MONTGOMERY—Pro-lifers need to win over abortion supporters with love, said Father Frank Pavone, who spoke Tuesday night at the annual Daviess County Right-to-Life banquet.
About 270 people attended the dinner, which was held at the Ruritan Building.
Pavone, 36, has been national director for Priests for Life since September 1993. He said he has an outreach to 30,000 priests, plus 10,000 lay people from various denominations.
"Don't confuse the evil with the persons doing it," said Pavone, about those who run abortion clinics. "They're not our enemy, they're our brothers and sisters. It's because we love them we want to rescue them from the evil they are in."
Pavone, who has his headquarters in Port Chester, N.Y., said he came with a message of hope and encouragement. "I believe sooner than any of us believe we will be gathered together like this to celebrate victory."
The reason for his optimism, Pavone said, was the verdict was coming in on whether or not a nation can live with abortion on demand. He said the abortion industry mentality was collapsing under its own weight.
Pavone gave three reasons to support his belief the tide is beginning to turn against abortion.
First, with 4,400 abortions performed each day in America, he said thousands of women who have had them have come to regret their actions. He said data is being collected from women to show how it has ruined their lives. Support groups have been formed for those who have had abortions.
"You can't keep talking about women's rights and not talk about what is destroying them," said Pavone.
Second, all promises by abortion engineers have crumbled. Pavone said women's health has not been served by legalized abortion. He said an investigation is warranted into why the rate of illness has increased among women for several diseases since abortion was legalized nationwide in 1973.
Third, many of those who used to perform and support abortion are now pro-life. Pavone said the Society of Centurions has been formed, which is an organization of former abortionists. He said Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a former abortionist who became strongly pro-life while remaining an atheist, is now preparing to be baptized into the Catholic Church.
Pavone also told the audience three ways they can have an impact locally and on a state-wide basis.
First, he said pro-lifers need to build relationships with those in the abortion industry. He said these people know they are helping destroy babies, but because their lives have been so trampled upon they are willing to trample others.
"You need to show them their life is sacred, as all life is sacred," said Pavone. "The power of love will bring them out."
Second, establish good relations with the media and challenge them to relate the facts, he said. Pavone said abortion is the most common surgical procedure in America, but the media never shows it on television. However, other surgeries are commonly shown.
Pavone said legislators should also be exposed to information about the dangers of abortion for women. He urged his audience to keep after reluctant legislators and not let up.
"How can a public servant turn the other way when part of the public is being destroyed?," asked Pavone.
Third, the American public is mostly conflicted over abortion, said Pavone. They have gotten the message from both sides, but he said they can't hold to both positions forever. They can't believe abortion is wrong because it takes a life, yet also believe sometimes it's in the best interest of the mother.
"We get them out of the middle by showing it is bad for both the baby and the mother," said Pavone. "To be pro-life is to be pro-woman. It's not we who love babies versus those who love women. It's babies and women versus an exploitative abortion industry."
Pavone said pro-life citizens have a moral obligation to get involved in the political process and vote. He also encouraged ministers of all denominations to speak out on abortion.
The priest also said pro-lifers need to be careful with the language they use. He said a pregnant woman is not "going to be a mother," she already is a mother. She is not "expecting" a baby nor does she "have one on the way," but the child is already here.
Two special guests spoke briefly at the dinner.
George Witwer, publisher of the Bluffton newspaper, is a Republican candidate for governor in 1996. He said it was God's will for pro-life forces to win.
Beth Hostettler is the wife of U.S. Rep. John Hostettler (A-Eighth District). She said they both believe life is protected by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.