The Pennsylvania Senate has approved the Down Syndrome Protection Act, House Bill 321, by a vote of 27-22.
The bill bans abortion for the sole reason of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. The PA House previously passed the measure by an overwhelming, bipartisan margin.
The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk.
Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill noted it was appropriate to consider the bill on National Child Day, calling it a common sense piece of legislation.
Speaking to people with Down syndrome, the Senator said, “We believe you have the right to be born and the right to enjoy a full and productive life.”
Another of the bill’s supporters, Senator Scott Martin said, “Disability rights begin in the womb.”
The bill is a response to the sky-high abortion rate for babies with Down syndrome. It has been estimated that the vast majority of children in the womb who are diagnosed with an extra chromosome are aborted.
The PA Pro-life Federation welcomes guest bloggers Chloe Kondrich and Sara Hart Weir
While countries like Iceland have grossly celebrated the eradication of individuals with Down syndrome from their society (eugenics as its worst) – we are teaming up to send a new message to our country’s leaders, employers, educators, healthcare providers, future parents and most importantly, individuals with Down syndrome – life for people with Down syndrome matters.
Our life’s passion and work, in different corners of our great country, brought us together with this common moral – “pro-life for all of life.” For the two of us, a future that doesn’t include people with Down syndrome is very personal (Chloe is a self-advocate from Pennsylvania who is one of the fiercest advocates on the planet and Weir is the former President & C.E.O. of the National Down Syndrome Society and a candidate for U.S. Congress).
Today, we are calling on all Members of Congress, regardless of party, to put your differences aside and help us ensure that our society embraces diversity, embraces differing abilities and, most importantly, stands for life, from the very beginning to natural death, by supporting a new bill, the Down Syndrome Discrimination by Abortion Prohibition Act, which places a federal ban on the performance of an abortion because an unborn child has been diagnosed with Down syndrome.
There continues to be a widespread increase in the Down syndrome prenatal screening tests in the United States (and across the world) which is leading to a decrease in the number of babies with Down syndrome. And while these screening tests (called noninvasive prenatal screening tests (NIPT)) are intended to only screen for Down syndrome (not diagnose), the pressure to not seek further testing, and terminate a pregnancy is real. For instance, the most recent stats available to the public estimate that 67% of babies with Down syndrome are terminated in the Unites States, 77% in France, 98% in Denmark and 100% in Iceland.
Chloe and her father Kurt speak at events and venues across the country to end this prenatal eugenic movement against Down syndrome, and Weir is setting her sights, with Chloe’s support, on taking their collective message to the United States Congress by representing her home district in Kansas to continue to give a voice to the voiceless. Kansas also happens to be a battle ground state for the pro-life movement, as we seek to advance an amendment next year to reverse the State of Kansas’ recent court decision that found the right to an abortion in the Kansas Constitution. Weir and the Constitutional amendment will find themselves on the same ballot in 2020.
For the two of us, as women, this possibility that our society won’t include people with Down syndrome is unacceptable. We are speaking up and speaking out to help influence generations of women and families that people with Down syndrome matter – and will continue to advocate at the federal and state levels to “Embrace, and not erase” our community. We hope you join us!
Chloe Kondrich, Down syndrome Advocate
Chloe Kondrich, who happens to have Down syndrome, is from Pennsylvania and has fought to pass her own bill “Chloe’s Law” which requires support and educational materials to be provided for families after a diagnosis of Down syndrome – a model law that is working itself through state legislatures around the country. Chloe has met the President and Vice President and appeared twice at the United Nations in NYC.
Sara Hart Weir, Republican US Congressional Candidate, KS-3
Sara Hart Weir, (38) a pro-life Republican US Congressional Candidate in Kansas’ Third District, most recently served as the President & C.E.O. of the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome, inspired by her best friend, Kasey, of over 20 years who happens to have Down syndrome, is hoping to continue her life’s work by giving a voice to the voiceless in Congress.
