A Film Too Important to Not See

by Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

Where were you in 1973?

Perhaps you remember it well. Perhaps you weren’t even born.

I was five years old, blissfully unaware of the volatile changes occurring in our culture.

It would be many years before I would know what Roe v. Wade was. By that time, an abortion narrative had been carefully crafted and a misleading lexicon taken hold, phrases like “pro-choice”, “reproductive rights”, and even “access to health care.”

Which is why the movie Roe v Wade is so fascinating and so very relevant. It offers a fast-paced, fact-checked depiction of events leading to the most controversial court case of our time, a historical moment that preceded many Americans alive today.

For those familiar with the history of abortion in this country, this movie smoothly ties together main players and events, helping the viewer to see the big picture. For others, the film will expose how the true story of Roe has been omitted from decades of abortion propaganda.

Told through the lens of Dr. Bernard Nathanson (played by co-producer Nick Loeb), the movie captures his evolving relationship with abortion: from paying for a girlfriend’s abortion to co-founding the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL) to becoming New York’s busiest abortionist. With over 70,000 deaths attributed to his practice, he became known as “The  King of Abortion” and “The Scraper.” But as the film depicts, Nathanson experiences a heart-wrenching epiphany that leads him to abandon his lucrative work and become an outspoken pro-life activist.

As Nathanson narrates his journey, we meet his sidekick Lader, who has authored a book called Abortion. He recruits friend and feminist Betty Friedan to the abortion cause. Reluctant to make abortion the focus of the women’s rights movement, Friedan does ultimately bring the National Organization for Women (NOW) into the fight, but observes, “You boys are only in favor of abortion because it’s cheaper than child support.”

For Larry Lader allies are not enough. He believes every cause has to identify an enemy, and for the abortion movement, he shrewdly chooses the biggest defender of the unborn, the Catholic Church. A master media manipulator, Lader is able to vilify the Church while promoting his newly-coined term “pro-choice” and his “abortion-on-demand” agenda in major publications.

Today’s viewers may be shocked to see the dominant role that men, not women, actually played in legalizing abortion.  In addition, to Nathanson and Lader, the Supreme Court at that time was all male, none of whom could have ever felt the flutter of life in their belly or witnessed an ultrasound image of that life.  The movie reveals that two justices, Potter Stewart and Harry Blackmun, actually had family members who volunteered at Planned Parenthood while Roe was in the courts, yet they didn’t recuse themselves.

A little-known fact explained in the movie is that arguments for Roe were heard twice, once in 1971 and then again in 1973. Justice Warren Burger (played by John Voight) insisted on the second hearing since two seats on the Court had been vacant the first time around. With a case as controversial as Roe, he felt a decision should be made by a full court. Tragically, in the time between oral arguments, Burger and Blackmun would switch their votes to be in favor of Roe, likely a result of media and family pressure.

An outstanding woman in the film is the poised and brilliant Dr. Mildred Jefferson, the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School. Recognizing that abortion violates the Hippocratic Oath she took, she decides she cannot sit on the sidelines.  “Life begins at conception. As a physician, I know this.” She goes on to become President of the newly formed National Right to Life Committee, now the oldest and largest pro-life organization in our country.

Although dense with people, events, and information, the movie flows easily, thanks to Nathanson’s retrospective voice framing the story. The extensive, detailed research that underscores the film is impressive, making this an excellent educational tool not only for today but for generations to come.

Many scenes will give the viewer pause: the arrest of clergy involved in a secret abortion-referral network, Planned Parenthood fundraising at the Playboy Mansion, Nathanson’s overseas training in “assembly-line” abortion methods, the emotional recitation of the diary of the unborn, and the stirring closing argument offered by Robert Flowers.

Many of the lines are thought-provoking. Throughout the film, Constitutional law professor Robert M. Byrn offers bits of wisdom, quotations from historical figures like Benjamin Franklin and John Marshall.

But perhaps it is his own words to his students that should resonate with us long after viewing the movie, impelling us to never stop advocating for the innocent, vulnerable child in the womb.

“Don’t you think someone’s hopelessness should motivate us to protect them, not destroy them?”

(For $12.99 plus tax, you can stream Roe v Wade to any device by clicking here.)

