Secrets Surrendered, Hearts Healed

by Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

It’s the babies. Always the babies.  Every time I set up an educational display, it’s the fetal models that draw people to our table like moth to flame. And that was the case at Creation Music Festival, a Christian music event attended by tens of thousands of people each year.

It’s become a predictable pattern.  The babies are spotted from a distance. People approach, touch them, hold them, marvel at them.  A conversation ensues. Information is shared. Stories are told. Many different stories.

Like the woman told to abort her child twenty-four years ago, after a sonogram revealed that her child had no brain.  She refused and instead prayed that a future test would show a different result. It did. Her daughter was born perfectly healthy. 

Two different women told me their stories of getting pregnant as teens and being pressured to abort by their families. Despite feeling alone and unsupported by those closest to them, both women refused abortion, choosing open adoption instead. Both have a beautiful, loving relationship with the children who once grew within their bodies. One even shared the picture of her six-year-old biological son who is thriving with his adoptive family.

Over four days, I talked with hundreds of people and listened to dozens of stories. Many young children delighted in holding our babies and posing for pictures. The one group I did not anticipate the babies attracting, however, were those who were post-abortive.

Never before had so many people disclosed to me that they had one or more abortions.  All of them said they silently bore shame and grief for years afterward.

One woman came to our table with her teenage son. She was born into a politically-connected liberal family that counted Faye Wattleton, the former head of Planned Parenthood, as a close friend. Raised to think abortion was no big deal, she had a few.  But she was not at peace.  She suffered. She regretted. She mourned.  She felt that she had been lied to.  It was only through a relationship with Christ, she said, that she finally found forgiveness and peace.  And she wants her son to learn from her journey and be armed with the truth.

Then there was another young woman looking to start a Respect Life ministry in her church, hoping to use some of the literature we had on our table.  She told me that she had an abortion many years ago. Anytime abortion was brought up at church, she would inwardly panic, thinking her body language would reveal to everyone the secret she carried for so long. It was by encountering another post-abortive woman who shared her testimony that she finally got the courage to talk about her abortion. She found healing in a program called Surrendering the Secret. Now she hopes to help others choose life.

On the last day, it was a man that stopped by.  With his long hair, red bandana, and heavily tattooed body,  I could easily imagine him riding his Harley to the festival. He almost walked by, but suddenly turned around. He stared at the babies. “Hard to believe that we even have to tell people they are human beings,” he said. I agreed. 

Then he shared his story. When he was a young man, he discovered his wife had an affair with his own brother. She became pregnant. Heartbroken over the dual betrayal, he paid for her abortion.  For many years it haunted and grieved him. He told me he wasn’t always a Christian but is now.  It is how he has found forgiveness, healing, and love.

There were several others who disclosed their abortions. They didn’t have to.  They could have walked by.  They could have stopped and not shared that piece of themselves.  But they did stop. Did share.  They want others to know. Not just their woundedness, but their redemption.  Not just their hurt, but their hope.  

As we enter a post-Roe America, let’s remember that so many have been wounded by abortion. Some are healed. Many are not. They sit at our tables, in our pews, and on the other side of our computer screens.

Let us love them into the truth. Let us pray for their healing. Let them feel our acceptance, not judgment. Let us be bridges, not walls. 

It’s often said that the church is not so much a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners.  Let us say the same for the pro-life movement.

Roe v. Wade Overturn: A Victory for Women and Children 

U.S. Supreme Court Decision Returns Abortion Issue to States

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the tragic 1973 ruling known as Roe v. Wade represents a victory for women and children throughout the country.

Roe v. Wade is a deeply flawed decision which rightly has now been tossed into the ash bin of history,” said Maria Gallagher, legislative director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, the Keystone State affiliate of National Right to Life.  

More than 63 million preborn children have lost their lives to this abominable decision. In addition, countless mothers have been left to grieve babies lost to abortion. With today’s landmark ruling, the issue of abortion policy rightfully returns to the states, where the public, through their duly elected representatives, can pursue policies that protect preborn children and their mothers from harm,” Gallagher added.  

