The Freedom to Choose…Life!

By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director



Freedom. A cherished word. A sacred right. 

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

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

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

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

Those who feel imprisoned by fear of an unknown future.

Those held hostage by an abusive relationship.

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

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

That is not freedom. 

We must set them free

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Tough Marine Gone Tender: A Pro-Life Legacy

By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 edition of LifeLines and is re-published in honor of Father’s Day.

My dad was a Marine.

That alone tells you something about my childhood.  We woke on first call, ate what we put on our plate, and attempted perfect corners when making beds.

Although my father spent just three years in the Marines, his service would have a lifelong impact on him and the family he would make.  The military gave my dad, whose own father died when he was just eight, structure, discipline, and pride in a job well done. These qualities would influence how he and we would live.

My dad also played ball with us, made our tea every morning, and without so many words, showed us he loved us. He endured the loss of his 16 year-old daughter as well as his oldest grandchild, and due to an injury sustained during his military service, retired on disability earlier than he would have liked. Life’s trials toughened but never defeated him. At times, he seemed indomitable.

When I was 19, I saw a different side to my dad, one that surprisingly emerged after having my first child.

Suddenly the man I was afraid to ask for the car, the dad who stayed awake until everyone was home in bed, the meticulous Marine who trained us to put everything where it belonged, was magically transformed into a big, soft teddy bear of a Papa.  All because of a little baby girl who came into our lives at a most unexpected time.  

I won’t lie. He was not happy when my now-husband and I told him we were pregnant. But it didn’t take long for him to model the resilience he’d demonstrated his whole life. He and my mom would support us under one condition: I went back to school to finish my degree. 

Growing up poor and without a dad, he’d never had a chance at an education.  And he wasn’t going to let mine slip by.

He would care for our baby when I was in class.  As the youngest of five, I had a hard time picturing this because I had never seen my father even hold a baby, much less care for one. 

Then she arrived. Suddenly, the strong disciplinarian who raised me was now held captive by a newborn weighing not even seven pounds.

With her, he was gentle, attentive, nurturing, and even silly. My invincible and sometimes rigid father transformed into a doting and whimsical grandfather, and for the first time revealed a vulnerability I had never before seen.

The miracle and power of new life!

When we had our son three years later, my father helped watch both kids while I completed my Master’s Degree. He thrived on being a caretaker to them, and they thrived under his care.  A special bond was formed with them, and subsequently, with all 16 of his grandchildren. “Papa” was his new vocation and he embraced it with the same enthusiasm he had embraced military life.

So it was especially hard for all of us to watch our family patriarch, the soldier-caretaker, enter into his final battle combatting Stage 4 Mesothelioma. Given just a few months to live, he defied the prognosis by actively living for a full year.

Eventually, though, hospice care did become necessary. Remaining true to self, he offered gentle instruction to the home health aide on how to properly make a bed. Once a Marine…

He ultimately lost the battle. He entered into eternal rest on May 1 after bidding us all good night and gently dismissing us from his room…Always a Marine.

A man of deep faith, he leaves a rich prolife legacy that the gift of self, whether to country or to family or even to the stranger we encounter, is the noblest of callings. A lesson deeply ingrained in us by his example.

Semper Fi, dad. Good night!

The Ultimate Discrimination: Down Syndrome Abortions

By Jessie Morgan, Intern


Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

Today I offer you some alarming food-for-thought: we are living in a society in which people have the authority to determine that one human being is more worthy of life than another.

Pennsylvania Representative Kate A. Klunk introduced legislation that would amend the Abortion Control Act to prohibit the abortion of a child solely because the child has been diagnosed with Down syndrome. Last session, the bill passed the House with a bipartisan vote of 117-76. Though it passed in the Senate as well, it was ultimately rejected after being vetoed by Governor Tom Wolf. However, Klunk is not going to let down that easily—she just reintroduced a similar bill known as House Bill 1500.

