Tag Archives: pro-life

Abortion clinic worker’s unplanned wakeup led to conversion

I started volunteering at Planned Parenthood because I believed the lie that they wanted to reduce the number of abortions and help women. It wasn’t until I had spent eight years at Planned Parenthood that the scales dropped from my eyes. Abortion was profitable and I was right in the middle of raking in that money for Planned Parenthood.

At my clinic in Bryan, Texas, surgical abortions cost $450 up to over $800 and RU-486 abortions were $450. We did surgical abortions once a week and dispensed the abortion pill on certain days. But by the time I left, we were selling RU-486 daily to increase profits.

Unfortunately, my clinic also participated in the sale of fetal tissue. We were paid about $200 per specimen by Amphioxus Cell Technologies, a company no longer in business. At the time, the Houston facility had an abortion quota of 75 abortions per day and, while not all women consented to having the remains of their baby used for research, and while not all fetal tissue was sellable, this practice brought in millions of dollars for Planned Parenthood. 

When then-Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards testified in front of Congress in 2015 about their illegal selling of fetal tissue, one of her statements went largely unnoticed. She revealed that 86 percent of her nonprofit’s revenue came from abortion. 

Among other things, Planned Parenthood’s annual reports detail how many abortions they do every year and their revenue. The year after Cecile Richards testified in front of Congress, Planned Parenthood reported a revenue of $1.296 billion, which included over $500 million in taxpayer dollars. That year, Planned Parenthood performed 323,999 abortions.

 In 2017-2018, abortions increased to 332,757 and revenue jumped to $1.665 billion, including nearly $564 million from taxpayers. Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry makes millions of dollars every year from tearing apart babies in the womb and taxpayers subsidize the largest abortion provider in the country.

How did I not understand the abortion business model throughout my years at Planned Parenthood? Maybe I didn’t want to see it. Maybe I didn’t want to face the fact that my salary, vacation days, 401K, and health insurance were being paid for by abortion.

My conscience was pricked throughout my time at Planned Parenthood but I quieted that voice until one day, as I watched a baby fight for its life against the abortion instruments on an ultrasound screen, my heart was immediately changed and I saw the truth of abortion. What I saw on that screen, while my own hand held the probe so the abortionist could see what he was doing inside the womb of that woman, changed everything.

I woke up. I could no longer be a part of abortion and selling the dismemberment of children to women as a solution to all their problems. My story is being told in the new film, Unplanned, in theaters now. I urge you to see it. No one will be able to walk away and say they didn’t know. 

Abortion is immensely profitable and preys upon women who are being told they need it in order to live their best life. We need to come to these women from a place of love and join together to make abortion unthinkable, to relegate the business of abortion to history books where future generations will learn about the atrocities in the womb and how it was us who stood in the gap between good and evil and put an end to the business of abortion.

ABBY JOHNSON is founder and director of And Then There Were None, which helps abortion workers leave the industry. She is the author of Unplanned and The Walls are Talking. Unplanned, a movie about her conversion, was released in theaters March 29, 2019.

WHAT TO SEE: View from the fence

Unplanned
Ashley Bratcher, Brooks Ryan
Run time: 106 min
Rated R

Abby Johnson went from volunteer escort to clinic director during her meteoric rise through the Planned Parenthood hierarchy. She even had a stint as a POC (“Products of Conception”) technician, responsible for reassembling body parts of aborted fetuses to ensure the womb had been emptied. But it was only after she assisted in an ultrasound-guided abortion for the first time that she was struck with the undeniable reality that abortion kills children.

Unplanned, just released nationwide March 29, is her story. It’s a powerful drama, and not just for its few particularly intense scenes. For many adult viewers, a Kleenex alert is in order

“My story is not a comfortable one to read… but honest and true,” writes Johnson, now an ardent pro-life activist, in her book of the same title. While retrospectively admitting her values and actions were inconsistent during her naïve years with Planned Parenthood, she also holds she was driven by true compassion for women.

But Johnson (Ashley Bratcher) gradually finds that the organization’s stated objective to “make abortions rare” doesn’t jibe with its relentless drive to “sell” abortions, Planned Parenthood’s bread and butter.