“We commend the High Court for recognizing the truth that a so-called ‘right’ to abortion appears nowhere in the U.S. Constitution,” Gallagher said. “This is a day of victory for the most vulnerable among us.”

Statistics from the PA Department of Health show that more than 32,000 abortions occurred in the Commonwealth in 2020, the latest year for which statistics are available. “Imagine how many kindergarten classes of children have been lost to abortion in PA. It’s mind-boggling,” Gallagher said.

In Pennsylvania, abortion totals would be much higher were it not for the many pregnancy resource centers which provide free counseling and material assistance for pregnant women facing challenging circumstances. Pennsylvania’s state-assisted Pregnancy and Parenting Support Program offers true alternatives and options to women in their time of need. 

No pregnant woman in Pennsylvania should feel as if she is alone. Pregnancy help centers stand ready to offer no-cost assistance and the emotional support every pregnant woman deserves,” Gallagher added. 

Welcome to Post-Roe America

by Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

As I joined with people from around the country in a spirited rendition of God Bless America, a feeling of intense gratitude swept over me.

This was the first time I had sung the beloved hymn in the post-Roe era. The song took on a new meaning, as I reflected on the fact that the worst decision in the history of American jurisprudence had been swept away on a tide of sound judicial reason. This is the moment I had been awaiting for decades—when our nation finally would be free of the tyranny of Roe.

I had prayed each day for years for this victory—boldly claiming that it would happen in my lifetime. The thought that any grandchildren I might have in the future would be post-Roe babies sent my spirit soaring.

I realize that much work remains to be done to protect precious preborn babies and their mothers from harm throughout the country—including the Commonwealth in which I live, Pennsylvania. But the fact that the decision on abortion policy now rests with the people, through their duly-elected representatives in the states, fills me with awe. God bless America indeed.

Shedding Light on Pro-Life Truths in an Unexpected Place

By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

I am quite used to talking about life issues, even debating them with those whose views differ from my own.  I just don’t usually do it in the grocery store. With a soon-to-be 8th grader.

Yet, there I was, in the coffee aisle, talking big topics with my friend’s grandson, who we’ll call Kevin.

I was delighted to bump into the two of them and chat for a bit. Before saying our goodbyes, Kevin asked me where I worked and what I did.  He listened and then politely informed me that unlike his grandmother and me, he is “pro-choice.”

He went on to explain that a woman who is a victim of rape or incest should not be forced to carry and birth a baby.  Knowing Kevin, I was sure this was coming from a place of compassion. He felt deep sorrow for women enduring such trauma and believed that continuing a pregnancy in those circumstances would only make the situation worse.

I sensed from his pause and steady gaze that he expected me to respond.

I smiled at him, thankful that he was willing to listen.  I gently asked him if he has ever met anyone conceived from rape or from incest.  “No.”

I told him that I have, and that I could never look at them and say they weren’t deserving of life because of the manner in which they were conceived. I pointed out that the perpetrators of such crimes, if caught and convicted get jail time, but the innocent child brought into existence gets a much harsher sentence in abortion: death. 

There was much more I could say, especially about whether choosing life over abortion helps women to heal, but left it at that. I could see he was thinking it over. I invited him to reach out to me anytime he has a question and that I would be happy to hear him out and dialogue.

It wasn’t long. A few minutes later, as I worked my way through the meat section, Kevin was back.  He had more questions he wanted me to address, eager to hear how I would respond.  What about children born into poverty?  Or a dire pre-natal diagnosis?  What about when the mother’s life is in danger?

For a good 20 minutes we talked. I answered each question while shoppers careened their carts around us. Who knows what bits and pieces were overheard?

I said it was wrong to impose our personal standards of “a worthwhile life” onto others.  Surely, people born poor or with a disability or in foster care are glad to be alive. We should not consider their lives less valuable than ours.

