How Many Abortions Happened in YOUR County in 2015?

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The annual Pennsylvania Department of Health report about abortion statistics may look like just a bunch of numbers to some people, but to those of us who are pro-life, each number represents an innocent life lost to abortion.

In 2015, Pennsylvania lost 308 fewer babies to abortion than it did in 2014, according to the report. That’s the equivalent to about twelve kindergarten classes of children whose mothers chose life.

The state statistics show 31,818 abortions occurred in the Keystone State in 2015. Over 80% of the abortions that occurred in Pennsylvania in 2015 happened in four counties: Allegheny, Dauphin, Northampton, and Philadelphia.

Below are the numbers of abortions reported, based on the county where the woman lives:

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For the full PA Department of Health report, click here.

The 2015 total represents a 51.6 percent decrease from the record high number of 65,777 in 1980 and is the fewest ever recorded in the Commonwealth.

Much work still remains. Please consider getting involved with one of our pro-life chapters in a county near you. You could help save a baby’s life. Click here to find a chapter in your area.

Good News–Abortion Totals in PA Drop to Record Low!

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HARRISBURG, Pa. – The number of abortions in Pennsylvania declined in 2015 to a record low—a welcome development for women and children in the Keystone State, according to the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, an affiliate of National Right to Life.

Statistics just released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health show 308 fewer abortions occurred in PA in 2015 compared to 2014. In all, 31,818 abortions took place in PA in 2015—the lowest number ever recorded in the Commonwealth.

“The downward trend in abortions in the Keystone State is encouraging news for Pennsylvania women and families,” said Maria Gallagher, legislative director for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation. “Technological developments such as 4D Ultrasound have helped show the humanity of the preborn child, and have aided in strengthening the bond between mother and baby.”

Pennsylvania women and children are also benefiting from the comprehensive counseling and life-affirming support offered by pregnancy resource centers, which provide everything from ultrasounds to life skill classes, and from diapers to daycare referrals for pregnant women and their families.

“The abortion rate in Pennsylvania would be much higher were it not for the state’s Alternatives to Abortion program, which is administered by Real Alternatives, Inc. ( ),” Gallagher added. “This ground-breaking program provides women with encouragement and resources so that they are fully supported during their pregnancies. Real Alternatives centers, along with other pro-life pregnancy help centers throughout the Commonwealth, are offering a much-needed lifeline to women and children.”

“When women receive comprehensive support and affirmation, they are far more likely to choose life for their babies,” said Kevin Bagatta, President and CEO of Real Alternatives, Inc.

The Department of Health figures indicate that abortion totals decreased in a number of counties, including Philadelphia, Dauphin, Lehigh, and York, helping to bring about the statewide decline in abortions.

Troubling, however, is the number of repeat abortions. The figures show that in more than 47 percent of cases, Pennsylvania women who had abortions in 2015 had had at least one previous abortion and, in some cases, four or more prior abortions.

“Women in challenging circumstances deserve better than abortion,” said Gallagher. “We must continue to reach out to women to let them know that help is available for themselves and their babies—and that no one has the right to coerce them into having an abortionist end the lives of their children.”      

The Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation is a grassroots right-to-life organization with members statewide.  As the state affiliate of National Right to Life, PPLF is committed to promoting the dignity and value of human life from conception to natural death and to restoring legal protection for preborn children.

Get out your working boots!!!


Pennsylvania recently received some tremendous, life affirming news.  By the end of the year, three more Planned Parenthood affiliates will be closing their doors. Affiliates in Chambersburg, Gettysburg, and Scranton will no longer be telling women they can’t handle their unexpected pregnancy and referring them to another Planned Parenthood facility that will kill their child and scar them emotionally, if not physically, for life.  This is exciting news for pre-born babies and their mothers, but it is also a time for reflection and re-dedication.

It is important to note that closings like these are becoming more the rule than they are the exception.  Planned Parenthood is closing these “feeder centers” throughout the country. Ironically, Planned Parenthood receives half a billion dollars of taxpayer dollars annually. These closings are a sign that even Planned Parenthood is not immune to the trend toward pro-life ideology happening across the country, and especially here in Pennsylvania.

What the closing of these centers, and the other centers like them around the state, means, is that the work of pro-life pregnancy resource centers is that much more important.  Women who are experiencing an unexpected pregnancy still will need somewhere to go for help and counsel.  The good news is, with the closing of these centers, there will be less fake help and poor counsel.  We know the pro-life pregnancy centers in these areas stand ready to fill in the void and show these mothers how valuable they and their babies are…the question is, what can you do to help?

