“March for Life is grateful to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for his announcement today that the Department will more fully implement the Protecting Life in Global Health Policy. Taxpayer dollars should not fund abortion here or abroad, and respecting the inherent dignity of the unborn person goes hand in glove with our country’s foreign assistance and humanitarian work. The Secretary’s courageous leadership on the implementation of this policy will assure its proper oversight and help advance the protection and empowerment of human persons at all stages in our international global health assistance initiatives.” Jeanne Mancini, President of March for Life
“Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards Syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 18th chromosome. The majority of people with the syndrome die during the fetal stage; infants who survive experience serious defects and live for extremely short periods of time. This is associated with a broad spectrum of abnormalities which consist of greater than 130 discrete defects involving the brain, heart, craniofacial structures, kidneys, and stomach. Edwards Syndrome has no treatment and is usually fatal before birth or within the first year of life.”
I read these words as I waited in the maternal-fetal office. At just 23 years old, and 20 weeks pregnant, I had been referred to get a more in-depth ultrasound when my sonographer couldn’t see all of my daughter’s heart and noticed choroid plexus cysts on the brain. As I sat there, I googled “choroid plexus cysts.” Google always knows, right? These often were not indicators of anything, but at times were a soft marker for Trisomy 18. For some reason, this resonated with my heart. A genetic condition that I knew absolutely nothing about 10 minutes prior. The next several hours felt like a nightmare. I went back into the imaging room as the new sonographer scanned over my belly. She did this for two hours. She didn’t say a word. Finally, the doctor came in and asked if we had any idea what was going on. I said no.
He proceeded to say, “Basically, everything is wrong with this child. There are cysts on the brain, the fetus is missing half of its heart. There is a hypoplastic left ventricle. Clenched fists. The fetus is about 4 weeks behind on growth already and has severe intrauterine growth restriction. I see a cleft palate.” He paused for what felt like an eternity and then said, “Oh, and there are two clubbed feet. And it’s a girl.”
The doctor said I needed an amniocentesis to confirm, and that if it was indeed Trisomy 18, as he believed, I couldn’t continue my pregnancy. “She is incompatible with life. She won’t survive. I don’t think you understand how serious this is.”
We went forward with the amino, after a false preliminary result came back claiming Evelyn had Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21), we received a phone call a week later saying the lab director had made a mistake. Evelyn had Trisomy 18, not Trisomy 21. The doctor proceeded to say, “I spoke with your OBGYN already, and he told me that you will be terminating. He has that scheduled for you.” I couldn’t believe what I heard. Not only had I made it clear that was not an option, the doctor’s name spoken was one I had never heard before. I had no idea he was even a part of this practice. I instantly told the doctor I wouldn’t be doing that. Again, he said, “I don’t think you understand this. She is incompatible with life. This is fatal. She will not survive.”
I was immediately dropped from the practice after calling through screams and sobs to ask where in the world that information came from and that I would continue my pregnancy. I went 5 weeks without a provider. Tragically, it was a thousand times easier to schedule an abortion for my child than it was to find proper care for myself and my pregnancy.
Finally, I found a practice. And my Evelyn Grace continued to live. I knew inside my womb was the safest place for Evelyn to be. I lived my pregnancy knowing simply that I was not the one that created my daughter’s heartbeat and I didn’t have the authority to decide when it ended. Although Evelyn existed inside of my womb during this time, her story and her life were uniquely her own. I was simply given the beautiful gift of stewarding that. And so Evelyn stayed put. And she grew. She made it to 39 weeks when I was induced, giving my team the order that Evelyn would receive full intervention after birth, just like any other critical newborn would.
Evelyn spent several weeks in Intensive Care before we went home. I spent this time and the time during my pregnancy learning and equipping myself to be the best mom and advocate for Evelyn. I learned that a Trisomy condition, having three copies of any specific chromosome, is not a death sentence. Yes, there can be many health concerns that may come as a result of the third chromosome, but when these concerns are treated, these children will thrive.
I saw the strength and resilience of mothers ahead of me and their children in the Trisomy 21, 18, and 13 community. Through life in and out of the hospital, adapting to the medical equipment, and learning all about Evelyn’s care, my family and I have experienced more joy and love than we knew possible. I wish I could go back to myself that day in the office and say, “You have no idea what joy is ahead. Yes, this will be hard. And there will be valleys of despair and moments where this all seems too much. But you will see strength and love in yourself and in Evelyn that you didn’t know existed. The view you are about to have will take your breath away. Just keep going.”
The only tragedy here would be never meeting Evelyn. All of our days are limited. Not just a child with a chronic illness. None of us are promised tomorrow. I remind myself daily that on my best day or worst day caring for Evelyn, I never have the power to add or subtract a day from her life.