Instead, we should do our best as a society to reduce suffering to the extent that we can rather than eliminate humans who suffer. If we choose to eliminate everyone who might experience suffering at some point in their life, who should live? 

With regard to a dire prenatal diagnosis I pointed out that even in this modern age, doctors and tests sometimes are wrong. But even if a diagnosis is correct, does a child not deserve a chance to be born, to be held and loved by his parents, to receive medical intervention, to be treated with compassion and dignity? Why must he be killed in utero?

I also shared that due to modern medical practices, rarely is a pregnant woman’s life in jeopardy, but if that situation does arise, it is usually later in pregnancy.  At that point an abortion is far more threatening to the mother’s life than delivering the child prematurely and striving to save both lives.

We covered several other topics, including death with “dignity.” It was an intense conversation.

To his credit, Kevin listened and nodded, displaying a maturity and civility that seems to be lost on this issue. He never once interrupted me but thoughtfully listened to all I had to offer, sometimes asking follow-up questions.  I again told him to stay in touch and let me know if he wants to talk again.  He extended his hand and warmly shook mine, thanking me for my time and information.

As I headed for the dairy section, I marveled at this young man and our exchange, wishing I could replicate the conversation in every supermarket in the country. I don’t know exactly what Kevin believes now about abortion, but I believe to some extent he was enlightened. And his openness was encouraging. 

Perhaps this is a good model for all of us. So often we are afraid of talking about abortion for fear of offending, disagreeing, arguing. Let us have the courage to engage with others and the wisdom to have productive, civil discourse that sheds more light than heat. Perhaps in this way, one conversation at a time, we can change minds and hearts and ultimately, the culture.

When the “Experts” Get it Wrong

By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

A day after his fourth birthday, a team of educational experts told us our youngest child was severely autistic. During the hours-long assessment in which he was whisked away from us and surrounded by unfamiliar adults, the team concluded that he couldn’t talk.  In reality, he wouldn’t talk, an attached toddler hampered by anxiety that was amplified by the circumstances.

As my husband and I listened to their diagnosis, we experienced both surprise and heartbreak. We suspected he might be somewhere on the spectrum. But severely, profoundly autistic?  I had taught such students in a fully inclusive classroom, some who were completely non-verbal and facing challenges that I didn’t see my son having.

When I voiced doubt about the results, I was told by the Ph.D. leading the team that I was simply in denial. She recommended a restrictive diet and possible placement in a school for children with autism.

Fourteen years later, after a mix of public, Catholic, and homeschool education, some speech and occupational therapy, dozens of amazing teachers and encouraging mentors, we have reached a milestone.

This week our son walked across the stage to receive his diploma. He graduated. From a traditional Catholic high school. With few accommodations.  His strong grades excused him from all finals. He has a job and a driver’s license. He is a happy, gentle soul. In the fall he will be off to college, having been accepted at all three schools to which he applied.

So how did that team of experts get it so wrong?

There is no doubt our son is on the spectrum. He faced many sensory and developmental challenges growing up. Haircuts, barking dogs, and circle time at preschool launched him into meltdowns. Later, he struggled with public speaking, time management, and trying anything new, whether food, activity, or even shoes. By middle school, his anxiety was so great, we resorted to homeschooling for two years, one of the best decisions we ever made.

So yes, he has autism. But he also had far greater potential to overcome and to thrive than the “experts” predicted. Their methodology was flawed, resulting in an incorrect conclusion.

We are learning that some tests commonly used during pregnancy are also flawed. The New York Times  reported earlier this year that analysis of certain prenatal blood tests showed incorrect positive results about 85 percent of the time.  Tragically, some couples given these diagnoses choose to abort their child. Many of them may have aborted perfectly healthy children. But even if not perfectly healthy, did their children not deserve even a chance at life?

