15 Years of Pro-Life Progress

Baby Superman with mother

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director gallagher@paprolife.org

As I approach my 15th anniversary with the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, the Keystone State affiliate of National Right to Life, it’s a good time to look back at the pro-life progress that has occurred in both the Commonwealth and our nation during the last decade and a half.

Abortion totals are at their lowest level in Pennsylvania since the state first began keeping statistics after the legalization of abortion. The fact that more than 32,000  preborn Pennsylvania children die each year from abortion is still a massive tragedy, but we are making progress in persuading more women in challenging circumstances to choose life for their children.

Part of that effort is our innovative Internet outreach program. We have reached more than a half a million teenagers with life-saving and life-changing information. Add to that the hundreds of thousands of people we reach each year through radio broadcasts, television interviews, website views, and social media posts.

One of our statewide oratory contest winners won the National Right to Life Oratory contest. He is now spreading the pro-life message far and wide as a diocesan priest.

At least a half dozen abortion facilities have closed their doors in Pennsylvania because they could not or would not meet basic health and safety standards. The renewed scrutiny of abortion facilities came after the passage of our common sense abortion center regulation law, which requires unannounced inspections of abortion centers.

Fifteen years ago, I thought that the tragic U.S. Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade would have been overturned by now. But the enthusiasm for Roe has significantly waned when you stop to consider that national polls show most Americans oppose most abortions. The misguided court ruling, which led to the heinous practice of partial-birth abortion, will ultimately fall under its own weight.

I hope that I am around to see that milestone.

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.

 

 

 

“Roe” Wanted Roe v. Wade Reversed. THAT is Her Legacy.

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

gallagher@paprolife.org

180px-Norma_McCorvey

     You can hear a smile in a voice.

It is one of those interesting facts of communication that I learned in a radio journalism class which proved to be helpful far beyond the confines of the classroom.

As a reporter, I heard a range of emotions in the interviews that would be recorded for broadcast–sadness, anger, pride.

Over the past few days, I have been reminded of a voice that answered the phone when I was working on a story about abortion.

The voice belonged to the “Roe” of the tragic U.S. Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which brought about the legalization of abortion nationwide in 1973. Her real name was Norma McCorvey, and by that time, she had renounced the court decision that bore her pseudonym. She was striving to right a horrible wrong, to save the lives of preborn children, and to spare their mothers unspeakable pain and heartache.

Ironically, she was not the person I was calling to interview, so our conversation was quite brief.

But I heard much in her voice: Kindness. Compassion. Caring.

Norma McCorvey was once part of the abortion industry. But she died a pro-life champion.

It is common for those involved in court cases to wish the court had ruled differently. It is incredible for a winner of a case to wish she had lost.

“Roe” wanted Roe v. Wade to be overturned. This would be like saying the winning team of the last Super Bowl wished the second half never would have happened and that they had lost the biggest football game of the year.

But it was true. I could not only hear it in her voice–it was also apparent in the actions that she took to try to reverse a Supreme Court ruling that has led to the deaths of more than 59 million preborn children and the haunting grief of millions of mothers and fathers, grandparents and siblings.

Some Millennials may not know that the woman behind Roe, Norma McCorvey, reversed course and adopted a pro-life point of view. They may be stunned to learn that the woman who was the subject of the nation’s best-known abortion case never had an abortion herself–that the pregnancy that led to her being the subject of a court case ended in birth and subsequent adoption.

But as spectacular as Norma’s story may be, in a sense, it is not entirely unique.

Dr. Bernard Nathanson, the founder of the pro-abortion lobbying group known as NARAL, left the abortion industry behind and became an ardent supporter of the right to life. Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood center director, left the business as well and now assists those who want to make a similar, life-affirming exit. Carol Everett, a former abortion center owner, became a passionate defender of life.

Add to that all those women who are a part of the Silent No More Awareness campaign–women who had abortions, but who now regret them. They are breaking the code of silence surrounding abortion so that other women can avoid such horrific tragedy.

