On ‘Turkey Day,’ Have a Wing and a Prayer

A Pythagorean writer once expressed the role of civil authority this way: “The monarch has an irrepressible authority (and is therefore not limited by consent); he is a living law; he is like a god among men.

How different America is. Our Founders came here for freedom, a freedom that recognized that no human being or group of human beings can ever be “gods among men.” Our republic, instead, was to be governed by the rule of law rather than the rule of men.

Therefore no king or parliament would be able to oppress the rights of others, or delete their right to life. Our forefathers fought a revolution to see to that. It wasn’t simply about “taxation without representation.” It was about freedom, and the understanding that freedom is rooted in God.

The pagan view of government denied any importance to the individual, exalted the power of the state beyond all limits, and therefore was able to endorse things like infanticide. After all, the law came from the mouth of the king. Individuals didn’t matter. If the king decreed it, even infanticide would be all right.

Our Founding Fathers, however, were influenced in their philosophy of government by Scripture and the Judeo-Christian tradition, according to which everyone was a sinner and equally subject to the laws of God. Yes, there would be earthly rulers, but they, too, were subject to God.

Moreover, each person is a child of God. This awareness shaped our Founding Fathers’ concept of government, because it introduced something unheard of among the ancient pagans, namely, that now, each individual has a direct and personal link to the Creator, independent of any earthly power. This awareness of the dignity of the human person then formed the basis for letting each individual have a say in a representative form of government, and for insisting that our rights, starting with Life, come from the Creator, and that “to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men” (Declaration of Independence).

This is what we celebrate at Thanksgiving – not just that we have food, but that we have freedom, rooted in God and the recognition that government cannot tamper with our human rights.

The Church’s liturgy for Thanksgiving Day expresses this beautifully in the Preface, which says, “Father, …you made man to your own image…Once you chose a people and gave them a destiny and, when you brought them out of bondage to freedom, they carried with them the promise that all men would be blessed and all men could be free…It has come to pass in every generation for all men who have believed that Jesus by his death and resurrection gave them a new freedom in his Spirit. It happened to our fathers, who came to this land as if out of the desert into a place of promise and hope. It happens to us still, in our time, as you lead all men through your Church to the blessed vision of peace.

And indeed, for this we give thanks!

Fr. Frank Pavone

National Director, Priests for Life

Bishops’ Conference in Baltimore

Dear Friends,

I’m spending these days at the semi-annual meeting of all the Catholic bishops of the United States, as they gather in Baltimore. I’ve been coming to these meetings for quite a few years to represent the national movement of Priests for Life, and the support and encouragement I get from these bishops for our ministry continues to be more strong and palpable each time.

During the many personal conversations I’m having, I’m relaying to the bishops the gratitude of so many of you for the statements that many of them made prior to the elections. They in turn are thanking me and Priests for Life for the work we do each year to promote political responsibility — a work that so many of you make possible!

During the opening address from Cardinal George, the President of the Bishops’ Conference, the line which drew spontaneous and sustained applause from the body of bishops during the speech was this one:

“The common good can never be adequately incarnated in any society when those waiting to be born can be legally killed at choice.”

After the applause, he went on to say,

“If the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision that African Americans were other people’s property and somehow less than persons were still settled constitutional law, Mr. Obama would not be president of the United States.”

Click here for the full text of Cardinal George’s speech.

Fr. Frank Pavone

Pro-Choice Violence

I received the following message on my blog (www.priestsforlife.org/blog) the day after the elections:

Urgent–to Fr. Frank. Says: November 5th, 2008 at 9:49 pm


I am predicting that there will be more anti-abortion terror because of this election. I AM ALSO PREDICTING THAT THIS TIME IT WILL BE ANSWERED IN KIND BY PRO-CHOICE COUNTERTERRORISTS, who will mount similar terrorist attacks against well-known right-to-lifers. FATHER FRANK will be a natural target for pro-choice counterterrorists.

I therefore advise you, Fr Frank, if you read that there has been another abortion-clinic shooting or bombing, get out of town immediately. Take a vacation abroad. Go visit the Vatican. If there is another act of anti-abortion terror, your life will not be safe in the USA.

Good luck.

Some other pro-life leaders received a similar message, and it has been reported to law enforcement.

Pro-abortion extremists call the pro-life movement “violent.” Yet it’s the most peaceful movement of social reform in our nation’s history. In fact, the most confrontational aspect of our movement, Operation Rescue, brought about over 70,000 arrests from 1987 to 1994, yet not a single one of them was for violent activity.

We also know that any time a movement is as big as ours, there will be a handful of people – disconnected from the movement – who embrace violence as a tactic. The same was true of the civil rights movement and the abolitionist movement.

