Priests for Life Newsletter
Volume 12, Number 4
July - August 2002
Have you informed your people of the deadlines for
voter registration and how to register? Remember that in the end, what matters
in every election is who gets to the polls. How will you help? See the link
"Register and Vote" on the front page of our site,
Resources in Spanish
Priests for Life is happy to announce that we have
increased the number of resources we have in Spanish. Along with Fr. Frank's
bi-weekly commentary on pro-life issues, we also have intercessions and bulletin
inserts, as well as our Priests for Life prayer booklet. All of these may be
downloaded from our website at the Spanish resources page,
www.priestsforlife.org/spanish/Spanish.html. We ask you to please spread the
word to priests, deacons, and others who minister in the Church to our Hispanic
brothers and sisters.
Suggested Petitions in Spanish for the General
- Que todos los líderes y miembros de la Iglesia, puedan
acoger con gozo el llamado de proclamar, celebrar, y servir al Evangelio de la
Vida, roguemos al Señor...
- Que la Iglesia, Pueblo de la Vida, pueda dar un alegre y
convincente testimonio de que cada vida humana proviene de Dios, le pertenece a
Dios, y está hecha para regresar a Dios, roguemos al Señor...
- Que la Iglesia, llamada a optar siempre por los más
pobres, siempre defienda a los no nacidos, que son los hijos de Dios más
indefensos, roguemos al Señor...
Suggested bulletin insert in Spanish:
El Monumento Nacional de la guerra de Vietnam en
Washington DC es una brillante pared negra que mide 492 pies y contiene los
nombres de los 58,022 Americanos que se sabe, murieron en dicha guerra. Si en
lugar de nombrar los soldados caídos en la guerra, esta pared nombrara a todos
los niños asesinados por el aborto desde 1973, la pared mediría unas 60 millas
de longitud. Las fatalidades de nuestras guerras juntas, son menores que las
fatalidades que produce el aborto en un solo año.
Counseling tips: Helping People
Choose Life, Not Abortion
Fr. Frank Pavone, Founding Director
Saving lives in our day has never been easier, and this is
so for the tragic reason that more lives are in danger and easily snuffed out
than ever before. The potential victims are all around us: in our families, in
our neighborhoods, in our Churches. How do we counsel someone who is pregnant,
in need, and tempted to abortion?
Counseling in these situations can be direct (speaking to
the one who is pregnant) or indirect (speaking to someone who knows her), brief
or extended. We intend to carry a series of articles on practical counseling in
this newsletter, but want to begin with a few insights and suggestions about the
direct counseling of the pregnant individual.
- Narrowing the focus. We are speaking here of the
abortion-minded woman, and for our purposes we will define this person
as one who sees abortion as either her only option or one of her likely
Others who are pregnant but not abortion-minded may come to us for various
kinds of help and advice, and helping them is certainly part of the mission
of the Church. But stopping an abortion has dynamics that are unique and
require special attention.
- She does not want the abortion. A key thought
to keep in mind is that those who have abortions don't want them. As
Frederica Mathewes-Green has said, no woman wants an abortion like she wants
a Porsche or an ice cream; rather, she wants it like an animal caught in a
trap wants to gnaw off its own leg.
Most likely, this pregnant girl has received no advice from anyone she has
spoken to except "You have to get an abortion; there's no other way." We
should assess right from the start who knows about the situation and what
they are telling her. We then need to provide the voice of hope, that there
are alternatives. Deep down, this is what she is hoping against hope to
hear. Countless post-abortion testimonies reflect the experience of crying
out -- on the inside -- for an alternative.
- Why some feel adoption is worse than
abortion. In his article,
"Abortion: A Failure to Communicate," (First Things 82, April 1998:
31-35), Paul Swope of the Caring Foundation gives us the following insights
regarding studies done on women's perception of abortion, adoption, and
"Adoption, unfortunately, is seen as the most "evil" of the three
options, as it is perceived as a kind of double death. First, the death of
self, as the woman would have to accept motherhood by carrying the baby to
term. Further, not only would the woman be a mother, but she would perceive
herself as a bad mother, one who gave her own child away to strangers. The
second death is the death of the child "through abandonment." A woman
worries about the chance of her child being abused. She is further haunted
by the uncertainty of the child’s future, and about the possibility of the
child returning to intrude on her own life many years later. Basically, a
woman desperately wants a sense of resolution to her crisis, and in her
mind, adoption leaves the situation the most unresolved, with uncertainty
and guilt as far as she can see for both herself and her child. As much as
we might like to see the slogan "Adoption, Not Abortion" embraced by women,
this study suggests that in pitting adoption against abortion, adoption will
be the hands-down loser.
"The attitude of these women toward abortion is quite surprising. First, all
of the scores of women involved in the study (none of whom were pro-life
activists and all of whom called themselves "pro-choice") agreed that
abortion is killing. While this is something that is no doubt "written on
the human heart," credit for driving home the reality of abortion is also
due to the persevering educational work of the pro-life movement. Second,
the women believe that abortion is wrong, an evil, and that God will punish
a woman who makes that choice. Third, however, these women feel that God
will ultimately forgive the woman, because He is a forgiving God, because
the woman did not intend to get pregnant, and finally, because a woman in
such crisis has no real choice, the perception is that the woman’s whole
life is at stake.