In the movie, pro-life advocates keep prayerful vigil at the fence, occasionally engaging clinic workers and clients in respectful dialogue.

Abby’s adoring husband (Brooks Ryan) and parents disapprove of her work but lovingly employ gentle reasoning.

Unplanned acknowledges there are pro-life extremists, and most clinic workers appear as genuinely nice people. This isn’t a propaganda piece; it doesn’t have to be. Presenting the simple facts from both sides of the fence already provides testimony sufficient for sparking serious reflection on what authentic respect for human life really means.

Unplanned received an “R” rating for “some disturbing/ bloody images” despite having no profanity, nudity, sex, or violence. The film reveals to viewers “exactly what abortion is — and abortion is disturbing. It’s violent,” said Abby Johnson in response. “No one will walk away from seeing this movie and say ‘I didn’t know.’”

Everyone needs to know. Your children need to know. Leave the pre-adolescents at home, but take your teens. Plan to see Unplanned.

GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

 

Assisted suicide – taking stock of where we are

As the push to legalize assisted suicide— euphemistically termed “medical aid in dying”— continues across the United States, it is helpful to step back periodically and reassess where we are. As of January 2019, seven jurisdictions have legalized assisted suicide: Hawaii (2018), the District of Columbia (2017), Colorado (2016), California (2015), Vermont (2013), Washington state (2008), and Oregon (1994). Montana (2009) has not legalized assisted suicide legislatively, but it is permitted through a state supreme court ruling in Baxter v. Montana.  

While much of the media focus is on jurisdictions that have legalized assisted suicide, it is important to recognize the many that have not. In 2018 alone, assisted suicide bills were proposed in Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wisconsin. None were signed into law. In fact, the Patient’s Rights Council reports that since 1994, more than 240 legislative proposals to legalize assisted suicide have been introduced, and subsequently turned down, in 38 states.

So where are the battlegrounds moving forward? The biggest prize is likely New Jersey. First introduced in 2012, the “Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act” (A-1504) was twice passed by the state Assembly but never made it out of the Senate, likely because then-Republican Governor Chris Christie had vowed to veto it. Now with Democrat Phil Murphy in the governor’s office, assisted suicide supporters believe they can get the bill passed and signed into law. Interestingly, Governor Murphy has not indicated whether he would sign the measure if it comes to his desk, but Compassion and Choices has a $1 million digital advertising campaign aimed at passage. Action on the bill is expected in early 2019.

Another battleground state is New Mexico, where the “End of Life Options Act” (HB-90/SB-153) has been introduced in the state legislature. If the bill becomes law, assisted suicide will no longer be considered a crime under New Mexico state law; instead, it will become “medical treatment.” The bill will also allow practitioners (expanded to include physician assistants and nurse practitioners) to make determinations of “eligibility” for assisted suicide through tele-medicine, without ever seeing or examining the patient in person. Finally, the bill will change the time frame of terminal illness. Generally, the term refers to an incurable or irreversible illness for which death is expected within six months. The “new” definition changes this time frame and refers to an illness where death will result “within the foreseeable future.” Contrary to some media reports, the proposed bill does not allow non-residents to travel to New Mexico to commit suicide. 

Other states that are expected to take up assisted suicide legislation in 2019 include Nevada, Virginia, and Delaware. In Nevada, an assisted suicide bill (SB-261) passed the state Senate in 2017 but died in the Health and Human Services Committee of the state Assembly. Supporters have vowed to reintroduce it in the 2019 legislative term. In Virginia, the “Death with Dignity Act” (HB-2713) was introduced on January 14, 2019. This is the first time the state will consider an assisted suicide bill. In Delaware, assisted suicide bills were introduced in the 2015-16 and 2017-18 legislative sessions, but never advanced to full votes. The legislator who sponsored the two bills has stated he will reintroduce the measure in this legislative session. Opponents are particularly concerned with the new Delaware bill because it specifically links assisted suicide to “additional palliative care options” for terminally ill patients.

Vigilance, prayer, and engaged effort are needed.

JOZEF ZALOT, PH.D., is a staff ethicist with the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. He earned his Ph.D. at Marquette University, and has worked in Catholic higher education and health care.

