A Seed Planted: The Beautiful Fruits of a School Pro-Life Club

By Bonnie Finnerty, Education DirectorIMG_0075Pregnant 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.

“Progressive” Governor Stalls Progress on Life Issues

Baby with block  By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

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.

What Pete Doesn’t Know

By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director


oleg-sergeichik-MrsbKzRzflo-unsplash

 

 

 

Photo by Oleg Sergeichik on Unsplash

 

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.

Making a Gift of Self

hands reaching for help

By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

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.

Join the “Club”: Literature for Life!

By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

 

books and a chair picture

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 lifelines@paprolife.org 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!

Your Last Chance to See Pro-Life Diamond & Silk in Harrisburg

By Michael Ciccocioppo, Executive Director

Diamond Silk promotional photo

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.

If you have any questions, please call 717-541-0034 or email lifelines@paprolife.org

Abortion is a Stigma on Society

by Jessica Resuta 

Our guest blogger is a junior journalism major at Franciscan University of Steubenville and a past winner of the PA Pro-Life Federation’s Oratory Contest.

Woman on beach

Nicki Minaj described her abortion as “…the hardest thing I’d ever gone through,” “[It’s] haunted me all my life.”

The famed rapper’s words were featured in a recent article from People Magazine that focused on a collection of interviews and social media posts by 25 celebrities sharing their abortion stories to “help end the stigma.”

A lot of the stories expressed the typical glorification of abortion as a woman’s right, like with actress Linsey Godfrey’s statement “I had an abortion…and still am glad I had that choice because that’s exactly what it was, it was my choice, my body.”  However, there’s also much regret and fear implied in many of these statements. For instance, actress and author Amber Tamblyn said of her abortion “It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I still think about it to this day.”

“Abortion is a nightmare at its best,” actress Milla Jovovich says, “No woman wants to go through that.”  Yet, she insisted women must fight to ensure access to abortion.

TV host Sharon Osbourne’s story was one of the most detailed in the piece. Pregnant at 17, she was told by her mother that “You have to get rid of it…She told me where the clinic was, then virtually pushed me off. She was so angry.” Osbourne said, “I would never recommend it to anyone because it comes back to haunt you.”

This doesn’t sound like a choice, or a liberating experience for a woman. It sounds like they were forced by a societal mindset to make what as Minaj said could be the hardest life-decision ever.

Regardless of how they viewed abortion, the majority of these women mentioned some kind of regret about their decision.  And while some decisions in life will be unavoidably hard or painful, killing a child should never have to be one of them. No mother should ever be told that killing her child is a safe or best option.

In contrast, consider some real, average women who underwent the same experience of unplanned pregnancy and abortion. Non-celebrities, yes, but are they any happier or at peace with the “choice” society offered them?

An ongoing photography series  by Angela Forker called “After the Abortion” depicts real women living with the guilt and pain of their abortion, regretting the loss of the child they could never have back. It is similar to the People Magazine article as it shows the pressure and difficulty of their decisions, but the tone is conveyed differently using the visuals of photography to express a true loss by these mothers.

One photo depicts a woman named Rochelle shedding tears into a soft, yellow baby blanket with the caption in her own words “ Sadly this is the blanket I never got to wrap my baby in and rock her to sleep. The pain never goes away! The regret never ever goes away!”

The photos go from subtle to gutwrenching; a woman embracing an empty cradle, another woman bent over in pain trying in vain to turn back a clock. There are photos of women both young and old expressing how abortion did not really solve their problem, but led to the brutal and heartwrenching reality that the killing of a child in abortion leads to lifelong regret for the mother.

It is crucial that women who have abortions should never be shamed for their actions, especially because the society they live in says it’s completely permissible. But it is also necessary that they know that this is not the way society should be and they should never have to choose death for their own preborn child.

The real stigma in society is that abortion is a good, a woman’s right, and totally acceptable.  It’s a dishonest view that needs to end.  Abortion is nothing other than the killing of a vulnerable human being, yet society is too afraid to face the fact that abortion truly devastates women.  An innocent, vulnerable child’s fate should never be death, and a struggling mother should never be told that it’s legal, safe, and perfectly acceptable to kill her child. A culture that promotes and praises unjust killings and ignores the hurt and regret that comes with it is not one that will ever be able to actually promote love, trust, justice, and peace.

Join us! PA March for Life in Harrisburg

PA March for Life

Jeanne Mancini, President of March for Life in Washington, DC, has announced that they are bringing the March for Life to Pennsylvania on Monday, May 18, 2020. Mark your calendars now for a rally at the State Capitol in Harrisburg at 11:00 a.m. followed by the March for Life at Noon. Jeanne said, “Ending abortion in America – and Pennsylvania – will take the effort of every single pro-life person. Each of us must commit to making a difference for the pro-life cause.” Michael Ciccocioppo, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation said, “We are thrilled to be collaborating with the March for Life on this bold initiative and encourage pro-lifers across the Commonwealth to join us in marching together for LIFE.” For more information, please click HERE.

