News from DC: Projecting Life

by Katie Schriner, Internultrasound machine

On February 14th, EWTN hosted its weekly pro-life program outside of the White House in Washington D.C. Catherine Hardo, head anchor of EWTN, spoke to several different people about different subject matters within the pro-life movement. Some of those people include Melissa Ohden, Dr. Russell Moore and more who are involved in the pro-life movement. However, what makes this segment so unique is the opportunity that Melissa Ohden got with President Trump, Catherine getting a chance to have a conversation with Dr. Russell Moore about the roles of the pro-life movement, and how the Knights of Columbus donated their 1,000 ultrasound machines to pregnancy centers.

Melissa Ohden, an abortion survivor, got the opportunity to not only meet President Trump but also to have a conversation with him about her experience and the pro-life movement. She tells the story about how 41 years ago, her mother was forced to have an abortion done against her will. Melissa was soaked in a toxic salt solution for 5 days (normally this process takes 72 hours), and was “accidently” born alive. Melissa tells Catherine that meeting President Trump was “surreal” and she describes meeting him like she was meant to be here today to tell her story and how important survivors are in the pro-life movement. She also emphasizes how passionately he is committed to life and what he is willing to keep doing legislatively to protect life.

The discussion that Catherine Hardo had with Dr. Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religion Liberties Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, was very effective, highlighting the Pro-Life Leadership. The highlights of the leadership in the Pro-Life Movement includes religious background, power that triumphs over vulnerability, the power in elderly and disabled, and most importantly the idea of seeing people in terms of their usefulness in the movement. But what makes this conversation so effective is what Dr. Russell Moore says about people who dismiss pro-life views (faith issues). What he says about this is “faith certainly informs the conscience but faith does not create the conscience out of nothing” and that the conscience “deeply knows that something is wrong here” which he says is the reason why people are self-protective about this movement.

Apart from this, the Knights of Columbus do tons of volunteer work within communities; one of their biggest ones is protecting babies. In Virginia, the Knights of Columbus has donated 1,000 ultrasound machines to a Catholic Charities clinic. Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus states about 10 years ago, “We began this program with just two machines, we didn’t know how large it would grow. Now we have more than a 1,000 machines and these machines are saving tens of thousands of babies, soon to be 1 million lives.” How this program works is that local knights raise HALF of the necessary expenses of an ultrasound machine through a variety of efforts. Then the Supreme Council Culture of Life fund matches that amount, which is valued around 50 million dollars. The Knights’ efforts ensure that there’s at least one Knight Sponsored Machine in every state in the U.S. and also in other countries such as Puerto Rico, Brazil, Canada, Jamaica, Peru and Africa.

The efforts of the pro-life movement are highly powerful when it comes to the communities all around the country. What we can remember is that in doing the work, we raise not just money but awareness of the pro-life movement. We show that it is so effective in protecting innocent lives and saving tomorrow’s future.

Life and Death: Lessons My Mother Taught Me

Elderly holding hands

by Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

On January 18, 2019, I eagerly accepted the position of Education Director at the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation. My former career as a teacher coupled with my life-long advocacy of life issues led me to believe this was the job for which I had long been searching.  Part-time and close to home, I could still juggle the responsibilities of family life and volunteer work.  In addition, I was blessed to work with authentically kind, compassionate, and committed people with whom I felt an instant bond.

The overwhelming joy I felt at this new chapter in my life was tempered, however, just three days later, when we learned that my active 82 year-old mother had pancreatic cancer. Her doctor surmised that she might live until Easter. Suddenly, everything was re-prioritized.  How can I best spend these last precious months with my mom? How can I ease her pain? How can I help her and my dad, indeed all of our family, including her beloved 16 grandchildren prepare for her departure from this world?

As it turns out, my mom did not have a few months.  She had 18 days.  We were praying with her when she peacefully drew her last breath on February 8.  During her brief but intense illness, my mom endured excruciating pain, some from the cancer and some from the innumerable blood clots that riddled her entire body.  At times she called out in prayer, imploring God to take her, as her loved ones sat helplessly by, shedding tears as we stroked her face and held her hand.

When witnessing the slow but inevitable death of a loved one, there is a dark temptation to end their pain and hasten their journey home to God through doctor-prescribed suicide. But our family and its matriarch knew that was not our call.  While we sought the best palliative care for her, we knew there was a plan, a timetable, a moment long ago determined when she would transition into eternal life.  And as hard as her path was to get there, we could only love her on her way as best we could. During those 18 days, my mother gave us the ultimate pro-life witness: the peaceful surrender to life’s natural course, bravely bearing her suffering, giving US comfort with her courage, patience, and steadfast faith.