Black and Pro-Life in America: The Incarceration and Exoneration of Walter B. Hoye

Robert W. Artigo
Ignatius Press, 253 pages

 

Baptist minister Walter Hoye, an African American, was arrested in 2009 and spent time in a prison in Oakland, Calif. His crime: simply standing outside an abortion clinic holding a sign that said “God loves you and your baby. Let us help you.” This is the story of a brave but humble pro-life warrior who was rejected by many other African Americans for his stance opposing abortion, but held firm in his convictions. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King Jr., wrote the Foreword for this inspiring account of Hoye’s arrest, trial, and testimony of truth.

 

Order: Amazon

Addressing risky behavior that leads youth astray

In the cultural wars, Obria, a nonprofit chain of pro-life clinics offering a holistic health approach for women, just scored an amazing win. They were given a two-year Title V grant in the amount of $450,000 per year to teach sexual risk avoidance in the states of California and Washington. It is a significant step toward healing a culture steeped in ignorance, which has been critically wounding bodies and souls.

Operating on the assumption that young people engage in sex outside of marriage, public school sex education has become a promoter of it. It is a model destined for failure, focused on accommodating dangerous and immoral behavior rather than reversing it.

Last year, two scientific reviews made headlines concluding that abstinence-until-marriage programs fail to protect kids and also violate their human rights by not supporting their sexual activity. The premise of accommodating license over morality, however, is not only at odds with moral, healthy living, but at odds with numerous other studies reporting that “sexual-risk avoidance” programs reduce risky behaviors and even increase academic success in students.

Much-needed U-turn

The Planned Parenthood sex education model has dominated public schools while abstinence education is actually illegal in the state of California. But the comprehensive sex-risk avoidance model is gaining national acceptance and funding, according to Kathleen Eaton Bravo, an Orange Coast Legate and founder and CEO of Obria, a chain of pro-life medical clinics. Obria offers comprehensive life-centered health to women at 30 clinics in five states with the aim to reach 200 sites by 2021.

“To promote a culture of life, it is important to address the behaviors that lead young people astray by offering education in sexual risk avoidance,” Bravo explained. As the mother of three adult sons and as a post-abortive mom, Bravo understands first-hand that education is the key to making good decisions. Under the Trump administration, she said there is now a greater willingness to fund such programs.

Last October, Obria became the first California-based pro-life organization in 37 years to receive a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services under Title V to teach sex-risk avoidance. “All of our affiliate clinics are implementing the program,” Bravo said. “We expect to see 15,000 students in the first year.”

 Motivation over threat 

Obria Executive Director Mauricio Leone wrote the grant, to teach the curriculum created by the Center for Relationship Education – which bases everything on science supported by research – to promote healthy relationships. It uses the “whole person” approach, nurturing the body, mind, and heart, rather than only focusing only on sexual behavior. And instead of resorting to negativism and threats, it seeks to motivate young people to be their best by simply imparting the facts.

Leone, who is married with two young daughters, was initially impressed by Obria’s pro-life mission, and at first volunteered to write grant proposals. He was soon hired full time and became certified as a risk-avoidance specialist through Ascend – a national organization that represents the field of Sexual Risk Avoidance education as an optimal health strategy to improve opportunities.

“What is being taught now is much more comprehensive than just abstinence education,” Leone said. “It uses the latest scientific information to teach about sexual health and includes the emotional, psychological, relational, emotional, and physical. The main goal is to eliminate all risks associated with sexual activity.”

“While the typical sex education program teaches how to use condoms, we are presenting an entire picture of what a human being is,” Leone said. “Everything we teach is factual and science-based. We inform on the consequences of STDs, and relate methods of contraception— though we don’t normalize them— as we educate about the risks, and show that no contraception is 100 percent effective.”

Given that California does not allow such education in their schools, Leone said that they will train educators to implement the program in their clinics — for teaching patients directly — and in other settings such as churches, as well as Christian and Catholic schools. “I just heard that the Archdiocese of San Antonio is partnering with the University of Texas to implement this curriculum in Catholic schools in Texas,” he said.

In Washington, the program will be offered to the public schools since it is not illegal there. According to Bravo, since many parents in California are not aware that sexual risk avoidance education is not allowed in public schools, she hopes to inform and encourage them to support legislation to change that law.

