Column: An International Right to Life

Advocates of legal abortion want more than to keep Roe vs. Wade intact. They want to establish an international right to abortion, enforced on an international level, and overriding the decisions of individual nations to protect their own preborn children.

But, as usual, these people have it not only wrong, but completely upside-down. The international right that has to be proclaimed and protected is the right to life.

And there are actually some steps that have been taken in that direction. We need to know about, clarify and strengthen, and build upon those steps.

After the horrors of the Second World War, people around the world realized that while individual nations have the duty to protect their citizens, such national protection isn’t always enough. What happens if a nation’s leaders turn against some of their own people? Who is responsible to intervene? To whom do those leaders and that nation answer?

The sense that there was a need for an international body to acknowledge and protect basic human rights – which individual nations can neither give nor take away – led to the development of the United Nations. The UN Charter (1945) states that its purpose is:

“to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person.”

Within three years, this institution published the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, stating that:

“recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

Moreover, Article 3 of the Declaration states:

“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

Article 6 states:

“Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.”

These words are true, but in order to have binding force, it was clear that more than a proclamation was needed. The substance of the Universal Declaration was therefore placed in hard legal form as an international treaty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR, 1966), onto which over 160 nations have signed. This treaty states in Article 26:

“All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law.”

Moreover, a Declaration on the Rights of the Child was issued in 1959, stating:

“…the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.”

This, too, was incorporated into a treaty, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), which states in Article 6:

“States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life.”

To us in the pro-life movement, the next steps are obvious. The language of these declarations and treaties needs to be brought to its consistent and logical conclusion. The violence of abortion, which denies the child’s right to life and kills the child, is in fact prohibited by the language of these documents.

We Should Take the Youth Seriously

As we welcome young people into pro-life efforts, we should let ourselves be challenged by them. They will remind us of things which we have perhaps forgotten, and will even be able to teach us a new way of activism, and even a new way of thinking.

When confronting fundamental moral issues, our youth think in straight lines. Unaccustomed to layers of complication, young people can ask questions with a simple and direct clarity. “If children are being killed down the street, let’s go there and save them.” “If politicians support the killing, let’s tell people not to vote for them.” “If pastors are silent, let’s tell them to speak!”

While the young always need to be open to learn from those with more experience, they also need to be listened to.

‘Terri Schiavo Priest’ will pay to bring Baby Joseph to U.S.

ROME — Father Frank Pavone, who became known as the “Terri Schiavo Priest” for his role in trying to save the life of a Florida woman in 2005, has joined the fight to save a Canadian baby from a cruel death.

“If I have to fly from Rome to Canada to get Baby Joseph out of the hospital and back home where he belongs, I am ready to do that right now,” said Father Pavone, who has been attending meetings at the Vatican this week.

Father Pavone said Priests for Life will pay all expenses to bring Baby Joseph and his family to a hospital in the United States that would agree to perform the tracheotomy that would make it possible for him to go home.

“The parents of this precious boy are asking only to be allowed to bring Baby Joseph home, where he can die surrounded by those who love him,” said Father Pavone, national director of Priests for Life. “It’s beyond imagination that they would have to ask. This is not an issue that belongs in the court, or in the hands of his doctors. This is their son; he needs to be home with his family.

Doctors at Children’s Hospital in London, Ontario, who have been treating the boy for a fatal degenerative disorder want to remove the breathing tube that is keeping 13-month-old Joseph Maraaachli alive. His parents, Moe Maraachli and Sana Nader, are fully aware that their son will not recover, but they want doctors to fit Joseph with a tracheotomy so they can bring him home as they did eight years ago with their baby daughter Zina, who had a similar condition and died six months after they brought her home. Instead of doing the tracheotomy, the doctors asked Ontario’s Consent and Capacity board for permission to remove the breathing tube. A judge last week agreed with the doctors’ position.

