Independence Day Novena

The celebration of our nation’s independence is an important moment to reflect on the blessings of God, the meaning of freedom, and the task to expand the blessings of freedom to our unborn brothers and sisters who are still enslaved by our nation’s abortion policies.

That’s why Priests for Life begins today a special novena of prayer for our nation, in preparation for Independence Day. You can download the prayer at

The prayer reminds us that our Founding Fathers took inspiration from the Gospel in founding this nation, and that our task is to secure liberty and justice not just for some, but for all, including the unborn.

Please visit, download the Independence Day Novena, and invite your family, pro-life groups, schools and parishes to take part in it.

Settled Law? Not so Fast…

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan reportedly “considers abortion rights to be settled law” (USA Today, May 21, p. 5A). And we can expect during her confirmation process to hear a number of Senators echo that assertion. Yet America’s courts and legislatures have a proud history of changing “settled law.”

America has, on various occasions, recovered the recognition of the equal dignity of those who were deprived of their rights and suffered violence which was given legal cover under a different name. This legal cover was often mistakenly recognized by the Supreme Court for a while, but then such decisions were overturned.

Dred Scott v. Sandford (1856) is the most commonly cited instance. The slaveholder’s right to property eclipsed and subsumed the slave’s right to freedom. But the Constitution was eventually amended to correct the error.

Decisions like Lochner v. New York (1905) show us another error: employers’ right to contract eclipsed and subsumed the workers’ rights to humane conditions and hours. These abuses were corrected by subsequent Supreme Court decisions like Muller v. Oregon and Bunting v. Oregon.

The “Separate but equal” doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) sanctioning segregation was overturned by Brown v. Board of Education some 58 years later.

Erroneous decisions like Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918) institutionalized child labor. But this was overturned 23 years later by United States v. Darby. A new development — a “pedagogical moment” — occurred here in Constitutional law. The question was whether constitutional rights applied to children too. The answer was yes.

Many reversals of Supreme Court cases came about when new evidence was brought forward that made it clear that someone’s rights, not previously recognized, were being violated. Thus, Louis Brandeis brought forward the facts about how workers were being harmed.

We are now witnessing the same trend regarding the children in the womb. Evidence that has been around for quite some time demonstrating their humanity is finding its way into legislatures and courts. One of the most striking instances comes out of South Dakota.

Federal courts have upheld South Dakota’s law requiring that abortion providers tell women that the procedure destroys a “whole, separate, unique, living human being.” This came about because of the evidence presented to the court regarding the humanity of the unborn child.

With hundreds of embryological sciences, and massive evidence of the harm abortion does to women, such evidence, combined with new legal concepts, can challenge Roe vs. Wade in the same way its erroneous ancestral decisions were challenged.

The day after Roe vs. Wade was decided, the New York Times headline read, “Supreme Court Settles Abortion.” Yet it has remained the most unsettled issue on our national landscape.

The facts above should shape the way that senators, Supreme Court nominees, and all the rest of us speak about Roe vs. Wade and the so-called “right” to choose an abortion. History should shape our language, and should strengthen our hope that abortion policy can change again just as radically as it did in 1973.

Pro-Life Freedom Rides

Pro-life Freedom Ride Campaign to Start in Birmingham
July 23

What: Pro-life Freedom Rides Launch (events and caravan)

Where: Birmingham, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia

When: Friday, July 23 – Saturday, July 24

Who: Dr. Alveda King, Fr. Frank Pavone, the Priests for Life Pastoral Team, and African-American Leaders from across the nation

Contact for further information: 718-980-4400 or toll free 1-888-735-3448 or email:


Friday, July 23

7pm-9pm: Rally (Assembly/Concert) at Birmingham Jefferson County Convention Complex (BJCC) Theatre, 2100 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. North, Birmingham, AL 35203, 205.458.8400 / – (detailed information for the BJCC and Greater Birmingham)

Saturday, July 24

9am-11am: Prayer Vigil at Killing Center. Planned Parenthood: 1211 27th Place South, Birmingham, AL 35205

11:30am: Pro-life Freedom Ride Caravan departs Birmingham for Atlanta (An invited group of pro-life leaders with ride in the Freedom Ride bus. Interested pro-life activists and families are welcome to drive in their own vehicles in this pro-life caravan. We will drive (without stopping) the 2 and ½ hour drive to Atlanta. Vehicles may join up with or leave the caravan at any time as they need to.

4:00pm (ET) – Pro-life Service at the tomb of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the:

King Center in Atlanta
450 Auburn Avenue Northeast
Atlanta, GA 30312
404 893-9882

Refreshments to follow.

The Foundation of All Other Rights

Some pastors do not speak about abortion because they are afraid of being single-issue people. As clergy, we necessarily address a multitude of issues, and should embrace a consistent ethic of life. Numerically, abortion is one issue; but it is one issue like the foundation of a house is one part of the house. There is a hierarchy of moral values, and as many Church documents state, the dignity of life is the fundamental one. The reason every other issue is an issue to begin with is that human beings have a right to life. We do not, therefore, address abortion because we are unconcerned about other issues, but precisely because we are concerned about them, and realize that we cannot make progress on them unless the foundation itself is secure.

Attention Pastors: Please Speak Out!

Why don’t more pastors speak out against abortion? Some of them actually do not know how to connect the issue with the Scripture readings. They know that the readings are supposed to be the basis of their homilies, but they do not find many references to the unborn child or to the killing of such children.

But the themes of pro-life are on every page of Scripture. Homilies are not simply Scripture lessons. Rather they apply the great Biblical themes to the day to day challenges that believers face as they live their lives.

