Maddi Runkles: The Power of One

 

Today we had the honor of hosting Maddi Runkles at our office for a Facebook Live conversation. During Maddi’s senior year of high school, this past year, she found herself facing an unexpected pregnancy, and in the midst of very challenging circumstances, she chose life.

We’re so grateful that she did, and she is expecting a baby boy in early September! We want to celebrate and honor her decision.

Watch the full conversation here:

As a concluding question, I asked Maddi, what advice she might have for someone watching who is also facing an unexpected pregnancy. Here is her inspiring response:

“It’s super cliche, but you can do it; it is worth it. Making the right choice is not always the easiest thing to do, but in the long run, it’s the best thing you can do.”

This is a very intimate and vulnerable topic, and we’re grateful for Maddi’s willingness to share. We want to reiterate her message of hope. Also, if anyone reading or watching this is facing an unexpected pregnancy, we would like to encourage you. There are many resources available and you can begin with checking out OptionLine.org.

Choosing life is empowering, and we hope you have seen how Maddi so beautifully embodies this.

Honoring the Life of a Pro-Life Hero: Mark Gallagher

 

“The Power of One” was the 2017 March for Life theme.  That theme was made manifest in a gentle man with a giant heart, who showered his gifts on the pro-life movement. Today I had the privilege of attending the funeral of Deacon Mark Gallagher, a man, who, in the words of Congressman Chris Smith, was a “pro-life unsung hero,” working tirelessly as a pro-life lobbyist for the United States Catholic Bishops for 33 years. (Click HERE or the Congressional Record image to read the full statement from Congressman Smith.)

He passed away last week at the age of 75. He was a beloved husband to Kathy and father to Mark, Kim, Andrew, Lillian, David, Judy, Charles, Kate, and John. He was selfless, a “rock”, and a font of wisdom, as described to the packed church, including dozens of priests and a bishop.

While his family and friends are painfully grieving Mark’s sudden loss, there was overwhelming peace during the mass and a profound sense of the fruitfulness of his life.

One of his most significant legislative accomplishments was contributing to the enactment of the Hyde Amendment in 1976, which prohibits taxpayer dollars paying for most abortions. The Hyde Amendment is undoubtedly the single most effective pro-life public policy in the history of the United States; a study published in 2016 by Dr. Michael New showed that the Hyde Amendment has saved at least two million lives in its time.

Such an impact on our culture often comes at personal cost. Mark had war wounds from striving daily to fight the culture of darkness with a culture of life, love, light. He loved the Lord and lived his life totally centered on Him. His life and his sufferings bore inestimable fruit, much like the grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies in order to bear fruit.

Mark Gallagher lived a beautiful life, centered on love. He perfectly embodied “the power of one.” May we all be inspired by his story to respond generously to God’s call and be the instrument that seeks the good of all.

The First 100 Days

One week after the Inauguration of the 45th President of the United States, pro-life America marched in our nation’s capital to remember the 58 million Americans lost to abortion since 1973, and to continue the effort to build a culture of life in this country!

The White House showed unprecedented support for the March for Life by sending Kellyanne Conway, senior counselor to the President, and longtime pro-life hero, Vice President Mike Pence – the highest-ranking White House official ever to address the March for Life!

With this enthusiasm, the 44th March for Life was one of the most powerful and impactful marches ever, further solidifying our commitment to ending abortion in our lifetime.

>>>> Watch a recap of the March for Life with the remarks of Vice President Pence: 

Since the March for Life in January, participants, and supporters across the country have continued to build a culture of life by advocating for pro-life policies under the new Congress and Administration.

Thank you for making your voice heard!

It is hard to believe that we are now at the “100 Day” mark for the new Administration. In a short period of time, we’ve seen many positive pro-life policy decisions. The Obama Administration is considered to be the most pro-abortion presidency ever, possibly only to have been outdone by presidential candidate and abortion champion Hillary Clinton had she won in November. (Clinton is set to receive Planned Parenthood’s “champion of the century” award next week.)

We are grateful for the pro-life policy decisions in the first 100 Days, including:

  • Unprecedented support for the 2017 March for Life, sending the Vice President to speak to marchers;
  • Strong pro-life appointments to key leadership roles including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, HHS Secretary Tom Price, and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley;
  • Reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, prohibiting U.S. funding of abortion providers overseas;
  • Defunding of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a participant in China’s one-child policy;
  • Enactment of the Congressional Review Act (H.J. Res 43) to allow individual states the ability to redirect Title X funding away from abortion providers like Planned Parenthood;
  • Nomination and confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

>>>> Watch Jeanne Mancini recap the Trump Administration’s first 100 days:

The pro-abortion lobby is reeling from the election losses in November and the enactment of pro-life policies. They protested the nomination of Neil Gorsuch, despite his impeccable education, experience, and previous bipartisan support. With reports of a possible Supreme Court Justice retirement later this year, we can be sure to expect an intense battle like we haven’t previously witnessed.

