Women’s Lives Transformed Through Ground-Breaking Program

Real Alternatives mother and childBy Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director gallagher@paprolife.org

The young woman stands at a crossroads between compassion and cold-heartedness. Family and friends have abandoned her, believing that her pregnancy is a problem to “be gotten rid of.” And yet, a caring stranger is willing to support both the woman and her baby, equipping her with the tools that will help her succeed at motherhood, college, relationships, and the rest of the elements of her life.

The support system she finds at Pennsylvania’s Alternatives to Abortion program is kind-hearted, clear-thinking, and loving. The program is administered by Real Alternatives, Inc. and, over the past two decades, has helped more than 200,000 women and their families to find solace, hope, and encouragement for the future.

As writer Frederica Matthews-Green stated so eloquently, “They (Women have) said if I’d only had one person to stand by me, and it could have been a stranger, but they’d say I needed somebody to be a sister to me, I needed someone to be a friend . . . I would have had that baby. And, that’s what you do in maternity homes and crisis pregnancy centers and in offering adoption services. You are that friend . . .”

The statewide network of nearly 100 non-profit agencies and close to 350 counselors reaches out to women of all backgrounds and walks of life with services that are 100 percent free. The success stories are inspiring…women finishing their GED’s and obtaining gainful employment…women leaving dangerous abusive relationships…women empowered to become effective decision-makers for themselves and their families.

As Kellyanne Conway, now a counselor to the President, once said, “Your trophy does not sit on a shelf . . .the trophy for your hard work plays on a swing, moves a tassel during a graduation ceremony, and yes even one day experiences the joy of motherhood.”

One incredible aspect to Real Alternatives is the cost savings it provides for taxpayers. For instance, in fiscal year 2015-16, the taxpayer savings amounted to an estimated $317 million because more than 15,000 clients were receiving proper prenatal care. Add to that a tax savings of $106 million because of clients ensuring that their children received proper immunizations.

Pennsylvania’s abortion totals are now at the lowest level recorded since the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion on demand. Part of that success story has to be attributed to the milestones achieved by Real Alternatives.

The award-winning program has had a ripple effect throughout the country. As Real Alternatives President & CEO Kevin Bagatta stated, “If it wasn’t for the keystone state – 12 states wouldn’t have programs helping women and saving babies.”

As Governor of Indiana, current Vice President Mike Pence had this to say about Real Alternatives’ impact on the Hoosier state: “Real Alternatives provides positive, life-affirming services for Hoosier women and families. It is important to not only ensure that pregnant women receive proper prenatal care, but also the emotional and physical support they need for a healthy pregnancy. Real Alternatives helps ensure that women in need are connected with all the community and social services resources available to them to support them both during and after their pregnancy.”

Real Alternatives provides an important safety net to women and their families as they face the challenge of an unexpected pregnancy. Born in the Keystone State, it is an idea which should bloom and flourish throughout the U.S., according to a bipartisan group of Pennsylvania leaders.

“Hopefully, one day, there will be programs like Real Alternatives helping women and their children in all fifty states,” said Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati.

“There are many important lines in the state budget. But there are not many lines that you can point to and say that every dollar we put into the program is saving lives. Real Alternatives and the work you do is important, and we are saving lives.”

For more information about Real Alternatives’ life-saving and life-changing program, visit www.realalternatives.org .

What’s the Difference?

baby models

“What is the difference between these babies”?

That is perhaps my favorite question when I’m using our baby models at a pro-life information table.  I point to the baby models we have that represent children in the womb at 12, 20, 26, and 30 weeks gestation at their approximate size and weight.

“Some are bigger than others” is the answer I most commonly hear.

“Right”, I say. “Each one is a little bigger, and a little older. That is the only difference between them. That is also the only difference between them and you or me. We are even bigger and older yet. So logically, if it is ok for someone to kill one of these babies, it should be ok for them to kill you or me if the only difference between us is size and age.  That is why abortion is wrong…it determines an arbitrary age and size of a human being when it is ok to kill someone and when it is not.  We believe that it is wrong to kill someone no matter how old or young, big or small they are. Don’t you agree”?

