Taking a Deeper Look at PA Abortion Statistics

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By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director

Figures recently released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health show the total number of abortions in Pennsylvania are at an all-time low.

Still, looking deeper at the statistics, certain trends emerge that are of serious concern.

For instance, late-term abortions…abortions performed at 21-23 weeks…rose to 436. Keep in mind that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf vetoed a bill that would have changed the abortion limit in PA from 24 weeks to 20 weeks gestation to reflect changes in viability. Thanks to medical breakthroughs, doctors and nurses are able to save babies at ever-earlier stages of development. The bill would have also banned the brutal practice of dismemberment abortion, where a baby is torn limb by limb from a mother’s womb.

Meanwhile, the abortion pill RU-486 accounts for an increasing number of abortions in Pennsylvania. These chemical abortions–also known as medical abortions–account for 11,496 of the 30,011 abortions performed in the Commonwealth.

Also of concern is the number of repeat abortions in the Keystone State. Nearly half of the abortions–14,172–were performed on women who had anywhere from one to four or more previous abortions. This demonstrations the disturbing trend of abortions being used as a method of birth control.

Nevertheless, the downward dip in abortions in Pennsylvania is welcomed news. The closure of abortion facilities, advances in ultrasound technology, and the concrete support provided by pro-life pregnancy resource centers have all helped to make this miracle happen.

46 Reasons for Hope

StudentBy Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director

As we come upon the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling which legalized abortion, here are 46 reasons for hope for the decision’s ultimate demise:

  1. Statistics show the number of abortions in the U.S. are on the decline.
  2. Polls show the Millennial Generation is more pro-life than young people of generations past.
  3. The iGeneration, those born after the Millennials, are also largely pro-life.
  4. President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order barring taxpayer funding of organizations that perform and promote abortions overseas.
  5. The White House supports no federal funding for abortion giant Planned Parenthood.
  6. Vice-President Mike Pence has been outspoken in his defense of innocent human life.
  7. The Trump Administration is a pro-life administration.
  8. The President has vowed to appoint Supreme Court Justices who will not legislate from the bench, hastening the day; when Roe v. Wade will be overturned.
  9. The annual March for Life continues to attract huge crowds, largely made up of young people.
  10. Pregnancy resource centers are reaching out to pregnant women everyday with compassion, love, and support.
  11. The number of pregnancy resource centers in the U.S. far outnumber abortion facilities.
  12. Abortion centers are closing all across the country.
  13. The U.S. Senate is dominated by strong defenders of life, as are many state legislatures throughout the nation.
  14. 4D ultrasound technology is showing babies smiling in their mothers’ wombs.
  15. Women who regret their abortions and who want to help other women avoid similar heartache have found their voice in organizations such as the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.
  16. Healing retreats such as those of Rachel’s Vineyard are bringing hope to women scarred by abortion.
  17. A number of Planned Parenthood workers have left their jobs in the abortion industry and have become powerful spokespeople for the pro-life cause.
  18. Abortion survivors such as Melissa Ohden are speaking out about being targeted for abortion when they were preborn babies.
  19. A number of men are taking responsibility for pressuring their wives and girlfriends into having abortions.
  20. Scientific research supports the pro-life contention that abortion hurts women physically, mentally, and emotionally.
  21. The blogosphere is filled with pro-lifers willing to share their knowledge.
  22. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter enable the pro-life movement to get accurate information out into cyberspace.
  23. Nurses who work with premature infants are sharing their experiences about the fragility of human life.
  24. A number of abortionists have stopped doing abortions and now promote life instead.
  25. College students are organizing and motivating their classmates to support pregnant women on campus.
  26. Teens for Life are finding innovative ways to promote life in their communities.
  27. Local chapters of National Right to Life are educating people about the life issue at area fairs and festivals.
  28. State affiliates of National Right to Life are passing pro-life laws and changing hearts and minds about abortion.
  29. Campaigns to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide have failed much more often than they have succeeded.
  30. Popular culture is recognizing the humanity of the preborn child by sharing Ultrasound videos and praising “baby bumps.”
  31. People with Down syndrome are showing why it is inhumane to abort a child diagnosed with a disability in the womb.
  32. New attention is being focused on the brutal practice of dismemberment abortion, where a child is torn limb by limb from a mother’s womb.
  33. An increasing number of people are questioning the practice of sex selection abortions, in which babies are aborted just because of their sex.
  34. The gruesome practice of partial-birth abortion, in which a baby is partly delivered, then killed, has been outlawed.
  35. A number of members of Congress are determined to shine a spotlight on allegations of baby body part harvesting in the abortion industry.
  36. Public opinion polls continue to show most people oppose most abortions.
  37. Polls also indicate that the vast majority of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion.
  38. Polls demonstrate that most Americans oppose late-term abortions.
  39. A number of states have passed laws ensuring that no taxpayer funding of abortion can occur in the health insurance exchanges created by Obamacare.
  40. Many individuals want to make the Hyde Amendment, which bars taxpayer funding of abortion except in rare cases, permanent.
  41. A distinguished counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, spoke at the March for Life.
  42. Women across the country are courageously stating that Planned Parenthood does not speak for them.
  43. People with disabilities are leading the fight against doctor-prescribed suicide and euthanasia.
  44. Some people who joined the pro-life movement way back in 1973 continue to serve the cause with dignity and honor.
  45. A number of celebrities, such as actress Patricia Heaton, are bucking the Hollywood trend and boldly proclaiming their pro-life views.
  46. The end of Roe v. Wade is in sight, given the changes in our society.

