Life is Truly a Miracle

by Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

Miracles never get old. And we are on the verge of one.  A nine-month mystery will soon be revealed when we meet the grandchild we first learned about last spring.

We know not the gender nor the size nor the eye color, all determined from the very moment of conception. We know not the abilities, personality, or future of this life hidden from our view but just as alive as you and I.

We do know our amazing daughter has been busy doing what only women can do, something I described in another blog:

It is no small thing that we women are the life-bearers of the entire species. We alone can grow human beings in our bodies, craft a cerebral cortex, knit a network of veins, erect a skeletal system.  We alone can nourish this life with a perfect food forged by our miraculous bodies.  We literally make the men and women of tomorrow with our very own cells. Now that’s power. A power given no man.

But even as I marvel at this feminine super power, and celebrate its manifestation in our own daughter, I am cognizant of a sobering fact, one that is uncomfortable for me to even think about. Distressing for me to actually type. But it should be known.

In our country, even at this late stage of pregnancy, a woman can still legally abort her child. And her husband or boyfriend or family members would be powerless to do anything about it.

Under the facade of “reproductive health care,” fully-formed, pain-capable babies, just weeks, days, or even hours from birth can be put to death. 

Some believe this only happens if the health of the mother is threatened.  But health can be widely interpreted.

Doe v. Bolton, the companion case to Roe v. Wade, declared that the health of the mother may be “exercised in the light of all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age—relevant to the well-being of the patient,” making abortion legal during all nine months of pregnancy and for reasons well beyond the life of the mother.  

Some may think that late-term abortion is necessary to save a mother’s life.

But it is possible to save both lives. If the mother’s life is in jeopardy, a baby can be delivered pre-term and provided with life-saving care. There is no need to kill the child in utero to preserve the mother’s life. Dr. Kendra Kolb, a neonatologist, explains this thoroughly in a Live Action video.

Some may believe such late term abortions are extremely rare and thus negligible.

But that too is not true. Accounting for about 1% of all abortions, late term abortions claim several thousands lives each year, viable babies that deserve protection from invasive and violent tools of destruction.

As I wait in joyful anticipation of a precious newborn grandchild, I also wait with a hopeful heart that all eyes will be opened to the sanctity of preborn human life, so that it is protected in every circumstance. Every single life is a miracle to be celebrated, and miracles never get old.

Pennsylvania Abortion Rates Rise; Pregnancy Resource Centers Provide Alternatives

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The number of abortions in Pennsylvania increased in 2019 by slightly more than 2% according to the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, an affiliate of National Right to Life.

Statistics released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health show 654 more abortions occurred in 2019 compared to 2018. In all, 31,018 abortions took place in 2019, with 25-29 year old women being the largest age group having abortions (29.9%), followed by 20-24 year old women (27%). Abortions for females under 18 dropped slightly to 2.4%.

Abortion among white women dropped slightly, while abortion among Black and Latino women increased. Chemical abortions increased by 4.6%. Over 47% of the women had experienced at least one prior abortion. Eighty-seven percent of the women were unmarried.       

Five counties accounted for 83% of total abortions: Allegheny, Delaware, Montgomery, Northampton, and Philadelphia, which itself accounted for 47% of the abortions.  An average of 85 babies died by abortion every day in 2019.

“It is disturbing to see an increase in abortion, especially late term abortion, when we know babies are pain-capable,” said Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation.  “And it is alarming that there was a 59% increase in complications from abortions, putting vulnerable women at great risk while sentencing their children to death. Had Governor Wolf signed pro-life legislation such as the Dismemberment Bill in 2017, these numbers would be lower.”

But he and the abortion industry have no interest in decreasing abortion.

In contrast, Pregnancy Resource Centers across Pennsylvania have seen an increase in services, providing ultrasounds, material goods, life-skill classes and daycare referrals. “Women can find authentic care and support in the Pregnancy and Parenting Support Program, which is administered by Real Alternatives, Inc. (www.realalternatives.org ),” Finnerty added.