These women cannot be silenced. And neither can Norma. Her voice lives on in video and in the minds of those touched by her call for the nation to embrace mothers and their children–and to abandon Roe v. Wade.

For if Roe no longer believed in Roe v. Wade, why should the Supreme Court? If the Court cannot hear the silent cry of the preborn child, perhaps quite soon it will listen to the words of women such as Norma. They are women who were once deceived by the lies of the abortion industry, but who found their voice when they rediscovered the hope that lies in fighting for life.

The nation owes it to Norma, and to all those other women, to end the epic human catastrophe caused by Roe v. Wade and to discard the unjust court decision once and for all.

The “Dred Scott argument” for Abortion

mother_and_child     Anyone who has been part of the pro-life movement for any length of time knows that there are certain arguments that the abortion industry and its allies make reflexively.  Perhaps they believe that if they continue repeating these poor arguments, their case will magically improve.

One such argument is the idea that Roe v. Wade is “settled law” and pesky pro-lifers should stop trying to rehash an issue that the Supreme Court has already ruled on.  I like to call this the “Dred Scott argument”, which is why I thought it would be an interesting one to explore during Black history month.

In Dred Scott v. Sanford, Scott was an enslaved Black man who sued for his freedom.  Sadly, in what many constitutional scholars now consider one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever, the Justices ruled that neither Scott, nor anyone else of African heritage, could claim US citizenship, thus allowing the tragic practice of slavery to continue.

What does this have to do with Roe v. Wade and abortion in America?  As in the Dred Scott case, a terrible mistake was made in the Roe v. Wade decision.  In Dred Scott, the Justices determined one person was not as important as others simply because of his race…in Roe v. Wade, five Supreme Court Justices found a “right to privacy” in the U.S. Constitution that had never been there before, and used that newfound “right” to justify the killing of almost 60 million people and counting.

Many people did not agree with the Dred Scott decision. Should they have all just given up and gone home to allow the injustice of slavery to continue?  Of course not.  They doubled down on their efforts to have everyone, no matter what race or ethnicity, recognized as equal…and eventually succeeded in getting the 13th amendment passed and slavery abolished.  The same principle applies to pro-life advocates.  Just because the Constitution was misinterpreted doesn’t mean we pack our bags and go home…it means we continue to fight to end the injustice of abortion so that one day Roe v. Wade will fall into the ash heaps of history—where it truly belongs.

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court recently heard arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.  In the first major abortion case in nearly a decade, the court will rule on the constitutionality of Texas law HB2 and determine whether commonsense reform intended to increase women’s health and safety is an undue burden on abortion facilities.  These Texas regulations came out of the trial of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell and his “house of horrors”.  They simply require abortion facilities to have admitting privileges with a hospital within 30 miles and to meet some basic quality of care, facility cleanliness, and safety standards.

The real question is, if the big abortion lobby want abortions to be “safe” as they claim (never mind the fact an abortion is NEVER safe for the baby) why do they support clinics like Gosnell’s “house of horrors”.  According to a University of California study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology last year, complications to the mother are reported in approximately 2.1 % of the abortions that occur in the United States.  That’s despite the fact that only 27 of the 50 states require abortion facilities to report complications…and even in many of those states the reporting is lacking.  So even if we assume those numbers are correct, that means of the approximately 90 abortions that are performed just in Pennsylvania today, 2 women will have some kind of complication (not to mention all the others scarred for life mentally).  Clearly that number will only go up if states aren’t allowed to hold abortion facilities to the same standards as nail salons and tattoo parlors.  Is that really what abortion advocates want?

The question to be decided by the Supreme Court is whether or not these regulations create an “undue burden” on abortion facilities. The good news is that the Supreme Court upheld stricter requirements in 1983 saying they were important to “ensuring public health”.  Even more recently in Planned Parenthood v Casey in 1992 the court determined laws making abortion more difficult or more expensive do not necessarily create an undue burden.

