Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for being here today and for covering this event, which launches a pivotal moment in a movement no less historic and important than the great Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his brother A.D., and their colleagues.
Since 1973, there has been a wound in the heart of America, a wound in the hearts of both young and old, of Republicans and Democrats, of Blacks and Whites, of rich and poor. There has been a wound inflicted upon this great nation, which was conceived in liberty, and which claimed both its freedom and its greatness in the acknowledgement of its God.
This wound, perpetuated by slogans invoking freedom, has proven to be freedom’s very antithesis. It has destroyed human bodies and enslaved human souls. It has unleashed violence against human life on a scale matched by no war or act of terrorism, by no disease or condition of poverty. Neither AIDS nor drug abuse, neither gang violence nor guns, neither racial tension nor international tension, neither infant mortality nor old age, has caused as much death and destruction as this single wound on America – the wound of legal abortion.
That wound was brought about not by an informed electorate, nor by an involved Church. It was not the result of the vote of the people or the lobbying of their legislators. It was neither the fruit of an educated populace nor of a compassionate movement.
Rather, the wound of legal abortion was imposed on us by the judicial decree of seven people sitting in Washington DC. That wound was inflicted upon us because of a blind spot that fails to acknowledge our youngest brothers and sisters, an eclipse of conscience that says that “the word person does not include the unborn.” And this blind spot has enslaved us and has enslaved the children living and growing in their mothers’ wombs.
It has enslaved us because it has made us unwilling and afraid to apply the great promise of freedom to the smallest human beings. It has made us unwilling and afraid to insist that “liberty and justice for all” really belong to all, including the children yet in the womb. It has made us unwilling and afraid to declare that human rights begin when human lives begin, and not one moment later. It has made us unwilling and afraid to speak up, to break the silence, and to confront the conscience of America, or of our neighbor, our classmate, our co-worker, or our relative.
This blind spot has caused clergy to be afraid to speak up for their unborn neighbors, has caused our fellow citizens to be afraid to interfere with someone else’s choice, even when that choice kills a baby, and has caused public officials to forget the difference between serving the public and killing the public.
We are here today for one simple purpose: to declare that it’s time for this enslavement to legal abortion to end. We are here to proclaim freedom for the unborn!
We are here to launch a movement within the great pro-life movement, a movement of Freedom Rides for the Unborn. Like the Freedom Rides of five decades ago, these freedom rides symbolize the principle of the greater movement of which they are a part, namely, that justice and equal protection of human rights, belong to each and every human being, regardless of size or age or any other condition.
We are here to launch pro-life Freedom Rides.
This is a non-partisan movement. It does not take its birth or owe its loyalty to any political party, but rather insists that every political party be free of the illusion that it can deny the right to life.
This is an interdenominational movement. It embraces people of every faith background, and even welcomes people of no religious faith who nevertheless embrace the vision of equal protection for every human life.
This is a non-violent movement. Bloodshed is never the answer to bloodshed, and respect for life respects also those who set themselves against our beliefs and purposes.
This is a compassionate movement, that will promote healing to all women and men who have suffered the loss of a child to abortion.
This is a diverse movement. It embraces and brings visibility to every facet of the pro-life movement, in all its diversity. No part of the pro-life movement is excluded from the Freedom Rides.
The Pro-life Freedom Rides will begin with a period of intense prayer to end abortion. This will begin on Pentecost Sunday, May 23, and last until Independence Day, on Sunday, July 4. We will call on Churches and individuals to pray as they have never prayed before, for an end to abortion.
Then, on July 21, the rides themselves will begin here in Birmingham, and pro-life people from across the nation will be invited. After that initial summer ride, there will be multiple rides in multiple cities. But along with the rides themselves, we call upon all our fellow citizens to become “Freedom Riders for the Unborn,” and will provide coordinated activities that can be carried out simultaneously, whether one’s city hosts a ride or not.
All these activities will highlight the theme of freedom.
Pro-life education will free people from the lies and misinformation that perpetuate the abortion industry.
Pregnancy centers and other alternatives to abortion will free people from the despair that makes them feel abortion is their only choice.
Efforts of healing after abortion will free people from the burden of guilt and shame.
Political and legislative activity will free our nation from the unjust policies that masquerade as valid laws but in reality are nothing more than acts of violence.
And all together, the work of this great pro-life movement, invigorated and unified by the Freedom Rides, will free the unborn from death and will free our nation from the illusion that we can choose to kill.
Ultimately, we can only dare to proclaim freedom today because we have already claimed the One who sets us free, Jesus Christ. He is risen from the dead, and has conquered the entire Kingdom of Death. In him, therefore, we declare that we are not just working for victory, we are working from victory. Victory is our starting point! That is why we can have the Freedom Rides, and that is why our nation can again become a nation of liberty and justice, not just for some, but for all!
God bless you!