- Find out whom she is afraid to hurt, disappoint, or
lose. Whom is she trying to please or protect?
Some believe that the key elements causing a person to seek abortion are
practical matters like money or housing. Just as significant, however, are
relational concerns. Frederica Mathewes-Green conducted listening groups in
major cities across the United States to ascertain why women get abortions.
Her book, Real Choices, gives excellent insights from what she
learned. She writes, "Women in the listening groups uniformly talked
about pressures in relationships; the abortion was done, each told us,
either to please someone or to protect someone" (p.17). "For nearly every
woman, the abortion decision is the result of many reasons, not just one.
Relational and practical, emotional and material problems all jumble
together in a dense knot, and abortion appears the most efficient -- if not
the only -- way to solve them all" (p. 20).
The "pro-choice" Alan Guttmacher Institute states the following on its
about why women get abortions:
"On average, women give at least 3 reasons for choosing abortion: 3/4 say
that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other
responsibilities; about 2/3 say they cannot afford a child; and 1/2 say they
do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband
- See and treat the situation as a life and death
emergency, which it is. Though it may come to us in the most calm and normal
of circumstances, the conversation with someone who might have an abortion
has immersed us all at once into a life-or-death struggle. We need to treat
it accordingly with the highest priority, being sure not only to assist the
pregnant individual in our conversation, but to maintain contact with her on
a daily basis, either doing so ourselves or entrusting her to an individual
who can do so. Even if we seem to have persuaded her to choose life, those
who are pressuring her to abort will be at it again later that day and the
We should know the nearest abortion-alternatives and the people who serve
there, and we should, wherever possible, establish the connection ourselves
between the person in need and the pregnancy assistance center. Simply
giving her the contact information does not assure that she will call.
Hotline numbers like the National Life Center (800-848-LOVE) should be on
the tip of our tongue.
- Different levels of persuasion are necessary in
different cases. Some abortion-minded individuals can be talked out of it
with counseling alone, maybe just one talk. Others will be persuaded only if
they see photos of the developing baby. It is good to have some at hand (see
our website at
It is also advisable to identify a doctor in the parish who is willing to
volunteer his or her services in these emergencies, and provide an
ultrasound for the mother.
Some will not be moved either by counseling or by positive images, and may
need to see the pictures of aborted children (see
www.priestsforlife.org/images). There are
those who, despite their knowledge of the life of the child and the violence
of abortion, have completely closed their heart to the child. Sometimes,
speaking about the risks of abortion to their own health and safety, and
information about abortion malpractice and the dangers of the procedure, can
persuade them not to go through with it. Finally, there are those who have
placed themselves beyond the realm of reason, and only some form of
peaceful, direct intervention can save that life.
- A priest's counseling is unique. You as a priest are
offering, by your very presence, a caring fatherly image that contradicts
the abandonment that this woman likely experiences from the baby's father.
Moreover, the powerful religious symbolism a priest provides is an essential
element which professional counseling by itself cannot provide.
- Invite them to come. People who are pregnant and in
need will come if we invite them to. By preaching and writing about abortion
within our parishes and schools, and inviting people to come forward to seek
help, we give them permission to bring to us this deeply personal and
troubling matter. And as a result, lives will be saved.
You are encouraged to remember the following intentions
as you pray the Liturgy of the Hours:
July intention: For an end to capital punishment.
August intention: Daily intention for the babies scheduled
to be aborted that day.
(See a fuller list of pro-life books we recommend on our
website at www.priestsforlife.org/books)
Catholic Bioethics and the Gift of Human Life
by William May
This book gives a detailed overview of Catholic teaching
on major bioethical issues, including contraception, abortion, reproductive
technologies, experimentation, euthanasia, assisted suicide, organ
transplantation, and the definition of death.
ISBN Number 0-87973-683-6
Published in 2000 by Our Sunday Visitor, 200 Noll Plaza,
Huntington, IN 46750; Phone 1-800-348-2440; Email
Abortion Industry in Trouble!
The pro-life movement, through the work of Life Dynamics,
is now in possession of concrete evidence that hundreds of abortion clinics have
knowingly and deliberately avoided their duty to report statutory rape. Minors
who have been impregnated by adults are sold abortions every day, and not a word
is spoken about the sexual abuse they have suffered. Priests for Life will be
working closely with other groups to facilitate legal action against these
clinics. For more information, visit
Recommended Summer Action Item
The pro-life movement needs to reach people who are not
going to come, on their own, to a pro-life talk or presentation. The summer
months provide a great opportunity to bring the pro-life message to people who
are out and about at the malls, ball games, beaches, parks, and other public
gatherings. Organize literature distribution, life chains, and other peaceful
gatherings with signs showing the reality of abortion. The First Amendment gives
us an open door to this type of activity. Youth groups especially can be
harnessed for this type of action. Please let us know if you need help in
planning this kind of activity!