Here are some suggestions how you can support your pro-life pregnancy resource center:

  1. Volunteer—Pro-life pregnancy centers need people with many different skills, from talking to women who are pregnant, to answering phones, to vacuuming and dusting.
  2. Collect—Many of these centers help women by providing them with baby supplies. Consider conducting your own “baby shower” with friends and family and donating the items to your local center.
  3. Share—Let people know about the great work these centers do. Share their social media posts and help them spread the word that they exist to help women.
  4. Participate—Many of these centers have various events throughout the year, fundraising, volunteer, or otherwise. Consider participating in these events and showing your support.

The closing of these Planned Parenthood centers is certainly good news, but as one avid pro-lifer recently stated “Now is not the time for dancing shoes, it’s time for working boots”.

An Historic Election

Editor’s Note: From the desk of our Executive Director, Michael Ciccocioppo

This election was historic in many ways. We had a Presidential candidate who strongly opposed abortion and pledged to appoint pro-life justices to the Supreme Court.  He gave an extremely powerful and impassioned explanation of partial-birth abortion in the third debate.  Planned Parenthood and their abortion-minded allies spent more money, time, and resources than ever before opposing the pro-life presidential candidate, and pro-life candidates up and down the ballot.  One party adopted the most pro-life platform ever, while the other adopted the most radically pro-abortion position ever.

In the end, the nation elected the pro-life Donald Trump to be the 45th President of the United States. Not only did the American people stand up and resoundingly reject the radically pro-abortion Hillary Clinton, they have given President-elect Trump a pro-life Senate and US House of Representatives to support him in his efforts to protect those most vulnerable.

It would be easy to revel in our victory, but there is much work to be done.  As President-elect Trump said so eloquently in his acceptance speech, “So it’s been what they call a ‘historic event’. But to be really historic, we have to do a great job.”

As pro-lifers we need to support President-elect Trump, his pro-life advisors, and our pro-life Congress in doing everything possible to appoint Justices to the Supreme Court who will overturn Roe vs Wade and protect those at the end of life.  We need to let our legislators know we support them in voting for pro-life legislation…and thank them when they vote the right way.  We need to be continue to talk to our friends, family, and neighbors and keep explaining why it is so important to treat all human beings with respect and dignity from conception to natural death.

Let’s help President-elect Trump make his election historic for all those precious babies who are counting on us, not just here in Pennsylvania but across the country and around the world!

#Trump vs. #NeverTrump and the Right to Life

donald_trump-_650_081214084323I recently had the opportunity to watch the video of a debate between two female attorneys active in the pro-life movement, one arguing for voting for Donald Trump and the other advocating voting for a third party pro-life candidate for President. It was an interesting and educational discussion, and I came away with a few “take-aways” to share as Election Day nears.

 I found it interesting that the advocate for voting for a third party pro-life candidate admitted that this candidate doesn’t have a chance of winning so hers is more of a “protest vote” than anything. But a “protest vote” does not help a viable pro-life candidate get elected. Millions have bled and died for the right to cast a vote. Throwing it away in protest does not save lives!

 The advocate for voting for Trump made some excellent points. She talked about the importance of electing someone who would appoint pro-life Supreme Court Justices who would not legislate from the bench (Trump has talked repeatedly of appointing Justices like the beloved Antonin Scalia). She talked about the sterling pro-life record of Trump’s running mate Mike Pence, and Trump’s repeated commitments to uphold the Hyde amendment, to defund Planned Parenthood, and to defend against late term abortions. What was most compelling to me though was when she talked about what came with a Trump administration—pro-life judicial appointments at all levels of the federal court, life-oriented interpretations of rules and regulations, and support for freedom of speech and conscience rights for pro-lifers across the country.

 She also pointed out that a Clinton administration would bring with it abortion on demand, paid for by tax-payers, not just here but around the world. A Clinton administration would mean even more pro-abortion judges not just on the Supreme Court, but throughout the Federal court system. It would lead to mean the federal government forcing pro-life pregnancy centers to promote abortion, and severely restricting sidewalk counselors from doing their life-affirming work outside of abortion centers.

What was most striking of all however, was the overall tone of the debate and its conclusion. There was no name-calling, no shouting over each other, no personal attacks. They both agreed that, no matter how one decides to vote in the Presidential race, it is inherent that pro-lifers vote for pro-life candidates down the ballot. Perhaps most importantly they agreed that while there may be a disagreement on tactics or strategy, all pro-lifers stand together in solidarity to protect those most vulnerable among us from womb to tomb!

Two Very Different Responses to Grief

baby-in-heavenTwo recent articles, initiated by the discussion of late-term abortion during the Presidential campaign, talked about preborn children who passed away too early. These stories brought up some poignant memories for my wife and me.

The first article, on the pro-abortion website, was written by a woman whose baby’s heart stopped beating during her pregnancy—a painful experience for a mother look forward to the birth of her child. Unfortunately, the author somehow thinks her experience justifies legalizing abortion on demand, using the tired line that politicians should leave the doctoring to doctors.

