Sidewalk Counselors: On the Frontlines

I recently had the joy to deliver the opening address at the nation’s first national sidewalk counseling training conference, sponsored by Pro-life Action Ministries. This weekend conference featured various experts addressing the how and why of sidewalk counseling, which is a ministry in which people stand in front of abortion facilities to save lives by offering alternatives to those who are coming there for abortions. Sidewalk counselors are the people who make the last resort effort to persuade those who have not been persuaded by any other activity of the pro-life movement. They often only have seconds in which to make the case that the child’s life should be spared. They often face hostility and disappointment because of hardened hearts. They need your prayers and encouragement, and if possible, your presence.

Getting to Know the Candidates is Essential

In the various debates which have been held so far between Presidential candidates, the issue of abortion has come up. It has been discussed in terms of legislation that the candidate has signed or would sign, nominees which would be selected for the courts, the role of the states in relation to the Federal government, and whether there are any exceptions under which babies should be protected.

Now is the time to pay attention to these debates, and to what the candidates say about abortion and the other issues. Getting to know the candidates is essential if we are to carry out our duty to be informed and active voters. At, we will keep you informed of these and other developments as Election Season 2012 continues to unfold.

The Human Cost of ‘Selective Reduction’

The article below by Janet Morana appeared today on National Review Online. It is a response to the recent New York Times article on selective reduction abortion. Please visit the link below and leave a comment!

Thirty years ago, I was in the ninth month of my second pregnancy when I received what was a very unsettling referral for a sonogram, which was not nearly as routine in those days. My eyes never once left the technician’s face as she studied the monitor. You can imagine my doubled apprehension as she left the room without offering me the small mercy of that nonchalant, “everything-is-normal-and-on-track” smile. When the OB-GYN followed her back into the room moments later, I really needed him to compensate for the technician’s serious breach of sonogram etiquette. Instead, he informed me that I was pregnant with twins.

I left that appointment just as frightened as every other woman who has ever received the same news. At the time, I already had a 23-month-old daughter; my financial resources, while not as limited as those of many new mothers, were light years away from reassuring; and my mental preparations had been for one baby, not two.

As the news began to sink in over the following few days, however, my fear got some competition from a growing awareness of my personal strength. I was still terrified, naturally, but on some level I made a decision to battle that fear, to refuse to let it take me without a fight. I remember throwing open the phone book (the Google of the ’80s), and aggressively tracking down the contact information for the local Twins & Multiples club.

In “The Two Minus One Pregnancy” article in The New York Times Magazine (Aug. 10), Ruth Padawer interviews women who, after becoming pregnant with twins using fertility drugs and procedures, decide to undergo a selective reduction. The women describe with illuminating candor their fears of the challenges of birthing two newborns at once: of not being the best mother they can be to all of their children (including those already born) & of being spread too thin, and so they abort one of the twins.

The story begins:

As Jenny lay on the obstetrician’s examination table, she was grateful that the ultrasound tech had turned off the overhead screen. She didn’t want to see the two shadows floating inside her. Since making her decision, she had tried hard not to think about them, though she could often think of little else. She was 45 and pregnant after six years of fertility bills, ovulation injections, donor eggs and disappointment — and yet here she was, 14 weeks into her pregnancy, choosing to extinguish one of two healthy fetuses, almost as if having half an abortion. As the doctor inserted the needle into Jenny’s abdomen, aiming at one of the fetuses, Jenny tried not to flinch, caught between intense relief and intense guilt.

The women’s honesty allows no confusion about what’s making their decision for them: fear.

It’s scary to be carrying twins, scarier to think about the labor that will bring these twins into the world, & scarier still to contemplate “Now what?” Without the Orwellian choices open to mothers of this generation, we answered the question “Now what?” one sleepless night at a time.

So when I brought my twin girls home back in 1980, I took it one day at a time. Scratch that, I took it one action at a time. I made that nightly pilgrimage to the nursery with tired eyes and tired feet. Constant feedings and changings, yes, but accompanied all the while by the twins’ mutual gazes, touches, and gurgling “twin talk.” Exhausting days and nights, but ones that I would never trade away. I still look with personal pride on the technique I developed to feed the twins with two pillows — my home-grown version of Boppies. There were fun trips to the Mall to share my joys and accomplishments with the countless strangers who would smile and approach the twins and their beaming older sister. There were joyful milestones of birthday parties, school events, sports, and dancing lessons. My burdens grew easier with time, too, as the twins grew up entertaining and supporting each other, sharing experiences that only twins can share. And I got some unique life training that I could later bring to my career life: No one learns how to multi-task with efficiency like a parent of twins.

Maybe our lives would have been easier had I “reduced” my pregnancy, but we would have missed the crazy magic of those early years.

I can’t put myself in the shoes of a woman who decided for a selective reduction, but I can imagine that her decision stays with her always, perhaps evoking one emotion one day, another the next. Decisions made out of personal powerlessness and lack of support are the decisions that no one wants to make, and they’re the decisions that refuse to let you rest – the puzzles that you try to solve and resolve for the rest of your life.

These decisions born of fear and powerlessness will probably always exist in one form or another, but does that mean we should all simply raise the white flag on this issue? That physicians should abandon their vow “to do no harm” because twins cost more money to raise?

