The Brian Sims Saga Continues

Brian Sims

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

The saga surrounding pro-abortion Pennsylvania state Representative Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) continues.

If you’ll recall, Sims made national headlines when he harassed a trio of teenagers and an older woman praying outside a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood facility. He immortalized the encounters by videotaping and posting them himself.

He even offered a bounty to anyone who would provide the names and addresses of the women he harassed.

His social media faux pas sparked a massive rally of more than 1,000 people who jammed the street in front of the abortion facility where the harassment occurred.

Following a national uproar, Sims issued a video “apology” which seemed to offer little in the way of real regret.

A Philadelphia television station is reporting that Sims made another attempt at an apology this week. But it does not appear that the women he harassed were present at the meeting at which the subsequent apology occurred.

Sims disgraced his office with his shameful behavior toward women. I myself encountered his dismissive attitude toward women when I sent him a questionnaire to document his views on the life issues. His response?

“Get a life, Maria.”

Now, a number of Sims’ colleagues are telling him to get a new job. They want to take away his committee assignments for his outrageous mistreatment of women.

If you live in Pennsylvania, please encourage your state representative to urge Rep. Sims to resign. It would be a just resolution of a dark episode in Pennsylvania politics.

 

The Future of the Pro-Life Movement is in Good Hands

Katy Schriner completes internship

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

I know that the future of the pro-life movement is in good hands because of Katy.

Katy, who was our fearless intern at the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, graduated from Penn State University earlier this month. Her future is bright–and so is her outlook about the pro-life movement.

When Katy started with us earlier this year, she admitted she had a learning curve. By the end of the internship, she had become an eloquent spokesperson for the pro-life cause.

Katy’s accomplishments are many, and they are all the more remarkable because she wasn’t given much of a chance by doctors early in her life. You see, Katy has autism, and medical professionals told her mother that Katy would have limited communication, and would have to live in an institution.

Katy’s mother was determined to see her daughter reach her full potential. She did not accept the predictions of naysayers. And, as a result of her perseverance and that of her daughter, Katy is well-equipped to take on any challenge that comes in her path.

Katy is especially sensitive to those who would deliver a death sentence to babies with a disability. As someone who has autism, the issue of aborting children with learning disabilities is very personal to her.

So many young people such as Katy are courageously making a stand for life. That means we can expect the pro-life movement to not only survive, but to thrive, for generations to come.

 

Town Hall Meetings Bring Life-Saving Information to Local Communities

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Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director, addressing crowd at the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation’s Town Hall tour.

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

Audible gasps filled a meeting room not far from the battlefield of Gettysburg. The assembled crowd was reacting to the news from New York, where pro-abortion Governor Andrew Cuomo had signed a bill allowing abortions up to the moment of birth.

Many in the crowd had come to find out how to prevent Pennsylvania from becoming another New York, as far as the life issues are concerned. They listened attentively, applauded often, and inquired how they could sign a petition to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, urging him to protect innocent children from harm.

Gettysburg was the first stop in the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation’s popular Town Hall Tour. It will be followed next week with stops in Altoona, Pittsburgh, Erie, Hazleton, and Bethlehem (where pro-abortion Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently held his own Town Hall event).

The presentations are jam-packed with important information about promoting life in the culture, in the state Capitol, and in local communities. After the Town Hall in Gettysburg, people crowded around the information table, eager to pick up fact sheets to share with others–especially women facing challenging pregnancies.

We’ve been holding these Town Halls for years now, but there was something especially significant of beginning this year’s tour in Gettysburg. The city is synonymous with defending the soul of the nation–and isn’t that just exactly what pro-lifers are doing today, amidst tremendous challenges from politicians defending late-term abortions and failing to erect legal barriers to infanticide.

In his famous Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln stated that all men are created equal. The pro-life movement believes the same. And because of that dedication to equality, pro-lifers defend life from the very moment of conception to the instant of natural death.

In the immortal words of Lincoln:

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

To learn more about our Town Hall tour, visit www.paprolife.org .