But of no movement is it more true than the pro-abortion movement. It’s just that the public doesn’t know of their fanatical violence. It starts in the womb, of course – the very action they promote as a “right” is in fact violence. “Typically, the skull is brought out in fragments rather than as a unified piece,” abortionist Martin Haskell testified in court in 1999 regarding the legal “D and E” abortion procedure (Wisconsin, Case No. 98-C-0305-S).

And their violence extends beyond the womb. Just visit www.prochoiceviolence.com to see that our movement has been able to document 8519 acts of violence (and counting) by the other side. Pro-abortion fanatics have attacked pro-life demonstrators, have kidnapped women to force them to abort, have murdered born babies, and much more.

So for the visitor to my blog to send that message just reinforces the truth about the “abortion-rights” fanatics. Violence is their way of life.

But why blame Obama? Of course, he is the most pro-abortion person elected to the Presidency. Perhaps they’re thinking back to President Clinton, whose attempts to stop peaceful intervention coincided with the killing of some abortionists. Or perhaps they’re thinking of President Kennedy’s assertion, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

But we already have a peaceful revolution – and not only is it possible, it’s growing! As long as I have anything to say about it, there won’t be any “anti-abortion terror.” Instead, there will be peaceful vigil, 24-hours a day, around abortion centers. That both stops abortions and stops the killing of abortionists.

Fr. Frank Pavone

National Director, Priests for Life

Reforming the Democratic Party

The case has been made by a number of writers and ethicists, with quite a bit of persuasiveness, that it is no longer morally permissible to support the Democratic party. So many Democrats have come to that conclusion on their own, in fact, that I can’t keep up on all the emails I get from people who have left the party over its radical, anti-life, anti-marriage, and anti-religious positions.

Now I know many faithful pro-life Democrats, some of whom are in elected office, and I know countless others who are simply not aware of how the party has changed and who would probably leave the party if they understood those changes. I also know many who do understand those changes and yet work within the party for reform. We at Priests for Life have a very fruitful working relationship with Democrats for Life of America, and their various chapters.

My point, however, is this. Unless one is working to change this party into a pro-life party, it’s very difficult, if not impossible to justify supporting it. The party has become the agent of a national holocaust. Other “good” positions the party may have – of which there are many – simply do not and cannot counterbalance that moral problem. And now that the elections have given that party more power, it is all the more urgent to point this out.

It all starts with education. I’ve placed on our website a comparison of the 2008 platforms of the Democratic and Republican parties. Click here to read it. Please read through it and pass it around.

Fr. Frank

Save A Life By Showing a Picture

I share with you today another message from someone who saw the pictures of aborted babies on our website:

There is no way that anyone can look at these photos and not understand that abortion is murder. There are those of us that looked at them as I did, many years ago, thinking that these were just scare tactics and somehow it did not apply to me. But the truth is that it is murder. People kill their children and the law accepts this. Yet a woman can be arrested for harming her unborn baby by drugs and alcohol. I join with you to fight on behalf of the children who cannot fight because they are as yet unborn.

You can influence many others like this by visiting priestsforlife.org, viewing the images, and sharing them with others.

–Fr. Frank

Many Changes to Come For Pro-Life Movement

The election of a pro-abortion president means many changes for the pro-life cause. Instead of passing pro-life legislation, we will be blocking pro-abortion legislation. Instead of confirming good judges we will be blocking bad ones.

But many things do not change. The abortion industry is collapsing, the American people continue to be more pro-life, especially the young, and the truth that abortion is violence continues to be exposed.

It is all right to be disappointed in the outcome of an election, but we never walk away from the cause. In fact, our movement will attract new recruits who realize how extreme the new administration’s abortion policy is, and will know it is bad for America. We will continue to march toward the pro-life America that we seek, and we will not stop until we get there.

–Fr. Frank

A Grave Mistake and an Abiding Hope

Americans have made a grave mistake in electing Barack Obama to the presidency. Yet America herself remains great and is not a mistake, which is why so many of her citizens will continue, with even greater energy and determination, to defend her founding principles.

The man elected to the Presidency said during the campaign that he does not know when a human being starts to have human rights. How can one govern from that starting point of ignorance? Governing is about protecting human rights; to do it successfully, you have to know where they come from, and when they begin.

The President-elect has already failed that test miserably.

The American people do not share Barack Obama’s extreme and offensive views on abortion. They never have and they never will. The coming four years will see a widening gap between the people and their President on this fundamental issue. As Americans come to know how extreme his position is, the intensity of the struggle to protect these children will only increase.

The pro-life movement has made significant gains in the courts and in the law in these last eight years. For the next four, the movement will work to prevent the erosion of that progress.