With the passing of Justice Scalia, the court is currently split between 4 conservative justices and 4 liberal justices.  Justice Anthony Kennedy is generally the swing vote on abortion cases, and during arguments he appeared to be open to allowing the regulations to stand in the interest of women’s health.  It is vital we keep Justice Kennedy, and the entire court, in our prayers as they weigh the merits of this case.

January Events to Mark 43 Years of Roe, Mourn 58 Million Aborted

January is a busy month in the pro-life world. This January 22 will mark the 43rd year since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade.

ErieMarchforLife16

Erie March for Life on Jan. 9

The infamous abortion decision opened the doors to abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy. In the past 43 years, more than 58 million preborn babies have been aborted in the U.S.

ErieMarchforLife2-16To recognize this massive tragedy and to call for renewed protections for life in the womb, pro-lifers across the state are planning events in January. Please consider joining your fellow Pennsylvania pro-lifers this month.

March for Life
Many Pennsylvanians will travel by bus to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., joining hundreds of thousands of others in front of the U.S. Supreme Court steps to call for Roe v. Wade to be overturned. If you are looking for a bus to the March, contact our office at 717-541-0034 or lifelines@paprolife.org.

Gosnell Movie in Annville
The Lebanon County Republican Committee will host a free screening of the award-winning documentary film, “3801 Lancaster: American Tragedy” at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19 at the historic Allen Theatre, 36 E Main St, Annville.

The film documents the events surrounding the Kermit Gosnell abortion clinic tragedy in Philadelphia. Gosnell was convicted of murdering three newborn babies and contributing to the death of a female patient.

Pro-life Senator John Rafferty, who is featured in the film, will be on hand to greet viewers and comment on the Gosnell case. Running time for the movie is approximately one hour.  The screening is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted.

Pro-Life Breakfasts
Three of the Federation chapters will host special pro-life breakfasts near the anniversary of Roe. Please consider joining one of these special events:

ERIE PEOPLE FOR LIFE 38TH ANNUAL PRO-LIFE BREAKFAST — 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. January 16, 2016 at the Bayfront Convention Center, 1 Sassafras Pier Erie. Special guest speaker is Steven Mosher, President, Population Research Institute.

SCRANTON RESPECT LIFE PRAYER BREAKFAST — Saturday, January 30 hosted by the Pennsylvanians for Human Life Scranton Chapter. Lori Kehoe from the National Right to Life Committee will be the guest speaker.

MERCER COUNTY ANNUAL PRO-LIFE BREAKFAST – 9 a.m., Saturday, February 13 at the Park Inn by Radisson, 3377 New Castle Rd, West Middlesex. The cost is $15 for adults, $5 for children and students.  The keynote address will be given by Wesley J. Smith, a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.  The event is sponsored by Pro-Life of Mercer County.  For further information and to reserve a seat, please call Joanne Schell at 330-448-4577, Susan Wallace 724-588-0775 or Brian O’Malley at 724-854-5433, or email Brian at prolifemercer@gmail.com .

Pro-Life Rallies in Pennsylvania
Several of our chapters also are hosting rallies and marches this month to mark the anniversary of Roe and the deaths of millions of preborn babies. People for Life, our Erie chapter, held its annual Erie March for Life on Jan. 9. Check out photos from the event on People for Life’s Facebook page.

Upcoming rallies include:

GETTYSBURG ANNUAL RALLY FOR LIFE — Noon on Friday, Jan. 22 at the Adams County Courthouse, 111 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg.  All are welcome. The Rally is sponsored by Adams County Chapter, Pennsylvanians for Human Life.  For further information, email ruthsantino@yahoo.com.