“This grant was perfect for us, to empower young people to change their lives for such a time as this,” Bravo said. “Now the doors are open again, and committed to life-affirming education.”

PATTI ARMSTRONG is a Legatus magazine contributing writer

Touching The Nurturing Heart Of A Mother

Before Legate Bobby Williams set out to open a new pro-life Women’s Care Center in Indianapolis, he did what he always does: he asked the local bishop for permission – and for help.

The help came in the form of names of three key people in the Indianapolis Archdiocese who might aid in kick-starting the project. As it happened, they turned out to be fellow Legates — the late Tom Spencer, and Joan and Bob Smith. With their assistance and that of countless others, the Indianapolis center opened in 2014 next to the nation’s fifth-largest Planned Parenthood facility and since has become the fastest-growing pro-life pregnancy-resource center in the country.

It also is the largest of the 32 centers in Women’s Care Centers’ rapidly expanding network spanning 11 states. The 6,000-square-foot facility provides more than 3,000 3D/4D ultrasounds annually and now serves one in seven babies born in Marion County. In just three years, it has saved more than 6,000 babies from abortion.

Each Women’s Care Center offers free pregnancy tests, ultrasound imaging, counseling, and parenting and child development classes in a homey, accessible setting with eye-catching signage and full- time hours.

Williams, who serves as director of the WCC Foundation, credits the involvement of Legatus members with the success of the Indianapolis facility as well as the care center network’s remarkable growth over the last few years. Although the first Women’s Care Center dates to 1984, much of the network’s development has come more recently, thanks in large part to the prayers, volunteer service, and financial support of Legates, who have caught the vision of Women’s Care Centers and in some cases, have worked to bring them to their communities.

“There is no question that Legatus members have been the prime movers behind Women’s Care Centers’ national success,” Williams said. Last year alone, he added, the centers performed 21,365 ultrasounds and saved 15,052 babies with 94 percent of the pregnant women served choosing life for their babies. “It is no overstatement to say that one of the biggest factors in this success is the quiet, effective, behind-the-scenes support and counsel of Legatus members.”

For example, before he died unexpectedly Feb. 23 at the age of 64, Spencer served on the Indianapolis center’s board and had been among the first to support the project when it was proposed. He also was effective in attracting other supporters, making him someone who will be remembered as one of the center’s “founding fathers,” Williams said.

Likewise, the Smiths were early supporters, contributing a major gift that was instrumental in moving the project forward. “Their boundless generosity gave us the momentum we needed to purchase the property and get the construction well underway,” Williams said. “We were honored to name our main reception room in their honor.”

Bob Smith, who prays daily for the work of WCC, said he and his wife were impelled to help the center primarily through their daughter, Meg Ryder, who serves on the Indianapolis center’s board.

“They’re not only saving babies, they’re also saving mothers, and I think that’s a very crucial difference,” said Smith. Before becoming involved with Women’s Care Centers, he said he and his wife had marched outside a Planned Parenthood facility. “That was quite an experience, but it didn’t do anything to change minds or hearts. What this does is it changes hearts.”

Unlike other organizations seeking to stop abortions, Smith said, Women’s Care Centers go directly to the source – the mother – persuading her with the help of ultrasound technology. “Once a mother can see what’s living inside her – that it’s actually a human being, not just a blob of flesh – she is going to be very much committed to maintaining that life and nurturing it.”

Legate Marianne Price, a WCC supporter whose husband, Frank, is on the board of the Indianapolis center, agreed. “Once women see their baby, it really helps them form a bond.” She said what she and her husband found exciting about the Women’s Care Center approach is that it offers women an attractive and affirming option that can help them make a good choice. “So much of the debate about abortion is vitriolic. People are saying a lot of negative things about both sides. Women’s Care Center is very positive and tries to provide an appealing alternative.”

That the approach works is evident from statistics showing every community with a Women’s Care Center has seen exceptional abortion declines, Williams said. Where centers are more established, abortions have declined an average of 65 percent and abortion clinics have closed. But even communities where centers have opened more recently are seeing decreases.

For instance, in Milwaukee, where the Women’s Care Center was founded in 2010, abortions have already declined 36 percent.