By Rev. Dr. Clenard H. Childress, Jr., Founder of BlackGenocide.org, and guest blogger for the PA Pro-Life Federation
Philadelphia is always our favorite stop due to the fellowship with Exodus Baptist Church where Pastor Herb Lusk is the Pastor. As some of you may know, Herb Lusk was the praying half back of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1976 to 78 and was a constant menace to the New York Giants. God always has a sense of humor. I would have never thought the guy I was rooting so strongly against would one day be such a great friend and such a great help to me and the cause I serve.
After a stellar sermon by Pastor Lusk, along with an exhilarating and uplifting worship service on Sunday, October 13th, we headed out to Broad Street to march down to City Hall Plaza. We always create a great witness during the March and often are able to witness to the citizens of the City of Brotherly Love. Often, we see faces of utter surprise, and this year’s nods of approval were up when discovering why we were marching. It’s quite a witness to see so many people of color holding graphic signs warning the city of the horror of abortion. Quotes of Martin Luther King and Fred Shuttlesworth expressed the need for the citizens of justice to rise up and demand justice for children yet to be born in the womb.
The March was only about 15 to 20 minutes, but we had an impressive body of protesters and once again we had activist Hector Ferrer with us. As I preached to the city in between pro-life chants, Hector added homilies of life in Spanish. I found out later Hector grew up in Philadelphia and attended school there, one of which he was able to march by and see. Once again, the diversity and Christian manner we portrayed is what the nation needs to see now. So, the preaching, chanting and the unity allows our spirit to touch those that are there and those that view it later through social media and the many still shots we take.
Once arriving at the plaza, the skate boarders made room for us and the crowd that’s normally already gathered for leisure was introduced to pro-life activism at its best. The crowd now stood by and heard the compassionate voices of pro-lifers crying out for those whose voices are being silenced by abortion.
Rev. Herb Lusk Jr.’s son led us off with words of commitment and dedication to the plight of the unborn and allowed his son to come up to the podium as he spoke. Why? To remind us all we have to pass the baton till the evil of abortion ends. “The Killing Must Stop”.
I had the pleasure of meeting the director of the Crisis Pregnancy Center for Exodus Baptist Church called “The Hope Center” Marlene Downing, who marched with us along the route and shared a message for the future of young girls who come into the center seeking help. Her love and experience speak to the heart and soul of the women that come in to the Hope Center. The pro-life movement must understand that the people of faith are created to play a role in the ending of abortion. Marlene has a message that I and many others cannot carry, making her voice and service in this area so vital to the movement.
Michael Ciccocioppo,Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Pro-life Federation, marched with us and gave words of exhortation and expectation. Michael encouraged us to stay diligent in our struggle and encouraged the marchers by letting us know the progress we are making locally and nationally.
There were others there such as Patrick Stanton who spoke of the family legacy of engagement and commitment to the cause there in Philadelphia, Pastor Joseph Randolph of the Onley Baptist Church, the fine officers of the Philadelphia Police Department, and all the way from Atlanta Georgia, a forerunner Loretta Greer. Activist Greer spoke words of wisdom and reflected on the pro-life ministry in the African American Community past and present. Sister Loretta highlighted the faithful struggle of LEARN in its endeavor to reach the African American Community as well as the country. Special thanks to Michelle Martin of Exodus Baptist who coordinated our visit to Exodus, producing an outstanding fellowship.
It was our best attended march in Philadelphia but for 2020 we have to greatly surpass this effort and we are committed to do so. God has brought us thus far and we can’t draw back now! I declare 2020 the year of activism!
Reprinted with permission from the 10/31/2019 newsletter of the Life Education And Resource Network (L.E.A.R.N.)
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is here and gone, a very worthwhile effort to be pro-active in preventing the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women. Because of heightened awareness, earlier detection, and medical advances, more women are, thankfully, able to live longer and live better.
Yet, despite the ubiquitous pink ribbons, community fundraisers, and plentiful media attention we witnessed this past month, one critical piece of information is continuously omitted. Planned Parenthood did not include it in their breast cancer awareness email this month, nor did the Susan G. Komen Foundation in their solicitation letter to me.