Sometimes the simplest arguments are the best!

Keeping Tomorrow Alive

Carol Tobias“Keeping Tomorrow Alive” is a refreshing theme for a convention. And the 2017 National Right to Live Convention is certainly living up to that innovative motto.

National Right to Life President Carol Tobias noted that the theme is two-fold: “We keep tomorrow alive by bringing more and more people into the right-to-life movement to keep this fight going; people who will work beside us in our endeavors to protect innocent human life. But it’s also about an idea, a goal, that human life is to be valued and cherished and respected. Life is to be lived!

Tobias concedes the pro-life movement faces significant challenges: preborn babies who have as many legal rights as an appendix…babies with disabilities who are considered unworthy of being born…the growing push toward “assisted suicide”…and Planned Parenthood falsely claiming that abortion is “health care.”

And yet, Tobias notes that pro-lifers are eternally optimistic, for good reason.

“We keep tomorrow alive by changing hearts and minds, educating newcomers and bringing them into the movement; by educating our young people so that they have the arguments to bolster their pro-life convictions, and by helping women who have aborted a son or a daughter to realize that they are welcomed and encouraged to join our ranks in the fight to protect innocent human life,” Tobias said.

To view portions of the National Right to Life convention, visit www.nrlconvention.com.

Watching Pro-Life History Being Made Through Cyberspace

Keeping Tomorrow AliveBy Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

One of the reasons I was initially persuaded to enter the field of journalism was because I liked the idea of having a front row seat to history as it was being made. That dream came true for me, as I was able to report on Presidents and Vice Presidents, First Ladies and Second Ladies, former astronauts and even a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

When I moved from the political beat to the life beat, working full-time in the pro-life movement, I did not initially realize that I still had a prime seat for watching history-in-the-making. It was just from a different vantage point, and it is often by means of an Internet connection.

And so this year I am a virtual visitor to the National Right to Life convention, watching fascinating general sessions via www.nrlconvention.com . The convention theme of Keeping Tomorrow Alive is on full display, as speaker after speaker notes the incredible strides that are being made to protect and defend the generation yet to be born.

It was electrifying to hear David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress,  whose undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials exposed the alleged trafficking of baby body parts, say that, on every front, Planned Parenthood is facing the end of its abortion empire.

Daleiden adroitly noted that “the worth of a human being is more than the sum of his or her body parts.”

In any other context, such a statement would be hailed by women’s rights activists as undeniably true.

The courageous citizen journalist wisely pointed out that “each new little member of the human family is an asset and not a liability.”

And the truth of that statement makes Daleiden’s prediction about the fate of the pro-life movement entirely conceivable: “If we keep steady, we can win.”

History is, indeed, being made at the 2017 National Right to Life Convention. If you couldn’t make it to Milwaukee this year in the conventional manner, take the cyber route. You won’t be disappointed!

 

 

 

We Protect Butterflies–Why Not Babies?

ButterflyBy Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

I celebrated the first day of summer this year with a trip to a nearby butterfly garden. Entering that sacred space was a breathtakingly beautiful experience. I stood in awe as these elegant creatures fluttered above my head, then gracefully descended to a leaf, a flower, or a slice of pineapple. The intricacy of their design delighted my eyes and captivated my heart. As I was preparing to leave this lovely sanctuary, I noticed a sign which indicated that taking a butterfly out of this protective space was not permitted. A garden guide carefully checked our bags and clothes to make sure that we had no butterflies tagging along. At that moment, it struck me what care, concern, and compassion are shown to these delicate insects. How can it be that people universally recognize the beauty of butterflies–but not the human child cocooned in a mother’s womb? Why do so many invest so much time and energy in protecting butterflies, while many babies are unprotected, courtesy of the tragic U.S. Supreme Court ruling known as Roe v. Wade? While gazing at a butterfly can be an awesome experience, the butterfly’s beauty pales in comparison to that of a baby. I hope to live to see the day when all babies are permitted a chance to live outside their mothers’ wombs–and to see the mysterious glamour of butterflies with their own eyes.

