also discovered that Brad was a person who offered unconditional acceptance and unbounded love. 

We need more Brads in the world, not less. 

I believe if more of us interacted with people with Down syndrome we would discover what a gift they are. We would stop trying to “eradicate” them, as they have done in Iceland through abortion. And we would stop aborting them in alarming numbers in our own country.   

When receiving a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, parents are often presented with problems they could potentially face, rather than possibilities.  Perhaps they or their doctor never had a Brad in their classroom and witnessed the beauty, the value, and the dignity of his life.

Why are we so afraid of Down syndrome? Why do we routinely test for it during pregnancy?

While it should be acknowledged that parenting a child with an extra chromosome can pose challenges, it is true that parenting any child can pose challenges, including those with autism, ADHD, depression, a cognitive impairment,  a chronic medical condition, a hearing or visual impairment, or a host of other things that makes a person, makes us, anything less than “perfect.”

Shall we “eradicate” anyone who fails to meet society’s definition of perfection?  If we continue to move in that direction of eugenics, who will be missing from our world?

We would be missing all the Brads who teach us so much more than we teach them…the Brads who inspire us to think differently and to love more than we thought we could.

Lila Rose’s Fight for Life

by Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

It was a child’s curiosity that started it all.  She was exploring her parents’ bookshelves when one particular worn-out book caught her eye.  Paging through, she was horrified at what she saw.  She quickly shut the book, but compelled by an instinct to better understand what she had seen, she opened it again. She stared in disbelief and profound sadness, thinking of her own baby sister’s ultrasound picture. How could this be?

That moment was the genesis of Lila Rose’s pro-life advocacy. That book was A Handbook on Abortion by Dr. and Mrs. J.C. Wilke, founders of the National Right to Life. That child, even though just nine years old, felt called to do something. That something would eventually evolve into Live Action, an influential pro-life media and news organization that Lila founded when she was just 15 years old.

In her book Fighting for Life: Becoming a Force for Change in a Wounded World, Lila Rose details her journey from a little girl who wanted to save babies to being the president of a pro-life nonprofit that has worldwide reach.  Reflecting on learning about abortion at a young age and the impact it had on her, Lila writes, “Deep grief is often the starting point for righting an injustice.”

Motivated to make a difference, Lila raised money for pregnancy resource centers, prayed outside abortion facilities, and started a pro-life club at her school. Her intention was always to take the next small step to help women and to teach others about abortion. 

One small step led to another, however, and Lila’s advocacy grew. In college, she expanded the pro-life presence on the liberal campus of UCLA and even went undercover into Planned Parenthood facilities to investigate whether they were complying with the law.

What would enable a young woman to take such risks and face certain adversity? Lila was open to learning from mentors who helped her develop skills in apologetics, fundraising, public speaking, and more. She found her heroes in Mother Teresa, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and Corrie Ten Boom, people who exemplified courage and self-sacrifice. As she matured and delved deeper into the abortion battleground, Lila recognized the need to remain close to God. She deepened her prayer life and sought spiritual direction. All of these were integral to staying centered while maintaining her mission.

While her journey to becoming a “pro-life rock star” is itself a compelling story, it is perhaps her transparency that readers might find most surprising in this book. She openly acknowledges her fears, insecurities, and personal battles, including struggles with depression, an eating disorder, cutting, and complex family issues. 

Many may know only a picture-perfect version of Lila from social media or public appearances, but her book candidly discloses her own vulnerabilities.  Like all of us, she has experienced suffering. She credits her pro-life advocacy for helping her heal and thrive because she found a cause bigger than herself, one in which she can serve others.

She uses her earned wisdom to offer simple but sage advice to anyone fighting for a cause close to their heart. The chapter titles reflect lessons learned and wise counsel: Know Your Gifts, Prepare to Stand Alone, Leave Your Comfort Zone, Be Teachable, etc. Without being preachy, Lila gives advice that is  realistic and encouraging.

Now a wife and mother, Lila’s passion for life is stronger than ever. She urges everyone, whatever their background, to get involved in the pro-life movement.  “The fight needs all of us, no matter our wounds or mistakes or imperfections…Together we can rebuild the broken foundations, restore what has been devastated, and renew our wounded world. Together we can celebrate the new beginning.”

A “Swift” Solution to Unwanted Children, Then and Now

By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

What to do about the vast number of poor, starving children?  That was the question that Jonathan Swift, best known for writing Gulliver’s Travels, answered in his 1729 essay A Modest Proposal.   In response to the poverty that crippled Ireland at the time, Swift offered what he believed to be a win-win proposition. Having been told that “a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled…” Swift recommended that children “at a year old be offered in sale to the persons of quality and fortune” for their consumption.