I cringe to think of the day when the medical experts begin testing in utero for autism. How accurate will that test be? Will children thought to be on the spectrum be targeted for death as children with Down syndrome are today? How many more beautiful lives will be stolen from our world?

Whenever a diagnosis of any sort is given, we must remember that each and every person deserves the chance to live, grow, and love to the extent that they are capable.  We shouldn’t place qualifications or limits on any one’s life because of perceived obstacles.

Sometimes “experts” just get it wrong. Despite great gains made in medicine and education, predicting the future for any one individual is an inexact science. As much as we think we know, there are no crystal balls revealing what awaits any human life. There is no way to measure perseverance.  There is no test for human resiliency. No statistic on the power of love.

As for our family, much of the expert guidance we received throughout our son’s childhood was helpful. But we were always a bit guarded because of the initial diagnosis he was given. No one knows or loves your child as you do, so it’s important to trust your own instincts.

In watching our son proudly walk across the stage at graduation, I realized that his journey was actually comprised of millions of baby steps made possible by the encouragement and support of so many people in his life. Sometimes it was two steps forward, one step back, but he kept on.  And in doing so, he showed us all that he was much more capable than that first team of experts had thought.  

In Less Than Ideal Circumstances, Beauty Can Still Bloom

by Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

It was the Spring morning I’d been longing for. Brilliant sunshine embraced me as I stepped outside with my freshly-brewed coffee, observing the green wave of new life that creeped over my backyard.

As I strolled beyond the cultivated garden beds, I spotted the unexpected. Beyond the back fence, amidst last season’s decomposing yard debris, perched at the foot of a withered woodpile, was a magnificent singular white hyacinth.

This lone bulb must have been accidentally uprooted last year and transplanted to a less than ideal home, the wildly overgrown woods where we dump clippings and weeds.

Yet, somehow that bulb found just enough light, warmth, and nourishment to produce a majestic flower that filled me with joy by its very existence. I thought it more beautiful than any other flower in my yard. It not only survived, it thrived, and it was all the more glorious for the contrast it provided to its own barren and bleak surroundings.  

It was a little metaphorical signpost from our Creator, a reminder of both the potential and resiliency of life, especially human life.  How many of us have been thrown into less than ideal circumstances, and yet managed to survive? How many of us were born into such a situation?

Our society mistakenly leads us to believe that we can only welcome new life at the ideal time, in the ideal place, with the ideal partner.  And when any of those conditions are not met, some believe that it is better for everyone’s sake, including the child’s, to reject that budding life so full of potential and resiliency. How many babies are aborted every single day, never being given any chance at life because circumstances are perceived to be less than ideal?

When a young woman faces an unplanned pregnancy, she is uprooted into an unfamiliar world that she can find frightening. It can be difficult to see past the present moment of fear and uncertainly. Thrown into rocky soil, she may be unsure if she can become rooted again and provide for herself and her child.  

But nature itself reflects the buoyancy of the human spirit, the untold potential, the possibilities that can be.

Let us be that society that provides enough light, warmth, and nourishment that envelopes her as she brings forth new life. Let us help her look beyond the imperfect situation of the present moment and envision the hyacinth that might be awaiting. Let us say with our lips and show with our actions this simple but often forgotten truth: that in less than ideal circumstances, beauty can still bloom, life can still blossom, and the world made infinitely better for it.

Canceling Kids: Depleting Our Greatest Natural Resource

by Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

A few days ago my 23 year old niece did something extraordinary.  She had a baby. A precious 10 pound baby girl.

Whereas in the past, giving birth seemed like a natural, common, and somewhat ordinary progression of life (yet still inherently miraculous), today having a child, or even more so children, is nothing short of extraordinary.

With today’s couples delaying marriage and often trading in bibs for leashes, the birthrate in the United States has hit its lowest rate ever. Some attribute this to the pandemic, but the fact is that the birthrate has been dropping steadily for several years.

The case against children has been simmering under the cultural surface for decades as the abortion industry has cast children as the enemy to be eradicated. Children limit our freedom. Children require sacrifice. Children are expensive.