So, for instance, the Bible is clear that only God has dominion over human life – he made it, he cares for it, he owns it. That is why no human being can own or kill or devalue.

–Fr. Frank

The Founding Fathers Were Pro-Life

I recently assisted in putting together a conference for hundreds of pastors, who received new courage in preaching the Word of Life. My friend David Barton of Wallbuilders gave a message in which he pointed out that public officials who don’t recognize the first inalienable right, life itself, will not be likely to recognize other inalienable rights we have. He showed specific voting records, and how those who get it right on life will also get it right on economic issues. He summed it up by saying, “If they can take your life, they’ll take your money, too.”

The founding fathers did write about abortion, and did declare that the right to life is the first right that government must recognize and protect. Those who fail to do so fail to govern.

–Fr. Frank

Know Your Leaders’ Positions on Abortion

Priests for Life has done some professional polling of the African American community on abortion, and has found that more than half of those polled did not know the position of the President and of the Democratic party in favor of legal abortion.
Often, those who support the legality of abortion do not talk about their position, nor about abortion itself. The reason is twofold. First of all, abortion is already legal throughout pregnancy, so silence simply maintains the status quo. What more is needed for those who like things the way they are? Secondly, it never helps the abortion advocate to bring attention to what they are advocating, because it is unpleasant. The more people know about abortion, the more they reject it. Let’s make sure we know our leaders’ positions on abortion.

–Fr. Frank

Pro-Life Freedom Rides Announced for This Summer

Birmingham, AL – More than 100 people were in this historic city’s Kelly Ingram Park Tuesday as Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, and Dr. Alveda King, director of the organization’s African-American Outreach, formally announced plans for Pro-Life Freedom Rides that will begin this summer.

“We are here to launch a movement within the greater pro-life movement, a movement of Freedom Rides for the Unborn,” Father Pavone said during the morning press conference. “Like the Freedom Rides of five decades ago, these freedom rides symbolize the principle of the greater movement of which they are part, namely, that justice and equal protection of human rights belong to each and every human being, regardless of size or age or any other condition.”

A host of civil rights and pro-life leaders from across the country stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Dr. King and Father Pavone to lend their support to the Freedom Rides, the first of which is scheduled for July 23-25. Riders will attend a concert and rally July 23 at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center and then board the bus bound for Atlanta. Dozens of rides in all parts of the country could be scheduled over the next year, according to Father Pavone.

The 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides of 1961 will be celebrated next year, which presented Priests for Life with the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that the fight against abortion is the civil rights battle of the 21st century.

“Human rights begin when human lives begin and not one moment later,” Father Pavone said.

The niece of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. Alveda King lived in Birmingham as a child and remembers the civil rights battles that scarred its streets and the souls of its residents.

“When I lived in Birmingham, when our home was bombed in this very city, when my classmate was part of the group of four little girls killed in the bombing of historical Sixteenth Street Baptist Church across the way, I dreamed of a world when life would be better, when justice would prevail for all,” she said.

With the Pro-Life Freedom Rides, she said, “We join our lives and hearts together with those who have gone before us. We take to the bus, to the streets of America, riding for justice and freedom for all, from conception until natural death.”

The press conference also served as the official debut of the song “Least of These,” written by Christian singer/songwriter Jamie Owens Collins as an anthem for the Pro-Life Freedom Rides. A chorus led by noted recording artist Darrian Summerville of Global Outreach Campus Ministries performed the song.

“This is the song of the movement,” declared Joy Pinto, whose husband, Jim Pinto, is the director of Priests for Life’s lay evangelistic ministry, Missionaries of the Gospel of Life. Jim Pinto was instrumental in organizing the press conference, along with Jerry Horn, senior vice president of Priests for Life, and Frank Norris, director of development. Birmingham residents Jacob Jones and the Rev. Terry Gensemer, rector of the Church of the Reconciled, provided invaluable help in coordinating the event. Lionel Myers, owner of Drive for You in Atlanta, GA, provided transportation. Thrasher Brothers Coaches and Tours of Birmingham were responsible for the spectacular Freedom Bus that served as a backdrop for the event and which later was used to take passengers on a symbolic ride around the park.

Traveling to Birmingham for the press conference were the following pro-life and civil rights leaders: Rev. Clenard Childress of New Jersey, director of the Life Education and Resource Network; Catherine Davis, director of Minority Outreach for Georgia Right to Life; the Rev. Stephen Broden, senior pastor of Fair Park Bible Fellowship in Dallas, and a candidate for Congress; Day Gardner of Maryland, founder of the National Black Pro-Life Union, and Dean Nelson of Virginia, executive director of the Network of Politically Active Christians.

Also making the trip were members of Priest for Life’s Pastoral Team, including Janet Morana, executive director and co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign; associate directors Father Denis Wilde, OSA, and Father Peter West; Father William Scott Daniels, OP, and Dr. Theresa and Kevin Burke, founders of Rachel’s Vineyard, a healing ministry for post-abortive women and men. Jamie Owens Collins and her husband, music producer Dan Collins, flew in from California to be part of the event.

Members of Catholics United for Life of Huntsville, Ala., attended the press conference, as did the Rev. Michael Deering, vicar general for the Diocese of Birmingham, and high school students from Restoration Academy in Birmingham.

Bishop Demetrics Roscoe, founder of Living Church Ministries in Birmingham, recalling the day Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was bombed and the civil rights battles fought in its aftermath, said he learned from his father that “if we decide to love, we have no enemies at all.” Pointing to the “bus that represents life,” Bishop Roscoe said, “We believe something is happening in our city.”

“This city is going to be tremendously blessed,” agreed Pinto, “because we are here to celebrate the most fundamental human right: the right to life.”