Such a testimony echoed a climactic moment 32 years earlier, when I returned home from college my freshman year to tell her I was pregnant. Seeing me crying in the kitchen, she became alarmed, thinking the very worst.  I could hardly speak the words, but when I did, she said, “Is that ALL?  I thought you were dying of cancer! A baby, we can deal with a baby!”  Having lost a 16 year-old daughter in a car accident many years earlier, my mother believed that the worst thing a parent can endure is the loss of a child.  My unexpected pregnancy was not an occasion for tears, but rather a chance to joyfully welcome new life.  Sadly, this lesson was reinforced all the more just a few weeks later when my brother and his wife lost their daughter, my mother’s first grandchild, to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.   We grieved the loss of baby Ashley, while treasuring the life growing within my 18 year old body.

Is it any wonder that I now work for a pro-life organization, one whose mission is committed to promoting the dignity and value of human life from conception to natural death?  On my last outing with my mom, just days after learning of her terminal illness, I had the opportunity to show her where I would be working.  Pulling up in front of the office, I explained what I would be doing for the Federation.  She was happy for me, knowing that I was honored to do such important work with such good people. She didn’t mention it to me then, but I have since learned that my mother was a financial supporter of the PA Pro-Life Federation, dating back as early as 1990, when we were all still living in Scranton. She couldn’t have foreseen me working for the Federation, but now that I am, I feel sure she is blessing our good efforts from the other side.

Live Action: All the Way Pro-Life

Lila Rose

By Katy Schriner, intern for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation

In 2003, at the age of 15, Lila Rose decided that she wanted to create a presentation that showed the reality of abortion and to expose what abortion does to the preborn child. In 2006, at 18 years old, she started doing undercover investigations of the abortion industry. By 2008, Live Action was born, legally formed as a non-partisan, non-profit organization that has the largest and most engaged online following in the pro-life movement. Today, Live Action’s goal is to shift public opinion on the killing of preborn children and defend the rights of these most vulnerable among us by using compelling educational media, human interest storytelling, and investigative reporting to reveal the humanity of the preborn and expose the abortion industry exploiting women for profit.

Live Action gives strong viewpoints on the problems the pro-life movement has with abortion. There’s so many to choose from but I believe the most important ones to look at are Human Rights and whether abortions are “safe”. According to Live Action, they state that “all human beings have human rights, and we possess them by virtue of our humanity and not because they are granted to us by the government or other people. The most foundational human right is the right to life.” Another thing to add is the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights states in article 3: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of person”. And article 6: “Everyone has the right of recognition everywhere as a person before the law”. The most important part of that section is the statement that says “If we hold to the validity of these statements, and if preborn children are human beings, then we would have to conclude that the youngest among us have the same inalienable right to life as those who are born. This really opens my eyes as it states in our human rights that EVERYONE has a right to life and that every voice matters, preborn or born.

Most people don’t educate themselves when it comes to abortion. Are abortions actually “safe?” There are 4 statements that answer the question on abortions being safe.

  1. Abortion is NEVER safe for preborn humans- it dismembers, suctions, or poisons them to death.
  2. Even if an argument could be made that legal abortion is safer for the women, if abortion ends an innocent human being’s life, then it isn’t ethical to legalize killing in order to make it supposedly safer for those participating in it.
  3. Abortions, whether legal or illegal, carry the risk of negative effects to women’s health. In other words, some women were hurt or killed in illegal abortions and some women are hurt and killed by legal abortions, too.
  4. The number of women who died from illegal abortions prior to Roe vs. Wade (1973) was greatly inflated by those lobbying for the legalization of abortion.

There was one statement that stood out to me the most when I was viewing Live Action’s website, which states, “Since the preborn are humans and since humans have human rights, it follows that “we ought to respect the preborn and protect them from abortion.”. Live Action has a lot of information on the reality of abortion, in terms of effects, laws, industries, etc. It’s important that we spread the truth about abortion, tell others about the pro-life movement and end legalization of abortion in America.

 

Down Syndrome Protection Act Being Re-Introduced

ChloeKondrich

By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director

The popular Down Syndrome Protection Act is being reintroduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

The bill bans abortion for the sole reason of a Down syndrome diagnosis. The legislation is a response to the high abortion rate among women whose unborn babies have been diagnosed with an extra chromosome.