At the March for Life, we are working tirelessly for pro-life policies — like preventing tax dollars from pouring into Planned Parenthood — and continuing to strive to build a culture of life year-round.

It has been quite a busy 100 days, for the new Administration and the March for Life! Changing our culture and our laws for life is a year-round effort and we are honored to partner with you in this life-saving work.

Remembering Justice Scalia

 

One year ago today, we lost a man who was a wonderful husband, father, person of faith, intellect and perhaps most known as a wonderful Supreme Court Justice, the late Antonin Scalia.

I will never forget receiving the text from a friend with the news of Justice Scalia’s untimely death. It was late on a Saturday and my husband and I were hosting a group of friends for dinner that evening.  It was hard to focus after learning of his passing. After dinner, we all talked about what his death meant for our country. We prayed for the future of our beloved USA.

A few days later, my parents and I would pay our respects to Justice Scalia as he laid in state at the Supreme Court. We waited for hours in the cold to pray in front of his casket. We were not alone in our desire to honor him; I was surprised to see so many millennials waiting in line and later read that they needed to extend the hours of the viewing well past midnight so that everyone could pass by Justice Scalia as he laid in state.

His funeral was a ticketed event since so many wanted to attend. My husband and I listened to the funeral homily online given by Justice Scalia’s son, the gifted Fr. Paul Scalia. The sermon was without a doubt one of the best and most moving homilies I have ever heard preached. I can recite portions of it from memory.

Justice Scalia was admired not only by our nation, but also by his colleagues. He often shared, “My best buddy on the court is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has always been.” During this time when our nation is so polarized and respectful dialogue and debate are lacking, the deep friendship of these two ideological opposites on the Supreme Court is an example for us all.

Justice Scalia was an intellectual giant, committed to the country and to our great Constitution. He understood that it was not the role of the courts to write the laws, or create new constitutional rights out of judicial activism (as they did with Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton). He reflected on the role of the legislature versus the courts. “Persuade your fellow citizens it’s a good idea and pass a law. That’s what democracy is all about. It’s not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.”

I also deeply respect Justice Scalia’s perspective on family and faith. He once light-heartedly remarked about his large family, “Well, we didn’t set out to have nine children. We’re just old-fashioned Catholics, you know.”

On this anniversary of his death, we remember the great Justice Scalia and reflect upon his invaluable contributions to our nation. We also reflect upon the many developments in our country in the year since his passing. I am profoundly grateful that one such development is the recent nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, a judge who is very much of the same mold as Justice Antonin Scalia. May we all work together to get Judge Gorsuch confirmed.

 

Thank You for Marching for Life!

 

Thank you. From the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank each and every one of you who marched for life on Friday in our nation’s capital, as well as those of you who were watching and supporting us from afar.

Year after year, every January – we travel across this great nation to give a voice to those who don’t have one – the unborn. We’re here in blizzards, subzero temperatures, sleet, snow and rain – and we are here because we know that abortion is the greatest human rights abuse of our time.

The 2017 March for Life was truly historic including an in-person speaking appearance by Vice President Mike Pence, and Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway.

The joyful, loving, peaceful witness of tens of thousands of America’s pro-life youth from across the country spoke to the hearts and minds of those in attendance and watching on screen.

Enjoy and share these incredible pictures from the 2017 March for Life. (Click the images below to see more!)

New technology allowed the March for Life rally to be streamed on Facebook, resulting in our message of life and love going “viral” with nearly 2 million views and over 33,000 shares.

You can watch and share the full rally footage from Friday, filled with a powerful lineup of inspiring speakers, below.

Now we begin the hard work of turning our passion and inspiration at the March for Life into year-round, every-day advocacy work to change our culture and our laws for the cause of life.

Will you join us?

We are honored and humbled by your witness for life at the 44th Annual March for Life. Throughout this week, we’ll update you with media coverage, and social media coverage – our voices were heard loud and clear this year!

Thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

On behalf of the March for Life Board of Directors and staff, I’d like to wish you and your family a safe and blessed Thanksgiving!

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We are grateful for the work that each of you does for the pro-life cause. Together, we will one day soon see a culture of life flourish in our country so that every child is welcomed and loved.

From all of us at the March for Life, thank you for working with us and Happy Thanksgiving! 