In this way, “the constant breeders will be rid of the charge of maintaining them after the first year.” The population of the lower class will be kept in check, the appetites of the rich satisfied, and the well-being of the ruling elite preserved.

Swift’s piece was, of course, satirical. Even his contemporaries recognized that.  He did not want to kill poor children and feed them to the rich. He did not espouse cannibalization.  His point in proposing such a ridiculous notion was to highlight the failure of politicians to address the very real problems of his day.

Yet, Swift’s sinister solution has taken root in our modern culture, albeit in a less conspicuous, but no less distasteful, form.  While thankfully we are not killing one year olds to feed the wealthiest in society, tragically we are killing unborn babies en masse and using their livers, hearts, brains, scalps, and more to “feed” scientific research. An entire industry has risen from this…one that starts with the abortion provider, moves to a tissue procurement company, and ends at university-level research labs.

It’s a lucrative business. Past invoices indicate intact fetal hearts from a child 18-24 weeks gestation sell for $595.  Half of a pre-natal liver for $350. A thymus for $500.  Lives of unwanted babies are ended and their muchwanted body parts commodified. (Click HERE to see documentation.) 

In an even more ghoulish turn, there are allegations that the hearts of babies may still be beating at the time of organ harvesting. Grant applications from the University of Pittsburgh to the National Institute of Health reference “ischemia,” the point at which organs lose their blood supply, and indicate that does not happen until “after the tissue collection procedure.” The implication is that babies are born alive and killed by dissection.  In this way, pristine tissue and in-tact organs, the coveted “gold standard”, are obtained for research.

Utilitarianism at its best.  Or at its worst.  Babies are being killed for the “sin of unwantedness” and their body parts collected and sold to the highest bidder.  And sometimes those babies might be alive when they are cut open.  We would not do this to puppies (rightfully so), but we will do it to the unwanted child. And then justify it because it is, after all, in the name of science.

What a Swiftian notion! Eliminate the undesirables, and in the process, utilize them for the betterment of the born.  What was once a work of fiction has materialized into a real-life horror story. 

Shame on us if we let this continue. We must stop this cannibalization of the most innocent and vulnerable.  If we are to truly progress as a society, we must use ethically-obtained tissue for future medical research, not feed our babies to the scientific elites.

To sign our petition to the University Of Pittsburgh Board Of Trustees, click here.

From Darkness to Light: Illuminating a Brighter Path for Women

By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

Tiffany and Jay Gilbert are busy. Along with pastoring a fast-growing church in the Mount Washington area of Pittsburgh, PA, they are also growing two adorable young sons. Despite a full schedule of faith and family, the couple remains open to doing more to serve others. Most recently “that more” was to help stem the rate of abortion by providing life-affirming alternatives to women in a Pittsburgh neighborhood.

Although only having started to explore possibilities late last year, the East Liberty Women’s Care Center opened in record time this past April and has already offered a safe haven and welcoming arms to several women facing unplanned pregnancies.  

The founding of this Pregnancy Resource Center comes at a critical time: Pittsburgh has the second highest abortion rate in Pennsylvania, second only to Philadelphia.  And we are learning more and more about the disturbing allegations against the University of Pittsburgh with regard to procurement of organs from aborted babies. For certain, the addition of another life-affirming resource center in Pittsburgh is welcome news.

The location of this Pregnancy Resource Center is also significant. It is one block from Allegheny Reproductive, where the greatest number of abortions are performed in the county. According to the PA Department of Health Abortion Statistics Report, in 2019 there were 6474 induced abortions performed in Allegheny County, comprising 20% of the annual abortions in the state.  Being in such close proximity to the abortion center provides an opportunity to reach vulnerable women with other options before making a permanent, life-ending decision.

Only after opening Women’s Care Center did Tiffany learn an ironic fact:  the very building in which they are located once housed Allegheny Reproductive. The space where babies’ lives were once sacrificed for profit is now the sanctuary where mothers and their babies are offered free and unconditional protection, where they are loved into life.

The center’s services go far beyond pregnancy tests and abortion alternatives. They offer resources to the entire family, including grandparents who may need assistance in raising their children’s children.  In addition to providing immediate material support of clothes, diapers, and the like, East Liberty has an Economic Self-Reliance program that empowers clients for the long term. This is a partnership with other community organizations to provide technology training that can lead to jobs with higher paying salaries. In this way, they hope to break the generational cycle of poverty that can grip families.

Among other services offered are post-abortion counseling, earn-while-you-learn classes for new and prospective parents, and a woman’s group that focuses on emotional healing. And they are just getting started as they train more volunteers and look to increase open hours.

