Baltimore Legate Steve Peroutka has launched a heartfelt pro-life radio ministry . . .
After going to his first national March for Life 14 years ago in Washington, D.C., Peroutka decided it was time to jump into the trenches of the pro-life movement. It wasn’t long before he became a recognized warrior in the fight for the unborn, advancing the pro-life message on his own radio programs.
Before that, Peroutka said, he was like many Catholics and other Christians who say they oppose abortion, but sit on the sidelines. He said his transformation from spectator to player came after seeing the face of the pro-life movement as he marched down Washington’s Constitution Avenue with “600,000 of the best people you want to meet.”
He founded National Pro-Life Radio — an Internet radio platform — and the Elizabeth Streb Peroutka Foundation, named for his mother, to support pro-life causes. He also serves as chairman of the National Pro-Life Center.
An attorney who practices in Pasadena, Md., with his brother and fellow pro-life advocate, Michael, Peroutka now returns annually to the March for Life on the anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in America.
“It’s a reinvigoration of the pro-life movement,” he said. “You’ve got to do it once a year to be re-energized.”
A member of Legatus’ Baltimore Chapter, Peroutka credits his wife Debbie with encouraging him to go to the March and for bringing him back to the Catholic Church.
“I was raised a good Catholic,” he said, “but I strayed out of laziness.” When he met Debbie, Peroutka said, he saw someone who took her faith seriously, something he hadn’t done since he was a teen.
As he made his way back to the Church, Peroutka said his radio shows taught him about his faith by giving him the opportunity to interview people who might otherwise be inaccessible for a one-on-one chat.
Peroutka’s radio programs air on stations in Baltimore and Annapolis, Md., and on SiriusXM’s Family Talk, Channel 131. His SiriusXM show “Face the Truth Coast 2 Coast” airs at 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays.
About eight years ago, Peroutka collaborated with two others to start National Pro-Life Radio, an Internet site with programs featuring such hosts as Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life and Day Gardner of the National Black Pro-Life Union.
Rob McQuay, National Pro-Life Radio’s production director, said the idea for an Internet radio presence advancing the cause of life came from Fr. Paul Schenck, who pitched the proposal to Peroutka. McQuay then implemented the plan. At the time, Fr. Schenck, a former Protestant clergyman, was not yet a priest.
Father Schenck, director of the Office of Respect Life Activities in the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pa., had met Peroutka in 1998 after hearing a pro-life advertisement on his car radio.
“At the end of the ad it said, ‘Brought to you by the law offices of Peroutka and Peroutka,’” Fr. Schenck recalled. He said his heart leapt at the thought of a law office sponsoring a pro-life ad. Determined to find out who was behind it, he called Peroutka’s office.
As the two men got acquainted, Fr. Schenck learned that Peroutka had created a media studio and was using it to broadcast the pro-life message. Peroutka, meanwhile, discovered that Fr. Schenck was involved in the prolife movement and invited him to be on his show. A friendship was born.
Peroutka also aided Fr. Schenck in his entry into the Catholic Church, even providing him with a job so that he could support his wife and children after he left his position as a Protestant pastor.
“Thanks to Steve’s generosity, sponsorship, and his love shown to me and my family,” Fr. Schenck said, “we were able to make that transition and begin the road to becoming a Catholic family and, for me, eventually a Catholic priest.”
Peroutka also helped Fr. Schenck start the National Pro-Life Center, an ecumenical outreach to public policy makers in Washington. From its o£ces near the U.S. Supreme Court, the Center seeks to provide conscience-forming information to policy makers, members of the federal judiciary, the justices, and their senior staff.
“We are evangelists proclaiming the gospel of life on Capitol Hill and at the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Fr. Schenck, the Center’s founding director and chair.
The real deal
Besides the public face of his pro-life work through radio and the National Pro-Life Center, Peroutka has supported the movement and its people both personally and through his foundation.
The National Black Pro-Life Union’s Day Gardner remembers Peroutka’s response when she was working with National Right to Life to increase awareness of abortion in the African-American community.
“I told Steve what I wanted to do and said I was looking for people to help me,” she explained. “Without batting an eye he said, ‘What do you need?’ and he came to our help immediately.”
Gardner said Peroutka personally funded an event featuring Tony award winning singer Melba Moore, who talked about her abortion. The event was significant, Gardner added, because at the time “blacks were not talking about abortion. It was a secret. We knew there were people who had had abortions, but none of us knew the numbers and the toll it was taking.”
After that event, Gardner said, Peroutka went on to underwrite other initiatives. “He’s been one of those people who goes absolutely out of his way to get things done and to make sure you have what you need, not only financially, but that people are plugged in so it becomes a very successful event. He’s the real deal. He’s good to his word. He’s not going to say something and then change. That’s very rare in these days and these times.”
McQuay concurs. “Particularly when he has a cause and something that he’s passionate about, he will do whatever he can to make it happen. He’s generous financially, but he’s generous with his time and interest, too.”
Father Schenck, who procured an apostolic blessing conferred upon Peroutka in 2008, said he experienced his friend’s generosity on an intensely personal level when his second son needed treatment at Johns Hopkins Medical Center for systemic lupus in 2006. Because his son had no insurance and couldn’t be covered under his father’s policy, his care had to be paid in advance. Peroutka agreed to help and the young man’s life was saved.
Why does Peroutka devote so much time and energy to a single issue?
“It all starts with pro-life,” Peroutka explained. “How can we expect God to look down on us favorably if we kill our children? I hear some politicians say social issues are second because we need to get the economy in shape first. How can we hope to prevail if we kill our children? How can we hope to make the right taxes, build the right roads, the right programs? It’s almost silly to think of a society trying to work for good when they kill 1.5 million children a year!”
JUDY ROBERTS is Legatus magazine’s staff writer.