Although there is no shortage of cities that could benefit from having a Women’s Care Center, the organization does not choose where to locate new facilities without an invitation. “There needs to be a committed and passionate person leading the effort for it to be successful,” Williams said.

In South Bend, Ind., where the first Women’s Care Center opened more than 30 years ago, that person was Dr. Janet Smith, then a young professor at the University of Notre Dame. From her efforts and humble beginnings in a little blue house has emerged a nationwide network that includes three new centers opened this year in Berea, Ky.; York, Pa., and Chicago. In just two months, the Chicago center has saved more than 100 babies, indicating there may be a need for additional centers in that city to meet the demand. An existing pregnancy center with three locations in North Dakota also is working to convert its sites into Women’s Care Centers. Future expansion plans include centers in the states of Texas, Virginia, Connecticut, and Florida.

Once an individual or group invites Women’s Care Centers to a community, an assessment is conducted to determine the need for services that would be provided. Next, the local bishop’s permission is sought and, if granted, a location, preferably one next to an abortion provider, is identified. Currently, 22 Women’s Care Centers are near or adjacent to abortion clinics.

“We don’t locate next to abortion clinics to picket or protest, to provide confusion to young women, or to somehow trick them or deceive them into coming into our place by mistake,” Williams said, “but rather, we choose to be there because that’s where the women are.” Generally, he added, if a pro-life facility and an abortion clinic are near each other, pregnant women will go to both facilities. “More than 9 of 10 times, when they go to both, they stay at our facility and choose life . . . All we do is provide choice – life-affirming choice – and it works.”

 

JUDY ROBERTS is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Taking heartfelt action for God’s littlest citizens

Everyday in America abortionists legally end the lives of 3,000 innocent children. They’re children with beating hearts, moving arms and legs, and newly formed faces and toes. They are precious in God’s eyes and have the right to our love and care. Yet instead of being welcomed into this world, they are destroyed.

This isn’t health care. This isn’t female empowerment. And certainly, this isn’t a “right.” In fact, it’s the greatest human rights abuse of our time. Yet many have embraced abortion as all these things.

Since founding Live Action — one of the nation’s leading pro-life organizations — when I was 15, I’ve seen countless times that when we expose the truth about abortion, we break apart these lies. When we shine a light into the darkness, we can change hearts and minds.

Through compelling educational media, human interest stories, and investigative reporting, Live Action exposes the abortion industry’s lies and its exploitation of women and children for profit. We also reveal the unquestionable humanity of the preborn child and the brutal reality of abortion, and we tell uplifting stories about people who choose life even in the toughest of circumstances.

In our most recent investigative report, “Aiding Abusers,” we collected court documents, police reports, and the testimonies of former employees who reveal that Planned Parenthood — a celebrated “Me Too” movement supporter and self-proclaimed advocate for women — has for decades refused to report men who sexually abuse 12- and 13-year-old girls, then bring them to Planned Parenthood for abortions to cover up their crimes.

The report led Congress in June to call for a federal investigation, which could help build the case for ending the abortion chain’s taxpayer funding. Since Planned Parenthood gets nearly half of its budget from taxpayers, defunding would be a huge step in crippling its abortion business — a business that kills over 320,000 preborn children every year.

Another tool in the abortion fight has been our “Abortion Procedures” online video series. The short four-minute videos feature a former abortionist using medical animations to show what happens to a baby and mother during the four most common abortion procedures.

To test their effectiveness, we showed the videos to 500 “pro-choice” millennial women and asked them their attitudes about abortion before and after watching. The results were astonishing. Almost a third viewed abortion less favorably afterwards. And nearly half said the videos were so eye-opening that they should be shown in high school sex education classes.

“Abortion Procedures” has become the most-watched pro-life series in history, reaching nearly 100 million views online with translations in Romanian, Spanish, German, Chinese, and several other languages. Because of their success, Live Action is working to put these videos in front of every American.

“Aiding Abusers” and “Abortion Procedures” are just two ways we are trying to change hearts and minds. While laws need to change, attitudes must change first to create a culture that respects life. Then the laws will follow.

Live Action has the largest and most engaged online following in the pro-life movement — with three million followers sharing our content with their friends to reach millions more. Live Action and its followers work together to educate, inspire, and activate others to make abortion as unthinkable as other human rights abuses like slavery, human trafficking, and genocide.

