Guest Blog Post by Corinne Zay, March for Life Intern
Many people make abortion an issue regarding only the mother and child. There is a tendency in the arguments surrounding abortion to neglect the father’s role and responsibility in pregnancy or in parenting. Having just celebrated Father’s Day, I’d like to share about the importance of fatherhood and how my own father has blessed my life.
The love and gratitude I have for my father is unconditional. He has helped me to become who I am in countless ways. My earliest memories involve my dad, whether it was riding on the big lawn mower on his lap, playing tennis ball in the backyard, or my very first 5k race in 4th grade. He taught me the value of hard work, how to serve others, and he taught me how to love and forgive others.
One of the most significant things my father has helped me with is my relationship with God. My parents not only introduced me to my faith by raising me in the Church and providing for me a Catholic education, but they showed me how to live my faith daily. It was by their example and support that I was able to grow into the faith-filled ambitious woman I am today. The root of my relationship with God stems from my parents’ love. In their decision to give me life and nurture my soul with Christ’s love I am blessed to be who I am today.
A father is crucial to understanding God, but also to the function of family. It is a father that teaches us how to love as God loves. Thank you to my father, to all fathers, and to the fathers-to-be. Men, be life affirming by representing real love in this culture. Your love can save lives. Support your wife, your sister, your mother, your girlfriend. Be a real man and lead them to God and love them on their journey because your love can impact countless lives and generations.
Watson hints at a very important point. When a woman faces an unexpected pregnancy, she is more likely to choose life IF she has the support and encouragement of even just one person.1
In fact, research from the umbrella Pregnancy Center group, Care Net, finds that “the father of the baby is (by far) the most influential factor in a mother’s decision to keep or abort her child. Sadly, so many fathers either push the mother to abort or leave the decision to her, essentially stepping away from their responsibility.”
Watson ends with an encouraging note in his exhortation:
“Even if it wasn’t demonstrated to you by a father, you can be different. You can change the course of generations.”
Each of us has our own sphere of influence – this is the “power of one.” We can each influence others – whether it is one person or a group of people – to choose life and to end “the unthinkable practice of abortion in the United States of America.”
At the March for Life in January, Vice President Pence shared “life is winning again in America.” And in recent months, the cause of life is advancing as several states have made strides in protecting the unborn by signing into law legislation that restricts abortion.
Unfortunately, other states have moved in the opposite direction. ABC News reports today that the Governor of Delaware is set to sign into law legislation that “allows abortion without restriction before a fetus reaches viability. The bill also allows abortion after viability if a doctor determines that an abortion is necessary to protect the woman’s life or health, or that the baby is not likely to survive without extraordinary medical measures.”
Such extreme measures ignore the human dignity and personhood of an unborn child, as well as the harm that abortion brings to women. They are also out of touch with mainstream America. The vast majority of Americans believe that abortion should have real, legal limits. Eight out of ten Americans oppose late-term abortion and believe that the procedure should be limited to the first trimester, at most.
An activist federal judge is censoring the latest undercover video from the Center for Medical Progress exposing the abortion industry. Before the video was pulled from YouTube, we were horrified listening to the content of Planned Parenthood representatives discussing the sale of baby body parts.
“As hard as it is to watch, the American people need to see these videos,” shared March for Life President Jeanne Mancini on EWTN News Nightly last week. You can watch the full clip of her appearance below:
It has been nearly 2 years since the release of the first disturbing video from the Center for Medical Progress in July 2015. The previous Administration turned a blind eye to the wrongdoing revealed in the hours of footage of these videos.
The Congressional Select Investigative Panel made 15 criminal and regulatory referrals of tissue procurement, and the Senate Judiciary Committee made 7 criminal referrals to the Department of Justice.
But the Justice Department hasn’t yet indicated that they will take up this critical investigation.
Today we are asking for your help in contacting the Department of Justice to ask that they would open an investigation into paid fetal tissue transfers involving Planned Parenthood.