According to Kevin Bagatta, President and CEO of Real Alternative, Inc. “In 1995, Pennsylvania was the first state to provide taxpayer dollars dedicated to provide free services to women in unexpected pregnancies to encourage childbirth rather than abortion. To date, the program has served over 325,000 women of the Commonwealth.

“We are grateful to the citizens of the Commonwealth for the financial resources they provide to the program so 440 counselors throughout the state can serve thousands of women in unexpected pregnancies. Their dedication led to our program serving 11% more clients in 2019 than 2018,” said Bagatta.

“We must continue to reach out to women to let them know that help is available for themselves and their babies, whether they choose to parent or place for adoption.  They do not have to choose between their child and their future. They can have both,”said Finnerty.     

***************************************************************************************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.

PA Pro-Life Federation’s Maria Gallagher Honored as Person of the Year 2020

By Michael Ciccocioppo, Executive Director

On behalf of the board of directors, chapters, staff, volunteers and the tens of thousands of grassroots members of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, I congratulate our Legislative/Political Action Committee Director Maria Gallagher for being selected as the Person of the Year 2020 by the Society of St. Sebastian.

Maria has been a lynchpin of the pro-life movement for a number of years.  Prior to joining our staff, Maria honed her pro-life advocacy skills at our sister organization, Ohio Right to Life.  During her 18 years at the Federation she has gained a well-deserved reputation across our state as the ‘go-to’ person on any topic related to the defense of the right to life. 

Maria is the tip of the spear when it comes to fighting for good pro-life legislation and stopping any legislation which erodes the right to life.  She bravely speaks truth to power when human lives are to be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency! 

Maria is a prolific pro-life writer who is featured across the country by National Right to Life News Today and LifeNews.com.

Dave Andrusko, editor of National Right to Life News Today, had high praise for Ms. Gallagher, “Maria Gallagher is as gracious as she is talented and as willing to help at the drop of a hat as any writer I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. Her life-affirming, upbeat stories for National Right to Life News Today (which I often ask her to write at the eleventh hour) invariably receive the most ‘likes’ and ‘retweets.’ She is a gold mine of pro-life information and an instrumental contributor to the Pro-Life Movement.

Steven Ertelt, editor & founder of LifeNews.com, had this to say about Ms. Gallagher, “Maria is an amazing writer with a gift for pro-life storytelling. She has an uncanny ability to relate the pro-life message in feature stories and vignettes that touch the heart and soul. Her writing encourages people to consider the pro-life perspective or take action on their existing pro-life beliefs. Millions of people have read Maria’s work in LifeNews.com — perhaps even without knowing it. We’ll never how many people Maria has touched through her compelling writing but she is a pro-life treasure.”

Joe Kral, president of the Society of St. Sebastian, pointed out that Maria’s periodic articles for the Society’s pro-life weekly, Sebastian’s Point, are always on point and terrific.  He stated, “Without a doubt, Ms. Gallagher has been a tremendous asset. She constantly shows her love of human life and her ability to reach out to both politician and everyday citizen on these important issues. Maria’s hard work models the very essence of what St. Sebastian inspires us to do today.”

The Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation commends the Society of St. Sebastian for recognizing Maria’s outstanding sustained contributions to the pro-life movement.  The Society has amassed a tremendous body of pro-life scholarship for which we express our most sincere gratitude.

Bridges that Build a Culture of Life

By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director



Some songs just resonate with us.  That was the case for my teenage self with Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water.  Faithful friendship, self-sacrifice, a reason to hope.  The slow, low start that builds to a bright, buoyant finale, signaling the journey from dark despair to shining dreams in the distance.

                                           When times get rough

                                           And friends just can’t be found

                                           Like a bridge over troubled water

                                           I will lay me down.  

          Throughout high school, I tried to be a bridge for friends in need. But during Thanksgiving break in 1986, everything changed. A college freshman with a positive pregnancy test, I was now drowning in my own troubled waters of fear and uncertainty. Who would be my bridge?  Who would carry me through?

           Raised in a religious home, I had an interior trust that God would always be with me.  But did He not need human hands to accomplish His work?

           I’ve had 34 years to reflect on the bridges that carried me to the other side, to a safe shore, to a place not without pain or sacrifice, yet rich in rewards and goodness.