Tiffany is in awe at how everything has come together in such a short time. The Center was even blessed with the donation of an ultrasound machine. Until they can secure their own nurse sonographer, the Center is partnering with a mobile van unit that provides ultrasounds.

And that is key.                

A recent study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that abortion-minded women who visit pregnancy centers are at least 30 percent more likely to change their minds and give birth to their babies. And we know from other studies that a majority of women who see their baby via ultrasound choose life.

Inside the center, the Gilberts, their team of volunteers, and their donors have created a calm and beautiful space for clients.  Soft blue walls frame a tastefully decorated and cozy sitting area with a nearby coffee station. A confidential counseling room is right down the hall. This is a place where women are welcomed, affirmed, helped, and healed, where relationships are built and life is chosen, a vast improvement over what used to happen: the exchange of money for a life. The building has undergone a rebirth.

Outside is a city streetlight, a rather quaint lamppost seemingly standing guard over this new beacon of hope. It serves as a fitting symbol of a place that is bringing light and life to the darkened corners of East Liberty, illuminating a new path forward for women, their children, and an entire community in a city that so desperately needs it.

It’s Time for a Thorough Investigation of the University of Pittsburgh

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The University of Pittsburgh should be thoroughly investigated amid allegations of researchers there harvesting body parts from babies whose hearts are still beating.

        “The Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act makes it clear—you cannot take the life of a precious baby to harvest organs. For the sake of babies, mothers, and taxpayers throughout the Commonwealth, it’s time to investigate the University of Pittsburgh,” said Maria Gallagher, legislative director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, an affiliate of National Right to Life.

        Under Pennsylvania law, it is a felony to experiment on a living unborn baby or to refuse to offer medical care to an infant who has been born alive.

        The Center for Medical Progress notes that Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania abortion providers supply the aborted babies, while the University of Pittsburgh provides sponsorship to Planned Parenthood’s operations in what appears to be an illegal quid pro quo for unborn baby body parts. That would be a violation of 42 U.S. Code 289g-2 and 18 Pennsylvania Statutes 3216.   

        After securing hundreds of pages of public records, the non-profit group Judicial Watch has found that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has channeled at least $2.7 million into a project at the University of Pittsburgh that uses a tissue bank with body parts from aborted babies.

        Pitt’s application for one project stated that the university planned “to develop a pipeline to the acquisition, quality control and distribution of (urinary and genital organs and functions) samples obtained throughout development (6-42 weeks gestation).” A baby born at 40 weeks is considered full-term by the National Institutes of Health, while a baby born at 42 weeks is considered overdue. 

        According to the Center for Medical Progress, “If the (preborn baby’s) heartbeat and blood circulation continue in a labor induction abortion for harvesting organs, it means the (baby) is being delivered while still alive and the cause of death is the removal of the organs.”

        “The allegations read like something out of a horror movie—gruesome and disgusting,” said Gallagher. “It is deeply disturbing to think that full-term babies could be treated in such an inhumane manner. We call on both federal and local authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of the University of Pittsburgh’s research practices,” Gallagher added. 

********************************************************************************************************************************************************************The Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation is a grassroots right-to-life organization with members statewide.  As the state affiliate of National Right to Life, PPLF is committed to promoting the dignity and value of human life from conception to natural death and to restoring legal protection for preborn children.

Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation to U.S. Supreme Court: Overturn Roe v. Wade



HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation has sent a direct message to the U.S. Supreme Court: Overturn Roe v. Wade.

            The Federation has filed an amicus brief in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The case involves Mississippi’s protective law banning abortion at 15 weeks.

            In this well-reasoned brief, the Federation “seeks an overturn of Roe v. Wade, so that States may once again provide protection for vulnerable unborn human life.”

            The brief further states, “Roe was a radical decision that overrode the legislative judgments of all 50 states. It was based on a flawed understanding of the humanity of the unborn child and views of obstetrical practice that are outdated because they fail to treat unborn children as second patients in pregnancy.”

            Roe v. Wade is the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which legalized abortion throughout the country. It is estimated that more than 62 million Americans have died from legal abortion since the decision went into effect. Countless numbers of women have also been forced to grieve children lost to abortion.  

            You can read the Federation’s ground-breaking brief here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/docketpdf/19/19-1392/185227/20210729111948208_19-1392%20amicus%20brief%20of%20the%20pennsylvania%20pro-life%20federation.pdf .

Love, Suffering, and Human Flourishing

by Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

While pro-lifers may be adept at debating the abortion issue, some may feel less confident arguing against another threat to life: assisted suicide. That is why Stephanie Gray Connors’ latest offering is a treasure that all of us should delve into.

