The Power and Privilege of Being A Woman

 

pregnant woman silhouette

By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

March is Women’s History Month and also marks International Women’s Day, so I should whole-heartedly embrace this opportunity to celebrate my ancestral sisters, applauding their testing of boundaries and breaking of barriers.  And for the most part, I do, humbly realizing that whatever I might accomplish, I stand on their shoulders.  So why do I feel a sense of hesitation in marking these occasions?

Grateful for the political, scientific, and cultural achievements of women who have gone before me, I am simultaneously saddened by the collateral damage that has ensued in this continuing struggle toward equality.  For sometimes in our effort to achieve one thing, we sacrifice another. And sometimes what is lost changes the very essence of who we are. For what does it profit a (wo)man to gain the world and lose (her) soul?

It seems in today’s media all women are lumped under the same broad banner of “the women’s vote” or “the women’s movement.”  Unfortunately, the terms “feminist” and “pro-woman” are equated with supporters of abortion. Although many of us share a common vision of equal opportunities, we do not share a belief that abortion is a path toward liberation.

Rather, we “pro-life feminists”, often ignored during observances lauding women, understand abortion as another form of subjection: forcing women to choose between birthing the burgeoning life within versus ending it due to fear, rejection, pressure, or lack of resources, thus killing one life and wounding the other. Abortion advocates promote a world of either/or, yet ironically claim they are for choice.

Any celebration dedicated to women should promote a world of and/both. Women need not choose death for their children in order to walk through the doors our ancestral sisters opened for us.  They deserve so much more. That is authentic feminism.

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. A power and a privilege that should not be taken lightly. Or tossed away. Or aborted.

In our fight to have opportunities equal to those of men, some have “freed” themselves from what makes them uniquely women, confusing “equal to” with “same as”.  Eager to embrace the masculine, with all its power and promise, they have forsaken the feminine, abandoning a gift that is given to women alone.

Does our capacity to give and nurture life receive its proper attention during these celebrations of women? Is the vocation of motherhood promoted and revered, alongside all the other amazing accomplishments women have achieved?  Or does the lack of attention signify that motherhood is less fulfilling and a threat to career-building, and that abortion is a necessary evil in order for women to advance?

I am all for acknowledging the often heroic strides that women have made.  But I find it sad that Margaret Sanger, a eugenicist who founded Planned Parenthood is well-known and revered, while the extremely accomplished Dr. Mildred Jefferson, a medical pioneer who led the National Right to Life Committee, is overlooked. I find it disturbing that on our journey to the board room, operating room, and courtroom, our fertility has become a “disease” to be treated rather than a gift to be treasured. And I find it tragic that life within the womb has become so easily disposable, and now even life outside the womb, whether newborn or elderly, is dispensable.

By nature, women are the bearers of life. Not an easy task by any means.  A role that requires sacrifice, selflessness, and support.  A role that is uniquely ours, a power and a privilege to be respected and revered, and THAT too is something we should celebrate.

 

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.

Reversal for Life: How One Pill Saved a Life

Mother and child long shot

By Katy Schriner, intern

Here’s a scenario that I would like to test out: You are 19 years old, a part-time student and employee living at your parents’ house where you share a room with your sister. Now that you have this in mind, picture this: you are pregnant, which was completely unplanned. With this scenario in mind, you may be thinking of a thousand different things like going through the pregnancy, how to tell your family and friends that you’re pregnant, and ways of figuring out what to do with the baby and what is the best opinion to go with. This is the story of 19-year-old Emily, who had an unplanned pregnancy who took the Abortion Pill and then less than 12 hours after taking it took the Abortion Reversal Pill.

The story about Emily is a beautiful story and a realistic story of someone who thought one way was the best decision but then realized that it wasn’t and she was able to reverse her actions. As I mentioned above, she was only 19 years old when she found out that she was pregnant. At the time she was sharing a room with her sister and was terrified & worried about her future. The next day she went to a Planned Parenthood, where a nurse brought her into a room, had Emily sign waiver papers releasing the responsibilities from Planned Parenthood if anything were to go wrong and then the nurse handed her the 1st pill. At the time, Emily didn’t realize that the pill would cut off the baby’s food supply and cause him to stop growing. But at the time, her fear of being pregnant overcame all the other emotions which caused her to take the pill.