“This couple lost a child to this same disease eight years ago so they know exactly what they are dealing with, and what to expect as Baby Joseph reaches the end of his life. The small comfort they could take from Zina’s death was to know she died in peace surrounded by those whose lives she had touched in her own short life. They want the same for Baby Joseph.”

Father Pavone was with Terri Schiavo’s parents, brother and sister in her hospital room in the hours before the Florida woman died in 2005, two weeks after a court declared she could be denied food and water to bring on her death. Like the Maraachli family, the Schindlers wanted to bring Terri home.

“This same barbaric act is what the Canadian court is asking Baby Joseph’s family to endure,” Father Pavone said. “It is cruel, it is criminal and it cannot be allowed to happen again.”

Dr. Alveda King Blasts Billboard “Censorship”

New York–Dr. Alveda King, director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life, released the following statement today regarding the billboard in Manhattan that proclaims: “The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb.” The billboard was taken down after pressure from local politicians and neighborhood residents.

“It is an outrageous act of censorship that this billboard was taken down,” Dr King said. “This billboard should be posted in every city of the country. And it should provoke outrage in the African-American community—not because it is racist, but because of the truth it reveals; the truth that is being kept from the African-American community.

“Black people in New York and all over the country should be outraged at the numbers of black babies we lose every single day to abortion. An astonishing 60 percent of African-American pregnancies in the five boroughs of New York City end in abortion. That’s unfathomable!

“Some people are angry about the billboard, but that anger is misplaced. We should all be upset and heartbroken that so many African-American women have bought into the lie that abortion will solve their problems. Legal abortion has been with us for 38 years, and the problems facing the African-American community have not gone away.”

Dr. King concluded: “The message of this billboard is totally accurate. The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb! It’s a travesty of justice that it is being taken down.”

Fr. Pavone Received as Member of Vatican Academy

Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, was formally welcomed on Thursday as a Member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life. The Academy, which was established by Pope John Paul II and initially led by Dr. Jerome Lejeune, engages in research on life issues at the service of the Holy See and the Universal Church.

Fr. Frank and Priests for Life have collaborated with the Academy for many years. Last year, Fr. Frank was named a member of the Academy, and on Thursday, His Excellency, Most Reverend Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, formally welcomed Fr. Frank as a member at the opening session of the Academy’s 17th General Assembly, and bestowed on him the pin with the insignia of the Academy. Among those present were the President Emeritus of the Academy, Cardinal Elio Sgreccia, who said that his recent elevation to the College of Cardinals was a sign from Pope Benedict XVI of the importance of the work of the Academy and of the pro-life movement in general.

This Assembly, which includes Academy members from around the world, will continue meeting on Friday and Saturday, and will conclude with an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. Sessions will include presentations on the topics of Umbilical Cord Blood Banks, and also Post-Abortion Trauma. Among the presenters will be fulltime Priests for Life Pastoral Associate Dr. Theresa Burke, founder of Rachel’s Vineyard, and among the special invited guests present at the Assembly is Janet Morana, Executive Director of Priests for Life and co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.

Other members of the Academy from the United States include, among others, Dr. John Haas, Carl Anderson (Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus), Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, SV (Superior of the Sisters of Life), Dr. Thomas Hilgers, Dr. Joanne Angelo, and Dr. Fran Hogan.

The Youth Play a Vital Role

I often point out that our youth are not simply the “future leaders” of the pro-life movement. They are leaders here and now, in more ways than one.

Often I am asked to speak about the role of youth in the pro-life movement, and to encourage parishes and pro-life organizations to focus more on recruiting youth for this cause. In fact, this is not a difficult task. Youth understand the pro-life message better than many adults, and the most common response they give to the question, “Why are you involved in trying to stop abortion?” is “Because it could have been me.” They are aware that they were not protected in the womb, and could have been killed. They are survivors and they know it.

May our young people be strong in protecting the youngest. An excellent resource for youth is Students for Life of America (visit to learn more).