During the last session, the House passed the legislation by an overwhelming, veto-proof, bipartisan majority of 139-56. However, the Down Syndrome Protection Act stalled in the PA Senate last year.

As the co-sponsorship memo states, “Most of us know of a family touched by a Down syndrome child, and know these children grow to lead joyful and fulfilling lives.”

The lead sponsors on the bill are House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny County) and state Representative Kate Klunk (R-York County).

Karen Gaffney is the first living person with Down syndrome to receive an honorary doctorate from a college or university. At a rally at the state Capitol last year, Gaffney eloquently stated, “Those of us with Down Syndrome and our families face a very difficult future. We face a possibility of wiping out all of the tremendous progress we have made. Just as we are making so much progress, a whole industry has grown up focused on prenatal screening – screening that would end our lives before we take our first breath.

“Now that you can test for Down Syndrome before birth, there are many experts in the medical community that say this extra chromosome we carry around is not compatible with life. Not compatible with life? After everything we have done, I would say we are more than compatible. We are what life is all about. Our lives are worth living and our lives are worth learning about.”

Pennsylvania currently bans abortion after 24 weeks except to save the life of the mother, and at any time during the pregnancy if the woman’s only reason for abortion is to select the sex of the baby.

The Keystone State is already home to Chloe’s Law, which provides information and resources for parents who receive a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis. The law is named for Chloe Kondrich, a teenager who has become something of an international ambassador for children with Down syndrome.

Chloe’s Law “made progress educating parents regarding the quality of life that a person with Down syndrome can enjoy,” the co-sponsorship memo states. It goes on to say, “…the abortion rate for children with Down syndrome is still too high. It is time to protect Down syndrome children in the womb.”

Action Item: Pennsylvanians are urged to call their state representatives and encourage them to co-sponsor the Down Syndrome Protection Act.

 

Girl, Arise and Embrace Life!

Mother and child very happy

By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director

In the refreshing new book Girl, Arise, author Claire Swinarski makes the case for why the pro-life cause is pro-woman. She admits, she’s defied stereotypes as a pro-life feminist.

The critics rant somewhere along these lines: “Pro-life feminists are unicorns–nice to think about but not actually romping through the forest.”

But to the author, the pro-life cause “is where the Church opens wide her arms, steps it up, and shouts, ‘We’re pro-women’ in her loudest voice.'”

Swinarski sums up her viewpoint on abortion this way: “Abortion is wrong–not simply because it ends a life but also because it isn’t good for women.”

Swinarski goes on to write, “…erring on the side of not ending a life seems to be the most rational, moral, loving conclusion, even if you take out of the picture such Bible verses as ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.'”

The pro-life feminist rightly notes that women mostly have abortions because of a lack of choice. A woman chooses abortion because of a lack in her life–whether that be a lack of finances, career, or a loving partner. “This isn’t an empowering decision,” Swinarski writes. “This isn’t ‘my body, my choice’ but rather ‘I feel I have no other choice.'”

It is the pro-life movement that bridges the gap–providing comprehensive counseling, material resources, and hope. It is in that supportive approach that lives are changed and hearts are opened. In the midst of great pain and fear, the beauty of life is recognized and celebrated.

The pro-life movement supplies what is lacking in a woman’s life, allowing her to make the bold, empowering decision to give birth to her baby. It is a movement grounded in an exercise of rights–the right of a baby girl to life, and the right of a woman to give birth.

Now, that’s pro-woman!

President Remained Pro-Life, Despite Pressure from Adviser

Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump, Friday, October 6, 2017.  (Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead)

 

By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director

In a fascinating passage in the new book Let Me Finish, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie tells the story of how, as a candidate, Donald J. Trump remained pro-life, despite pressure from within his own camp to change his position.

Christie explains that “agenda item number one (was) preparing Donald Trump for Hillary Clinton and their first of three one-on-one debates.” A large team of advisers gathered for the first prep session, including General Mike Flynn.

“Flynn was a train wreck from beginning to end,” Christie writes. “At one point that day, he made a proposal that stunned nearly everyone in the room.”

Flynn went on to say, “I have an idea, and I think it’s really strong. Mr. Trump, what you should do is get on that stage and declare that you’ve changed your mind on abortion, and now you’re firmly for a woman’s right to choose (abortion.).”

The reaction was swift–and unapologetically pro-life.