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Her Restless Heart Finds Healing At Last

by Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director



Growing up in a small town, Sue Ellen Browder longed to one day find success in a big bustling city. So landing in Hollywood as an already accomplished writer may have seemed like a dream come true.

As she details in the final chapters of her memoir Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement, Hollywood, however, was just another alluring mirage that would give way to stark reality.

Despite Browder’s prolific and principled husband pouring his heart into one screenplay after another, he faced a steady stream of rejection.

When Browder, renowned for her articles in Cosmopolitan and other publications, appeared on the highly-rated Oprah show, she is left deflated by the experience.  “Fame, like glamour, had become for me just another sick illusion.”

The hardships piled up. Unexpected health issues, never-ending financial worries, and rising marital tension. Depressed and at times, even suicidal, Browder felt like there was nothing that could ease her angst.

Her newly emptied nest magnified her despair. When her daughter returned to college one semester, she had a breakdown. Unloading the dishwasher she deliberately smashed every plate on the tile floor.  Later, she realized this outburst was fueled “at least in part from my unresolved grief over the abortion” decades before.

Miraculously, in the midst of this dark emotional chaos, a light appeared.

Her husband began to read again and was captivated by St. Augustine’s Confessions. Browder saw a newfound sense hope growing in him that she envied.

In an effort to find greater peace and beauty in life, the couple resettled in a home nestled in the magnificent Redwood forest. Here they would find what they were looking for and more. Their desire to know “God’s reality,” an unchanging truth, led them to the Catholic faith.

Just moments into their first meeting with a priest, Browder’s husband blurted out that they had an abortion. The priest simply nodded, but Browder herself was shocked.

“I had no idea Walter considered the abortion ‘ours.’ It had never occurred to me that all these years he had been silently grieving right along with me.” Theirs, like that of many couples, had been a hushed mourning, with a profound grief simmering under the surface.

As part of her journey into the Catholic Church, Browder received the Sacrament of Reconciliation in which sins are forgiven. She thought she would finally find healing. But even after her first confession she suffered in silence, unable to let go of self-blame.  “I feared if I ever started talking about the abortion, I would never stop crying.”

Her post-abortion trauma led her back to the confessional. She began to trust in God’s endless mercy. “After a quarter century of unspoken grief over the abortion, I at last begin to be healed. The Church, in her all-forgiving love, is so beautiful that I feel as if I’m living inside a two-thousand-year-old poem.” 

It is from this long-sought place of serenity that Browder can look back at her life’s journey and at the women’s movement she once revered to see where she and we have gone wrong.

“Love for God and others, including love for the little person in the womb, is what gives meaning to life, even in the midst of pain and suffering.  This is the unseen dimension of women’s lives that the Mere Fifty-Seven overlooked…when they created a pro-abortion political agenda….”

Brower’s memoir is a lesson to us all, generously offered by way of her own pain and redemption, skillfully crafted by her talent as a writer.  We would be wise to keep it within reach and explore its pages from time to time. 

Quotable Quotes

“As strong, independent women, we need to be speaking out loudly and clearly about the truth that ‘success’ in life isn’t just about careers, sex, power, and money.  All these trappings are nothing without love.” (p.148)

“If every Christian in America had stood firmly with the smallest, weakest, and poorest in our society-that is, if each and every Christian had stood firmly with the innocent preborn child nailed to the cross-we would have far fewer abortions than we do in the United States and the world today.” (p. 180)

The Difference a Law Can Make

By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

A happily married woman who delights in her two children may not seem like someone who would get an abortion.

Yet, Sue Ellen Browder did.  In her book Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement, she reveals the mindset that led her to a decision she would later regret.

It’s a mindset that, decades later, still lures women to abort. At its core is the universal emotion of fear.

Browder feared that she and her husband, struggling writers working temp jobs to keep the lights on, could not afford another child. The 1970’s Cosmo culture in which she was steeped validated that fear and gave her “permission” to act on it. “In my mind, abortion was an integral part of the women’s movement, a right as fundamental as equal pay for equal work,” she writes. As “watered-down Christians,” she says her husband even tried to find justification for abortion in the Bible.  