I propose that all of us — the medical profession as well as society at large — make a collective decision to fight the fear. Let’s not abandon these women in the cynical belief that there’s not enough support for all of them.

Janet Morana is the executive director of Priests for Life, co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, and co-host of The Catholic View for Women on EWTN.

You Can’t Practice Vice Virtuously

Thanks to the undercover work of Operation Rescue, with which Priests for Life collaborates closely, nine abortion practitioners in Texas are on the ropes for misconduct or upcoming investigations into whether their abortion practice is violating various laws and patient rights.

The allegations range from mishandling private patient medical records and information, violating informed consent laws, disregarding the 24 hour waiting period, improper disposal of biohazardous medical waste, including human tissue, instructing minors to cross state lines to avoid Texas parental notification laws, and mishandling of drugs and prescription forms.

As I always say, you can’t practice vice virtuously. If someone kills babies, he or she doesn’t care much about how medical records are handled. The pro-life movement needs to continue to uncover the shady activities of these abortion mills, and prosecute the wrongdoing that occurs.

Time to Face the Music

Abortion carries a built-in stigma, and there’s nothing that the pro-abortion forces can do about it, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try. Recently, a team of researchers announced they are beginning a study that seeks to reduce the stigma associated with abortion. In their preliminary report, this group said that the many laws being passed in the states to regulate or restrict abortion make abortion look bad. Moreover, they say that all the baby pictures in our culture likewise give abortion a bad name.

Of course, they have it backwards. States are restricting abortion precisely because Americans are uncomfortable with how easily one can commit the act. And as for baby pictures, unless you deny that a baby is a baby, you’re not going to be able to make killing that baby an attractive option.

The Feast of the Assumption

Today Catholics celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a feast with profound lessons for our struggle against abortion. Mary was assumed into heaven not only in spirit, but in her body, because the body is just as much a part of any person as the soul. Mary’s Assumption is a sign that God ultimately saves us — and will raise us — in body and in soul.

Some who justify abortion say they don’t know if the child has a soul, but that’s beside the point. What matters is that the child has a body, and when we know that abortion destroys the body, we have all the information we need to know it’s wrong.

Elections 2012: Be Free, Be Smart, Be Responsible!

The Election 2012 season is well underway.

Among the Church documents most important to pay attention to in this and every election cycle is Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics, issued by the entire body of United States bishops in 1998. In that document we read:

“We get the public officials we deserve. Their virtue — or lack thereof — is a judgment not only on them, but on us. Because of this, we urge our fellow citizens to see beyond party politics, to analyze campaign rhetoric critically, and to choose their political leaders according to principle, not party affiliation or mere self-interest” (n. 34).

Put another way, the bishops are calling us to be free, be smart, and take responsibility. We are to be free from the seductive power of empty rhetoric, seductive slogans, and campaigns based more on hype than substance. We are to be free, moreover, from a blind loyalty to a party just because our grandparents always voted for it, while we are unaware of how the things that party now stands for have changed.

We are to be smart, attentive, informed. We need to get to know the candidates as far in advance as possible, and not only hear what they say, but see how they have governed in the past, how they have shown loyalty to their principles, with whom they have associated and from whom they seek and receive their endorsements.

We are to take responsibility. The quality of those elected reflects the quality of those who elect them. We have to get engaged in the process – starting now – stay engaged, and get as many others engaged as we can. And we who go into the pulpits have to open our mouths and stop being afraid of talking about what the Church teaches regarding politics and elections.

We can begin to put all this into practice by paying attention to what is happening in the coming weeks and months.

Other events to take note of as the election calendar progresses can be found at Let’s be informed and involved!

The Destinies of Mother & Child are Intertwined

In a few days we will celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Like every Feast, it is a celebration of Jesus Christ. This feast shows us that because of her unique role as His mother, Mary received from Jesus a full share, body and soul, in His victory over death. The feast is a reminder that in Christ, we all will share resurrection of the body.

Mary has it now, because in the human family, which God decided to join, there can be no closer bond than mother and child. They belong together; their destinies are intertwined.

That is one of the central messages of the pro-life movement. To love and care for a mother necessarily means protecting, loving, and caring for her child. Mothers can never benefit from the destruction of their children.

Eliminating the “Need” for Abortion

We sometimes hear from those on the other side of the pro-life battle that they want to work together with us to “reduce the need for abortion.” It is part of our pro-life mission to reduce the numbers of abortions, and in fact our goal is not just to reduce but to end it. We have to start by making it clear that there is no need for abortion in the first place. No abortion is necessary, neither medically, nor morally. Women get abortions not because of freedom of choice, but because they feel they have no freedom and no choice. Yet when the People of God provide better choices, the way is clear to help both mother and child. Yes, we will reduce abortions, but let’s never imply there is a need for abortion.

Option Line

Many people around the country are awakening to the tragedy of abortion and the need to join the pro-life movement. “What can I do to help?” is one of the questions I hear most frequently.

One very important thing you can do is to memorize the phone number of the Option Line, at which people can find alternatives to abortion. The number is 1-800-712-HELP. Run jointly by Heartbeat International and Care Net, the largest networks of pregnancy centers, this hotline connects people with the alternatives closest to them. It’s 1-800-712-HELP.

At some point you are going to be able to give that number to someone who needs it. Remember, there are some abortions only you can stop. Get involved today.