Only the author of life does. That frees me up to just be Evelyn’s mom. I don’t worry about her days ahead. I pray for wisdom for myself and her medical providers and leave the rest to God. I look forward to each day ahead with joy. Evelyn has truly changed our hearts from the inside out. Evelyn is now 2 ½ years old. She is a big sister to Esme, and a blessing to all she comes across. She daily changes the mind and hearts of those in the medical field we come across, and she is paving the way for others just like her. I will always choose life. I will always stand in the gap for those who are marginalized. Each life, no matter how long or short is precious and sacred. Every life has a purpose.
— Hannah Sudlow is first and foremost a Christ Follower, wife to Craig, and mom to Evelyn and Esme. She is also the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Evelyn’s Treehouse, inspired by her daughter, Evelyn. Their mission is to come alongside new families in the hospital who have received a life-changing medical diagnosis for their child by offering support and resources. Their goal is to help empower and equip parents to confidently live out their new role of caring for their medically complex child. Hannah is an advocate for the special needs community and those who are marginalized in their health care. Ultimately, Hannah shares Evelyn’s story to encourage others to see the value and sanctity in each and every life and help normalize special needs.
January 22nd: Roe turns 46 years old and New York jubilantly celebrates the passage of a new radical late-term abortion bill aimed at “codifying Roe”.
January 29th: A video goes viral of Virginia Delegate Kathy Tran defending a bill that would allow abortion even after a woman goes into labor.
January 30th: Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia suggests support for infanticide of a baby who survives an abortion on live radio. (He has yet to retract his comments.)
February 25th: 44 Senate Democrats vote against providing medical care for newborn babies who survive abortions – in other words, infanticide. (Thankfully, 50 Republicans and 3 Democrats voted in favor of the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, but the legislation needed 60 votes to advance in the Senate.)
There is only one way to describe these events: abortion extremism.
Most Americans picked their jaw off the floor in disbelief when each of these events made headlines. However, the truth of the matter is that abortion extremism exists across the country. For example, only 7 countries in the world allow abortion past 5 months gestation, including North Korea, China, and the United States, and 8 states (plus D.C.) allow abortion until birth.
I get it; this is disheartening. But let me share the good news and practical action steps you can take to make a difference in 2019.
America is waking up
The good news is that a large majority of Americans do not support the radical bills proposed in Virginia and New York. What many people didn’t realize is that these bills are championed by pro-abortion lobby groups, most notably NARAL and Planned Parenthood.
Recent displays of radicalism woke Americans up to what the pro-choice lobby is all about. For the first time in 10 years, Marist polling showed a tie between pro-choice and pro-life self-identifying Americans in February.
Democrats last month: 20% identify as pro-life vs. 75% as pro-choice.
Time will tell if the shift remains, but the lesson to be learned here is this: when pro-choice Americans wake up to the radicalism of pro-choice politicians, they are willing to rethink their position. This should give the pro-life movement encouragement.
March for Life (check out our recent blogs and stay tuned for more content!)
These groups will help you answer tough questions about abortion and provide excellent materials to share with your on-the-fence or pro-choice friends. With these resources, you can confidently answer why you are pro-life. (If you didn’t see your go-to pro-life education organization, leave the name and link in the comments!)
Second, take action in your community. Making abortion not just illegal, but unthinkable, is a mighty task. While not all of us are supposed to run for office or direct a pregnancy resource clinic, we all have an unrepeatable role to play.
Start by choosing one way to get active in the pro-life community this year. That’s it. Just one.
When Nellie Gray began the March for Life in 1974, she could never have dreamed that it would become the largest annual human rights demonstration in the world. Likewise, it is impossible for us to know the difference our little “yes” can make in defending the lives of the most vulnerable among us.
“Senators who could not bring themselves to vote to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act should reconsider whether or not they have what it takes to serve. Senator Sasse’s common sense bill would merely require doctors assist a newborn struggling to survive after a failed attempt on her life. Anyone who lacks the basic level of human compassion needed to vote in favor of this should quickly find another job. We look forward to a vote in the House of Representatives so that Chamber can get on record as well.” – Jeanne Mancini, March for Life President
“It is absolutely appropriate that the new Title X regulations take into account the difference between abortion and healthcare. Abortion is neither healthcare nor family planning which is why the Title X program has no business funding it. We applaud HHS Secretary Azar and the Trump administration on this move that protects American taxpayers from paying for abortion through Title X. At the same time, the new regulation protects low-income women who rely on Title X assistance because no funds will be cut from the program. In fact, those women in need will receive services at federally qualified health centers (FQHC) which outnumber abortion centers 20:1. At FQHC’s women benefit from better regulatory oversight, a wider range of services, and more life-affirming options. The new Title X regulations are a win-win for all Americans.”
“We applaud the President for condemning the extremist abortion propositions out of New York and Virginia and for calling on Congress to ban late-term abortion during his State of the Union Address. The American consensus opposes abortion after the first trimester, yet some politicians continue to embrace and perpetuate an unprecedentedly radical pro-abortion agenda. Among them are Virginia Governor Ralph Northam who recently condoned infanticide and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who, by bringing Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen as her guest tonight, has pledged her allegiance to an organization that continues to endorse legislation that allows abortion until birth.