Induced abortion increases breast cancer risk.
Research studies on this topic are being ignored by the very people who claim to be women’s champions against breast cancer. But the facts are undeniable. The Breast Cancer Prevention Institute website (www.bcpinstitute.org) provides fact sheets referencing studies that establish a link between abortion and breast cancer. A comprehensive explanation is also provided.
In short, during the first 32 weeks of pregnancy, there are significant changes in breast tissue that increase the risk of breast cancer. After 32 weeks, elevated pregnancy hormones allow sufficient maturation of cancer-resistant breast tissue to occur. “Therefore, whether a pregnancy ends before 32 weeks with a premature birth, a second-trimester spontaneous abortion (this is, miscarriage), or an induced abortion, a woman’s risk of breast cancer is increased.”
A woman who chooses to abort “will deny herself the risk-lowering effects of full-term pregnancy, and will either remain childless or delay pregnancy, both of which increase her risk of premenopausal breast cancer at a rate of 5 percent per year of delay.” Even without the other factors, abortion itself poses an independent risk of breast cancer.
Breast cancer in pre-menopausal women has increased alarmingly over the last several decades. In a study published in the 2013 Journal of the American Medical Association, rates of metastasized breast cancer in women aged 25-39 were shown to rise 2% every year from 1976 through 2009.
It makes sense that when a natural process of the body is suddenly halted by an outside force, there are consequences. In the case of abortion, one such consequence is an increased risk of breast cancer.
But you certainly will not hear this from Planned Parenthood, who has almost tripled the number of abortions they perform since 1990. Acknowledging the link between abortion and breast cancer would not only compromise the most profitable segment of their business, such disclosure would shatter the oft-promoted illusion of caring for women by providing breast cancer screenings. In truth, the abortion giant does not provide mammograms anywhere to anyone and during the last 10 years their breast cancer exams have dropped by 65%.
Furthermore, it’s disturbing that Susan G. Komen has sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to Planned Parenthood over the years. The organization that is supposed to be waging war against breast cancer is helping to feed an organization that provides a service linked to breast cancer. How is this good for women?
I’m all for pink ribbons, but I am even more so for full disclosure of the truth. It’s what every woman deserves.
By Bonnie Finnerty, Education DirectorPregnant with her first child in 1973 when Roe vs Wade was handed down, Connie Fenice hoped that legalized abortion in this country would be short-lived. Like so many others, she was dismayed to instead see a culture of death take hold. In 1994, as a new teacher at St. Margaret Mary Catholic School in the Diocese of Harrisburg, she decided to do something that has had a long-lasting impact. She started a student-led pro-life club, an organization that is now entering its 26th year and has yielded great fruit for the pro-life movement.
Connie’s goal was to heighten awareness of the sanctity of all human life through education and prayer. Every month students updated a pro-life bulletin board with information and pictures on fetal development, a visible sign to the whole school on the miracle of pre-born life. This ritual still carries on today.
For a quarter century, the Children of Mary Pro-Life Club has participated in a variety of activities. They’ve attended the annual Life Chain held in October and the Walk for Life benefiting a local pregnancy center. They’ve organized school-wide drives to collect items for a maternity home and then visited the home to learn more about that ministry. They’ve hosted baby showers, sold cupcakes and lifesaver lollipops, and raised money through a Baby Bottle Blessing Collection.
But perhaps most fruitful is the Spiritual Adoption program. Early in the school year, students are invited to spiritually adopt and name their baby. During the next nine months, they follow the baby’s growth, praying that the mother will have the love and support needed to choose life for her child. A baby carriage with a 12-week-old fetal model is placed upon the prayer table in each classroom, while every month a student leader shares information about fetal development over the school PA system. A few years ago during daily prayer intentions, a student spontaneously prayed aloud for her spiritually adopted child and soon all the students followed her example, remembering publicly every day the life for which they had promised to pray.