The messaging has been subtle and steady. Now, however, it’s screaming at us from billboards: “Stop Having Children!”

As reported by Life News, that’s the very visible billboard campaign launched in Portland, Oregon by a pro-abortion group subscribing to anti-natalism, a “philosophical and ethical stance against human reproduction…to radically reduce suffering and environmental destruction in the world.” 

This is Margaret Sanger 2.0. Like the founder of Planned Parenthood, this small but vocal group of extremists believes the way to eliminate suffering is to eliminate the sufferer.

If we stop having kids, we’ll stop bringing people into a world that has problems.  And, as a happy side effect, there will be more resources for those of us granted the privilege of birth.

Cancel culture canceling life itself.

But there are problems with this sterile, short-sighted wokism.

The drooling babies, demanding toddlers, and difficult teens of today eventually become what you and I are now- the older and wiser caretakers, the persistent problem-solvers, the productive contributors to society.

Babies become people. And people are our greatest natural resource, fueling the world with their ingenuity, hard work, and good deeds. People discover, invent, cure, produce, and achieve. We imagine, overcome, inspire, seek a greater good, and above all, we love.

Canceling children today cancels tomorrow’s generations, and that severely limits our potential as a society.

Just ask China.

After years of brutally enforcing a one-child policy, they are now scrambling to reverse their humanity deficit as reported in Forbes magazine. Couples are now “permitted” to have up to three children in China to replenish their population.

Billionaire Elon Musk has issued his own warning about global population decimation, stating, “Please look at the numbers – if people don’t have more children, civilization is going to crumble, mark my words.”

But the problem of canceling kids is bigger than labor shortages or economic impact. We don’t just have children to supply tomorrow’s workforce.  Rather, children are the fullest expression of human love.

And when we have them, through the demands made and sacrifices offered, we learn to love in a way we hadn’t before. We become more “other-oriented” which is not only beneficial to the family unit but good for society in general. Raising children, the citizens of tomorrow, is a chance to
leave a legacy, our fingerprint on the future.

But children are not just our tomorrow, they are also our today.  They surprise and delight, help us to stay grounded, and become lifelong friends, perhaps even our own caretakers.  They give us more, much more, than they demand.  It’s not something we can quantify or even adequately articulate. If you know, you know.

What we need in our country is not anti-children billboards scaring young people away from parenthood, but a return to the very ordinary idea that having a family is a beautiful, worthwhile, and in its own way, extraordinary vocation.

As GK Chesteron said, “The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children.”

Let’s make America extraordinarily ordinary again by welcoming children into a country that we can make better together.

Where Women’s History Month Falls Short

by Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

Because I am a woman one might expect me to whole-heartedly embrace the celebration of Women’s History Month during March. After all, this is an opportunity to celebrate my ancestral sisters, applauding their testing of boundaries and breaking of barriers.  And for the most part, I greatly respect the legacy left by these brave women, reminded that whatever I might accomplish, I stand on their shoulders.  So why the hesitation?

While grateful to the trailblazers who’ve cleared a path for subsequent generations, I am deeply saddened by the collateral damage that has ensued in the struggle toward equality.  For in our effort to achieve one thing, some women mistakenly thought we had to sacrifice another. And what we’ve lost changes the very essence of who we are.

It is no small thing that we women are THE life-bearers of the entire species. We alone can grow human beings in our bodies, craft a cerebral cortex, knit a network of veins, erect a skeletal system.  We alone can nourish this life with a perfect food forged by our miraculous bodies.  We literally make the men and women of tomorrow with our very own cells. Now that’s power. A power given no man. A power and a privilege that should not be taken lightly. Or tossed away. Or aborted.

But in the fight to have opportunities equal to those of men, some have confused “equal to” with “same as”.  Eager to embrace the masculine, with all its power and promise, some have forsaken the feminine, abandoning a gift that is uniquely given to women.