Let’s Respond to the Hatred of Late-Term Abortions with Love

sleeping baby

 By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director

The headlines happen to be filled with hatred for humanity this week.

One news story notes that the Governor of North Carolina has vetoed a bill to stop infanticide.

Another breaks the news that a Presidential candidate, Democrat Pete Buttigieg, defends abortions up to birth, calling it “a personal decision.”

It seems horrific enough that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion, has led to abortions during all nine months of pregnancy. But the fact that politicians are defending the practice seems incomprehensible.

Make no mistake–late-term abortions and infanticide are vile hate crimes against both mother and child. They are brutal, ghastly, and painful–and should not be permitted in a civilized society.

How can we respond to these atrocities? What can we say when a candidate dismisses late-term abortion as just another choice, as if it were as simple as asking for more caramel in your latte?

We can begin by contemplating the words of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, who famously stated, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

We must respond to the darkness and despair of abortion and infanticide with the light of life-giving options. We need to redouble our efforts to reach out to pregnant women facing challenging circumstances. We must recommit ourselves to educating people about the painful truths about abortion and infanticide.

We need to show public officials how deep and how wide our love is for preborn babies and their mothers and fathers. We need to gently but courageously remind candidates of this fundamental truth: all human life is precious and deserves protection, no matter what the circumstances.

We need, in the end, to demonstrate why pro-life is indeed pro-love.

 

Down Syndrome Protection Act Re-Introduced

Chloe Kondrich 2019

 By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director

The Down Syndrome Protection Act has been reintroduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and referred to the House Health Committee. 

The popular bill passed the House last session by an overwhelming, bipartisan, veto-proof majority, but stalled in the state Senate.

The common sense legislation would ban abortions for the sole reason of a Down syndrome diagnosis. 

Research shows that the vast majority of children who receive a Down syndrome diagnosis in the womb lose their lives to abortion.

Many parents report being pressured by doctors to turn to abortion after receiving a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

This comes at a time when people with Down syndrome are making tremendous strides in our communities and in the nation as a whole. They contribute greatly to our families, schools, and workplaces, and their lives should be protected.

The latest Down syndrome bill is sponsored by House Speaker Mike Turzai (R–Allegheny County) and state Rep. Kate Klunk (R-York County). The bill has also garnered dozens of co-sponsors from all across the political spectrum.

As Rep. Klunk stated in a news release announcing the bill, “We have a responsibility to protect those who don’t have a voice. We have a responsibility to stand up against eugenics. And, we have a responsibility to stand up to say that a baby with Down syndrome has a right to life and should not be discriminated against in the womb. Individuals with Down syndrome live lives full of dignity, value and love. We must embrace these lovable human beings for the amazing individuals they are and not allow policies that erase them from existence. They are truly lives worth living.”

Action Item: If you live in Pennsylvania, please call your state Representative and urge him or her to support the Down Syndrome Protection Act. 

Pennsylvania Teen Shows the Tremendous Gift of Children with Down Syndrome

Chloe at police officer's grave

 

By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation

This is an incredible story of life, death, disability, and the power of an innocent child to bring people unity, hope and peace.

Chloe Kondrich, a teenager with Down syndrome, has won worldwide acclaim for her advocacy efforts on behalf of children with disabilities. Chloe’s father, Kurt, left his job in law enforcement to join Chloe in her advocacy efforts.

A decade ago, Kurt lost a close friend when a fellow Pittsburgh police officer, Paul Sciullo, was among a trio of officers killed in an ambush. The loss was devastating to the community and to Kurt personally.

When he took Chloe to her appointments at Children’s Hospital, he would stop at a nearby cemetery where Officer Sciullo was buried. There, Chloe formed a bond with the fallen officer, whose photograph adorns his tombstone.

During a visit with Sciullo’s parents, Chloe said, “I see Paul up in heaven and he’s holding a baby. It’s a baby boy. It’s his brother. His name’s David and (Paul’s) holding him in heaven.”

