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Activist Campaigns for Life

by Amy Kotlarz

Catholic Courier
Diocese of Rochester, NY

December 8-9, 2007


ROCHESTER -- Janet Morana, associate director of Priests for Life and assistant to the organization's national director Father Frank Pavone, was getting a tour of the shelves of tiny clothing, toys, rattles, bibs and diapers that make up just some of the aisles at the Women’s Care Center.

Morana was in town because she was the featured speaker for the crisis pregnancy center’s annual fundraising dinner on Nov. 10.

During the tour, she gave staff of the center DVDs from the Silent No More Campaign, which features testimony of women who regret their abortions. Morana cofounded the nondenominational Christian campaign with Anglicans for Life President Georgette Forney.

“Show them the testimony, and let them hear the damage, the pain, for themselves,” Morana said to the workers at the center as she handed them a DVD.

On the DVD some participants describe the day of their abortions, while others talk about trying to get pregnant again in an attempt to get back their baby, she said. The campaign is designed to show future parents some of the consequences of abortion and help families heal after abortion, Morana said.

“Their whole self-worth has been damaged because society in general acts like abortion is no big deal,” Morana said.

Morana’s words were echoed by Terry Crawford, the material-assistance coordinator at the center, who distributes baby items and other material assistance to about 100 people each month. Most hear about the program through referrals from agencies, doctors offices and hospitals, and word of mouth.

“It’s very fulfilling to know that you’re helping the clients and babies,” Crawford said. “It’s not always just girls. It’s grandmas. It’s dads.”

Morana said to better help families in recovery, the Silent No More Awareness campaign is creating a network of resources people can turn to, such as a list of post-abortion counseling programs.

The campaign was started in 2003 as a retrospective on 30 years of legalized abortion, Morana said. She said she hopes to reach people who still believe that abortion is good for women.

“What our goal is is to make abortion an unthinkable choice for any girl in an unplanned pregnancy,” Morana said.

Morana critiqued one response to the Silent No More campaign in which Ms. Magazine published a petition signed by women who had abortions and who supported legal abortions.

“That’s not really the opposite of what I’m saying,” Morana said. “Line up the women who say, ‘I regret having my baby.’ You’re not going to hear them say that. Once you see that child, it’s a whole new world.”

Morana’s passion and enthusiasm for protecting life was the reason why the center chose her to speak at the event, said Giovanna May, a parishioner of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Irondequoit and a Women's Care Center board member who helped organize the fundraiser.

But Morana wasn’t always so passionate. She was once a lapsed Catholic and a Staten Island public-school teacher. That was until 1989, when she met Father Pavone, who had been appointed to her local parish. She said he was the force that brought her back to church and into the pro-life movement.

“Once I became aware of the issue, I wanted to do something about it,” Morana said. “I began getting involved at the local level, and joined the Staten Island Right-to-Life Committee.”

In 1993, she ran for the New York City Council on the Right-to-Life ticket, receiving the largest percentage of votes of any Right-to-Life candidate in the local party’s history.

After Father Pavone left the parish to work with Priests for Life full time in 1993, Morana said she kept volunteering with the group. Later, she became one of its 50 employees, turning down several academic career opportunities, she noted.

“My colleagues were a little mystified,” Morana said.

Her response was, “I’m doing it for your job security."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Details on the Silent No More Campaign may be found at www.priestsforlife.org or www.silentnomoreawareness.org.

Copyright © 2008 Rochester Catholic Press Association, Inc. May not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed, including but not limited to such means as framing or any other digital copying or distribution method, in whole or in part without the publisher's consent.

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