LEBANON ANNUAL RALLY FOR LIFE – Noon on Friday, Jan. 22 at the intersection of 8th and Cumberland Streets in downtown Lebanon.  All are welcome.  Members of the Lebanon County Chapter, Pennsylvanians for Human Life, will participate in the event. For further information, email sandrapav@verizon.net.

Check our Chapter Events page for more upcoming pro-life events in Pennsylvania.

The Man Behind the Myth That Abortion Is Empowerment

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director
gallagher@paprolife.org

SubvertedYou may have heard of Larry the Cable Guy. But do you know about Larry the abortion guy?

In a recently released book entitled Subverted, writer Sue Ellen Browder tells her personal, emotionally riveting story of how she “helped the sexual revolution hijack the women’s movement.” Browder’s personal biography — a writer for Cosmo magazine who eventually saw the light and abandoned the darkness of the culture of death — is fascinating. But here, I want to focus on the individual who might be described as the man behind the modern pro-abortion women’s movement — Larry Lader.

According to Browder’s detailed account, Larry was an atheistic magazine writer whose first foray into the world of book publishing was an account of the life of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger. Larry was one of the founders of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, now known as the abortion lobbying group NARAL.

Browder notes that it was due to Larry’s influence that the woman who might be called the mother of the women’s rights movement, Betty Friedan, inserted abortion into the National Organization for Women’s political platform. This turn of events came about even though Betty originally opposed legal abortion.

As Browder tells it, Larry was on a drive to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with Dr. Bernard Nathanson (an abortionist who converted into a pro-life champion later in life) in 1967 when Larry stated, “If we’re going to move abortion out of the books and into the streets, we’re going to have to recruit the feminists.”

At a NARAL strategy meeting, Larry told Dr. Nathanson, “We’ve got to keep the women out in front. You know what I mean…and some blacks. Black women especially.”

Interestingly enough, Browder reports that Larry’s commitment to abortion formed a wedge between him and Margaret Sanger, who had called abortion “barbaric.”

Larry ultimately wrote a book on abortion, which was subtitled, “The first authoritative and documented report on the laws and practices government abortion in the U.S. and around the world, and how — for the sake of women everywhere — they can and must be reformed.” Still, as Browder writes, Larry’s book “was laced with poisonous half truth, limited truth, and truth out of context.”

And yet, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmunn cited Larry’s abortion book at least seven times in writing the tragic decision Roe v. Wade and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton, which brought us abortion on demand for any reason during all nine months of pregnancy.

It is impossible to solve a problem unless we know its origins. Please read Subverted to learn how abortion became the law of the land. History can be difficult to handle, but we owe it to the 58 million and counting abortion victims who have become Larry’s legacy — and to the mothers who are still grieving their children’s deaths.

21st Century Progress Could Mean End to Abortion

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director
gallagher@paprolife.org

The Millennial Generation has grown up with an explosion of technology — the expansion of the Internet, the invention of the iPhone, the birth of social media, the advent of Skype.

Unborn baby pictureBut the 21st century could also be known as a time of great progress against abortion.

Real limits have been placed on abortion, thanks to the passage of the partial-birth abortion ban at the national level, late-term abortion bans, dismemberment abortion bans, and other legislation at the state level.

The Guttmacher Institute, the former research arm of Planned Parenthood, reports that abortion rates are at their lowest level since 1973, the year Roe v. Wade became the law of the land. The most recent recorded rate is 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44, well below the record high of 29.3 per 1,000 women in 1981.

It’s been estimated that more than 3,500 pregnancy help centers are now in operation across the U.S. and, as the pro-abortion lobbying group NARAL ruefully notes, these centers vastly outnumber abortion facilities. Pregnancy centers provide comprehensive counseling and assistance to women facing unexpected pregnancies, offering everything from diapers to day care referrals. Women have even been known to request that pregnancy center volunteers serve as their companions during the birthing process.

Students for Life groups have grown exponentially on college campuses, and March for Life attendance has been boosted by the throngs of high school and college students who descend on Washington, D.C. each January 22.