Each Child a Miracle

Baby beautifulBy Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

“Such a big miracle in such a little child.”

That’s the message affixed to one of the walls at the headquarters of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, where I work.

The motto succinctly celebrates the dignity and value of each child–before and after birth.

When I was working as a secular journalist, I wrote many, many stories about abortion. But at that time I did not know the fundamentals of fetal development.

For instance, I did not realize that at just 19 days after conception, the baby’s eyes start to develop. I had no clue that at 42 days, the skeleton is complete and reflexes are present. I was ignorant of the fact that at 43 days, electrical brain wave patterns can be recorded, meaning that thinking is taking place in the brain.

Each of these milestones, in and of itself, is a miracle. When you put them all together, you have a magnificent child of priceless worth.

If you do not know the markers of the development of an unborn child, I invite you to visit https://www.paprolife.org/your-babys-development/ Chances are you will be just as amazed as I was at what you find.

And the next time you hear someone talk about an unborn child as just another “choice,” think about the development of the baby in the womb, and take a minute to ponder the miracle that is every child.

A Study of Contrasts

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               Since the beginning of September when the hearings to confirm now Justice Brett Kavanaugh began, pro-abortion activists have been in hysterics.  Paid pro-abortion protesters have been disrupting public meetings and trying to interrupt Senate proceedings.  Worse, they’re not done yet.  Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who is in line to head up the House Judiciary committee if the Democrats win a majority in the US House of Representatives, plans an investigation into Justice Kavanaugh if he becomes Chair of the Judiciary Committee.

The actions of the pro-abortion crowd stand in stark contrast to the love and quiet strength shown by pro-lifers.  We are in the midst of the fall Forty Days for Life Campaign during which prolifers hold vigils outside pregnancy centers. They take a peaceful, prayerful approach to sharing the truth about abortion.  This past weekend was Life-Chain Sunday during which dozens of life chain events were held across Pennsylvania (and hundreds all over the country).  At these events pro-lifers silently stood together in solidarity, praying for the end to the horrors of abortion.

While the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh was a huge victory, there’s much work left to do to end legal abortion.  Consider participating in a Forty Days for Life vigil or joining your local chapter of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation and standing in solidarity with the pro-life community against the horrors of abortion. You can lovingly support those who are facing an unexpected pregnancy and remind them that there is always a reason to choose life.