What About Equal Rights for Unborn Women?

 

Yesterday as I was leaving work, a young, African-American man stopped me and asked if I was “for” women’s rights. I can assume that if I said yes he would have asked me to sign a petition he was advocating.  Because I was in a hurry, I typically would have continued on my way without engaging him. However, because I have heard the term “women’s rights” at least five times in the course of the past week, and frankly, my patience is waning in the face of the onslaught of false rhetoric surrounding this election cycle, I couldn’t help but stop and chat.

I asked him, “What exactly are you referring to when you say “women’s rights”; what “rights” are we talking about?” He answered, ironically, given that I am a woman and he is not, “reproductive rights.” Saddened and burdened by this response, I asked him “what about equal rights for unborn women?” He obviously had not given that any thought because he didn’t know how to respond. After about twenty seconds he asked me, “is this a trick question?” I told him no and that I hoped he would really think about the point I had made.

mfl2016_meme_12232015If I had the chance to speak with this gentleman again I would have gently added that pushing reproductive rights is on the wrong side of history.  Humans should not be discriminated against because of their size, sex, color, race, disability, etc.

I love everything related to the inherent dignity and vocation of women. I’m grateful for my educational opportunities, the right to vote, my career opportunities the fact that I am able to lead a non-profit organization, a stark contrast from what the vast majority of women throughout history, and even living today have enjoyed. Furthermore, I’m grateful that I am 100% equal in dignity to my husband.

But I am tired of the damaging and erroneous idea that abortion is a positive thing for women. I have met so many women that profoundly grieve having been involved in an abortion. I’ve talked to a dad who lost his daughter to legal abortion. There is study after study showing the negative consequences of abortion – be it emotionally or physically.

Because of the cause of “reproductive rights,” approximately 30 million females are missing in the United States today – future Olympic athletes, scientists, doctors, artists, teachers, sisters, mothers, daughters, lawmakers, and maybe even a President. Women deserve the truth about this issue. Abortion is profoundly anti-woman. Choosing life is empowering, not taking the life of your precious little one.

Official Launch of March for Life Action

 

I have some really big news to share with you.

I am excited to announce the official launch of March for Life Action!

mfl-action

March for Life Action is a certified 501(c)4 entity, which will operate as a sister organization to our 501(c)3, March for Life Education and Defense Fund. The difference between the two organizations is that March for Life Action will allow YOUR VOICE — in combination with the collective voices of the millions of pro-life Americans — to advocate for specific pro-life policies at the federal and state level.

I am deeply convinced that March for Life Action is needed for such a time as this. Our country is truly facing a divisive crossroad on issues related to life and the inherent dignity of the unborn.

While a culture of life has advanced legislatively in many states over the past few years, the June Supreme Court decision striking down Texas’ common-sense safety regulations for abortion centers endangers not only women’s health but also pro-life advances and laws across the country.

Then in late July, the Democrat National Committee introduced the most radical pro-abortion platform ever, advocating for abortion, on demand, at any time during pregnancy, paid for by your tax dollars.

The Democratic Presidential Candidate and other pro-abortion advocates have even called for a repeal of the long-standing bipartisan Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer dollars from paying for abortion through Medicaid.

While March for Life Action is non-partisan like its sister organization, the sad reality is that the Democratic Presidential Candidate and Democratic Platform are extreme and out of touch with mainstream America.

>>>> ICYMI, check out my op-ed in the Daily Caller on the Democrat Party’s Radical New Abortion Stance.

Here’s where March for Life Action comes in.

We have a very exciting project to share with you very soon, but we are asking that you would help us first by following March for Life Action on social media and asking your friends to do so also.

We are grateful for this new opportunity to expand our cultural influence more directly into the policy arena. And we are excited to amplify YOUR voice on the most pressing issue of our time, the inherent dignity and goodness of life, not only as we march up Constitution Avenue every January, but moreover, every day of the year.

Reflections on Recent Decisions

 

As we prepare for Independence Day weekend, I want to share with you some of my thoughts on the events that have transpired this past week.

Not all of it has grabbed headlines, but several significant legal and legislative actions took place this week, which will impact the causes of life and freedom of conscience for years to come.

Here’s what happened:

  • In a decision striking down parts of Texas’ abortion legislation, HB 2, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that clinics that perform abortions don’t have to follow standard health and safety codes that any other healthcare facility is required to follow.

>>> Read the March for Life’s full press release reacting to the Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision.

  • By refusing to hear a case about a Washington state pharmacist who objected to prescribing abortion-inducing drugs, the Supreme Court opened the door to pharmacies across the country being forced to provide abortion-inducing drugs and devices regardless of personal or faith-based objections.

