for Life Executive Director
FAIRMONT, WEST VIRGINIA - Pro-life activists gathered at the annual
West Virginians for Life convention Oct. 13 in Fairmont. Teens joined adults for
the general sessions and broke into separate workshops on impacting legislation,
political action, the basics of abortion, and abstinence. Children had their own
program, including clowns, face painting, and performances.
Father Peter West, priest associate of Priests for Life, pointed to the
decline of respect for life in the United States since abortion was legalized.
"By denying an entire class of human beings the welcome and protection of our
laws, we have betrayed what is best in our tradition and we have put at risk
every life which someday someone might find inconvenient," he said.
Father West noted Dr. Albert Schweitzer's observation that, "Once you fail to
respect a human being simply because they are a human being, you open up the
door to the degradation of all humanity
Father West also recalled Pope John Paul II's 1987 challenge to the United
States: "This is the dignity of America, the reason she exists, the condition
for her survival - yes, the ultimate test of her greatness: to respect every
human person especially the weakest and most defenseless ones - those as yet
Georgette Forney, director of the National Organization of Episcopalians for
Life, reminded the group of the good news: abortion rates, teen pregnancy rates
and the number of abortion providers are going down. Forney had an abortion at
age 16, but it was 19 years later when she sought help and dealt with the pain
of her abortion.
Forney said that, after reconciling with her child and with God, she was able
to forgive herself. With God's help, Forney said she found the strength to get
involved with pro-life work. Forney said she learned how much pro-life people
care about every human life, from conception to natural death.
"Whether we're talking about a two-day old embryo that's being destroyed for
stem cells," Forney said, "a six month old baby in utero that's just been
diagnosed with Down's Syndrome, the 30 year-old woman who's just aborted her
child because the baby doesn't fit in with her career plans, or the 104 year-old
woman who's sitting alone in the nursing home, you care about each of these
Olivia Gans, director of American Victims of Abortion, said that 4,000 human
lives end in this country through abortion every day. Speaking of the role of
pro-lifers since the Sept. 11 tragedy, she said, "We already understand the
value of each human life.
"What was brought home to Americans on that day in a profoundly terrifying
way was that each of those individuals was a human life - totally
During the prayer breakfast, West Virginians for Life president Charlotte
Snead said, "One of my favorite pro-life bumper stickers is the quotation from
Pope John Paul II:
'A nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.' We in
the Pro-life Movement offer a broken world that hope, and love, forgiveness, and
a new beginning."
Derrick Jones, director of Youth Outreach for the National Right to Life
Committee, stated that adults, as role models and mentors, are the ones to bring
the teens into the pro-life movement.
Kristan Mercer, president of West Virginia Teens for Life, told how she
started a pro-life club at Brooke High School. The winner of the oratory
contest, Allison Young of Beckley, presented her speech on euthanasia. The
Oratory Contest was held Oct. 12, prior to a teen lock-in and concert.