For those who may not know, Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal disorder in the United States. According to the CDC, the condition affects about 1 in every 700 births. Children with Down syndrome experience a variety of social and intellectual disabilities, as well as a range of medical complications. They are generally identified by physical characteristics such as eyelids that slant upwards, decreased muscle mass, and a trademark crease through the palms of the hands.

Aside from physical identifiers, those with Down syndrome experience cognitive and social impairments that can vary in degree.

Over a hundred years ago, Down syndrome was a dismal diagnosis for new parents. In 1910, children with Down syndrome typically did not live past the age of nine. That life expectancy soon increased to 20 years with the discovery of antibiotics, and now, the majority of Down syndrome adults live to be older than 60.

Today, people with Down syndrome are diving into their communities in ways never thought possible. They work in schools, health care facilities, and all throughout the work force, and they engage in a variety of recreational activities like music and sports. They are university graduates, professional musicians, fashion designers, business owners and professional athletes. In addition to these, however, those with Down syndrome have always been friends, family members, neighbors and members of our communities.

As writer Ziad Abdelnour wrote, “Success is not found in what you have achieved, but rather in who you have become”.

In a research survey of over 3,000 family members and people with the disability, nearly 90 percent of siblings indicated that they feel like they are better people because of a sibling with Down syndrome.

If you’re like me, you might know of several people with Down syndrome in your community. You are familiar with the way they can light up a room the moment they walk in. You might remember a sense of humor, a unique personality, or a refreshingly optimistic outlook on life. Just like many others, those with Down syndrome can radiate a sense of joy that can impact anyone they cross paths with, perhaps for the rest of their lives.

If the value of life in our society was measured not by achievement, but by who we are as individuals, friends and community members, would Down syndrome protection legislation still have been rejected? Would 67 percent of American mothers, 77 percent of mothers in France, or 100 percent of mothers in Iceland have still chosen to abort their child after receiving a positive test for Down syndrome?

Currently in Pennsylvania, the only limitation to abortion per the Abortion Control Act is for sex-selective abortions. This seems self-explanatory—no person has the right to deny the pursuit of life to another person based solely on the discrimination of gender. The question left standing is: what makes Down syndrome any different?

Jessie Morgan: Taking Steps For Those Who Can’t

My name is Jessie Morgan, and I am so excited to take on an internship at the PA Pro Life Federation this summer!

I grew up in Sunbury, about an hour up the river from Harrisburg, and attended Line Mountain School District growing up.

The pro-life caused sparked my interest in the 8th grade, when my middle school Campus Club (Christian charity group) organized a ‘Walk For Life’ for our local Pregnancy Care Center. As young as I was at the time, I had virtually no idea what abortion even was; I just thought the Pregnancy Care Center was a sanctuary for new mothers in need of support and resources.

I vividly remember the design on our T-Shirts, with a picture of two tiny footprints displayed over the front. Underneath the picture in italics was the phrase, “Taking steps for those who can’t”. I wasn’t really sure what it meant, but not too long afterwards I found out the truth—  along with helping mothers, the core of the Pregnancy Care Center was to protect the lives of unborn babies. To save them from abortion.

It was not easy to process the unthinkable. At a young age, children and teenagers are much more adaptable to new ideas; they can normalize practices such as abortion because they’re growing up in an environment where they are told these practices are okay, that they are safe. But I never could. I would remember those two tiny footprints and my heart would ache for the little human lives that were never given a chance to experience life.

I was first introduced to the Federation after entering their annual Pro-Life Oratory contest in 2018. My speech took first place, and I had the amazing opportunity to attend the National Right To Life Convention in Kansas City, Missouri later that summer. Following the convention, I would hop on a bus to the March for Life in Washington, D.C. every January. While the convention provided me with a plethora of helpful information about life in the womb, the March gave me the hope that there were thousands of others in this country who were willing to stand up to protect the sanctity of all human life.

During my internship, I hope to use the skills and abilities I have gained in my own education to engage young people with the pro-life movement. A good friend once mentioned to me that real culture change cannot come from a change of law, but a change of heart. If we can impress the value of unborn life onto the hearts of our young people, I believe we can foster a society that will not only consider abortion illegal, but unthinkable. 

