Priests for Life leader
encourages alliances to end abortion
Friday, March 2, 2007 2:37 PM EST
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: The Rev. Frank
Pavone, leader of the national organization Priests for Life, spoke Thursday at
Adrian College and Siena Heights University.
By Erik Gable
Daily Telegram News Editor
ADRIAN — The leader of the
national organization Priests for Life, speaking Thursday in Adrian, said he
believes the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide will be
reversed, but activists will need to find ways to reduce the number of abortions
performed before the procedure will ever be banned completely.
The Rev. Frank Pavone, who has
headed Priests for Life since 1993, spoke Thursday afternoon at Siena Heights
University and delivered the keynote address at the 11th annual Lenawee County
Right to Life benefit dinner that evening.
During his speech at Siena
Heights, Pavone discussed forming alliances across party lines and
denominational divides to work toward ending abortion, which he described as a
violation of human rights.
“A human right is yours and can’t
be taken away because you can’t ever be anything but human,” he said. Allowing
abortion, he said, amounts to saying that the right to live “belongs to some
members of the human family and not to all.”
Historically, Pavone said, when
people have debated whether a particular group should be considered part of “the
human family,” the trend has been toward inclusion. For example, he said, the
abolition of slavery and the Civil Rights movement were both about expanding the
number of people who were considered to have basic human rights.
During the Civil Rights movement,
Pavone said, black men drove home their point about human rights by marching in
the streets with signs reading “I am a man.”
“Our unborn brothers and sisters,
well, they can’t march,” he said. “They can’t wear any signs, they can’t speak
up. They can’t even pray.”
Though he is a Catholic, Pavone
said abortion does not have to be perceived as a religious issue, citing a group
of atheist and agnostic abortion opponents with a Web site at
He also said abortion opponents
should be willing to work with political groups that might not support a ban on
abortion in efforts to pass laws and enact programs that can reduce demand for
Responding to a question from
Siena Heights professor Dan McVeigh, Pavone said he believes the 1973 Roe v.
Wade decision curtailing the ability of states to regulate abortion will
ultimately be overturned. But although that would result in abortion becoming
illegal in some states, he said, complete abolition will only come after the
number of abortions performed in the country is reduced through other means,
causing lawmakers to see a ban as more realistic.
That means abortion opponents
need to put significant energy into providing good alternatives, Pavone said.
“This is what we’re doing,” he
said — finding ways to provide emotional and financial support to women who
might otherwise have abortions instead of just protesting or condemning people.
Pavone said pregnancy centers
that once simply provided counseling are increasingly adding medical services,
placing them “psychologically on a level playing field” with abortion clinics.
He said one of the most important things abortion opponents can do is to “make
sure you know what number to call when someone who needs this kind of help comes
across your radar screen.” The number for OptionLine, a national network of
pregnancy centers, is (800) 712-4357.
Ricardo Valdez, a senior at Siena
Heights, said he’s heard Pavone speak before and was particularly struck by
Pavone’s discussion of discouraging abortion by encouraging programs aimed at
making people want to — and be able to — have children.
“We need to create a world that
we can definitely welcome people into,” he said.
Patricia Thomas, a Siena Heights
freshman, said the part of Pavone’s speech that most struck her was his
statement that abortion causes more deaths than AIDS.
“That just really blew me away,”
she said, adding that she was also impressed by Pavone’s description of the
origins of Roe v. Wade and the plaintiff’s subsequent role as an anti-abortion
Pavone’s speech at Siena was
followed by an appearance at the Right to Life benefit, for which 316 tickets
were sold, according to vice president Sam Pooley.
The organization normally
presents its annual Advocate for Life award at the dinner, but did not this year
because the recipients, the Rev. Gary Williams of Tecumseh and his wife, Barb,
were out of town.