The day was Jan. 23, 1973, a day after the controversial Roe v. Wade decision, in which the Supreme Court legalized abortion and set off a fervent debate which continues today. The New York Times ran the headline that day, "Supreme Court Settles Abortion."
However, according to Father Frank Pavone, the national director of Priests For Life, the issue is still not settled 23 years later. Father Pavone was the keynote speaker at Seton Hall University's Pro-Life Day held on May 3 on the green in front of President's Hall on the South Orange campus.
"It won't be settled until every human life is respected and protected," an animated Father Pavone said. "Only then will it be settled. We've not even begun to debate."
Father Pavone insisted that if counter-demonstrators were interested in the truth, they would take the time to read the available literature on abortion.
"No one on this campus can honestly be pro-choice if they don't examine the material and evidence from the pro-life side," Father Pavone maintained.
Father Pavone added that pro-choicers frequently contradict themselves, in that those who speak for abortion refuse to see one performed. "Until you see one, you don't know what you are talking about," he said.
The spirited Father Pavone also cited an incident in Arkansas when a pro-choice demonstrator held a sign which read: "Keep Baby Killing Legal." According to Father Pavone, the man told him that he supports abortion and was just being honest about what it is, to which the keynote speaker responded, "Are all pro-choicers willing to hold this sign?"
Father Pavone's address was his second at Seton Hall University this school year. On Nov. 21, he presented a lecture entitled, "Fathers, Let's Face Our Fears About Abortion" at Immaculate Conception Seminary. In that speech, Father Pavone conveyed to the clergy that they possess one of the few means to inform the public about abortion.
Father Pavone's speech was only one of the highlights of Pro-Life Day, which was sponsored by the university's student-run, pro-life organization. "Seton Hall United For Life." The day commenced with an opening prayer by Dominican Father Thomas R. Peterson, chancellor/president of Seton Hall University, and was followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"The scourge of abortion is one of the greatest evils and Seton Hall is committed to working in any way to do away with this practice," Father Peterson said.
After Father Peterson's invocation, several Seton Hall students performed a scripted discussion on abortion in the form of street theater. Father Anthony Kulig, the director of Campus Ministry at Seton Hall, was the principal celebrant of a Pro-Life Mass held at noon in the Immaculate Conception Chapel. A recitation of the rosary then followed Mass.
Exhibitors from various pro-life groups, including the New Jersey Right to Life and Birthright distributed literature throughout the day. Abortion facts were taped along the campus' walkway through the center of the green.
"The truth is breaking through," Father Pavone said. "No lie can live forever. The truth will rise again through this university."