          My bridges were many: first and foremost, my then-boyfriend/now husband. Then our parents, siblings, extended families, and friends. None could rescue us from the turbulence we would face during some very difficult years, but all of them in their own way supported our desire to choose life for our child. Their role cannot be overstated.

          But there were others too, many who may not even know how critical they were to our journey toward a new life.

           Like my college roommate, who was a shoulder to cry on, offering wise words and loving support through it all.  She confessed she didn’t know what she’d do in my situation but understood that abortion was not an option for me. My first bridge, she “mothered” me while I was away at school.

          And there was the admissions counselor at my new university, who made my transfer as smooth as possible. I was so grateful that he excused a pregnant me from a gym requirement and that he found a way to have a large academic scholarship transferred to my new school. He was a bridge to a fresh start on my educational path.

           Another bridge was the kind couple who provided an apartment over their law office for a very reasonable rent.  Generous and hard-working, they gave us much more than housing, with their own example of marriage, family, and virtue having a great impact on us. They were also a bridge to my husband’s path to law school.

          Many more selfless people carried us through troubled waters, “laying themselves down” in beautiful gestures that mirrored Divine Love itself. For all of these “bridges,” I am thankful every day.

            I pray that I remain open to being a bridge in some way to others in need, especially to women and their pre-born babies.  No woman should ever feel trapped, forced to enter a sea of despair that leads to the death of her own child.

          May we in the pro-life movement continue to be bridges of love and support that carry women and their children safely to the shores of life, where a sense of peace and promise of hope await.

          These are the bridges with which we will build a renewed and shining culture of life.

                                Sail on, silver girl

                                Your time has come to shine

                                All your dreams are on their way

Women are leaping forward, not turning back!

By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

Fear is a powerful weapon. And it is being employed full force right now.

Some feminists are forecasting that the appointment of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court will “turn back the clock” on women, erasing any progress made toward equal opportunities in education, the job market, and the public square.

What could possibly lead them to launch such a claim?

Ironically, a brilliant, successful woman. One whom they should be celebrating with abandon, for she represents so much of what the feminist movement has strived to accomplish. 

Although she has had the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association, stellar recommendations from colleagues and former students, an unmatched intellect, and the ability to be both simultaneously assertive and saintly, she has failed to win the approval of hard-core feminists, who fear that she will be the tipping point to the end of Roe vs. Wade. 

It’s really all about abortion.

While Amy Coney Barrett has expressed pro-life views in her personal life, no one knows for sure how she or the rest of the Court would rule as jurists in upcoming cases. She has pledged to interpret the Constitution as written and not legislate from the bench.

But fear is the focal point of those clinging to the distorted notion that women need to end a life in order to succeed. Everyone from Senators to singers are sounding the alarm of panic.

What these faux feminists fail to acknowledge is that their abortion mindset is limiting to women, not empowering. It says that you aren’t “enough” to have a child and pursue your dreams. That the very essence of your femininity is a detriment.  That we must mute our body’s beautiful capability to bring forth new life in order to achieve.

Amy Coney Barrett’s life says otherwise.  The mother of seven children and a former college professor, she is the epitome of empowered.  She is the new face of feminism.

Her life itself is a message to present and future generations of women. True feminism is not an either/or proposition that limits your roles, but an and/both invitation to fulfill your potential.

We as a society owe it to all women to pursue true feminism, not one that pits us against our own children or limits our career choices. But one that honors our natural and unique role as life-bearers alongside anything else we aspire to be. A giant leap forward!

Who Do We Rescue First?

By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

An occupied house is engulfed in flames. Who do you rescue first?

A ship is sinking. Who gets priority in the lifeboats?

Confronted with life-threatening scenarios, we are forced to make sudden choices, sometimes on instinct alone.  Those instincts prompt us to run toward and rescue the most vulnerable, the very young or the very old. Those unable to find their own way to safety. Those who would perish without our help.

Faced with a multitude of issues, should we not prioritize rescuing those whose lives are in the greatest danger, those most marginalized?

When an estimated 100 voiceless human beings are exterminated every hour in this country, do they deserve our voice?