Too often we women are lumped together as the women’s movement, portraying us as united in support for the so-called “right” to abortion. But many women, perhaps a majority, do not believe that abortion is a path toward liberation or social justice or equality.

Rather, we pro-life feminists understand abortion as another form of oppression: forcing women to choose between birthing the burgeoning life within or ending that innocent life because of fear, pressure, or lack of resources. Abortion supporters promote a world of either/or, as in either sacrifice your child or you can’t succeed, while ironically claiming that they are all about choice.

But true feminism doesn’t limit women’s choices, nor force them to deny what makes them uniquely women. True feminism promotes a world of and/both, a world where motherhood and career aspirations can coexist and be fully supported. A world where women need not choose death for their children to walk through the doors that have been opened to us.  That is the world for which first generation feminists like Susan B. Anthony and Alice Paul fought, and it is to that noble mission the modern women’s movement should return.

Alongside all the amazing accomplishments women have achieved, we should also celebrate and revere the vocation of motherhood.  On our journeys to the board room, operating room, and courtroom, we should view fertility as a gift to be treasured, not a “disease” to be treated. We should see the potential of our own children and the legacy we can leave the world by investing our time and love in them. While celebrating women’s history, we should not be ruthlessly exterminating the history-makers of tomorrow.

With the great progress the pro-life movement is making in sharing the truth and beauty about human life in all its stages, I am hopeful that future Women’s History Months will not rely on abortion as a necessary step toward women’s success in society, but will instead, be a celebration of all that a woman is and all that she can be, including the sacred, irreplaceable, and incredibly rewarding role of mother.  

Teens on Fire for LIFE!

by Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

They say good things come in threes. Three times recently I have been awe-struck by the passion and conviction of pro-life teenagers.

First was the young woman who knocked on my door one Saturday. She was canvassing for the Susan B. Anthony List, making sure Pennsylvania residents understood where political candidates stood on life issues. I let her do her thing before telling her that I too work in the pro-life movement. Despite a windy, brisk afternoon, we ended up having a prolonged conversation about abortion and how to effectively share the truth.  I was practically moved to tears by her dedication to knock on doors, risking rejection and challenges as she moved from house to house, neighborhood to neighborhood.

While she occasionally found an ally like me, sometimes she really had to work hard to open eyes to the reality of abortion.  She told me of an instance just that day where she and her partner talked with a decidedly pro-choice woman for an hour. By the end, that woman expressed doubt in her original position, pledging to do more research!

As if trekking through unfamiliar neighborhoods on a cold winter weekend wasn’t enough, I then learned that this young woman actually traveled over an hour and a half to do this boots-on-the-ground educational outreach and that she was a still a senior in high school!

A few days later I received a plea for help from a colleague.  Her friend’s daughter, an eighth grader in public school, was experiencing much push back from her peers about her pro-life convictions.  She planned to write a paper about abortion and its devastating effects on women and society, but she needed to talk through common mantras she was hearing from her classmates, such as “My body, my choice” and “It’s not a baby yet.” How can she respond?  Where can she find good resources? 

This young lady and I were able to talk by phone for almost an hour. She was a mature middle schooler, impressing me with her wisdom and fortitude.  At a time in her life when peer pressure is reportedly the greatest, she was not backing down from her deeply held belief that life is sacred and worth protecting.  She was willing to endure unkind remarks from classmates. She just needed more “ammunition” to fight the good fight…facts and figures, science and stories to show them that abortion is not empowering or compassionate or justified.  In a follow-up email, I “armed” her with several good resources-books, videos, articles, websites- that she can use as she grows in her pro-life advocacy. I am in awe of her courage and have no doubt that she will be planting seeds in the hearts of many of her peers today and in the years to come.

