The Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation receives Founders’ Award from Real Alternatives

by Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

A simple idea conceived by Pennsylvania Pro-lifers a quarter century ago to support women in unexpected pregnancies and to lower abortion rates has had a huge impact on over 323,000 women, their babies, their families, and the rest of America. Families are strengthened, relationships built, communities grown, and futures secured. The ripple effect seems infinite!

The Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation has advocated tirelessly for 25 years for the Pennsylvania Pregnancy and Parenting Support Services Program. Due in part to the Federation’s efforts, Pennsylvania became the first state in the nation to fund such a program of hope with taxpayer dollars. That inspired 14 additional states, with Real Alternatives’ help, to follow a similar model.

From its inception, the program, administered by Real Alternatives, has provided critical services for approximately 323,000 Pennsylvania women in need, and consequently many others alongside them.

The Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation was recently honored with the Founders’ Award, which recognizes action crucial to the growth and success of the program’s vision. President and CEO of Real Alternatives, Kevin Bagatta, said, “If it weren’t for the Pro-Life Federation, we certainly would not be here.”

Started during pro-life Governor Robert Casey’s administration, the program funds pregnancy support centers, maternity homes, adoption agencies, and social service agencies throughout the state to provide much needed services and support to vulnerable women.

According to Federation Board President, Susan Rogacs, Real Alternatives has always been a priority because lives are saved. The Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation continues in its efforts to protect and promote the program, fighting against every attack to ensure that money in the state budget goes to help women and their babies. “We’ve lobbied legislators, issued press releases, and educated the public about the importance of this program. We stand firm in resisting those extremists who would take the safety net away from women,” said Rogacs.

Several other champions for life were honored with the Founders’ Award including former Governor Mark Schweiker, former U.S. Congressman Joe Pitts, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, and Morning Star Pregnancy Services, who began the program 25 years ago. In addition, Real Alternatives staff members Cliff McKeown and Tom Lang were honored with the Founders’ Award for their dedicated service over many years.

In his closing remarks at the program’s virtual 25th celebration, Bagatta thanked “all those people who had their fingerprints on history and didn’t know it.”

The Federation is honored to be part of a team that created a first-of-its-kind program that continues to generate ripples of life across the state and country.

Unsung Heroines

newborn getting weighedPhoto by Christian Bowen on Unsplash

By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director 

Recently, a well-known, highly-respected columnist in Central PA revealed something she has hidden for far too long. And I want to applaud her.

Nancy Eshelman is to be commended for publicly revealing her secret of 57 years of having placed a child for adoption. Too often birth mothers who have gifted another family with a precious new life are hidden in the shadows and their story remains a mystery.  But every one of them does have a story.

Nancy’s story recounts the stigma that surrounded her unplanned pregnancy at the tender age of 15 and the shame she was made to feel at that time. She should not have been made to feel that way then, and no young woman today should feel that shame. On that point our society has evolved, but we still have work to do.

Without judgment as to the circumstances, a woman carrying human life within her deserves unconditional support and protection. Her body is providing shelter and nourishment to a human being who is unrepeatable and irreplaceable. She is giving life to the next generation and most likely, generations beyond that. She is already a mother.

Nancy’s story does not stop with the baby boy she placed for adoption, with whom she happily reunited years later. It carries on with his children and grandchildren and will continue with subsequent generations.  All because one woman, Nancy Eshelman, gave the gift of life, even under the less than ideal of circumstances.  The impact is immeasurable, the consequences infinite.

Let us recognize the adoption option as a noble choice.

Let us celebrate all birth mothers who grow and bear life, and in an act of selfless love, bestow a cherished child to another mother and father. These women are truly unsung heroines. These women give life.

Google and the Politics of Pregnancy

pregnant woman silhouette


















By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director

She was married, but finances were tight. So when she was abruptly dismissed from her job, the removal carried with it a decimating economic sting.

The reason for her forced departure? She was pregnant with me.

I always felt a tinge of sadness and a healthy amount of outrage when I heard my mother recount the story of how she lost her job because of her first pregnancy. It seemed so unjust, so cruel.

But that was so long ago. Surely, the situation is much improved today for pregnant women.

However, perhaps times have not changed all that much—at least among some short-sighted employers.

Consider this report from The Daily Caller. A former Google employee alleges the tech giant discriminates against pregnant women. Here are her heartfelt words:

  I’m sharing this statement because I hope it informs needed change in how Google handles discrimination, harassment and retaliation. … The details are important in understanding the often drawn-out, isolating and painful experience of victims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

The woman had been told she could not manage a corporate team because her maternity leave would “stress the team” and “rock the boat.”

In a statement to the Daily Caller, Google countered: “We prohibit retaliation in the workplace and publicly share our very clear policy. To make sure that no complaint raised goes unheard at Google, we give employees multiple channels to report concerns, including anonymously, and investigate all allegations of retaliation.”