The parents started to cry. Unbeknownst to the Kondrich family, 43 years earlier, the Sciullos had miscarried a baby. He was a boy, and the Sciullos had discussed naming him David.

As Kurt remarks, “I don’t know what I did right to be given a daughter as awesome as this.” Chloe shined a very bright light in the darkest valley for the Sciullo family, and her father believes she proved that unborn children who die in the womb are in Heaven.

Yet, Kurt lives with the daily reality that children such as Chloe are truly endangered. That is because of the high abortion rate for unborn babies who have been diagnosed with Down syndrome. It is estimated that the vast majority of parents who receive a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis choose abortion.

Kurt believes many individuals simply do not know the abilities of children with Down syndrome. Nor do they realize the resources that are available to them. The absence of knowledge leads to unnecessary barriers to inclusion and causes discrimination against those with an extra chromosome.

To address this pressing issue, the Kondrich’s were instrumental in passing Chloe’s Law, a Pennsylvania statute which provides positive information and support to parents who have received a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis.

The Kondrich family is now advocating for legislation that would protect children with Down syndrome from abortion in Pennsylvania. The bill passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives by an overwhelming, bipartisan, veto-proof majority last year, but stalled in the Senate.

House Speaker Mike Turzai (R—Allegheny County) and Rep. Kate Klunk (R—York County) have announced plans to introduce a similar bill this year.

At a news conference at the state Capitol, Rep. Klunk spoke eloquently of the profound gift represented by children with Down syndrome.

And in a news release announcing plans to introduce the bill, Rep. Klunk stated, “We have a responsibility to protect those who don’t have a voice. We have a responsibility to stand up against eugenics. And, we have a responsibility to stand up to say that a baby with Down syndrome has a right to life and should not be discriminated against in the womb.

“Individuals with Down syndrome live lives full of dignity, value and love. We must embrace these loveable human beings for the amazing individuals they are and not allow policies that erase them from existence. They are truly lives worth living,” Rep. Klunk said.

Meanwhile, at a media event last year, Speaker Turzai said, “We’re raising the concern in Pennsylvania because of some tragic trends in European countries. In Iceland, they’ve become notorious for the claim that Down syndrome has been nearly eliminated. What they fail to mention is that Iceland has a 100 percent abortion rate of pre-born children with this diagnosis.

“I believe in the dignity of every human being. None of us are born perfect, and we all have something beautiful to contribute. Pennsylvania is a loving, compassionate community, and we want to extend welcome and support to Down syndrome families. They need to know they’re not alone,” Speaker Turzai added.

For the Kondrich family, the legislative effort is part of a personal crusade to show the world that every life matters—including the lives of the most vulnerable. The goal is to restore a culture of Life where people “Embrace don’t erase” Down syndrome and end this prenatal genocide which is the ultimate extreme form of prejudice, discrimination, profiling, bigotry, and hate on innocent human beings who commit no acts of evil or violence.

A short video of this amazing story was made in NYC when Chloe received a prestigious award from Good Counsel Homes for her advocacy efforts: https://youtu.be/dFGFvi7xLx0

The Final Countdown at the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation

Microphone

By Katy Schriner, intern

As I was growing up, I’ve always heard of the phrase “Life is a journey”. Particularly with my life, I can say that it has been a HUGE journey. I have been through some of the best things in life as well as some of the worst. Some of the worst experiences I’ve encountered were getting diagnosed with Autism at a young age, my family losing our home to black toxic mold, financial issues and my mother going through cancer. However, I can say now that the best outweighs the worst. All of these horrific situations I encountered have shaped me into becoming the woman that I am today. There have been doctors that told my parents that I would never graduate from high school, have a job, and that I would end up living in a home.