Campaign adviser Steve Bannon said, “No, no, no. No. He can’t do that.”

“No, sir,” adviser Kellyanne Conway agreed. “That’s not a good thing to do.”

Christie later writes, “What had been clear to me for months–and was becoming clearer by the day–was that Mike Flynn, for all his supposed military and intelligence experience, had no idea what he was talking about when it came to politics. He was a slow-motion car crash.”

The fact is, the pro-life position is the right position–and it’s also a winning position. Candidate Trump drew a clear distinction between himself and former Secretary of State Clinton on the life issue. And he continues to fight the good fight for pro-life in what has been called the most pro-life Administration in U.S. history.

 

Marking a Pro-Life Legislative Milestone

Babies with flowers

 

By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director

History is being celebrated this year in Pennsylvania, as pro-life activists mark the 30th anniversary of the passage of the landmark Abortion Control Act.

The result of much research and planning, this trailblazing piece of legislation was tailor-made with the U.S. Supreme Court in mind. Legislators drafted the bill believing that it could be upheld by the High Court—a prediction which largely came to pass.

In the end, in a case known as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court struck only the spousal notification portion of the law, a provision which had stated that a spouse be notified before an abortion could take place. But the rest of the law stood—and it has stood the test of time.

The life-saving legislation provided for informed consent, meaning a woman had to be told the risks of abortion and apprised of alternatives to abortion before an abortion could take place. It also provided for parental consent, meaning that one parent had to give permission before an abortion occurred. The law also included a 24 hour waiting period for abortions, allowing women time to reflect and to discuss their decision with family and other confidantes before an abortion took place.

In addition, the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act banned sex selection abortions, meaning that a baby girl could not be aborted if the mother wanted a boy (and vice-versa). At a time when sex selection abortions remain an important gender equality issue, the 1989 Abortion Control Act definitely seems ahead of its time.

Legal challenges prevented the Abortion Control Act from taking effect until 1994. But once the law kicked in, abortion totals plummeted by the thousands in Pennsylvania. It is estimated that more than 150,000 lives have been saved in the Keystone State as a result of this ground-breaking law.

In addition, the Abortion Control Act paved the path for other states to pass similar legislation. A flurry of new protections for preborn children and their mothers followed, ushering in a golden era of state legislation on the pro-life front.

Pennsylvanians had hoped that the Abortion Control Act would overturn Roe v. Wade, the tragic U.S. Supreme Court ruling which struck abortion laws in all 50 states. While that dream might have been delayed, the law did help to propel the pro-life movement forward, both legislatively and educationally speaking.

Pennsylvania recently recorded its lowest abortion total ever—a testament to the power of a pro-life law, enacted a generation ago. The Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act was an historic achievement which has made the Keystone State a better place to live.

 

San Francisco Walks for Life

Walk for Life West Coast

 

By Katy Schriner, intern, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation

Recently the West Coast took a stand to speak out at the 15th annual Walk for Life in San Francisco. EWTN Pro-Life Weekly broadcasted the walk, talking to many different people, including preachers, students, parents, speakers of the pro-life movement and the co-founder of the Walk for Life. The crowd ranged from locals, students and people who had traveled from different states to attend the walk. CBS local affiliate KPIX has estimated that there were about 50,000 people in the crowd.

Dolores Meehan and Eva Muntean, co-founders of the Walk for Life, were inspired to start a walk when both of them attended the March for Life in Washington D.C. in 2000. From 2004 to 2019, the walk has grown steadily, with numbers skyrocketing from 7,500 to 50,000 people attending this year. The motto at this year’s Walk for Life is “Abortions Hurt Women”. The goal that these two women set every year is to motivate people to get involved, spread the word of the pro-life movement out to the communities and to stay committed throughout the whole year. Besides discussions with the co-founders of the Walk for Life, there were other interviews being conducted with pro-life leaders before the rally including Tina Whittington, Executive Vice President for the Students for Life of America. She discusses with Catherine Hardo, anchor of EWTN, about their organization’s mission and goals. The Students for Life has 1,200 groups all across the country who work with high school and college campuses to start their own pro-life club. Their goal is to impact the high school or college campus towards life, bring resources to their campus for pregnant and parenting students, and to educate their peers on what abortion is.