By shining the light of truth into the darkness using the power of storytelling, and by using the power of our followers to share this truth with others, we are spreading the pro-life message throughout the nation in an effort to end abortion in our lifetime.

 

LILA ROSE is a featured speaker at the upcoming Legatus 2019 Summit. She is the president and founder of the national pro-life organization Live Action. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Seeking Justice For All Under The Constitution

Brett Kavanaugh, who was heading toward Senate confirmation at press time, would be one of five Catholic justices on today’s Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh, 53, until recently had been a judge on the Washington D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. If confirmed, he will succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy, also a Catholic, who was often a swing vote in many of the high court’s closely decided decisions.

During the heated question-and-answer exchanges during September’s confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh’s mere use of the phrase “abortion-inducing drugs” was enough to incense abortion advocates. But when all was said and done, the hearings didn’t alter his trajectory.

In introducing Kavanaugh during a White House press event on July 9, President Donald Trump praised him as “a brilliant jurist” with “impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications, and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law.”

A JUDGE WITH GREAT DISTINCTION

“For the last 12 years, he has served as a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals — with great distinction — authoring over 300 opinions, which have been widely admired for their skill, insight, and rigorous adherence to the law,” President Trump said.

Kavanaugh has served on the D.C. Circuit Court since being confirmed 53-36 by the Senate in 2006. Prior to that, he clerked for Kennedy and served as a staff secretary and senior associate counsel for President George W. Bush.

Legal commentators have described Kavanaugh as a well-respected federal judge with a philosophy of interpreting the Constitution as it is written.

“He’s a person of the highest intellect, very much in the mode of Neil Gorsuch,” said Robert George, a constitutional scholar and the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, referencing Trump’s first appointment to the Supreme Court.

In a conference call with reporters shortly after the president announced Kavanaugh’s nomination, Marjorie Dannenfelser — Legate and president of the Susan B. Anthony List — welcomed the news as a positive step for the pro-life movement.

“We have a man who’s devoted to interpreting the text of the Constitution as it is written and as it applies to today’s debate,” Dannenfelser said.

WINDOW TO HIS APPROACH

Some of his rulings from the D.C. appellate bench offer a window into Kavanaugh’s approach. In 2017, Kavanaugh dissented from an appeals- court vote to allow an undocumented pregnant 17-year-old in immigration detention to seek an abortion. He said the majority decision represented “a radical extension of the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence.”

In the 2015 case of Priests for Life v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kavanaugh said the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for contraceptive coverage in employee health insurance plans violated the religious freedom of religious nonprofits.

“My judicial philosophy is straightforward,” Kavanaugh said from the White House on July 9. “A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent.”

PRACTICING CATHOLIC

In addition to being a respected conservative jurist, Kavanaugh is also a practicing Catholic who serves meals to the homeless as a volunteer for Catholic Charities and coaches CYO basketball in the Washington, D.C., area.

“I am part of the vibrant Catholic community in the D.C. area. The members of that community disagree about many things, but we are united in our commitment to serve,” Kavanaugh said at the White House.

Kavanaugh is a former altar boy who graduated from the Jesuit-run Georgetown Preparatory School near Washington, D.C. before attending Yale Law School. He has also taught law, primarily at Harvard Law School.

In his White House remarks, Kavanaugh, a married father of two daughters, emphasized that his Catholic high school’s motto was “Men for Others.”

Said Kavanaugh, “I’ve tried to live that creed.”

BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Commit to specific pro-life tactics

Last month I reached my 25th anniversary of leading Priests for Life. In the course of this work, one of the reasons for our team’s success in building and sustaining the largest Catholic ministry dedicated to ending abortion is that we have understood, articulated, and preserved our focus. And this is one of the most important things for all groups to do in this Respect Life Month.

As I have been saying increasingly in my talks, and in strategy sessions with other leaders in the movement to end abortion, the term “pro-life” has become too big for its own good. Why, indeed, is any issue an issue at all if it does not impact human life? An argument can indeed be made that any issue worth discussing is, for that very reason, a “pro-life” issue.