When Connie transferred to the local Catholic high school several years later, she became co-moderator of their large, robust pro-life club. She was gratified that many of the officers and active members were from the elementary club she had started. Some of these students went on to become teachers and pro-life leaders themselves, carrying within them the profound life lessons that were nurtured early on. In this way the pro-life seeds long ago sown continue to bear new fruit.
All of Connie’s children were active in pro-life activities through college. Her oldest child’s five children have all been leaders in the pro-life club that their grandmother started. This is bittersweet, as Connie explains, “I would not have wished to see the child that I was carrying when Roe v Wade was passed grow up to face the same issue. I would have thought that surely her children, my grandchildren, would not have to be part of the struggle. But it gives me great hope to watch this new generation, armed with knowledge, drawing from 46 years of the aftermath of such a terrible Supreme Court decision, go forward and take up the battle. It is these beautiful young faces that we see at the March for Life each year. It is their love, their energy that uplifts me and gives me the courage to continue the fight.”
Now retired from teaching, Connie coordinates a very active Respect Life Ministry for her parish which includes adults who were once members of the Children of Mary Pro-Life Club.
Although under new leadership, the school pro-life club has the same mission as when it started: through education and prayer, teach our children that all life is a precious gift to be loved and protected. Imagine how many students over the last 25 years have carried this message in their hearts, back home to their families, into their workplaces, and out to the world!
Plant the seed early, nurture it often, and watch the beautiful fruits of LIFE come forth and witness to a world that so desperately needs it. That is what one woman did and what we are all called to do in some way.
He might call himself a progressive, but the Governor of Pennsylvania is standing directly in the way of progress, when it comes to pro-life advances in the Commonwealth.
Democrat Tom Wolf has staked out a position at odds with the state’s mainstream, when it comes to the life issues. He opposes any and all restrictions on abortion, towing the Planned Parenthood line time and time again.
He vetoed a common sense bill that would have banned brutal dismemberment abortions, where babies are torn limb by limb from their mothers’ wombs. The former volunteer clinic escort for Planned Parenthood opposes a ban on taxpayer funding of abortion, even though such a measure is supported by the vast majority of Americans.
He has gone so far as to pledge to veto any pro-life bill that comes to his desk. Undaunted, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives this past spring passed House Bill 321, which would ban abortion for the sole reason of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. The House approved the bill by a large, bipartisan majority. The measure is now awaiting action in the Pennsylvania Senate.
If the Senate follows the lead of the House and OK’s the bill, would Wolf stand in the way of people with disabilities being protected? Or would he at least acknowledge that children with special needs deserve special legal protection? Time will tell.
But all indications are that, if Wolf had his way, Pennsylvania would become another New York, legalizing abortions up to the moment of birth, while offering no care and consideration for babies born as a result of “botched” abortions.
Pennsylvania’s House and Senate retain pro-life majorities, so Wolf is clearly out of step with the state legislature. He has also distanced himself ideologically from the majority of the populace, who oppose most abortions, according to public opinion polls.
I know of people who are hoping and praying for a conversion of the Governor’s heart. Unless and until that happens, the state legislature is providing a critical firewall against radically pro-abortion policies.
But with another election, that firewall could easily melt away. That is why it is critical that, come 2020, pro-lifers become engaged and informed. Retaining pro-life majorities in the General Assembly is crucial to ensuring that Pennsylvania’s common sense limits on abortion, such as parental consent, informed consent, and 24-hour waiting periods, are maintained.
Without them, PA will lose the legislative ground we’ve gained…not to mention untold numbers of precious lives.
Democratic Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg may know a lot, but there is one fundamental truth he doesn’t know…when human life begins.
In a recent interview, the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana referenced the Bible in defending abortion up to birth, surmising that life begins at first breath. Interestingly, he ignores other passages, such as Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you,” Psalm 139:13 “For thou didst form my inward parts; thou didst knit me in my mother’s womb,” and Psalm 127:3 “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” Additionally, he ignores the fifth commandment “Thou shalt not kill.”
Pete is proudly “pro-choice”, choosing to invoke only those parts of the Bible that seem to suit an indefensible agenda.