Start with What: 10 Principles for Thinking About Assisted Suicide is relatively short but highly engaging. Those who know the author from her previous book, Love Unleashes Life, or her many debates with pro-abortion advocates, or her famous talk at Google, will rediscover in this book her gifts of clear thinking and illuminating storytelling. Those reading her for the first time will find a fresh yet experienced pro-life voice. Although dealing with the heavy topics of suffering and death, Gray Connors adroitly leaves the reader feeling uplifted by showcasing the strength of the human spirit.

The title of the book comes from the very first principle offered: when bad things happen, such as illness, an accident, or any event that causes suffering, we should not ask “Why?” but rather “What?”  What can I do in light of this situation? What good can be brought out of it?  When we change the question, we change our perspective, and discover possibilities to grow and to love in ways previously unknown.

Gray Connors says that if a loved one desires assisted suicide, those around him should not act on that disordered wish, but instead help the person discover their “What?”

          “Perhaps their what is to empathize with another suffering soul, to   become a writer, to be a listener, to teach people to how to slow down and enter into the present moment, to become an advocate for finding a cure   for a disease…their what could simply be to   teach others, by their need and total dependence, the life-changing power of vulnerability and love.”

Another principle Gray Connors offers is that we should strive to alleviate suffering without eliminating the sufferer.  While putting down a sick pet can be regarded as a merciful act, “putting down” a human is not the same. We possess an inherent dignity that animals do not, and ending human life prematurely as a response to suffering is not only wrong, it puts us on a very slippery slope as to whose life is worth living.

The truly merciful choice is to seek palliative care, assessing and treating the pain that a person faces when encountering a life-threatening illness. Such pain management allows people to live fully and comfortably until the natural end of their lives. Gray Connors reminds us that those last weeks, days, and hours leading up to death provide conversations and opportunities between loved ones that are priceless.  Assisted suicide stunts all of that.

A third principle to consider is that suffering unleashes love. Suffering elicits a response in others and within ourselves, changing the way we relate, altering the way we live. Through several heartening real-life stories, the author highlights the human flourishing that arises from difficult, often tragic, circumstances. While none of us desire suffering, she acknowledges the transformative power it can have. 

           “Suffering is part of the human experience. It cannot be avoided. But it can be shared. And it is when we share it, when we enter into it, when we wrestle and do battle with it, when we respond to it with creativity, it is then we begin to discover the power of suffering not just in the crushing but also in the re-building, the drawing-in, and the uniting.”

Through several additional principles, Gray Connors conveys even more wisdom. In many ways, Start with What is as much about intentional, purposeful living as much as anything else. Anyone who is alive, anyone who suffers, or anyone who will someday die should read it and ponder the truths within. If they do, they will be much more equipped to not just effectively make the case for life, but to find their own “what?” when faced with hardship.

The Freedom to Choose…Life!

By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director



Freedom. A cherished word. A sacred right. 

The older I get, the more I value freedom and the more I desire others to know true freedom.

I desire it particularly for women who find themselves facing an unexpected pregnancy. 

Those who do not feel free to choose life. Those who feel coerced by the baby’s father, or parents, or friends.

Those who feel stifled by society’s lingering stigma regarding unplanned pregnancies and adoption.

Those who feel imprisoned by fear of an unknown future.

Those held hostage by an abusive relationship.

And those whose vulnerability is preyed upon and exploited, trapped into ending their own child’s life.

Two-thirds of post-abortive women report feeling explicitly or implicitly forced into abortion.

That is not freedom. 

We must set them free

We must embrace every opportunity to help women be free to choose life.

Free to protect the child within their womb, even those deemed “imperfect,” or not perfectly timed.

Free to parent a child or free to lovingly place him for adoption.

Free to pursue their dreams, even in the midst of pregnancy or parenting.

When we empower women, whether through our laws, our words, our material support, or whatever is needed to walk with them on their journey, we offer them true freedom.  We give them what they need to make the best choice possible for themselves and their child. That choice can never be death.

I am so grateful that my own family gave me the freedom to choose life when I was just 18 years old.

My mother, relieved that I did not have a terminal illness, assured me we could deal with a baby. 

My oldest brother, a new father himself, told me that all babies, at all times, are a blessing.

My youngest brother embraced me and thanked me for not getting an abortion.

Does not every young woman deserve such support so that they have the freedom to choose life?

As we celebrate our many freedoms, let us renew our commitment to giving every human being, without qualification, the freedom to live first and foremost, for without life, no other freedoms can exist.