Promoting LIFE this Labor Day

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Labor Day is the turning point when summer begins gives to fall. It is also when people traditionally begin thinking about the upcoming General Election and really start to think about who to vote for.

So, as you gather with friends and family over the holiday, share with them information about the candidates competing for your vote. You can start by showing them this educational piece comparing the pro-life candidates for US Senate, Congressman Lou Barletta and his opponent, Senator Bob Casey. You can also show them this comparison of candidate for Governor Scott Wagner and Governor Tom Wolf.

Thank you for educating people about the stands of the candidates on the pro-life issues. And remember to vote November 6th!

Pro-Life Heroes: Juliana Kriner

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By Matthew Wagner, Education Director

Editor’s Note:  This post is a continuation of a series of “Pro-Life Heroes”…individuals who are making a difference for the pro-life movement in their communities.  

It is often said that today’s youth are the pro-life generation. Juliana Kriner and her young friends exemplify that message.  Juliana is the Vice President/Director of Outreach of “reLOVE.”  Enjoy her story.  You can find reLOVE on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/reLOVEnational/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/reloventl/

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for future “Pro-Life Heroes” blogs.  If you know of someone we should talk to who is making a difference for those who can’t defend themselves, email me at lifelines@paprolife.org .

Matt:  Tell me about yourself. Why are you pro-life, and what does that mean to you?

Juliana:  I am a 15 year old sophomore in Williamsport. I love the band Fall Out Boy almost as much as I love my niece (and my other [preborn] niece and nephew). I’m an avid activist for social justice and I definitely consider myself a feminist. I’m pro-life because I’m such a huge feminist. Every single human being on this Earth is valuable and deserved the utmost respect, regardless of sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or age. I believe, as our feminist foremothers did, that abortion is a tool of the patriarchy and a result of greed.  Abortion allows women to be taken control of by others. Over 60% of women say that they have been “pressured” or “coerced” into having an abortion, often by the men in their life. Truthfully, most men who consider themselves pro-choice, just don’t want to be responsible if their girlfriend or wife becomes pregnant. Abortion enables men to take advantage of women. It’s as if men view women as less worthy if we become pregnant. In the end, abortion does a fantastic job of supporting men who simply refuse to grow up.

Matt:  What is reLOVE, and how did it get started?

Juliana:  reLOVE is an organization geared toward helping mothers and women of all kinds:  pregnant, new, post-miscarriage, and post-abortive. We are three teenagers that uphold the consistent life ethic.  One of my best friends, Purity Thomas, came up with the idea for reLOVE a few months after she was assaulted outside of Roanoke’s Planned Parenthood…She knew that the best way to combat hate was through love. (Editor’s Note: For more on the story of Purity’s assault, click here) She messaged me and asked if reLOVE was something I would be interested in. I was ecstatic that she had asked for my help. Soon, we asked my friend, Taniya Smith, to help us as well. Taniya, who runs a popular pro-life Instagram, was just as excited as I was to help women. Thus, reLOVE was born.

Matt:  What do you do for pregnant mothers?

Juliana:  For pregnant mothers, every situation is different. One mama might only need directions to her local pregnancy center or a pack of onesies. Others might need help getting insurance or paying their utilities. Really, we help these women based on their needs. We don’t turn anyone down either. It’s important to us that if these women need help, we’ll be here to provide.

Matt:  How do these mothers find out about you?

Juliana:  So far, social media has been the most popular place for women to find us. We also actively seek out to find these mothers that need help in unplanned pregnancy support groups or through mutual friends on Facebook. Really, social media is the connection point. A lot of these women are very active on these platforms so it’s especially important to put ourselves out there and to be as visible as possible.

Matt:  I know you’ve only been in existence a short time, but can you share some of your success stories?