 

 

 

Father’s Day Reflections

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With Father’s Day approaching, I find myself reflecting on the lessons my father taught me…and not the lessons of how to fish, tie my shoe, ride a bike, or even drive…but lessons of how to be a man. How to stand up for what you believe in, how to admit when you are wrong (one I’m admittedly still working on), and how to stand up for those who can’t defend themselves, among many others.

It’s that last lesson—standing up for those who can’t defend themselves– that stands out for me the most.  Maybe it’s because I’m the oldest of four living siblings, but I have always felt I have an obligation to work toward making the world a better place, mainly by doing what I can to help those who need it most.

That is why I am pro-life—I believe that not just as a father, or even just as a man, but as a human being I have an obligation to defend pre-born babies who can’t defend themselves—we all do!

That is why I find the argument that I shouldn’t express my thoughts about the horror of abortion just because of my gender absolutely wrong.  I have never understood what my gender has to do with whether or not I can speak out against injustice.  Certainly it was not only slaves who spoke out against slavery…men joined women in speaking out for women’s suffrage, and I don’t have to be the victim of a crime to know that crime is wrong.  The morality, or immorality, of a statement (e.g. “all life deserves protecting”) is independent of the person who makes the statement.

So this Father’s Day, and every day, I encourage all fathers, indeed all humans, to stand up against injustice against the most vulnerable among us.  I guarantee you that leaving a legacy of a life-respecting society is better than any tie you can get your Dad this Father’s day!

Troubled Harrisburg Abortion Center Closed

Hillcrest closed sign 2017

Photo credit: Undefeated Courage

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

The sign on the door says it all—the troubled Hillcrest abortion facility in Harrisburg is closed until further notice.

The PA Department of Health ordered Hillcrest to suspend operations after a surprise inspection June 5th uncovered new safety violations.

“The department concluded that it was no longer safe for the facility to continue providing medical services to women,” said PA Health Department Secretary Karen Murphy

Several Pennsylvania state Senators recently sent a letter to the Secretary of the PA Department of Health, asking why the abortion center’s license had not been revoked.

The letter followed the release of a 44-page document noting the health and safety failures of the long-time abortion operation.

Violations included everything from failing to maintain proper medical credentials to maintaining supplies that were 13 years old. Hillcrest also performed a number of abortions without having a nurse present. In addition, staff members failed to undergo the criminal background checks mandated for seeing patients under 18 years old.

Hillcrest’s troubles date back at least six years, when the abortion outfit was first cited for safety failures. The abortion center has been cited four times since, with the latest report suggesting that the violations have become more egregious.

Pennsylvania passed a law in 2011 requiring abortion facilities to meet basic health and safety standards. The law was a response to the massive tragedy in West Philadelphia, where abortionist Kermit Gosnell was ultimately convicted of killing three full-term babies and causing the death of a female immigrant patient, Karnamaya Mongar.

 

Senators Demand Answers for Failed Inspection at Abortion Facility

Senate_Chamber,_Pennsylvania_State_Capitol_Building

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

gallagher@paprolife.org

A trio of Pennsylvania state Senators are asking why the license of a Pennsylvania abortion operation was not revoked, once serious health and safety violations were uncovered.

Senators Joe Scarnati, Bob Mensch, and John DiSanto have sent a letter to Health Department Secretary Karen Murphy which states, “The DOH inspection report portrays a facility which is clearly unsafe and unhealthy for both patients and staff alike. Given this, we would like an explanation as to why DOH did not immediately move to suspend or revoke Hillcrest Women’s Medical Center’s license upon finding such numerous egregious violations.”