He also chooses to ignore science, specifically embryology, which confirms that a genetically unique human life is present from the moment of conception.
The American College of Pediatricians recognizes this fundamental fact. Issuing a statement in 2017, this group of medical experts
…concurs with the body of scientific evidence that corroborates that a unique human life starts when the sperm and egg bind to each other in a process of fusion of their respective membranes and a single hybrid cell called a zygote, or one-cell embryo, is created.
But Pete doesn’t seem to know this, or perhaps doesn’t want to know.
Does he know that many infants born prematurely, like my first son, have lungs incapable of breathing on their own? A respirator and oxygen tube become their lifelines. Does he really believe babies dependent on these for breath have no right to life? That their human life hasn’t yet begun? That they can be killed?
Sadly, there is so much more that Pete Buttigieg doesn’t know. His ignorance leads him to dehumanize the most vulnerable and innocent among us, attempting to justify a horrible act of violence against them.
Pete doesn’t know the whirling sound of a child’s in-utero heartbeat, or the utter amazement of seeing your own baby in his first home via ultrasound.
He doesn’t know the tickle of a tiny human tumbling within, or the firm kick later in pregnancy that can make a mother gasp.
He doesn’t know the rhythmic beat of a pre-born babe’s hiccup, rocking the belly at predictable intervals.
He doesn’t know that the worry, the sickness, the labor pain, and all the sacrifices involved in bringing forth the life already created, that all those melt away when you lay skin-to-skin with your own flesh and blood for the very first time and fall in love.
Pete doesn’t know. He doesn’t know that he was a living human being from the moment of his conception, long before he drew his first breath.
Presidential candidate Pete Butterieg, who seeks to lead a nation founded on the promises of life and liberty, should know better.
Something moved me last week, and has stayed with me ever since. Stopped at a busy intersection, I noticed a man in need, with a cardboard sign and backpack lying next to him. A car that had the right of way and could have easily kept going pulled over, lowered the window, and beckoned the man to approach.
Conversation and smiles were exchanged. A large water bottle passed through the window and then a bag full of groceries. After a gesture of gratitude, the man returned to his familiar patch of grass, eagerly examining his treasure, almost like a child on Christmas morn.
The light signaled me to go and so I did. But my mind remained at that intersection, processing the simple yet profound act of kindness I had just witnessed.
The man was white and middle-aged, the driver a young black woman. But in that moment of need, in that time of self-giving, there was no race, gender, or age to divide them. There were two human beings, both of equal dignity, one freely giving of her plenty to one who had little.
It was a voluntary act of love between two strangers that touched me deeply. How many others stopped at the intersection were privileged to see this? Could the young woman possibly know the impact she had, not just on the man, but on all of us onlookers?
While clearly her act of charity benefitted the man, I know that she too gained something in that moment. “It is in giving that we receive.”
Caring for the weak and vulnerable, making time for others, giving of self, sharing resources, expecting nothing in return…this is the pro-life message. It is our mission as human beings, written in our hearts. And even though it can be challenging, it is inherent in our human nature.
It is natural to want to reach out, to help, to aid in the other’s survival. That is why abortion is so un-natural. It erects a wall where there should be none, between a mother and her very own child. Abortion divides. It dismisses. It disposes of another living human being.
The opportunity to be a gift to one in need, to one who is dependent, to one seeking survival is tragically lost.
That is why random acts of kindness, acts of love toward the other, like the one I witnessed, mean so very much. They remind us.
They remind us that gender, race, age, faith, or socio-economic status do not make us more or less valuable.
They remind us that size, level of development, environment, or degree of dependency do not make us any more or less human.
They remind us that our achievements or lack of them do not define our worth.
They remind us that every life has inherent dignity and deserves our protection.
They remind us that making a gift of ourselves to the other is as good for the giver as it is for those who receive.
We are made that way. At our very core, we are pro-life.