4D ultrasound pictures have become prominent on Facebook and Twitter pages, websites and blogs. The humanity of the unborn child has been well-documented in these social media images.

Certainly, much work remains in making abortion unthinkable. More than 57 million Americans have died from legal abortion since it began nationwide in 1973. Pro-abortion groups continue their national assault on the rights of preborn children, while failing to recognize the devastation abortion has caused for generations of women.

Still, in just the first two decades of the 21st century, much headway has been made in scaling back abortion on demand. This should be the century when the disastrous era of Roe v. Wade finally comes to an end.

Unnamed

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

News spread like a contagion recently about a terror attack at a publication office in Paris. It all seemed a little unreal to me, until I saw the names of the victims.

Unborn baby pictureAs a news consumer, I often find myself yearning to learn the names of people who perished in automobile accidents, in street violence, or as a result of deadly disease outbreaks. I use news stories as an occasion for prayer, and I want to pray for the victims by name.

This is the great dilemma we face as pro-life advocates. We cannot name the victims of abortion. We do not know, for the most part, whether their mothers and fathers had chosen names for their aborted offspring.

The casualty count from legal abortion in this country now stands at 57 million. Those are 57 million unnamed individuals. They are invisible to us because we don’t know them.

When we are introduced to new people, the introduction begins with a name. We identify the individual because of the name associated with him or her. The name makes the person real to us.

When glancing through the obituary page of the local newspaper, we hunt for names. People’s appearances can change quite a bit over the years, so accompanying pictures may not be that helpful in the identification process. But the name says it all.

As part of their healing experience, post-abortive women are often encouraged to name their aborted children. The naming process can be quite powerful. In naming their child, they form a connection with him or her that lives after death.

Even in celebrity culture, names carry great meaning. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter tease users with posts about the latest celebrity baby names. Once we learned about the existence of babies Blue Ivy and North, those words took on new meaning and yes, even personhood.

It is a credit to the pro-life movement that, 42 years after the dreadful U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, we continue to fight for the rights of people we do not even know by name. But unnamed does not mean unwanted. Every child deserves a fighting chance at life, whether known as Emily or Justin or just Baby A. We may not know the names of each unborn child, but we do know their value: priceless.

Join Us: When I See a Pregnant Woman, #iSEETWO

This month as our nation remembers 42 years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on abortion, Focus on the Family is working with several pro-life organizations to remind people that abortion involves two people, not just one.

Quotes - MariaMaria Gallagher, our legislative director, was chosen as one of five women to share their stories as part of the organization’s #iSEETWO campaign.

Once a pro-choice journalist, Maria said her heart began to change when she started reading more about the issue:

“… as I began to put my journalistic skills to work, conducting more in-depth research, I discovered some startling facts—that a heart starts beating only 24 days after conception…that brain waves can be detected a mere 43 days after a child is conceived.

“I came to see that life must have a logical beginning, not an arbitrary one based on subjective feelings.  Reason led me to the pro-life movement; careful analytical thinking keeps me there. …

“Where once I saw only one individual, now #iSEETWO – mother and child, connected by a sacred bond that no human being has a right to sever.”

Maria joins Dr. Alveda King of Priests for Life and the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Freda Bush, M.D., OB/GYN, lawyer Anne O’Connor from the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, and abortion center manager-turned pro-lifer Susan Thayer. Each woman is sharing her story this month as part of the #iSEETWO campaign.

Focus on the Family says the purpose of #iSEETWO is to show love and respect for both the preborn baby and the mother.

Focus urges pro-lifers to “change the tone of the discussion from one that encourages taking sides, to one that embraces life-affirming action that expresses respect for both mother and child.”

To participate, just take a selfie with the #iSEETWO sign here and make it your profile photo on your social media accounts this month. Then share a short message about why you are pro-life.

Help us remind people that when we look at a pregnant women, we see two precious individuals who deserve equal rights and protections.