Juliana:  We’ve had the absolute honor of helping 4 different women in our short time. Our one mother is 4.5 months. When she came to us, she was 8 weeks along and had just come out of a domestic violence situation. We got her set up with a birth center where she’s excited to have her baby later this year. We’re helping her manage her debt and budgeting in order to save for her baby. She came to us nervous, not sure how she was going to manage being a mother, now she can’t wait to find out the gender of the baby and enjoy the rest of her pregnancy.

Matt:  Often pro-lifers hear that they are not really “pro-life” but are just “pro-birth”…implying that we don’t really care about the baby or mother after he or she is born. How do you respond to that?

Juliana:  I’ll be honest, that argument really does upset me. I don’t think a lot of people understand how many pro-lifers really do care for the mother and the baby. Our organization is an example of that love and support extending past pregnancy. One of our amazing mamas is 10 months postpartum with her adorable daughter. She’s been having trouble with rent and utilities. We’ve set up a GoFundMe for her rent and utilities as well as an Amazon wish list for her material needs. She’s so grateful for all those people who helped her. She sent us a bunch of pictures of her little girl with a pair of the gifted socks on because she was just that excited. It just really warms your heart when you see these women so thankful over simple things that most people would take for granted.

Matt:  What do you hear the most when you tell people about ReLOVE, and how do you respond?

Juliana:  Most people are very supportive and are pretty impressed that two 15 year olds and one 16 year old can run an organization, go to school, and work part time jobs. It’s really about the passion though. We all love what we’re doing and we get emotional quite often about how lucky we are to meet these powerful women and be able to walk with them through their journeys. Other people however, are skeptical. They wonder what these teenagers are doing with the donated money. Trust us, it’s going to these mamas. We even raised enough money for one of our mothers (who was going to place her baby into an adoptive family) to take a few days off of work after she suffered a miscarriage. We were the only ones there for her since she hadn’t told anyone other than us about the pregnancy. We thought it would be best for her to rest, emotionally and physically, during and after her miscarriage. That’s what the money goes to, nothing but supporting the mothers and our mission.

Matt:  What would you say to a pregnant mother considering abortion?

Juliana:  The most important thing to say to a woman considering abortion is “you are so loved.” When a woman finds out she’s pregnant, there’s so many emotions going on. It’s easy to panic and throw information at her about how far along she is or that her baby has a heartbeat. Right now, she just needs someone to talk to. Empowerment is key. Let her know that she can do it. That she is strong and nothing can break her. Be sure to let her know that you care about her. So many people make the mistake of focusing on the baby but the woman is who you’re here to help. If you’re not helping that mama, you’re not helping anyone. Without the mama, that baby’s not even there! Lastly, make sure she knows that regardless of her decision, you’ll be there for her. If she chooses abortion, ask her what you can do to help. Sometimes, you can’t save the baby, but you can still care for that mom.

Matt:  If people want to get involved with ReLOVE, how would they do so?

Juliana:  If people want to get involved with reLOVE, just message us! There’s always something to do!  We might be having trouble finding some resources in a certain area or maybe there’s a pregnant mom near you who just needs a friend to talk to.  We can find you something you’d love to do.

Matt:  What do you see for the future for reLOVE?

Juliana:  The future of reLOVE definitely comes when we officially file as a nonprofit. Since we’re all minors, we have to find someone to actually sign the paperwork for us! Right now, we’re just focusing on getting more funds and helping more moms. Now this is a huge step but I believe that a good goal to strive for is to have a reLOVE representative in every state. Right now, we have Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, and Washington state covered. Things can only get better from here!

Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer

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By Matthew Wagner, Education Director
lifelines@paprolife.org

I have a confession to make.

I don’t like “horror films.”   When I was young, I remember being grossed out and unable to sleep because of the scene in one of the Pee-wee Herman movies (I’m not even sure which it was) in which one character’s head spins backwards and it is making a scary face.   I won’t see the new Jurassic Park movie because I have no desire to view the bloody images that I’m afraid will be on display.

That being said, I am looking forward to the nationwide release on October 12, 2018 of Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer, the long-anticipated movie about the “house of horrors” run by Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell.