When almost two-thirds of the women who abort say they feel coerced into ending their own child’s life, should we make them a priority?

When states pass laws allowing babies who survived an abortion to be left to die, should we draw a line?  

Or when livers and kidneys of aborted babies are auctioned off for thousands of dollars, do we dare speak up?

Of course, there are other issues. 

But at what cost?

Are we willing to sacrifice millions more lives in order to pursue a “better society”? Are we willing to ignore this slaughter because some “good” is promised if we just look the other way? Are we then like others in history who have tolerated evil because of some perceived benefit?

This is not just another issue. We are speaking of a genocide, with almost one-fifth of the American population deliberately and violently deprived of life. And we defend this how?

That they are not living? That they are not human? The violent dismemberment or burning of helpless humans, many pain-capable, is simply not defensible.

Abortion kills the pre-born, but it also sears the soul of society. In devaluing human life, abortion teaches us that inherent human dignity does not exist, leading to only more evils. Life, all life, is cheapened. What have we become?

Lest someone argue that we will always have abortion, keep in mind the abolitionist movement of the 19th century. When slavery ended, it is estimated that only about 2% of the American population were active in the abolitionist movement. They persisted in rejecting the dehumanization of an entire class of people. Ultimately, they brought an end to an institution that was intrinsically evil.

We must persist in doing the same.

It is not just a house on fire, but our very country. Who do we rescue first?

My Unexpected Pregnancy is Now….



By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

Fear is often the dominant emotion when a young woman realizes she is unexpectedly pregnant. Fear of how her life will change.  Fear of what people will say. Fear that she isn’t strong enough, rich enough, or mature enough.  Fear she won’t have the support she will need. 

The fear can be blinding, making her unable to see beyond the present moment, beyond the potential obstacles, and into a possible future. 

I know that fear. I felt it when I was 18.

This fear can drive a young woman to seek an option that seems to offer immediate relief: abortion. No one will have to know and I can get on with my life.

But abortion doesn’t erase the pregnancy, as though it never happened. Abortion takes a child’s life. Many post-abortive women (and men) years later experience guilt and shame that manifests as depression, anxiety, addiction, and relationship issues.

What if we could help young mothers and fathers see beyond those moments of fear and into a future they could live with? 

What if we help them envision the potential that lies ahead, not just for their child and for themselves, but for the generations to come?

That is the inspiration behind our new social media campaign “My Unexpected Pregnancy is Now….” We are asking women, men, and couples to share a picture with the child for whom they chose life and to tell us something about that child.

What a powerful witness for LIFE!  Seeing that so many others did not let fear drive their decision! Seeing that a precious and unrepeatable person is here today to live and to love and perhaps have children of their own. Giving encouragement to those who have doubts.

Could your story be a sign of hope to someone in crisis?  

If so, please post a picture with signs telling about your journey on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and use #myunexpectedpregnancy and #paprolifefederation.

If ever there was a time to be a witness for LIFE, it is now. 

Let’s show all the world that there’s always a reason to choose LIFE!

Biden and Me: Same City, A World Apart



By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

By chance, Joe Biden and I happened to return to Scranton on the same day.

We were both born in the Electric City, into Catholic families who identified with the ideals of the Democratic Party.

Biden lived there for 10 years, while I stayed for 24.

It’s true. You can leave Scranton, but Scranton never leaves you.

Yet our common ground seems to end there. The former Vice-President and I differ on several points, but most importantly on the issue that claims the single greatest loss of life each and every day: abortion.

I went to Scranton to present to high school students. If Biden had attended my morning talk, he would have heard some uncomfortable truths.

Such as every medical school textbook acknowledges that human life begins at the moment of conception. Now there’s some science we should follow.

And that since 1973, much of Biden’s constituency, in fact, 18%, of the US population has been aborted. Almost every fifth voter (and their children and grandchildren) are missing.

Joe could have held the fully-formed 12 week-old and 20 week-old fetal models, representing babies that are legal to abort in Pennsylvania for any reason whatsoever, even though the latest scientific research indicates these pre-born children might be pain-capable.  