And I agree that wherever and however human life is attacked or endangered, we need to be there to protect it. I agree that human life is sacred “from conception to natural death.” I agree that all issues are interrelated and that, properly understood, there is a consistent ethic of life.

But every good strategic planner and successful businessman knows that there is a difference between a vision statement and a mission statement (as there are differences between a mission statement, a strategy, an objective and a tactic).

No business can grow, nor movement succeed, without defining these carefully for itself. Some well-meaning but very careless people and groups are substituting the mission statement of the pro-life movement for its vision statement. We speak of “a culture of life,” and “respect for life from conception to natural death.” Those are not good mission statements; they are statements of vision. Statements of vision are broad, idealistic, big- picture articulations of what kind of future you want.

Mission statements, on the other hand, talk about what your group intends to do to move toward the fulfillment of that vision. Who are you and what do you do? What has come to be known as the “pro- life” movement has a mission which is much more limited and specific than “building a culture of life.” It is, indeed, a mission to restore the right to life of children in the womb, protecting them from the violence of abortion.

And the fulfillment of a mission involves various objectives, which are more specific still, quantifiable, and involve specific deadlines. In this Respect Life month, one of those specific objectives is to increase the pro-life majorities in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate by electing more pro-life candidates in the midterm elections.The deadline, clearly, is Election Day, November 6.

If there was ever a year that pastors do not have to be afraid of “losing their tax exempt status” by preparing people for the election, it’s this year. As I explain in my book Abolishing Abortion (AbolishingAbortion.com) this has never been a reason to be silent. And now, the Trump Administration, by executive order, has directed federal agencies not to enforce any measures against churches and pastors in a discriminatory way to silence them on political matters.

So we are asking churches, Legatus chapters, and many other groups to do two simple things:

Co-sponsor the National Election Prayer Campaign by promoting the simple prayer at ElectionPrayer.com, and distribute the Party Platform Comparison Piece at VotingInfo.net. This single sheet compares the Democratic and Republican platforms, quoting their own words on a variety of key issues.

This Respect Life Month, let’s recommit ourselves to a specific, practical, effective pro-life mission to save children from abortion!

 

FR. FRANK PAVONE is a national director for Priests for Life – the largest ministry in the Catholic Church focused exclusively on ending abortion. Learn more at www.ProLifeCentral.com

Shockwaves – abortion’s rattling impact

The trauma of abortion spreads beyond the baby, to the couple, siblings, family, and other relationships – even to workplaces and broader societal circles. Yet, only the healing power of Christ soothes its distress for good.

Abortion is never an isolated incident. There are relationships affected in addition to the baby who was denied a chance to live and the mother who lives with regrets, whether buried or on the surface. The shockwave-effect from each abortion is one of the reasons so many Legates are passionately involved in pro-life causes. The other reason is that God is pro-life. Thus, it leaves faithful Catholics with no other moral choice.

For Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life and the co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign and member of the Orlando, Florida Legatus chapter, her life is dedicated to the pro-life cause. Since 1989, she has held various local and national leadership roles in the movement and has assisted Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, since his ordination in 1988. In 2009, Legatus International awarded Morana the Cardinal John O’Connor Pro-life Hall of Fame Award.

Her latest book, Shockwaves: Abortion’s Wider Circle of Victims, shares personal accounts of the wounds left by abortion. “Since the early days, I’ve focused on the damage abortion does to women,” Morana explained. “In October of 1990, I prayed outside an abortion clinic for the first time and saw women with visible baby bumps going in to destroy their babies.” She was shocked to see women so far along in the pregnancy aborting their babies.

“Father Frank and I had the idea to make signs saying: ‘Abortion hurts women,” Morana said. “It’s always been on my heart from the beginning to help women who would tell us how they’ve been hurt.”

On November 11, 2002, Morana founded the Silent No More Awareness Campaign as a joint venture with Priests for Life and the Anglicans for Life. It offers post-abortive support and a platform for testimonies. The “I Regret My Abortion” signs first began appearing at their events.

Currently, there are 18,240 people registered with the Campaign, representing 77 countries. A survey among members shows that more than half of them waited over 20 years before seeking healing, although that time varied from one month to 36 years.