On the ride back home, she cried the whole way, consumed herself with guilt and regret. Once she got home, she told her sister what she did and told her she wanted to reverse the actions that she committed at Planned Parenthood. Emily and her sister started looking online and came across a website discussing a reversal pill. Then Emily had called the number to a hotline nurse, Elizabeth Delgado, who became the life saver in Emily’s life. Elizabeth had directed Emily to go to Patsy and Willie from the San Juan Diego Center and set up her appointment with them the next day. When Emily arrived at the center, Patsy had assured Emily that they were going to save her baby. During the appointment, Emily had learned about the common misconception about babies and the abortion industry: they love to promote that young babies in utero are only cells and aren’t real people (which is COMPLETELY FALSE). After the appointment with Patsy, Emily came home that day and told her parents everything including the reversal process. Her mom was very supportive of Emily all the way and even came to meet Patsy and Willie the next day to thank them!

In July, Emily gave birth to a healthy, beautiful and perfect 9 ½ pound baby named  Ezekiel (which means God strengthens). Without stories like Emily’s, women and the whole world would have no idea about the existence of the abortion reversal pill. Even though Emily was young and scared about the obstacles that she had in her way, she knew through her faith and consciousness that at the end of the day she was making the right decision by becoming a mother and being a role model to those who are or were in her shoes.

The real truth behind the Abortion Pill

Woman--sad

By Katy Schriner, intern

Think about this: everyday we put whatever kinds of foods, drinks and prescriptions into our bodies without thinking of the consequences. But when it comes to the abortion pill, do you actually know the real effects? What if I told you that if you took the abortion pill that there was a way that you can reverse it? Well the Abortion Reversal Pill is an effective process that reverses the effects of the Abortion Pill and allows you to continue your pregnancy. Studies show that the Reversal Pill has a 64-68% success rate. In contrast to the Reversal Pill, our bad guy “the Abortion Pill”, also known as Mifepristone, is the pill that can be prescribed by a doctor within the first 7 to 10 weeks of pregnancy that blocks the effects of progesterone–a hormone your body needs to grow a healthy baby. It blocks the essential nutrients which leads to the death of the developing baby.

What a lot of women may not know about taking the pill is the effects and what the pill does to your body and the babies. There are two pills involved in this. For the first pill, a doctor will give a woman considering chemical abortion a physical exam to determine if she is eligible for this type of chemical abortion procedure. If she is eligible, she may be given an oral pill on her first visit. But there are some conditions on how a woman is NOT eligible for this procedure that can include these health problems:

  • ectopic pregnancy
  • ovarian mass
  • Corticosteroid use
  • adrenal failure
  • anemia
  • bleeding disorders or use of blood thinners
  • asthma
  • Liver or Kidney problems
  • Heart disease
  • High Blood Pressure

For the second abortion pill, the woman has an option of taking tablets orally or inserted vaginally about 36-72 hours after taking the first pill. The tablets cause contractions and expel the remains of the baby. The process may take from as long as a few hours to a few days. After that, the woman will need to be examined by her doctor two weeks later to ensure the abortion was complete and to check for complications. Five to 10% of the time the woman must have an additional surgical abortion procedure to complete the process.

Along with that, the side effects that come along with the abortion pill can range from small complications to life threatening. There are two types of side effects that come with Mifepristone: Common side effects and Infrequent Side Effects. First let’s check out the common side effects that a woman can get from taking Mifepristone.

Common Side Effects (Severe):

-Uterine Cramps

-Bleeding Not Related to Menstrual Period

-Backache

-Stomach Cramps

-Low Amount of Potassium in the Blood

Common Side Effects (Less Severe):

-High Blood Pressure

-Overgrowth of the Uterine Lining

-Joint Pain

-Dizziness

-Low Energy

-Fluid Retention in the legs, feet, arms or hands

-Loss of Appetite

-Head Pain

-Nausea

-Throwing Up

-Diarrhea

Now that you have an idea of the common side effects of Mifepristone, whether they are severe or not as severe, here are the infrequent side effects of the abortion pill.

Infrequent Side Effects (Severe):

-Infections

-Chills

Infrequent Side Effects (Less Severe):

-Indigestion

-Inflammation or Infection of Vagina

-Chronic Trouble Sleeping

-Fever

Now how can someone commit this kind of act when she has NO IDEA what kind of effects come with taking it? It can even prevent you from having any future kids or even can cause serious injuries or even deaths. What we can do in this movement is to keep telling these kinds of truths EVERYWHERE and hoping one day that we don’t have to live in a world full of cruelty and unkind hearts.

Life and Death: Lessons My Mother Taught Me

Elderly holding hands

by Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live Action: All the Way Pro-Life

Lila Rose

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Down Syndrome Protection Act Being Re-Introduced

ChloeKondrich

By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Girl, Arise and Embrace Life!

Mother and child very happy

By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, that’s pro-woman!

President Remained Pro-Life, Despite Pressure from Adviser

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

 

By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director

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

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

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

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

The reaction was swift–and unapologetically pro-life.

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

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

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

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

 

Marking a Pro-Life Legislative Milestone

Babies with flowers

 

By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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