How do I justify the juxtaposition of my opposition to gory movies and my interest in Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer?  I spoke at great length with coproducer, and 2018 Celebrate Life Banquet speaker, Ann McElhinney this year about the movie. One of the points she emphasized was the producer’s focus on staying true to the nature of the story, while not sensationalizing and over-exaggerating the graphic aspect of it.  The filmmakers wanted to tell the story of Gosnell’s victims to as broad an audience as possible, as evidenced by the PG-13 rating the film has been given. Coproducer Phelim McAleer recently told Lifenews.com in an interview “…We want to make a film that people want to go and see. And in there’s the truth, and it’s up to people to take that and run with it.”

I want to reassure all of those who shy away from gore as I do that Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer will not confront anyone with horrific bloody images or gory descriptions that were part of everyday business in Gosnell’s “house of horrors” in Philadelphia.  The story of Gosnell is provocative enough without being sensationalized.  I look forward to seeing each of you at the theater October 12th, and then again at the 2018 Celebrate Life Banquet on October 18th!!!

A Turning Point in the Pro-Life Movement

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     I recently have been doing some reading on the battle of Gettysburg, right here in Pennsylvania, and its significance in the Civil War.  Gettysburg was the farthest North the Confederate Army advanced, and when the Confederates were turned back there, it was a turning point in the war.

I believe that we may be experiencing the same thing right now in the effort to treat all humans with dignity.  An argument can be made that Donald Trump becoming President was the beginning of a turning point in the battle over abortion.  Consider the tremendous pro-life achievements of President Trump in the last two years, and compare them to where we would be right now if Hillary Clinton had become President.  With the election of Donald Trump, we have seen a recognition of the pre-born baby as a human being, the deliberate redirection of funds away from facilities providing abortions, and we are seeing a fundamental shift in the Supreme Court toward a strict interpretation of the Constitution.  Had the radically pro-abortion Hillary Clinton won, we would be working hard to make sure abortions aren’t forced on people.  We would have to be defending pro-life organization’s ability to speak up for their beliefs without being defunded. Finally, our President who would be appointing radical pro-abortion justices to the Supreme Court, rather than justices who may one day rule that there never was a right to abortion in the Constitution.

None of that is to say that our work is done, but it is to serve as a reminder that our work is just beginning.  Here are five ways you can get involved today and bring an end to the horrors of abortion.

  1. Visit our website at paprolife.org and click on the “join one” link under the “chapters” tab. Find a chapter in your area and get involved…or if there is not one in your area, consider starting one.
  2. Identify the local fairs, festivals, and carnivals in your area and set up a pro-life information table. The Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation would be happy to send you all the pro-life material you may need. Give us a call at 717-541-0034 or email lifelines@paprolife.org.
  3. Call your State Senator and ask him or her to vote for House Bill 2050, the Down Syndrome Protection Act.
  4. Write a letter to the editor supporting Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court,
  5. Call your local pro-life pregnancy center and see how you can support it. A list of all these centers in Pennsylvania can be found at paprolife.org/pregnancy-centers-in-pa/.

Whatever you do, make sure to join the fight to end abortion and remind people they can always choose life!

Pro-Life Hero: Jess Socrates

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By Matthew Wagner, Education Director

Editor’s Note:  This post is a continuation of a series of about “Pro-Life Heroes”…individuals who are making a difference for the pro-life movement in their communities.  One of the things I’ve always been impressed with is how there are so many different talents within the pro-life movement. Jess Socrates, a pathologist in York PA has one such unique program to show the humanity of the pre-born child. Enjoy his story and stay tuned in the coming weeks for future “Pro-Life Heroes” blogs. If you know of someone we should talk to who is making a difference for those who can’t defend themselves, email lifelines@paprolife.org.

Matt: Tell me your background. Where did you grow up and what brought you to the United States?