Supporting Both Mother and Child – The truth of the Pro-Life Mission

by Jessica Resuta

Our guest blogger is a junior journalism major at Franciscan University of Steubenville and a past winner of the PA Pro-Life Federation’s Oratory Contest.Baby girl

A recent New York Times article claims that the term “pro-life” is purely a marketing term and that “Whatever the anti-abortion crusaders call themselves, they don’t care what happens to an unwanted child — not after the child is born — and they’ve never cared about the mother.”

The author also says that “The anti-abortion cause didn’t promote itself as ‘pro-life’ until the more punitive-sounding ‘anti-abortion’ label failed.” What this article misses is that the term ”pro-life” means exactly what it says, supporting and cherishing all human life, and if anything is punitive it’s abortion. 

Abortion does not aid or help a woman feel safe because it is the intentional destruction of a human life that brings a woman pressure, heartbreak, regret, and a deadly quick-fix disguised as healthcare.  Pregnancy may be difficult but it is not a punishment. It is a normal, natural opportunity to give, love and respect life. Those who choose to love and sacrifice when it’s hard are those who do the most good in the world.  There are also others who tenderly care and are open to help with the difficulties that arise with an unexpected or crisis pregnancy. 

Being pro-life acknowledges the humanity and uniqueness of all life at every stage, and that includes protecting as precious both the unborn child and his/her mother.  The overused argument that pro-life only equals pro-birth is completely unfounded because it is those who support life who are actually giving a mother a choice, and not just a choice, but one that will help rather than hurt her.  

Many women choose abortion because they feel they have no choice. Abortion is portrayed as the only solution to an unplanned or difficult pregnancy, but telling women their primary option is to either pay a substantial amount of money or have the taxpayers pay to have their child killed is no way to make a woman or her child feel safe. 

These are not just words or ideals, there truly are other and better options for pregnant women, loving and helpful options.  In Pennsylvania alone, there are hundreds of pregnancy care centers all across the state, not to mention countless churches, families and pro-life communities who are willing to give a woman and her child the love and care they need at a critical time.  

The Pro-Life mission is one that treats all life with the dignity belonging to all humans, born and unborn.  Women need to know that there really are loving assistance and the life-giving options that they deserve. 

We are All Born Pro-Life

By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

Her spirited bounce down the path to our display got my attention.  Her wispy curls pulled into a ponytail and ample rosy cheeks melted my heart.  As she got closer to us and saw the treasure that awaited, her big brown eyes twinkled. I was completely enchanted.  She picked up the fetal model and her delight became palpable.

She first raised the baby in the air, marveling at it. She then imparted a gentle kiss. Creation toddler holding babyCreation toddler kissing baby

Cradling the 30-week fetus in her arms, she listened as her mother softly whispered that this is what mommies grow in their bellies, a beautiful precious human life.

She’s only three years old, but she instinctively knows a truth that many adults and our world at large have long forgotten. She knew this truth even before her mother spoke a word.  Life is precious. It is a gift to be celebrated and cherished. And protected.

She needed no prompting. Her affection was genuine and unlimited. Loving this baby came so naturally, even to a toddler.

She was the very last person with whom I interacted at Creation Music Fest, where we had shown the humanity of the preborn to thousands of people with our fetal model display, witnessing their fascination with life within the womb and their sadness at how disposable it has become.  Our table was steadily busy for three days, and we had many productive and informative exchanges with passersby.  This sweet little girl was the last to visit before we closed up. How perfectly profound, as she left me with a beautiful truth to take home and ponder.

We are all born pro-life.

Show a small child a fetal model or a picture of an ultrasound and ask him or her what it is.  Do the same with an older child.  They readily identify a baby, a living human being in its earliest form of development.

It is so clearly self-evident to those who have not had the world un-teach this to them.  It is so clearly self-evident because it is nature’s beautiful plan, and the most innocent among us honor what is natural.

Abortion is the most un-natural thing in the world. And it violates what all of us, especially children, know to be right, true, and good.

We are all born pro-life, but some allow themselves to be corrupted by a confused world, becoming defenders and promoters of abortion.  I think of this little girl and wonder how did these people get so very far away from a self-evident truth, one that is written on our very hearts?

Is it doubt, fear, desperation, misguided compassion, greed, rationalization, de-humanization or a combination of these that steal this basic truth from them?  I don’t know the answer.  What I do know is life begins at conception. Life is precious. Life is to be treated with dignity and protected from harm.

Even a 3 year old knows that. May she never allow the world to un-teach her that fundamental truth.