It would be a serious mistake for people to think that this election means the pro-life movement has no political power. All politics is local. Political power is about people. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was once told that given the political realities, civil rights legislation would be impossible to pass. “We’ll just have to see about that,” he replied. And the civil rights movement was born, stirring the hearts of the people to lead the nation to the victory of justice.

So it is with our movement. The vast majority of Americans are pro-life. They will fight abortion on the local level, opening pregnancy centers and closing abortion mills, activating their Churches and educating their children, proclaiming the message in the media and demonstrating in the streets. The pro-life movement is winning this battle in the hearts and minds of the American people, as opinion polls show and as the shrinking number of abortion mills and abortion providers prove.

Political races are always a swinging of the pendulum. As soon as you win, you begin to lose, and as soon as you lose, you begin the ascent again to winning. In the next two election cycles (2010 and 2012) the pro-life movement will make up for political ground lost in this one.

It is all right to be disappointed at the end of an election season, but one must never walk away. Amidst disappointment is abiding hope in America, where everything remains possible, and where a new chapter of the pro-life movement has just begun. The efforts that were made, and the sacrifices endured in this election season made a difference, and we will build on that difference to see another day when the work and the ballots of pro-life people will dismantle the Culture of Death. We will keep marching toward that pro-life America we seek, and won’t stop until we get there.

Fr. Frank Pavone

“We Know Exactly What To Do” – Massive Conference Call Planned for Wednesday Night

On this Election Day 2008, I call on all pro-life people to spend the day getting others to the polls. It’s all about turnout now, because it’s not opinions that get counted, but votes.

This election has enormous implications for the moral direction of the nation, and we who are concerned about that moral direction will vote in greater numbers today than the media has acknowledged. We in the pro-life movement realize that the work of ending the injustice of abortion belongs to us. We work today to put into public office those who will not stand in our way. We don’t expect public officials to do our work for us; rather, we expect them to do their work and let us do ours.

And we know exactly what to do to end abortion. There is no possible outcome of this election today that would leave us asking, “What do we do?” We already have a movement, and it is a movement that is young, strong, and effective. We will end abortion in America, either with the willing cooperation of elected leaders, or with their reluctant cooperation brought about by intense public pressure.

Join me tomorrow night, Wednesday November 5, for a post-election one-hour teleseminar. I have invited other national pro-life leaders to join me. We will assess the results, and we will talk about the concrete action steps that need to be taken by our movement to end abortion. To sign up, go to www.priestsforlife.org/conferencecall/index.aspx. The pro-life movement is pro-active, not simply reactive. And we will say again, tomorrow and the next day, to those in public office: either lead, follow, or get out of the way!


Fr. Frank

A Message Before Election Day

Dear Friends,

The elections of 2008 have not yet been decided, because aside from those who have voted early, the votes have not yet been cast. Elections are not decided by polls or predictions, but only by the votes that are actually cast.

What we need to do

That is why the single crucial thing for each of us to do right now is simply to get as many like-minded people as possible into the voting booth as possible. Take the day off from work on Monday and on Election Day. Volunteer for the campaign of the candidate of your choice, and help get people to the voting booth.

Please see www.PoliticalResponsibility.com for more details and updates both before and after Election Day.

In particular, please sign up for the teleseminar I will conduct, along with a group of other national pro-life leaders, on Wednesday night November 5 from 9 to 10pm ET. We will talk about the election results and about the direction of the pro-life movement.

Perspective on the Polls

Finally, let me share with you some wisdom about opinion polls.

Throughout the entire Presidential election year of 2004, there were 239 national opinion polls about the race, and in the year 2000 there were less than half that number. This year, there have been close to 800 – and counting!

This explosion of polls has brought about more confusion than clarity. For example, nine or ten polls were taken one day recently and showed margins of 3 to 10 points difference between the candidates. The next day, the polls taken showed margins from 2 to 15 points, and on the third day, the range was from 3 to 7 points.

People wonder, “Who’s right? Why are the polls so different from each other, even on the same day?”

First of all, the numbers you hear represent all different kinds of polls. There are national polls and state polls. Then there are polls of polls (for example, some numbers represent the average of all the polls taken in, for instance, the last two weeks).

Now if the race is going to be determined by a handful of key states, changes in other states will be reflected in national polls but won’t matter for the actual outcome of the election. Moreover, if there is a change in voter attitudes taking place, it will take more time for such a change to show up on the state level than in the national polls – and there are fewer of the former than the latter. Finally, if a poll is a two-week average of polls, then changes taking place today will not be as obvious as they would be in a poll that tracks day to day changes.