Silent No More About Planned Parenthood

ROME – While having various meetings at the Vatican regarding the pro-life movement, Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, announced that the women and men of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign (a joint project of Priests for Life and Anglicans for Life) are raising their voices about their experiences at Planned Parenthood as the U.S. Senate prepares for its vote on whether to defund the world’s largest abortion business.

At, members of the Campaign are sharing their painful experiences, providing more firsthand evidence that Planned Parenthood does not serve the needs of women and has no respect for the law.

For instance, Sherry Coleman Wright states:

“I was 17 years old – the lady at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Council Bluffs, Iowa told me I could go to Women’s Services clinic in Omaha, Nebraska, to get the procedure. My boyfriend at the time was 23 or 24 and I was told not to mention that or he would get into trouble. I don’t feel like they really had my best interest in mind. From what I understand, they still give young girls the same advice. I was devastated by that abortion and my life spiraled downward.”

Christy Annison tells us:

“I had a botched abortion in Atlanta’s Planned Parenthood abortion clinic. The doctor left the dead fetus inside and I needed immediate medical attention. For the health of women, please defund Planned Parenthood.”

The Campaign is providing these and numerous other testimonies to the U.S. Senate in the days ahead, and is urging citizens, as they communicate with their Senators, to share with them the voices of experience found at

Founded in 2003 by Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life, and Georgette Forney, president of Anglicans for Life, the Silent No More Awareness Campaign has become an integral part of the March for Life, which every January marks the anniversary of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision. Women and men who have been harmed by their abortion experiences also share their testimony at events across the country and throughout the year.

Beginning March 1, members of the Campaign will take to the streets in front of the Senate offices in Washington, holding their signs saying, “I Regret My Abortion.”

Seek First the Kingdom of God

Our Lord tells us in the Gospels not to be concerned over questions like what are we to eat or what are we to wear. He warns against worldly anxieties, and commands us instead to seek first the Kingdom of God.

Worldly anxiety over our ability to provide for ourselves leads to many evils, including the temptation to abort one’s children.

The Lord’s command is to seek His Kingdom first, a mentality which is key to saying yes to life.

To put God’s kingdom first means that choosing what is right is more important and central to us than calculating how much material security we will gain or lose. It means the readiness to sacrifice to make room for God and for others, including those who are unplanned or inconvenient. It means always saying yes to life.

The Most Unimaginable Infidelity

The Lord declares in His word that even if a mother forsakes her own child, He will not forsake us. He uses the abandonment of one’s own child as an example of the most unimaginable infidelity. This passage makes it clear that God cannot possibly think that the act of abortion is ever justified. It is a forsaking of the child whom God has entrusted not only to that mother, but to all of us. God’s own faithfulness to us is reflected in how we take care of one another, particularly the weak and the lowly. That’s why pro-life work glorifies God. It restores to the human community that compassionate care and protection that those made in God’s image are to have for one another. Let’s give mothers the strength never to forsake their children.

Silent No More Women and Men to Senate: Listen to our Voices, and De-Fund Planned Parenthood!

The international Silent No More Awareness Campaign, a joint project of Priests for Life and Anglicans for Life, called upon the United States Senate to follow the example of the House of Representatives and deny funding to Planned Parenthood.

“Experience trumps rhetoric,” said co-founder Janet Morana, Executive Director of Priests for Life. “It’s time to bring to the Senate the experience of the thousands of campaign members who have lost children to abortion. Funds to Planned Parenthood are funds that result in devastating the lives of untold women and men. The members of the US Senate would benefit from listening to and reading the testimonies of these individuals.”

The Campaign has announced that beginning March 1, its members will be present outside the Senate office buildings in Washington, D.C., holding signs saying, “I Regret My Abortion.”

“As someone who has suffered from an abortion, I can say that the opportunity to speak in this way is profoundly meaningful to these women,” said co-founder Georgette Forney, President of Anglicans for Life. “We pray that it will likewise be meaningful to the Senators who hear them.”