Let me say, I feel nothing but grief for the author.  As some may remember from a previous post, my wife and I lost a child at 12 week’s gestation.  We had the experience the author describes of going in for a regular checkup and the doctor not finding a heartbeat.  I remember pacing outside the ultrasound room (they wouldn’t let me in because it was an “emergency ultrasound”).  I remember crying into the phone telling my boss why I wouldn’t be in and breaking the horrible news to my father.

While our experience was similar to that of the author, our response has been different. Rather than use our heartbreak to justify the legalization of abortion for any reason, as the author did, our grief is a constant reminder of the life that was.

Our response is more like the author of the second article I read, posted on titled “In Defending Abortion, Hillary Clinton Denies the Life of My Miscarried Child”.  In that article, the author talks about her child “Ethan” who she also lost around 12 week’s gestation. In the article the author says she just wants to ask Hillary Clinton one question about Clinton’s radical support of late-term abortion: “At what point did your daughter’s life start to matter?”

There is no explanation for why the same horrific experience affects people so differently. Why does one person consider a life a “clump of cells” while others call that same person what it is—a miracle of life?  What I do know is that what my wife and these two women experienced is no justification for abortion on demand.  There is no way to explain, or even to know, why these three lives ended, but there is no comparison between their experience and the act of an abortionist knowingly and willingly ending the life of a woman’s child.

I would not wish our experience on our worst enemy…and I imagine the authors of these two articles feel the same way.  I can only hope that the authors find the peace they need, and that the article author eventually realizes that her grief is confirmation that her lost child was a human being and deserves to be cherished, as do all lives.

“Personally pro-life”?


There has been a lot of talk recently of politicians like Vice-Presidential candidate Tim Kaine who claim to be “personally pro-life.” While they say they do not support abortion personally, mainly because of their faith, they refuse to allow their faith to impact their public policy position.

This bears a question…if not for religious beliefs, why is abortion wrong?

At the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, we are a non-religious organization. We have people of all faiths, and some of no faith at all, who are part of our organization.  We believe that being pro-life goes beyond one’s religious beliefs and is a basic human right.  We believe every human life, from conception to natural death, has value, and deserves to be protected.

So how do we “prove” the preborn child is a human being?  The good news is, we don’t have to…modern science and medical technology have already done so.  Ultrasound images have truly become a window to the womb, where we can see a pre-born child reacting to his or her mother’s voice, dancing to music, and responding to stimuli.

Unfortunately, those who support abortion choose to turn a blind eye to science when it comes to fetal development.  They ignore the discovery by researchers at Northwestern University of tiny sparks that erupt from the egg at the exact moment of conception.  They discount the Oxford study that found a pre-born baby’s heart begins beating just 16 days after conception.  Day after day, week after week, there is more and more evidence that life begins at conception.

At the core of the pro-life movement is the science that a pre-born child is a human being.  Once that is established, as science and medical technology has done, the question then becomes, which lives are worth protecting…and who makes those decisions?

Certainly the “less than human” or “not worth protecting” argument isn’t a new one…It is the same argument presented by Hitler and his supporters when they argued that Jews, and others of non-Aryan descent were “sub-human” and not fit to live. Not coincidentally it is the same argument used by Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger when she referred to some as “human weeds which threaten the blooming of the finest flowers of American civilization”.  Hitler, Sanger, and other proponents of eugenics in general and abortion specifically argue that some among us are not fit for civilization and should be eliminated.

The question for those who are not pro-life is simple…who gets to decide?  In other countries the life of a child of one gender is not worth the same as the life of a child of another.  Certainly most of us, even those who support abortion, can agree that is barbaric.  Yet many abortion advocates condone killing a child because he or she has an extra chromosome.  Those who support doctor-prescribed suicide are fine with killing people who they deem don’t have what they consider a quality life.

This is why the question of human rights is so crucially important. Once we recognize the pre-born child as a human, the rest is simply a matter of semantics.  Who decides what constitutes a “defect” in a child that makes him or her unfit for life and deserving of an abortion….red hair, green eyes, premature balding in older age?  At the end of life, who decides what constitutes “quality of life”?  Right now, the standard for euthanizing someone is if they have less than six months to live, but what if someone decides to make that 60 months?

The fact of the matter is, once we go down the slippery pro-abortion slope of determining which lives are worth allowing to continue, and which should be terminated, whether for the convenience of others, or for any other reason, we can’t turn back.  That is why the abortion issue goes beyond an issue of religious belief and is a human rights issue.  That is why those who claim to be “personally pro-life” should be fighting to protect all lives!

Will We See Roe v. Wade Overturned in Our Lifetime? It All Depends on the General Election!

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR:  This is from the fall edition of LifeLines Magazine.  If for some reason, you don’t get a copy, email us at to be added to the mailing list.