You can read the full letter the March for Life, along with pro-life allies, sent to the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation last week HERE.
Your voice is needed! We need every March for Life supporter and pro-life American to send a message to Attorney General Jeff Sessions encouraging him to continue his pro-life support by investigating Planned Parenthood.
Along with pro-life allies, the March for Life sent a coalition letter to the Department of Justice and FBI regarding an investigation into Planned Parenthood. The letter addresses Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe and it writes: “The previous administration decided to turn a blind eye to the wrongdoing, which led to the creation of the select panel. We request that the Justice Department continue the investigation into the practices surrounding this scandal.”
“Yesterday’s draft of the HHS Interim rule signals hope for the full reinstatement of our right to conscience protection. Having gone to court over this issue ourselves, the March for Life knows firsthand how oppressive the Obama-era mandate is, forcing groups like ours and religious orders like Little Sisters of the Poor to cover conscience-violating drugs. We thank both HHS Secretary Tom Price and President Donald Trump for continuing to prioritize the protection of conscience for every American, and look forward to this administration fulfilling one if its most central and integral promises.”
Planned Parenthood typically releases its annual report in December or January each year, but only made their latest report, for 2015-2016, available earlier this week, six months late. Could it be that they sought to delay or hide the truth about the “services” they provide?
As Congress considers healthcare reform legislation that would redirect the federal funding Planned Parenthood currently receives to Federally Qualified Health Centers, this latest report from the nation’s largest abortion provider gives information that pro-life Americans need to know.
Here are six points from Planned Parenthood’s latest annual report:
In the last year,* Planned Parenthood performed 328,348 abortions. This is an increase of over 4,300 more abortions from the prior year. Note that the national number of abortions decreased during this time. Planned Parenthood is increasing its market value for abortions.
Total revenue ($1.354 billion) and government funding ($554.6 million) in 2016 are the highest they have been for Planned Parenthood.
Non-reproductive health care services have greatly decreased. Cancer screenings have dropped by half since 2011, abortions now outnumber basic breast exams for the first time in its history.
The number of patients and prenatal services continue to decrease.Prenatal services have dropped by almost a half since last year alone, and the number of patients is down by four percent.
They falsely claim that the Center for Medical Progress Video footage containing damning evidence of Planned Parenthood’s involvement in the trafficking of baby parts was “heavily edited” and “widely discredited”. However, a forensic analysis and congressional investigation have disproven these erroneous talking points. Read more HERE.
As you can see abortion and revenue numbers continue to go up, and women’s health services continue to decrease, and yet government funding has increased over the past year.
What can you do?
Please share this information and the graphic below to show the truth about Planned Parenthood, our nation’s largest abortion provider.
Contact your lawmakers to demand an end to federal funding of abortion providers like Planned Parenthood. It is the right thing to do, and over 60% of Americans oppose their taxpayer dollars paying for abortions.
Guest blog post by Corinne Zay, March for Life intern
Making major news recently is the story out of Hagerstown, Maryland of a pregnant high school Senior, Maddi Runkles, denied the opportunity to participate in graduation from her small Christian academy. Maddi is a straight A student who has been involved in many extracurricular activities at her small school, which requires all students to sign a Christian code of conduct to attend. Included in the code of conduct is the concept that the sexual act is meant for marriage, and the school rightly expects students to abide by this rule.
Earlier this year Maddi discovered that she was pregnant with a baby boy due in September. Acknowledging that she broke the code of conduct, Maddi apologized to the school administration. The school board determined that Maddi would lose her position on Student Council and involvement in extracurricular activities at school, in addition to prohibiting her to walk at her high school graduation in June. Major media outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post and NBC have reported this story, which has remained in the headlines for days:
Despite the consequences of her life being altered, and her graduation experience being diminished, outcries of support have come from various pro-life organizations with encouragement for her strong courageous decision to choose life and proceed with her pregnancy. Students for Life of America has voiced their support for Maddi and helped her to embrace her decision of life, including having her as a speaker at their #Sockit2PP campaign in efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.