As I mentioned, there were several speakers who spoke at the Walk for Life Rally who were very inspiring and touched so many hearts in the crowd in San Francisco. 40 Days for Life gave out their 40-44 Scholarship, to a college student whose mission is to end abortion and to spread the word for the future. Morgan English (sophomore student at the University of Florida) and Anna Green (junior student at the University of Idaho) were presented the $4,040 scholarship for their incredible work and dedication towards life. But the most important speaker in my view was Patricia Sandoval.  She told her story about how she had three abortions, her experience working at Planned Parenthood and how she dug herself out of her darkness with her addiction to drugs and homelessness. During her speech, she emphasized that the abortionist never told her the truth about the full side effects of Post-Abortion Syndrome including anxiety, depression, the nightmares and suicidal thoughts. There was one specific part of her speech that I believe to be the most powerful and that was when she talked about her homelessness, drug addiction and how one day her life was changed. She discussed that she felt like she was a bum and described the type of dark place she was in. Until one day she decided to switch her life around, feeling God in her life for the first time and being able to speak about her experience with everyone especially women.

Stories like Patricia’s are ones that will touch your heart and make you realize how important the pro-life movement is. There were so many people at the walk ranging in age from little babies with their parents, to college students from Stanford University, to women in mid-life. One of the coolest events that happened was having women on stage and having the audience listen to the babies’ heartbeats on stage. While there are differences between the Walk for Life and the March for Life, the most important thing is that their missions are the same and will never change, and that will be to give the voiceless a voice and to keep fighting for life!

 

 

How to Engage Your Pastor for LIFE!

Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director

“As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”–Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When we think back on the history of social movements, the clergy have played an important role. We think of the soaring words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who fought courageously for the rights of African-Americans. Dr. King empowered people to take a bold step for justice in the face of tremendous prejudice.

In the 21st century, the civil rights movement of our time is the pro-life movement. It seeks to honor and protect the rights of people–from the dawn of life to the twilight of life. And while we welcome people of all different faiths, or no faith at all, it is true that clergy can have a powerful impact on the success of our movement.

Here are three simple steps to help engage your pastor for LIFE:

  • Invite your pastor to lunch, dinner, or brunch. Share with your pastor your concerns about the protection of innocent human life. In a relaxed atmosphere, you can have a pleasant exchange of ideas for advancing the pro-life cause.
  • Recommend resources to your pastor. Your pastor can certainly benefit from reading such online publications as National Right to Life  News Today. This way, your pastor can be well-informed about emerging threats to innocent life–and peaceful, successful ways to combat them.
  • Thank your pastor for pro-life sermons. It is important that we encourage our pastors whenever possible. Let your pastor know you support the clergy member’s life-affirming words.

Finally, remember the inspiring rhetoric of Dr. King during his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech: “I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'”

 

The New York Effect on the Pro-Life Movement

Baby sleeping

 

By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director

In recent days, our office at the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation has been receiving call after call from people wanting to volunteer for the pro-life movement. It seems that this is the effect of the bizarre pro-abortion law in New York and the equally strange legislation in Virginia. The legislation permits abortion up to birth–and offers no protection for those babies who survive botched abortions. People are very upset about what’s going on, but they want to do something positive to counteract it. It’s inspiring!

We have also received a number of emails from people wanting to join a local chapter of National Right to Life. In all my time in the pro-life movement, I have never before seen such an outpouring of activism.

We even received an email about a family who is considering moving from New York to Pennsylvania to escape Governor Andrew Cuomo’s abortion extremist regime. The inquiry came in the form of a question: What is the forecast for Pennsylvania? Is it in danger of going the way of New York?

Fortunately, Pennsylvania has pro-life majorities in both the PA House of Representatives and the Senate. Pro-life legislation is welcomed and encouraged. We are also home to the first-in-the-nation state-assisted pregnancy and parenting program, which is administered by Real Alternatives, Inc. Hundreds of thousands of women and their families have been served by this network of pregnancy resource centers.

But the Keystone State faces its own threats. Our Governor, Tom Wolf, once volunteered as a clinic escort for Planned Parenthood. He has a radically pro-abortion position, opposing a ban on brutal dismemberment abortions, where a baby is torn limb by limb from a mother’s womb.

The Commonwealth has also been hit by a lawsuit from the abortion industry, which wants to end our long-standing ban on Medicaid-funded abortions. This despite the fact that taxpayer-funded abortions are wildly unpopular in Pennsylvania.

Nationwide, the prospect of abortions up to the moment of birth has led not only to an outcry–but also action. The New York effect is sparking a renewed interest in the pro-life movement from people who steadfastly believe that babies should be protected–both inside and outside their mothers’ wombs.