The Pill that Kills, Delivered by Mail

by Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

If a vaccine were to kill 24 people and injure 3,000 more, would that vaccine remain available?

What about an abortion drug?

Despite the recognized danger of the drug Mifeprex (mifepristone), the Biden Administration has lifted safety restrictions on the abortion pill, erasing medically-necessary precautions that have been in place since FDA approval in 2000.

By tossing out these needed safeguards, the administration and the abortion industry are playing Russian roulette with women’s lives, handing them “a loaded gun” in the form of chemical abortion.

According to a statement released by the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), which represents approximately 7,000 women’s healthcare practitioners, the abortion pill has led to at least 24 deaths and 3,000 injuries, with 500 more women at risk of dying had they not reached emergency medical care in time.

Since the FDA stopped collecting data on the adverse effects of the drug in 2016, the complication rate could be much higher.  Death due to abortion often goes unreported, so it is difficult to determine the true fatality rate of the drug.

Earlier this month, a 23-year-old Argentinian woman died from a chemical abortion after it was made legal in her country.

Now, in our country, the most pro-abortion President in history jeopardizes the lives of unsuspecting young women as they are misled into believing they can safely abort at home.

No longer will an in-person exam be required to confirm the gestational age of the child or to rule out an ectopic pregnancy or multiple babies or other complicating conditions or to determine if a woman is RH negative and in need of a Rhogam injection.

Rather, the potent drugs can be delivered to a mailbox or pharmacy simply through a tele-health visit with an abortion provider. Planned Parenthood Keystone is already enthusiastically promoting this “service” on their website.

The two-pill abortion procedure is only approved up through 10 weeks, but many young women are frequently uncertain as to how far along they are. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology estimates that about 50% of women are wrong about their gestational age when relying on recall of their last cycle, which is why determining the baby’s age by ultrasound had been standard practice in the past. Taking the drugs past 10 weeks significantly increases the chance of complications.

But the abortion drug is dangerous earlier in pregnancy too. AAPLOG notes, “A Finnish study involving nearly 50,000 women who had abortions at 9 weeks or less showed that immediate adverse events were four times more likely with chemical abortion than surgical.” 

That is why the safety regulations, known as REMs (Risk Evaluation and Mitigation), were enacted in the first place.  There is significant risk of hemorrhaging, infection, incomplete abortion, and more that can threaten a young woman’s life.  

“This requirement is not restrictive-it is protective,” states AAPLOG.

And while there is a definite physical risk to women, there is also a tremendous emotional and psychological impact.  Young women are left alone to endure hours of severe cramping and bleeding to deliver and dispose of a dead child.

It’s hard to understand that anyone could possibly think such trauma is part of empowering women. Rather than given authentic support at a difficult moment, women are given a pill to kill, one that might kill them as well as their baby.

But under the misleading title of “reproductive justice,” that’s a risk the Biden Administration is willing to take.

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The Call that Saved the Life of a Football Prodigy

By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

You can’t win if you don’t play.

And you can’t play if you’ve never been born.

Micah Parsons plays well. Very well. But the NFL top-draft pick from Harrisburg, PA was almost denied the chance.

As he reveals for the first time in an April 20, 2021 PennLive article by Brian Linder, Parson’s mom, Sherese, seriously considered an abortion.  “My mom already had two kids when she got pregnant with me. She just didn’t know if she could afford it.”

At one point, his mother told his father, “I think I’m going to the clinic.’’

As Linder explains, no one knew about the pregnancy so it was surprising when a church friend called to say hello and sensed something was wrong.  Eventually, the truth emerged and a conversation took place.

The woman who simply called to check in and say hello ended up saving Micah Parsons’ life.

 “She talked my mom out of it,” Micah said. “I think that is why (my mom) was always like, ‘God looks over you, son, and you should continue to keep doing good things in your life and give back to God…’”

Believing divine intervention came through the hands and heart of another human being, Sherese calls Micah her “biggest blessing.”