Through the strength of God and the dedication my mother had to prove the doctors wrong, she has been the reason for all of my success. Really quickly, let me give you a brief list of SOME of the things I have accomplished. Some of the biggest accomplishments that I have done throughout my life thus far as a 22-year-old are graduated high school, gotten my driver’s license, gotten accepted into college (the best university ever! Penn State), passing all of my college courses with flying colors, joined a few clubs, danced at Penn State THON for raising money for the Four Diamonds Fund for children with pediatric cancer, have learned to pick and choose my friends and finally to learn to love myself and to understand my strengths and weaknesses. In just a couple of weeks, I will be able to add two more things to my long list of accomplishments: completing my internship at the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation and to graduate from college.

During my time with the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, I have learned SO much about abortions, all the laws being enacted in Congress or trying to be get passed, the effects from an abortion, all the resources women can go to, and all of the events that the Pro-Life movement provides to the community. I had met so many incredible people throughout my time at the Federation such as Joe Murphy, Senator Judy Ward, Ruth Santino, State Representative Andrew Lewis, and several others. This internship has also gotten me a chance to really see our world for what it actually is (which is dark and sickening). This is the first time, other than THON, I’ve felt like I am making an impact on the world. I am proud to say that I am pro-life and I am well educated on the topic now thanks to everyone at the Federation.

I have learned so much from Michael Ciccocioppo, Bonnie Finnerty, and most importantly Maria Gallagher. These three individuals have taught me all I need to know about the pro-life movement and I couldn’t thank them enough for bringing me in like family and giving me the opportunity to do some work in my field. I have also learned that I excel at verbal communications and besides having a huge passion for radio, I also have found an old/new passion for writing. With all the techniques and skills that I have learned from the classroom to my internship, I can say that I have grown stronger as a communications major and I will feel prepared to get an entry level job to show whatever place I decide to work what I am capable of doing. Don’t worry viewers, I still have a couple more weeks until I am done here but as for now, I can promise that I will keep writing my heart out and will write the truth and give someone a different perspective to view.

Thank you to everyone– my family, friends, school teachers, college professors, and employers who believed in me! Without everyone who has pushed me to do my best or motivated me to prove someone wrong, I wouldn’t be who I am right now at this very moment. I really need to start giving myself credit for all the hard work I do but of course I don’t like to take all the glory for my accomplishments. Last but not least, I would like to thank all the dedicated and passionate people for all their hard work in efforts to end legal abortions in America. I believe that abortion will end one day but as for now, keep fighting and showing everyone in the world that every life matters. And remember, there’s always a reason to choose life.

Unplanned: The Story of Abby Johnson

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By Katy Schriner, intern

This Friday, March 29th, Unplanned will be released in theaters all across the United States. This is the story about a former Planned Parenthood worker, Abby Johnson, who was in fact the youngest Planned Parenthood center director in the nation. She also was a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, where she fought, she thought, to help women and enact legislation. What made her decide to embrace the Pro-life movement was when she found out about what Planned Parenthood really did when it came to unborn children and the counseling they provided for women, which led to 22,000 abortions that Abby was involved with. She was also a witness to an abortion where she saw the unborn child fighting for his life. Ever since that incident, she quit Planned Parenthood and joined the 40 Days for Life Campaign and now is one of the most passionate pro-life speakers in America.

Like any other topic that is about Pro-life or abortions, there were some issues that came along with the movie. Weeks before the movie was to be released, Hollywood decided that the film should be rated R for the reason of “some disturbing, bloody images”. But the co-director Chuck Konzelman feels otherwise, that Hollywood restricted the film because of politics. This has prevented teenagers in the world from seeing the truth about Planned Parenthood and the full effects of abortion and what happens to the mother. Konzelman fears that the movie’s R-rating will scare families away, at exactly the wrong time. However, there was an open letter from different leaders, actors and Academy Award-winners asking parents to not be discouraged from allowing their teenagers to see this movie.

We as Americans have this “shield” from seeing the truth and wanting to “keep secrets” away from society. Well enough is enough and that is what Unplanned is trying to do: uncover the real truth behind Planned Parenthood and show the world about what we are doing to innocent lives and how we are affecting our society today, tomorrow, and our future by having abortion in existence. This is a way to keep the conversation going showing kids, teenagers, college students and adults what lies behind the curtains and revealing the truth about our one true enemy: disrespect for human life.