“In 2004, we had the first man give his testimony at the March for Life in D.C.,” Morana said. “And we’ve started having more people come forward like grandparents and siblings.”

Testimonies

Shockwaves is the outgrowth of these testimonies, giving a glimpse into the wound our nation has suffered after 45 years and over 59 million have been lost to legalized abortion.

“Abortion hurts people psychologically, physically, and emotionally,” Morana said. “And sometimes later in life, the women are unable to have more children.” She said that she wrote the book to reveal the extent that abortion’s shockwaves have affected society while also offering healing through support and resources.

Before we can heal, Morana explained that we need to understand what ails us. “Denial begins with the professionals,” she said. “The American Psychological Institute doesn’t even acknowledge abortion trauma.”

Her book contains a myriad of stories that demonstrate the shockwaves. For instance, in the chapter “Fatherhood Forever,” men reveal the painful aftermath of losing a child whether it was what he thought he wanted at the time or not.

John changed his mind about his girlfriend getting an abortion while sitting outside the facility in his car. He ran in, hoping to stop the abortion but was too late. “How could they do this to my child… Why was this child sacrificed because of our stupidity?” he cried. “I stopped seeing Janet. I was too filled with rage, anger, and grief to even look at her.”

When Paul Marshall’s girlfriend became pregnant in high school, their families insisted on abortion. Another pregnancy followed but Paul and his girlfriend turned to Planned Parenthood for parenting classes, hoping for a better outcome. “When we asked about taking classes, a clinic staffer told us that was the most foolish thing we could do and that we should have an abortion,” he said. The couple was told the baby was not even human yet.

Later when Paul came to realize he had destroyed his children, he turned to alcohol, burying his feelings until he heard there were other men hurting from abortion and attended an abortion-recovery program for men. “I am now the president and executive director of Care Net Pregnancy Center of Central New York, and we are committed to educating individuals with the truth about fetal development,” he explained. “I was lied to at Planned Parenthood and we know they are still lying about the humanity of the child in the womb.”

Stephen shared his testimony: “Clearly, I let her know it was her responsibility, not mine. Years later I realized she had the abortion for me.” More than 25 years after the abortion, Stephen was in the seminary, deep into prolife work. He contacted his old girlfriend to apologize for not being stronger and learned only then that he had not lost one child, but two—twins.

Stories include grandparents wanting to “fix” the problem and pressuring their children, friends thinking they are being supportive, former clinic workers and even former abortionists themselves. The extent of the shockwaves reveals just how very wounded a country that legalizes abortion becomes.

Healing Needed

Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, the director of the Institute for Marital Healing outside Philadelphia, addresses the effect that previous abortions can have on marriages in his forthcoming book with Ignatius Press on strengthening Catholic marriages. According to him, mistrust, feelings of betrayal and anger can emerge from the trauma of a previous abortion, requiring the work of forgiveness. Sometimes, however, the painful memory causing the conflict is buried so the couple does not even realize it is the source of much of their trouble.

“Spouses report being greatly helped by taking the post-abortion pain to the Sacrament of Reconciliation,” Dr. Fitzgibbons said. “Also, participation in a post-abortion healing programs, such as Project Rachel, has helped many spouses find healing.”

A priest once related to him that he often discovers there is a past abortion for couples with excessive anger. Dr. Fitzgibbons began discovering the same situation when he started asking about it.

“The most severe post-abortion psychological consequence that I have seen is the total loss of trust in a spouse which can progress to the development of paranoid thinking which requires antipsychotic medication,” he said. “I have also treated single males involved with a number of abortions who later developed bipolar disorder with grandiose delusions that were an unconscious attempt to escape from their guilt.”

“The awareness of the shockwaves from abortion is essential to breaking this silence and transforming the ministries of the Church and the health care profession,” Morana explained. Her book also offers a list of resources and explains the healing initiative game plan at AbortionShockwaves.com.

“We are making a difference,” Morana said. “I see people healing and going to Christ to stop the abusive behavior and be made new in Him. There are now three to four more pregnancy centers than there are abortion facilities. We are gaining.”

PATTI MAGUIRE ARMSTRONG, who wrote the newly published book, Legatus @ 30, is an award-winning author and Catholic journalist, TV and radio commentator, and mother of 10.