And then, even more teen voices for life inundated me! This week marked the deadline for our annual pro-life essay contest for grades 7-12.  I have hundreds of essays sitting on my desk, sorted into our two judging categories. While some teachers incorporate the contest into their classroom assignments, other essays are submitted by individual students. We’ve received essays from public, private, Catholic, Christian, vocational, and homeschool students. One young lady, a public school student, wrote and emailed her essay after going to an educational talk offered by a local pregnancy center. She was so moved by what she learned, she entered our contest that night.

Some students emailed their essays which I in turn acknowledged, thanking the student for being a voice for life. Several students replied and thanked us for sponsoring the contest.  One young lady wrote, “You don’t have to thank me for submitting an essay…I thank you for giving me an opportunity to be able to share my opinion about abortion! The topic is very important to me and I want to help any way I can, and this contest gave me the chance to get my voice out, so I’d write this essay any day if it meant helping the women of our state!!”

While I am supposed to be the educator, I think these amazing teens are teaching me and all of us “seasoned” pro-lifers a valuable lesson: don’t ever let our pro-life flame grow dim…stay strong and bright, and when it’s darkest, courageously spread the light of life!

Chemical abortions beyond 10 weeks pose even greater danger to women

By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

In 2020, over 16,000 women in Pennsylvania were given pills to abort their preborn children. For the first time, non-surgical abortions comprised 51% of abortions, the majority. While the 2020 PA Department of Health Abortion Statistic Report  lists these abortions as “medical” they are also known as chemical abortions.

Chemical abortion involves two medications: mifeprex (mifepristone) which blocks progesterone, cutting off nourishment, and misoprostel, which causes contractions, expelling the preborn child from the uterus.

The Food and Drug Administration does not recommend chemical abortion beyond the 10th week of pregnancy, stating on their website that a woman should not take Mifeprex if it has been more than 70 days since the first day of her last menstrual period.

Despite abortion industry claims, chemical abortions are not safe, having a complication rate that is four times that of first trimester surgical abortions.

In fact the FDA website acknowledges there were reports of 26 deaths of women associated with mifepristone since the product was approved in September 2000.

In addition, more than 4000 adverse events have been associated with chemical abortion, but the actual number is likely much higher as mandatory reporting of adverse effects was suspended in 2016.

While chemical abortion by its very nature is dangerous and traumatic when given within recommended FDA guidelines, it is even more so when done outside of them.

That is why the 2020 PA Department of Health Abortion Statistic Report is so alarming. It shows that a total of 175 abortions were done after 10 weeks gestation in 2020. 

Most shocking is that 26 chemical abortions occurred at 18-20 weeks gestation and 25 at 21-23 gestation.  Not only are babies at these stages fully formed, much larger, and pain-capable, but many are viable. 

Premature babies as young as 21 weeks are being treated and saved in neonatal units across our country. But according to this report, others are being killed by chemical abortions, most likely in someone’s bathroom.

The abortion pill was not designed for later abortions, which is why the FDA has not extended its use past 10 weeks.

With chemical abortion it is more likely that a woman will experience complications the further along she is in her pregnancy. These complications can include incomplete abortion, retained products of conception, excessive bleeding, and infection. The abortion pill failure rate also increases over time.

Another disturbing statistic from the Pennsylvania report shows a 344% increase in sharp curettage abortions in just one year, a procedure that is often used for incomplete abortions.

So while the report claims that there were fewer complications from abortion than in the previous year, the dramatic rise in the sharp curettage procedure, in which the uterus is scraped, may reflect a higher rate of failed chemical abortions.

So we must ask who is prescribing chemical abortions beyond their recommended time frame and why are they putting women’s health in jeopardy? Are women warned of the risks? Are they warned of the psychological impact of delivering not just “pregnancy tissue” but a fully formed lifeless baby?

We can and must do better.  This is not health care. Or empowerment.  Or reproductive justice. It is a betrayal of vulnerable women.

Every abortion steals an innocent human life. And every chemical abortion risks great harm to the mother, especially those done beyond the recommended guidelines.

It shouldn’t be happening in Pennsylvania or anywhere.