Why the Rise in Taxpayer Funding of Abortions in PA?

Image result for guy reschenthaler

By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director

A Pennsylvania Congressman wants to know why the Keystone State has seen a dramatic increase in taxpayer-funded abortions.

Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA 14th district) sent a letter this week to pro-abortion Governor Tom Wolf demanding answers to a series of pointed questions about Medicaid-funded abortions in the Commonwealth.

The reasons for Reschenthaler’s concerns are as clear as the abortion industry’s penchant for increasing abortions. While other states (excluding Nevada) recorded a decline in the number of abortions eligible for federal funding, Pennsylvania’s taxpayer-funded abortion rate rose astronomically during a recent four-year period.

In fiscal year 2013, Pennsylvania recorded 317 Medicaid-funded abortions, according to a recent study published by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). By fiscal year 2017, that number had skyrocketed to 982.

Federal funding of abortions in Pennsylvania is limited to the rare cases involving rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. “Given the narrow scope in which taxpayer funds are permitted to cover abortions, I am alarmed by the significant increase and overall numbers of Medicaid-funded abortions in Pennsylvania compared to other states,” Reschenthaler told Wolf.

The GAO report stated, “when excluding Nevada and Pennsylvania, states reporting information showed an aggregate decrease in the number of abortions eligible for federal Medicaid funding they covered during the fiscal year 2013 through fiscal year 2017. When data from these states were included, there was an aggregate increase, as the number of abortions covered by Nevada and Pennsylvania was much higher in later years.”

The Congressman has asked the Governor to provide answers to the following questions:

  • What are the requirements in Pennsylvania for Medicaid funding of abortion?
  • What was the annual denial rate in Pennsylvania for Medicaid funding of abortion claims from FY 13 to FY 17?
  • Does Pennsylvania have protocols to prevent misuse of federal Medicaid spending for abortion?
  • What were the reported number of abortions eligible for federal funding covered in FY 18 in Pennsylvania?

Given the fact that poll after poll shows that citizens do not want tax money to pay for abortions, Pennsylvania’s taxpayers deserve answers. Now.

 

 

Down Syndrome Bill Proves Every Life is Precious

Mikayla Holmgren

 

 

By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director

Pageant contestant Mikayla Holmgren is a true trailblazer. In 2017, the young woman became the first person with Down syndrome to ever compete in a Miss USA state competition.

Meanwhile, Chloe Kondrich is a teenager who has accomplished more in her young life than some people with 70 years on the planet. She has been an author and an outspoken advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. Like Mikayla, Chloe has Down syndrome. But that has not stopped her from meeting with statesmen, sportsmen, and other celebrities.

Mikayla and Chloe are scheduled to be on hand for a news conference on Wednesday, March 20th announcing the reintroduction of the Down Syndrome Protection Act in Pennsylvania. The measure is designed to protect babies with Down syndrome from the wanton destruction of abortion.

The legislation is sponsored by House Speaker Mike Turzai (R–Allegheny County) and state Representative Kate Klunk (R–York County). It is similar to a bill which passed the PA House of Representatives by an overwhelming, bipartisan, veto-proof majority last year. Sadly, the previous bill failed to achieve a Senate vote.

But hopes are high that this year’s version will be approved by both the House and the Senate. With advocates like Mikayla and Chloe, it is easy to see why the bill is considered a winner.

In a story for NBC’s “Today” show, Mikayla said of her pageant experience, “I was not nervous…I want others to believe in themselves.”

Although Mikayla did not become Miss Minnesota, she did garner two awards–the Spirit award and the Director’s award.

The fact is, people with Down syndrome are winners. Their example sparks joy in their schools, their workplaces, and their communities.

It is high time that children with Down syndrome are cherished for the magnificent human beings they are. The Down Syndrome Protection Act is an important legislative step in that direction.