The life-saving caller could not possibly have known that the child in her friend’s womb would one day become a celebrated athlete on the verge of a multimillion dollar professional sports career. 

But what he would or would not become didn’t matter. The caller recognized a precious, unrepeatable gift of life growing within her friend. A life worth saving, unconditionally.

In fact, no one can predict the path that any one life may take. No one can foresee the full potential inherent in a tiny human life.  No one can forecast the lasting impact that any one person may have.

And we shouldn’t try.  History is replete with people overcoming incredibly difficult circumstances to make unique and impressive contributions to society, leaving a legacy that has eternal ramifications.

Micah’s life has already had an amazing impact. Not just on his family, his hometown, and on the game of football.  He has a son, a child who would not be here if Micah were not.  Ending a life through abortion has a generational consequence.

Through compassionate support and encouragement that came through a phone call, Micah’s mom chose to give him life.

And he doesn’t take that lightly. Micah aims to maximize that gift. It’s always seemed like I was brought into this world to do something bigger than just play football.”

By sharing his story, Micah Parsons already has.

His story may inspire couples to welcome a child even amidst obstacles, and may motivate more people to lovingly reach out to abortion-vulnerable women.

His story exemplifies what could be when we give life a chance.

And his story shows the difference that one phone call, one conversation, one person can make.

Vaccine Information

Many people have reached out to us to ask about the use of aborted fetal cell lines in the testing, development, or production of COVID-19 vaccines. A good resource that maintains updated information is the Charlotte Lozier Institute. You can find their information on vaccines and comparison charts by clicking HERE.

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Following the Actual Science

by Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

While the celestial heavens and the deepest pockets of the ocean remain mysterious to us on many levels, modern technology has made them less so, providing new and fascinating insights that we once lacked. 

The same is true of another once baffling frontier: the womb.

Although it is the origination point of every human being who has ever walked this earth, for the greater part of history we’ve known little about our first home and how we came to be.

It was only in the late 1800’s, for example, that scientists understood that the union of male and female sex cells creates another human being. But beyond that, much remained a mystery.

Without any means to glimpse into the gestational cosmos, scientists could only speculate as to what occurs during pregnancy.  Even well into the 20th Century, we possessed surprisingly little information about prenatal development.

As late as the 1969 edition of the Cumulative Index Medicus, a massive book listing every article published in every medical journal in the world, had just five articles under the heading of “fetus, physiology and anatomy of.”

The void of facts made the product of abortion-on-demand easier to market. After all, it (not he or she) was just a clump of cells.  

The late Dr. Bernard Nathanson addressed this lack of empirical data on human development in his autobiography The Hand of God.  And he discussed the technological lightning bolt that struck him in the late 1970’s which led him to abandon his lucrative abortion practice and leadership role in the pro-abortion movement to become a staunch pro-life advocate.

That transformative tool was ultrasound which provided a window that revealed the miraculous process of human development. These scientific advancements, along with those arising from the study of genetics, sparked an abundance of research into life in utero.

Nathanson credits ultrasound with helping us “to learn more about the fetus since its advent than in almost all the history of medicine before that time.”

By 1979, he accounted for twenty-eight hundred articles on fetology in the Index Medicus, and by 1994 close to five thousand. Now, almost 30 years later, how much more research has been done and articles written on human life in its earliest stages?

How little we knew then; how much more we know now.

It might be easier to understand someone’s support of abortion back in the “Dark Ages” when so little of fetology was known. 

But how can anyone today, especially those who seemingly espouse science as their barometer of all things true, justify abortion? 

They would have to be blind to facts. Deaf to a heartbeat. Indifferent to an innocent life moving right before their eyes.  Numb to dismemberment. Desensitized to a violent death.

Callous to the crude disposal of human life.

They would be and, in fact, are the ultimate science-deniers.

So let us be relentless messengers of the beautiful biological truths we have learned in the last half century. 

Let us incessantly proclaim the fact that every human life begins at the moment of fertilization.

Let us truly follow the science to build a culture of life.

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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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)