Books have long been a friend to me. As a young girl my best friend and I spent much time at our neighborhood library perusing shelves for hidden treasures. Thanks to my high school teachers’ artful explication of great literature, my love for books deepened. My first career as an English teacher allowed me to journey through classical and contemporary literature with middle and high school students. A neighborhood book club, which I joined about 10 years ago, exposed me to books I most likely would not have selected myself but am glad to have read.
So when I walked into the Education Director’s office six months ago and saw a sizeable selection of books, something stirred inside me. The books seemed to demand action!
But what? I wanted to do more than read them all. I want to share them. Thus, Literature for Life, a pro-life book “club” was born, a club which anyone can join just by reading our seasonal selection. The idea is to enjoin pro-lifers in a common conversation by reading the same pro-life book, discussing it with friends, church ministries, or a pro-life group. We will even try an online book chat, creating a virtual community of pro-life activists engaging in meaningful dialogue.
Years ago, Oprah united many across the country with her book club. Communities have done it on a smaller scale with variations of “One County, One Book” programs. Why not unite those of us in the pro-life movement by reading some of the best pro-life books out there, especially when there are so many stories that deserve our attention?
Not only will we readers expand our knowledge and strengthen our resolve, we will be better equipped in the battle to build a pro-life culture. We will be more informed, more articulate, and more committed, becoming agents of change in a world that so needs our voices and activism.
If you haven’t read our summer selection yet there is still time.
Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer by Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer is a critically important book for us pro-lifers, especially relevant to those of us in Pennsylvania, as our state officials allowed unimaginable atrocities to occur under their watch.
Many have already seen the Gosnell movie and are familiar with his House of Horrors. The book delves into greater detail, painting a fuller portrait of his employees and his victims, and it includes a compelling interview with Gosnell himself.
This is a book worthy of our time. It should be discussed and shared. For the sake of the babies and woman who were his victims, the tragedy of Gosnell must never be forgotten.
Please consider joining us on Skype for our on-line book chat on Thursday, Sept. 12 from 7-8 p.m. Send an email to email@example.com to have a link for the on-line conversation emailed to you. Our book for Fall will be announced at that time.
Let us use books as a tool for uniting, broadening, and strengthening the Pro-Life movement!
Due to the overwhelming demand, the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation’s 40th anniversary Celebrate Life Banquet featuring Diamond & Silk is SOLD OUT. But, there is a way you can still come and hear these pro-life sensations and see them in person on Tuesday, October 15, 2019.
As an alternative we have arranged to have theater style seats set up in a room adjacent to the banquet ballroom where people can attend their pro-life presentation on a big screen via LIVE video. After their presentation, Diamond & Silk will leave the stage in the ballroom and immediately go to the theater room for a brief chit-chat with everyone there. So if you are there you will see them in-person!
Tickets are available now for $30 each.
To purchase up to 10 theater tickets for you and your friends and family, please click here now. Or you may call 717-541-0034, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There are a limited number of theater tickets available. When they are sold out, there will be no other options to see Diamond & Silk on October 15th! So do not delay.
WHEN YOU ORDER YOUR TICKET(S), WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
We will mail you the ticket(s) you ordered.
You must bring your ticket with you to be admitted to the theater.
If you order tickets for family and friends, you are responsible for giving them their tickets and informing them that they must bring their tickets to be admitted to the theater.
PLEASE NOTE: Seats are limited and no one will be admitted to the theater without a ticket.
The event will take place at the
Radisson Hotel Harrisburg
1150 Camp Hill Bypass
Camp Hill PA 17011
Use the CONVENTION CENTER entrance.
The theater doors will open at 6:30 p.m.
There is open seating, first come, first served.
The video will begin at 7:00 p.m. and end when Diamond & Silk conclude their presentation.
Please remain in your seat when the video ends as Diamond & Silk make their way to the theater from the ballroom.
After Diamond & Silk finish their brief chit-chat in the theater, please remain seated until after they depart the theater.
Then you are free to depart.
PLEASE NOTE: Diamond & Silk are coming to help raise vital funds to benefit the life-saving work of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) tax-deductible charity. A free-will collection will be taken in the theater and your donation will help us save lives.