This support for pregnant mothers is crucial and at the heart of the pro-life movement. March for Life, where I have the blessing of interning this summer, has also released statements regarding the need to support students in this situation with life-affirming actions. The value of the child’s life needs support, in addition to the mothers. Although Maddi may have been denied the support she needed from her school, she has been a tremendous voice of bravery for other pregnant and parenting students. She has joined these organizations by lovingly accepting their support and is paying it forward as a sign of hope for future mothers.
Maddi has drawn attention to the challenge student mothers and fathers face, particularly in Christian culture environments. Maddi and other parenting students inspire universities and schools across America to care for their beloved mothers on campus. Being pregnant on a college campus and in a high school is naturally very intimidating. However, in particular, devout Christian schools may encourage an environment that ironically creates a greater temptation to abort because of the increased likelihood of perceived shame with peers and faculty. The Christian values of love and mercy are so easily distorted by a focus on justice and pride. Even in my own backyard, I fight this distortion of good as President of Ave for Life.
Just this year we launched our first initiative of Pregnant on Campus at my college, Ave Maria University. Ave Maria University is a small Catholic college located in southwest Florida. The campus culture at Ave Maria is one of great joy. Students often attend daily mass, engage in discussions about faith, and work hard to become holy each day (not just on campus). Although Ave Maria University does not have a code of conduct, the moral standard each student holds themselves to is simply understood on campus and truly geared toward being the best version of ourselves.
Although this culture is overwhelmingly positive, Ave Maria is very much full of humans. It is in our human nature that we fail and then learn the importance of mercy and love towards each other. It was in my experience in leading Ave for Life that I had the opportunity to learn authentic love of the pregnant mother.
In February, one of our board members and friends came to me and told me that we had a pregnant student on campus. I was so excited to be able to serve this mother and get to know her. It was then about a month later that I met Beth and learned more about her. Here was a young freshman student at Ave Maria pregnant with a child and we as a pro-life student organization had the opportunity to support.
Ave for Life had discussed beginning a program “Pregnant on Campus” prior to learning about Beth, but God’s timing was impeccable. We began planning and discussing the importance of this issue on our campus. We knew the heart of the issue was how we as a campus would adapt to become a welcoming and loving environment for a pregnant and parenting student.
With the culture of Ave Maria focused on moral values and virtue, many on campus neglected the possibility or idea of a pregnant student. Our Board took this question to the administration and together began working towards solutions. In working with Beth and a handful of other pregnant mothers on our campus we learned how to better support students in this situation.
First, we considered resources that we could offer pregnant and parenting students. We talked with residence hall directors, administration, and local clinics about the opportunities and legal rights we could offer to pregnant and parenting students. Next, we began to plan to make physical improvements on our campus such as adding changing tables to bathrooms and high chairs to dining areas. Finally, and most importantly, we observed the cultural change and discussion that needed to occur on our campus regarding pregnancy. While our campus believes in preserving sexual intimacy for marriage, we also believe in mercy and want to be as life-affirming as possible. Regardless of how a baby is conceived, every life is a gift and a miracle to be received with love!
This past March this year, we launched our Pregnant on Campus initiative to helps students further understand the best ways to support a woman who is pregnant on campus. One of the most important lessons we learned is that because this has not been discussed on campus, it is possible and even probably that many pregnancies have gone unnoticed and unannounced; some that may have even sadly resulted in abortion. Our most important goal with this initiative is to show our brothers and sisters in Christ that Ave Maria is a place where motherhood should be embraced.
It is with this story and goal in mind that I share our authentic Ave for Life culture and encourage other schools and campuses to support your students. One of the simplest things we can do each day is to love our neighbor. We do not know the cross they are carrying. Maybe it is their work stress, maybe it is their day to day tasks, but maybe it is an unexpected pregnancy. Love your neighbor where they are at. To Beth and to Maddi: we are praying for you and we appreciate your unspoken courage in choosing life!
“I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?” – Mother Teresa