The sheer multiplicity of polls this year, moreover, also means that there is quite a disparity of methodology and expertise. There’s a big difference between a polling company with decades of experience and a university group that decided to start polling this year. And if a pollster is polling in a particular state, the poll will be better depending on the expertise the pollster has about the electorate in that particular state.

Among polling companies, moreover, one must consider the quality of the sample size, the methodology used, the presumptions about the makeup of the electorate, the internal adjustments made in the numbers, and so forth. When you hear poll results, in other words, you have to ask, “Who exactly is being counted here, and what presumptions are being made?” Are the people who were polled registered to vote? Are they “likely” voters, and how has that been defined? From what party does the polling sample come?

Generally, a poll will take 40% of its sample from each major party and then 20% independents. But we have seen some polls representing one party with 50% of its sample, and the other party 30%. Those results will be skewed. It’s very helpful for a political interest group to create a poll like this for fundraising purposes, so they can send out a letter saying, “See, we’re up by ten points; send us more money so we can stay up!” Meanwhile, the donor hasn’t read any fine print about the poll’s methodology or sample group.

And presumptions about who will be “likely” voters can be tricky. Will the registration of many new young voters, for instance, translate into those young people actually showing up at the voting booth? That remains to be seen. A poll is an educated guess about how much of that will happen.

Polls often miss the dynamics involved in turnout, such as the motivation that various groups have, or the impact that the weather on Election Day will have. The good news for pro-life people is that the difference between a likely pro-life voter and other likely voters is that the pro-life voter is more likely to vote. Past election analysis shows that the pro-life movement’s voters are more motivated than those in the pro-abortion movement. We are better at getting our voters to vote. We care more about issues. We care more about showing up at the polls. This is not something a poll will measure in advance.
In the 27 states for example that have had marriage amendments, every single poll has understated the final turnout by as much as six to eight points. In states that looked like the marriage issue might be fairly close ended up not being close at all. Even in states like Oregon where it was expected to lose, it won fairly handily.
And, of course, a key number to pay attention to when you hear polls is the number of undecided voters. By definition, they can go either way, and haven’t gone there yet. Elections are decided by the undecided, who decide on Election Day itself.

We tend to “anoint” polls, but we shouldn’t. We tend to think that they are far more scientific than they actually are and we give them far more credence than they actually deserve. But they are filled with presumptions, projections, guesses, and margins of error, if not bad sampling, erroneous methodology, and outright bias.

Again, only one thing matters in elections, and that’s turnout. The elections of 2008 have not been decided, and they will be decided only when the voters come out and the votes are actually counted.

Congress and States

With all the attention on the Presidential race, of course, we have to remind ourselves to pay close attention also to other races, on every level. A President is stronger or weaker depending on the makeup of Congress. A President can sign a bill into law only if Congress puts it on his desk first. A President can veto a bill, but a strong Congress can override that veto. A President can nominate a judge, but the Senate can either confirm or reject that nominee. Congress matters, and every Congressional race deserves our attention.

Races at all levels of government matter, and voters need to do their homework to come to know the candidates.
State measures

Voters also need to pay attention to various ballot initiatives, State Constitutional Amendments, and other measures on which they will be asked to vote. There are a number of crucial state initiatives that impact the pro-life cause in the 2008 elections. Voters nationwide should talk to those they know in these states, educate them about these initiatives, and urge them to vote appropriately.

California: Proposition 4, or the Abortion Waiting Period and Parental Notification Initiative, is a proposal to amend the California Constitution. The initiative would prohibit abortion for unemancipated minors until 48 hours after a physician notifies the minor’s parent, legal guardian, or an alternative adult family member if the minor’s parents are abusive. An exception for medical emergency is provided.

When you consider that about a quarter of all the nation’s abortions are performed in California, and that studies have shown that parental involvement laws reduce the numbers of abortions, the passage of this measure can do a lot to reduce the abortion numbers in America. Voters in California should vigorously support Proposition 4.

South Dakota: Initiated Measure 11, or the Unborn Child Protection Initiative, is a proposal to amend South Dakota’s Constitution to ban all abortions in the state except for those performed because of rape, incest or a substantial and irreversible risk to the woman’s health.

Attorneys behind this measure believe it can be used to challenge Roe vs. Wade itself. Voters in South Dakota should vigorously support Initiated Measure 11.

Colorado: Amendment 48, the Colorado Definition of Person Initiative, defines a “person” from the time of fertilization. Voters should vote “Yes” on this initiative.

Washington: I-1000, or the Assisted Suicide Initiative, would legalize assisted suicide by allowing doctors to order lethal drug overdoses for terminally ill patients. Family members do not have to be informed regarding their loved ones. Voters should reject this initiative.