State health officials have cited Hillcrest for the fourth time in six years for violating Pennsylvania law. The violations run the gamut, from failing to have proper medical credentials to performing abortions without a nurse present. Staff members failed to complete the criminal background checks necessary for dealing with patients under 18 years old. Some supplies were so outdated they could be traced back to 2004.

The Senators note, “These health and safety violations are obviously deeply troubling. However, even more problematic appears to be DOH’s response, which was to allow the abortion clinic to continue operating while granting Hillcrest a six month grace period to correct the cited ‘deficiencies.’”

In 2011 Pennsylvania enacted an abortion center regulations law requiring abortion facilities to undergo unannounced inspections. The legislation grew out of the massive tragedy in West Philadelphia, where abortionist Kermit Gosnell killed living full-term babies and caused the deaths of female patients in a squalid facility labeled a “House of Horrors” by prosecutors.

The law was designed to prevent “future Gosnells” from setting up shop in Pennsylvania. But some legislators now worry the law is not being sufficiently enforced, as evidenced by Hillcrest’s long trail of troubles.

Vice-President Pence’s Commencement Address at Grove City

PenceGCC-264x160Vice President Mike Pence, a stalwart pro-lifer, recently made another stop in Pennsylvania, giving the commencement address at Grove City College.  For his full remarks click here, but of particular note was this comment: “And I can’t tell you how proud I am to be Vice President to a President who stands without apology for the sanctity of life and all the God-given liberties in the Constitution of the United States.”

The Trump Administration has given pro-lifers a renewed sense of hope after eight years of pro-abortion President Barack Obama.  Some of the administration’s pro-life accomplishments so far include:

  • Vice President Mike Pence’s speech at the 2017 March for Life in Washington DC represented the first time a sitting Vice President spoke at the March.
  • President Trump reinstated a policy that prevents organizations receiving federal foreign aid from performing abortions or promoting them.
  • President Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. He is a pro-life Justice in the mold of the late beloved Justice Antonin Scalia.
  • President Trump appointed avid pro-lifers to key cabinet positions including Kellyanne Conway as Senior Advisor, Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Nikki Haley as UN Ambassador, and Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
  • President Trump even signed an executive order saying his administration will “provide regulatory relief for religious objectors to Obamacare’s burdensome preventive services mandate, a position supported by the Supreme Court decision in Hobby Lobby.”

These pro-life accomplishments give advocates renewed hope that we will be even more successful in changing people’s minds and reminding them that they can always choose life.

Inspection Uncovers Numerous Safety Violations at Harrisburg Abortion Center

HillcrestBy Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

Gallagher@paprolife.org

In the shadow of the state Capitol, a Harrisburg abortion center which has operated for decades has accumulated a myriad of health and safety violations.

The revelations can be found in an inspection report for the “Hillcrest Women’s Medical Center” posted on the Pennsylvania Department of Health website here.

The number and breadth of violations are truly alarming. No full-time person was in charge of operating the facility. No registered nurse was on duty to assist patients before and after at least 55 abortions had been performed. The facility failed to document the name and dosage of anesthesia used on a number of patients.

In addition, Hillcrest failed to secure drug samples—a dangerous situation. A February tour of the facility revealed a number of outdated medication and supplies.
The procedure room had swabs for sexually transmitted diseases that had expired 13 years before. Inspectors found needles and syringes in paper wrapping that had deteriorated and were yellow with age.

Investigators also determined that Hillcrest violated the state Child Protective Services law.  That law requires that employees who have “significant likelihood of regular contact with children in the form of care, guidance, supervision or training” must obtain three background checks: one from the Pennsylvania State Police, one from the Department of Human Services, and one from the FBI.

Inspectors reviewed medical records, personnel files, and conducted staff interviews. They found that, even though Hillcrest saw patients under the age of 18, “background checks were not completed for employees.”

The egregious safety violations at Hillcrest show the importance of Pennsylvania’s abortion center regulation law, which ensures regular inspections of abortion facilities. Pennsylvania simply cannot depend on abortion facilities to police themselves.