But Browder admits that she would never have considered abortion were it not legal in 1974. “Looking up some sleazy criminal abortionist in a back alley would be too hideous a prospect for words.” An important admission that we need to bear in mind today as we seek to change laws to protect life.

Getting a legal abortion in the “bright, clean hospital” where she had already given birth, however, gave it an air of legitimacy, as though it were just like any other medical procedure. “I didn’t think of myself as killing a child. I thought of myself as solving a problem.”

The abortion was excruciatingly painful, both physically and emotionally. In an act of self-preservation, Browder blocked much of the details from her mind, rendering the memory a blur.  

Afterward, she numbly returned to work. “I have just snuffed out a tiny life over my lunch hour.  I have betrayed the bond of love that holds the universe together. And no one I work with seems any the wiser.”

To prevent any possible feelings from surfacing, Browder buried herself in distractions. She blamed the persistent angst and depression she felt on the couple’s continually volatile finances.  Her husband struggled emotionally as well, and they chose to stifle their pain by never speaking of the abortion.

One day, however, Browder found herself offering a gesture of atonement. She spontaneously purchased a brand new wooden crib and mattress and donated it to a pro-life center for “some struggling mother who, despite her poverty, had chosen to keep her baby and to reach out humbly to others for help.” Something she wished she had done.

Browder’s thinking shifted and she questioned the faux feminism that portrayed abortion as the great liberator. She recognized that she herself was deceived by the very propaganda she helped disseminate as a writer for Cosmopolitan.

Her entry into the Episcopal Church, coinciding with her work on a book about human interactions, resulted in a new understanding of personhood. She realized an interconnectedness between all humans, especially mother and child.

It gradually became clear to Browder that the women’s movement embodied by Betty Friedan and the National Organization for Women was rooted in flawed thinking that “falsely isolates a woman from God, from a true relationship of love with a man, and even from the dance of life in her own body.”

Browder had succumbed to fear in getting her abortion, but she would no longer succumb to the lies that pitted women against their children.

Her journey was taking a new turn, one that would lead her to a surprising place.

(Please join us in reading Chapter 13-18 and the Epilogue for next week.)

Quotable quotes:

“It’s not only a tiny little life who dies on this gurney. Part of my heart dies along with him.” (p. 105)

“Men, stripped of the maturity than comes with responsible fatherhood, were becoming self-absorbed Peter Pans who couldn’t grow up.” (p. 122)

Elderly Left Vulnerable by Wolf Administration COVID-19 Response

By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director

            Pennsylvania’s pro-abortion Democratic Governor is being taken to task for alleged mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis.

            A group of Congressmen from Pennsylvania have sent a letter to the Commonwealth’s Attorney General, asking if he is investigating Gov. Tom Wolf for reportedly undercounting Coronavirus deaths in nursing homes. Similar allegations in New York have resulted in a major scandal for Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

            The PA letter is signed by pro-life Republican Congressmen John Joyce, Mike Kelly, Guy Reschenthaler, and Glenn Thompson.

            Governor Wolf—a former clinic escort for abortion giant Planned Parenthood—is well-known for his pro-abortion stance. Now, he’s under fire for the way he’s been dealing with those in the twilight of life who populate the Commonwealth’s nursing homes.

            Congressman Reschenthaler told PA news outlet KDKA, “I simply want to know if AG Shapiro is looking into whether Governor Wolf, like Governor Cuomo, is deflating the statistics and hiding the numbers in Pennsylvania.” 

            The Congressman added, “The fact that Governor Wolf has basically mimicked Governor Cuomo in the handling, I should say mishandling, of this pandemic makes me suspicious. And at the end of the day, we should all want transparency. Governor Wolf should be open.”

            Attorney General Josh Shapiro responded that his office investigates criminal matters, and questions about data collection should be sent to the state’s Inspector General.

            While the Governor indicated he would be open to that, his office also took the opportunity to blast the Republican Congressmen.

            “These baseless, endemic insinuations by the GOP that Pennsylvania may have misrepresented nursing home deaths betray a significant lack of understanding of our reporting going back to the beginning of the pandemic.”

            Still, significant questions about the PA Governor’s handling of the pandemic remain. Advocates for life wonder whether better decision-making by the Chief Executive could have resulted in fewer COVID-19-related deaths in the Commonwealth.