Nevertheless, if the allegations prove true, the situation is a stunning example of the lack of support that can drive a pregnant woman to abort. Research has shown that support—material, emotional, psychological—can be key in determining whether a woman chooses life for her preborn baby.

Companies need to provide supportive environments for pregnant women and new mothers. Such women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect—and their choice for life needs to be respected as well.

Any one of us can be the voice for change that enables pregnant women to thrive in what might otherwise be a less-than-welcoming workplace. It is these everyday encounters that can help empower women to bring their babies safely into the world.

Reaching Out to Pregnant Women Facing Challenges


By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

One of the greatest attributes of the pro-life movement is the concern it shows to pregnant women facing serious challenges in their lives.

There is no woman in Pennsylvania–or across the country–who should feel as if she is being forced into abortion. Help is as close as the nearest cell phone or Internet connection.

The Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation has the most comprehensive list of PA pregnancy care centers on the World Wide Web. Chances are you or a friend can find a center within driving distance of home. You can find the complete list here.

You can also call the toll-free hotline at 1-888-Life-Aid.  Compassionate, caring individuals are ready to take your call.

To be pro-life is to be pro-woman…both supportive of the woman carrying a child…and of the daughter inside her mother’s womb.

Abortion: The Faulty Fix

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

The couple was already in their 30s when they met and married. Less than two months after the nuptials, the wife became pregnant.

It was unplanned. It would be quite late in the game before the husband, who was Maria rose picturefacing serious financial struggles, knew of the pregnancy. When the birth became imminent, they were hoping for a boy, and they planned to name him Harry, after his maternal grandfather.

The birth was quite scary. It happened in the apartment they shared, with the husband receiving delivery instructions from the doctor via telephone. The baby arrived before the ambulance did.

In recalling that day, the wife remarked that, when a woman gives birth and she is handed that baby for the first time, “It is a tremendous gift.”

Again and again, she would recall that gift, and her devotion to her first-born daughter knew no bounds.

I was the unexpected daughter.

My mother would often remark how boring she thought life would have been without her children. Both her daughters were unplanned, but they both brought her unintended joy and laughter. Upon her death, my mother’s close friend told me how very proud my mother had been of her children.

Many factors may drive a woman to an abortion center–financial trouble, a coercive boyfriend or husband, abuse, just to name a few. These problems are serious and should be dealt with. But abortion is not the fix.

A woman leaves an abortion facility just as poor as when she went in–generally, about $450 poorer. Her relationship troubles with her significant other aren’t resolved–in fact, the tension arising from the abortion, the regret, and the emotional fallout can make things worse.

What a pregnant woman in dire difficulty needs is a hand of friendship–one that will not take the “tremendous gift” that she has been given from her.

For that one, precious, unrepeatable gift has more value than the entire universe.

Whether the Supreme Court recognizes it or not.

Chemical Abortions Are Dangerous, Ineffective

RU-486, a chemically-induced abortion drug, was hailed as a wonder when it first was introduced to the United States.

A woman could have a “safe,” “easy” abortion without any cold metal instruments or “invasive” procedures, proponents said. A woman just takes the drug and – ta da – no more pregnancy.

But research flies in the face of this propaganda. RU-486 actually is a very dangerous, often ineffective drug.

Not the morning after pill, RU-486 is a steroid that blocks the hormone progesterone, which is needed for a pregnancy to continue. The drug starves and suffocates the baby to death over a period of three to four agonizing days. A second drug usually is taken to induce contractions to expel the baby.

RU-486 has serious health risks for the women who take it. Side effects include heavy bleeding, fever, cramping, diarrhea, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, infections, and more.

Sometimes, the drug fails to finish its deadly deed – and the woman must undergo a surgical abortion. When the chemical abortion doesn’t work correctly, the risks also are more serious, including uncontrolled bleeding, infection, and future birth defects.

A recent study in Vietnam found that one in four women had to undergo a surgical abortion after an incomplete RU-486 abortion, according to a recent Contraception article.

The drug also makes it difficult for women and doctors to distinguish between ordinary side effects (heavy bleeding, pain) and signs of a more serious problem such as hemorrhage, ruptured ectopic pregnancy, or infection, according to an article from the Association for Interdisciplinary Research in Values and Social Change.

Yet, the number of abortion centers offering chemical abortions has been steadily increasing.

Planned Parenthood recently issued a national directive that all of its centers offer abortion services by 2013. As a result, some Planned Parenthood centers in Pennsylvania that didn’t do abortions previously now offer these dangerous chemical abortions.

This expansion and promotion of abortion must stop. RU-486 is a dangerous, painful drug that can be seriously injurious or deadly to the woman, as it effectively or ineffectively kills her preborn child.