>>> Read the March for Life’s full press release reacting to Stormans v. Weisman.

  • On Capitol Hill, the Senate Democrats defeated the House-passed Zika Prevention legislation that would have provided emergency funds to prevent the spread of this dangerous virus for women and babies. They objected because only hospitals and community health centers in Puerto Rico would receive funding, not Planned Parenthood.

>>> Read the March for Life’s statement regarding the bill’s defeat.

>>> Read an op-ed about the Zika Prevention bill by our Assistant Director, Bethany Goodman.

The Whole Women’s Health decision threatens other pro-life state legislative initiatives and indicates the hostile territory the Supreme Court has become to the rule of law when it comes to abortion-related decisions.

Furthermore in the Stormans decision, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists shared this dire reflection: “This Court has set the stage for unfettered state coercion; a coercion that extends even to forcing American citizens to have to participate in the killing of other human beings.” In his dissent, Justice Samuel Alito wrote, “If this is a sign of how religious liberty claims will be treated in the years ahead, those who value religious freedom have cause for great concern.”

MFL_MEMES_JUNE27-01This is especially troubling as we prepare to celebrate the anniversary of our nation’s birth. Freedom of conscience, and the protection of life and liberty were paramount to the founding of the United States of America.

While this turn of events is disheartening, we know that there are millions of pro-life Americans who still hold those values dear. Here at the March for Life we are unequivocally committed to protecting life. Furthermore, we must remember that the fight for life is not just a political/legal/legislative battle, but it is more deeply a cultural and spiritual battle. We must remain relentless in praying for a culture of life and working to build a culture where abortion is unthinkable.

We have the truth on our side and we will not back down. We will not stop fighting for what is right for women, babies, and our country.

Sensible Fetal Pain Laws

 

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley recently signed a law restricting abortion after 19 weeks of pregnancy. Citing fetal pain science, South Carolina joins 16 other states that have passed legal protections for unborn babies halfway through pregnancy. The first state to pass such a law was Nebraska, in 2010.

The immediate impact of this first fetal pain law was that the notorious late-term abortionist, Leroy Carhart, moved his practice from Nebraska to the less abortion restrictive state of Maryland. For the past six years, he has conducted abortions on babies that are fully five months of gestation or more at nearby Germantown Reproductive Health Services, about a twenty-minute drive from the Nation’s Capital.

In the early 2000s, Leroy Carhart became a “hero” and the “face” of partial-birth abortion and late term abortion as the plaintiff in two lawsuits, Stenberg v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Carhart. He has been quoted saying, “I … feel like I’m doing God’s work.” He once told a Kansas TV reporter: “I see the anti-choice movement as nothing different from the Taliban.”

The March for Life Education and Defense Fund exists to build a culture of life and love. Our goal is to defend and protect life at any stage, acknowledging that abortion takes the life of one and wounds the other. That said, late term abortion is physically much harder on women for obvious reasons; as the baby develops and the pregnancy progresses, the more difficult and risky the procedure becomes.

To that point, Carhart is currently under congressional investigation after reports recently became public that five women from his clinic over the course of six months needed to be hospitalized. Subpoenas have been issued to both Carhart and Germantown Reproductive Health Services so that more information can be ascertained.

Who is impacted by measures similar to South Carolina’s fetal pain bill? The large majority of abortions in our country occur before 12 weeks of gestation.  While the U.S. does not have abortion reporting requirements, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collects voluntary data. The general estimate is that approximately 15,000-18,000 abortions occur after 21 weeks in the U.S. annually.

Why do women have abortions so far along in the pregnancy? The lack of government reporting requirements translate to very little hard public data but one source, Ron Fitzsimmons, former Executive Director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, in an interview with the New York Times estimated that in the majority of cases, abortions performed at 20 weeks or later are on a healthy baby and healthy mother.

Another important aspect of these laws is that they are reflective of what Americans want. Late-term abortion is not at all popular with the American people, even those who identify as pro-choice. A Marist poll from earlier this year revealed that as many as 8 out of 10 Americans believe that abortion should be limited to the first three months of pregnancy. And even for those who self-identify as pro-choice, a large majority —66%– agree that abortion should be limited at most to the first three months of pregnancy.

As the work of Leroy Carhart continues to come to the light through the congressional investigation, and as more states continue to enact laws limiting late-term abortion, let’s be honest that fetal pain laws are common sense – they protect women and babies and have the support of the majority of Americans.

Sometimes people ask if incremental laws have an impact. The proof is evident.