While politicians like these are in step with a powerful abortion lobby, they are out of touch with the American people. We ask Congress to heed President Trump’s call to pass legislation prohibiting late-term abortion as well for a quick floor vote in the Senate on the Born-Alive bill so that Governor Northam’s infanticide fantasy may never be reality. It is time for politicians, regardless of party, to stand up in favor of protecting innocent life.”
“Sen. Patty Murray, acting on behalf of Senate Democrats, blocked even having a voice-vote on common-sense legislation that would prohibit the killing of babies who survive a botched abortion, and instead chose to stand up in favor of infanticide and the abortion lobby. This pro-death mentality is the same one that has recently moved some lawmakers to propose extremely permissive late-term abortion bills in states like New York and Virginia. The consensus among the vast majority of Americans is that abortion should be limited to – at most – the first trimester. We call on Senate Majority Leader McConnell to bring the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act to a floor vote so that constituents know exactly where their elected officials stand on protecting the fundamental right to life.”
“After our peaceful rally and March on the afternoon of Friday, January 18, an unfortunate incident took place that evening at the Lincoln Memorial. The March for Life learned of this incident Saturday afternoon, January 19. Based upon incomplete information, we made a statement critical of the behavior of the students from Covington Catholic High School. As further information came, we retracted our initial statement on January 20 and indicated a further statement would follow once more facts came to light.
For our rush to judgment and initial statement based on incomplete and misleading information, we apologize. The facts that have since come to light reveal that the boys from Covington Catholic experienced some real and inexcusable intimidation, insults, and harassment. We have tremendous respect for the schools, families and young people who travel long distances and make sacrifices to attend the March each year. In the future, when it comes to the accuracy of breaking news reports or social media coverage of the March, we will not trust, we will verify.
For 46 years the March for Life has been a place where millions have enjoyed their First Amendment rights to freely speak and assemble. The young people who come to the March for Life each year stand up peacefully and joyfully in defense of the unborn, while also grieving for the 60 million lives lost to abortion since Roe v. Wade – sisters and brothers missing from their own generation whom they will never know. These young people should be encouraged and respected by adults in our society. While this incident has impacted many, it will not stop our work to build a culture of life. We will continue to exercise our first amendment rights in defense of the unborn, as we have done peacefully for so many years.” – March for Life Education and Defense Fund
Jennifer: In 1968, I was eighteen, unmarried, and pregnant. My friends urged me to have an abortion. I never once thought about doing it. I thank God every day for my son. Turns out that after the birth of my son, I was never able to have children. The only reason my son was born, the doctor said, is that I was young. If I would have had an abortion, I would have missed the most wonderful part of my life: motherhood. He is a wonderful person and has contributed much to the world. He might never have been born, and I would have regretted that decision the rest of my life. We don’t know what the future may bring. Like me, you may only get one chance.
I march for life because my mom believed I was worth the risk of defying the oppressive, Chinese government to give birth to me. She refused abortion, went into hiding for months, and put her own safety on the line to keep me safe in her arms. #WhyWeMarch#MarchForLifepic.twitter.com/zJaYXFpahA
Andres: I march because, as a veteran of 20 years with the US Navy, and as what real true men do, I defend the weak and the voiceless.
Kathy: I March because I want others to know how grateful I am for the life that I have and how important it is for everyone to be given that same opportunity to be born and have the life that God intended for them. I March for those who can’t because they are not here but should have been. I March to let mothers know that so many of us care deeply and are here to help! Whatever she needs to give her baby life!
A reminder that when people say abortion saves the disabled and their families from lives of suffering, they’re talking about eradicating children like mine. #WhyWeMarchpic.twitter.com/Spq6eWm4y6
Laura: We march so that our daughter always knows she had the right to live! Our family video is on YouTube here is the link!
Samuel: The March for Life offers to all the participants to unite as one in the most grand peaceful demonstration to express our determination and longing to see the end of abortion. We are all so motivated, inspired and exhilarated find ourselves in the midst of the immense throng of like-minded people.
Why do you march for life? Share why you march at whywemarch.org and by using #whywemarch.
To help you get ready for Friday, Tom McClusky, President of March for Life Action, and Katrina Gallic with the March for Life chatted about effective ways you can make a difference for pro-life legislation.
2. Visit your Congressmen and Senators during the 2019 March for Life.
The March for Life is a fantastic opportunity to bring the pro-life message to your Representatives and Senators in person. Whether or not they are pro-life, your elected officials need to know that their constituents support legal restrictions on abortion and want no taxpayer funding for abortions. Don’t assume they won’t be in the office, even with the government shutdown, many congressman and senators will be in their D.C. offices this week.
With a pro-abortion majority in control of the House of Representatives, it is critical that we urge our elected officials to fight for laws that protect the unborn. Thank you for supporting March for Life Action as we do just that.
We look forward to marching with you all this Friday, January 18, in Washington, D.C.!
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