Jess: I was born in the Philippines, a cradle Catholic. The majority of Filipinos are Catholic. I did all my education in the University of the Philippines where both of my parents were faculty. It was the only way all of us nine siblings could get an education. I immigrated to the US in 1976 to join my family. There is a longer story to this that has something to do with Martial Law in the Philippines. I initially did not want to come here but eventually decided that it was the best thing to do for my safety and future. No regrets. I did my Pathology residency at York Hospital where abortions were performed. The first time I had a fully-formed saline aborted baby in my hands, I asked my assistant what I should do with the baby next. She came over with a garbage can (red bag) and directed me to throw the dead baby in the trash. This was an experience that I can never forget. All aborted and miscarried children ended up in the garbage can – to be incinerated with the rest of the hospital’s biological waste. I told myself that I will not let this happen wherever I would work in the future.

Matt: Why is the sanctity of all human life so important to you?

Jess: Every person deserves to live his natural life. As a physician who took the Hippocratic Oath, which includes the phrase “I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion,” I am bound to respect the sanctity of human life before birth. Natural law dictates that no one can take life away from another.

Matt: Describe for me how you exercise respect for human life and how you got started doing this.

Jess: Every human is a living being should be allowed to live. No one should kill anyone regardless of a person’s age. Shortly after I started working at Hanover Hospital in 1980, I approached the administration and presented to them a simple plan. Instead of discarding remains of miscarried children who do not get a fetal death certificate in the red bag, I, the pathologist, would save these and eventually find a proper means to bury them. The hospital checked with the lawyers and approved my proposal. (In Pennsylvania, children miscarried before 16 weeks of gestation do not get a “fetal death certificate.” So, in the eyes of the law, they never existed.) I saved all remains in formaldehyde after removing all identification. I looked for opportunities to bury these children properly.  In a period of over thirty years, three groups of miscarried children were buried. The first children were buried in a Catholic Church graveyard; the second batch were placed in the coffin of a deceased with consent from family; the third were buried in the grounds of another Catholic church. Eventually, the hospital adopted a formalized program as described.

Matt: How long have you been doing this?

Jess: Thirty-eight years

Matt: How many babies would you say you have buried over the years?

 Jess: Approximately? At least 100

Matt: When you bury the babies, do you notify their next of kin?

Jess: YES. The parents are first asked if they are willing for the hospital to bury their deceased child’s remains. They sign a consent form. Their names and contact information are saved so that they can be informed when their child will be buried. The funeral services are open to immediate family.

Matt: What is your vision for this program?

Jess: All miscarried (and aborted) children should be given a proper funeral. Shared burial should be offered to parents who are considering abortion. The remains of their aborted child can be buried as well. Without getting into the politics, this program demonstrates to everyone that these children we are burying are people too. When the public becomes aware of this, their false perception that a baby in the womb is nothing but a piece of tissue will change. I feel that if this is done all throughout the country (or world for that matter) we will abolish abortion forever.

Matt: How would you suggest others who may be interested in doing something similar to what you are doing get started?

Jess: Determine if a local hospital buries miscarried children. If not, then there is an opportunity to get into this program. In my experience, it is easy to get the support of the community (funeral homes, florists, and cemetery). My hospital does not spend a single cent to get this program going. Everything is donated. It is not difficult either to get organizations and volunteers involved. Because these remains are very small, a coffin and a funeral can be shared by all hospitals in the vicinity.

Liberty Means Life!

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Independence Day is a great day to remember that our nation was founded on the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Of course, you can’t have liberty or pursue happiness, unless you have life!

So as you gather with friends and family over the holiday to celebrate our nation’s independence, remind your loved ones of the importance of life by sharing with them information about the candidates who want to protect the pre-born. You can start by showing them this education piece comparing the pro-life candidate for US Senate Lou Barletta and his opponent Bob Casey. You can also show them this comparison of pro-life candidate for Governor Scott Wagner and the radically pro-abortion incumbent Democrat Governor Tom Wolf.

Thank you for educating people about the candidates who stand up for one of our nation’s founding principles, the right to life!