He could have learned a lot from the three dozen young people in the room who are grateful to be alive. They are the survivors of the abortion genocide.

But Biden didn’t attend my talk, and I was not invited to his Town Hall campaign event. If I were, I would have asked him a few things.

Such as how he feels about receiving the endorsement of Planned Parenthood when they have been caught illegally selling baby body parts to tissue procurement companies.

And why he chose as a running mate a politician who is so rabidly pro-abortion, she actually targeted pregnancy resource centers in California, requiring them to promote abortion.

I would ask if he thinks it’s a problem that African-American women are five times more likely to abort their children than white women, or if he finds it offensive that 79% of abortion centers are in minority neighborhoods.

Since he frequently invokes his Catholic faith as he campaigns, I would have asked if he is familiar with section 2270 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which says Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception or section 2272 that states Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense.

There’s a lot more I would like to ask this candidate running for the highest office in our country.

Most importantly, I would ask Biden how he expects to make good on his promise to reclaim the “soul of the nation” when he has sold his own to the abortion lobby.

Pro-Life Leader: Senator Marsha Blackburn

By Maria V. Gallagher,
Legislative Director

            In her new book, The Mind of a Conservative Woman, U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) cites the sanctity of innocent human life among the principles she holds most dear.

            Her appreciation for the lives of the most vulnerable grew out of an experience she had when she was young, playing piano for a worship service. She reports that many of the people who attended the service had Down syndrome.

            “As I got to know them, I was always struck by how happy they were, how productive they seemed to be and in their own special way. Their sweet spirit and joyous singing would thrill me.”

            Blackburn was deeply saddened by the fact that the majority of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in their mothers’ wombs are aborted. “Who are we to say that such lives are not beautiful and productive and meaningful in their own way? Where did we get the right to decide who deserves death and before even one day of these lives is lived?” Blackburn asks.

            Her experience spawned her strong opposition to the pro-abortion agenda of the world’s largest abortion operation, Planned Parenthood.

            “It is the arrogance of this organization that gets me most,” Blackburn writes. “They dare to tell mothers that they have the right to decide if the child they bear should live or die…When a child is aborted, a life is ended. Always. Forever.”

            Blackburn is among the strong women in Congress who boldly and unapologetically stand up for the rights of the most innocent and helpless among us. With her book, she is once again raising her voice against what she describes as the barbarism of abortion.

            It is women like Blackburn who are leading the U.S. onto the path of pro-life victory. Countless numbers of lives will be saved and hearts will be changed as a result of their efforts.

Many Voices, One Undeniable Truth

by Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

A former abortion worker, a religious sister, and a Chinese exile all walk into a political convention.

And history was made.

Never before has a political convention so boldly proclaimed a pro-life message. 

Never before have such a diverse group of speakers united to proclaim what should be a self-evident truth in the United States of America:

Life is not a privilege granted by government but a right endowed to us by our Creator.

Tragically that right that has been denied to over 61 million pre-born American lives since 1973.

While too many in our country overlook the fundamental and inalienable right to life, those who spoke at the RNC do not, and they would not be silenced.

In the face of cancel culture, a hostile media, and a well-funded abortion lobby, they courageously declared on a national stage that abortion is a horrible wrong that can and must be made right.

They shared their life experiences, varied and complicated, to show that fighting for the most marginalized is the right thing to do, the American thing to do.

That is a message that has been muted in the past but is now finding its voice again.

I cannot help but think back to 1992, when my personal hero and fellow Scrantonian, the late Governor Robert Casey Sr. was denied the chance to speak at the 1992 Democratic National Convention because of his strong pro-life views, a position he refused to surrender to a political platform.

It was a turning point for many pro-lifers, including myself.

What would Governor Casey say about this Republican National Convention that didn’t just subtly whisper a pro-life sentiment but instead shouted a pro-life mandate loudly, clearly, and proudly for the world to hear?

I think he would be glad that someone finally had the courage to profess truth in a culture of lies. 

I think he would admire the Republican Party for its defense of life as our first civil right.

And I think he would agree that President Donald J. Trump is the most pro-life President we’ve ever had.  

(Check out President Trump’s pro-life record.)