By Michael Ciccocioppo, Executive Director

Imagine with me for a moment: Headlines from every media outlet announcing:

Roe v. Wade Overturned:  States Free to Protect Children from Abortion

These are the headlines we have been waiting to read ever since January 22, 1973 when the Supreme Court of the United States announced its decision to take away the right of states to ban abortion.

Fifty states’ laws banning or severely limiting abortions were declared unconstitutional based on a fictitious “right to privacy” found nowhere in the Constitution. And when Roe v. Wade was paired with another decision that same day, Doe v. Bolton, abortion-on-demand was essentially legalized for any reason during all nine months of pregnancy.

Those of us in the pro-life movement who believe that Roe was wrongly decided are in good company. 

Villanova law professor Joseph W. Dellapenna, author of Dispelling the Myths of Abortion History, has written, “The opinion [in Roe] is replete with irrelevancies, non-sequiturs, and unsubstantiated assertions. The Court decides matters it disavows any intention of deciding—thereby avoiding any need to defend its conclusion. In the process the opinion simply fails to convince.”

According to Paul Stark writing for, “Even many scholars sympathetic to the results of Roe have issued harsh criticisms of its legal reasoning. In the Yale Law Journal, eminent legal scholar John Hart Ely, a supporter of legal abortion, complained that Roe is ‘bad constitutional law, or rather … it is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be.’”

Overturn of Roe Depends on the 2016 Presidential Election

 The election of pro-life candidate Donald Trump will hasten the overturn of Roe and save the lives of millions of innocent preborn babies while sparing mothers of the physical, psychological, social and spiritual harm caused by abortion. Good for babies. Good for women.

The election of pro-abortion candidate Hilary Clinton will preserve Roe for generations to come and assure the continued horrific destruction of the lives of millions of preborn babies and wreak untold havoc on the physical, psychological, social and spiritual lives of their mothers. Bad for babies. Bad for women.

This is the reality before the voters because it is the president who has the responsibility to appoint justices to the Supreme Court for lifetime terms. And at the top of the to do list of a “President Trump” or a “President Clinton” will be to appoint a justice to replace the pro-life Justice Antonin Scalia who died in February, 2016.

Mr. Trump told David Brody of CBN that he believes that Roe was “wrongly decided.”  He has vowed to appoint strict constructionist justices to the Supreme Court–Justices in the mold of Scalia who will rule on cases based on a strict interpretation of the Constitution as it was written by the founders. 

Strict constructionist justices will see that there is nothing in the Constitution guaranteeing a so-called right to abortion or privacy. A majority of such justices will one day overturn Roe.

 Since many members of the Supreme Court are likely to retire or die in office during the term of the next president, a “President Trump” would appoint as many as four more justices.  This would flip the Court to a majority who would overturn Roe once and for all!

Mr. Trump is the only pro-life candidate for president who will flip the Supreme Court on abortion.

The Hill reported in February that during a recent forum, “a person in the crowd asked (Mrs.) Clinton whether she would impose a ‘litmus test’ upon potential Supreme Court justices other than on the issue of being pro-abortion.” 

 Mrs. Clinton replied, “I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests.” After naming a number of very liberal requirements she would have for any of her nominees to the Supreme Court, she added, “…we’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe V. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed.”

Mrs. Clinton is the pro-abortion candidate for president who will use the Supreme Court to enshrine and expand abortion.

Remember that news headline we have all been waiting for?

Roe v. Wade Overturned:  States Free to Protect Children From Abortion

If we elect Mr. Trump as the next president, most of us reading this article will actually see that headline in the foreseeable future.

If we elect Mrs. Clinton as the next president, most of us will never live to read this headline.

Restoring a Culture of Life Depends on the 2016 Presidential Election

Pro-life voters are not “single-issue” voters.  We are concerned about a wide array of issues.  We just prioritize all those issues and place bringing an end to abortion at the top of the list.

Besides appointing Supreme Court justices who will either overturn or enshrine Roe, the president influences whether we have a culture of life or a culture of death through pronouncements, policies and executive orders.  Here is a brief summary of the direction our nation will go under a Trump or a Clinton presidency:

Mr. Trump wants to stop federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which performs over 300,000 abortions each year across America.  Mrs. Clinton is endorsed by Planned Parenthood and invited the national president, Cecile Richards, to address the Democratic National Convention to thank Clinton for pledging her unwavering support for the abortion giant.

Mr. Trump wrote that, “Public funding of abortion providers is an insult to people of conscience at the least and an affront to good governance at best.”  He opposes taxpayer funding for organizations which perform abortions.  Mrs. Clinton wants to repeal the Hyde Amendment, a common sense measure which has had bipartisan support for more than three decades  preventing government funding for abortion except in the rare cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother.

Mr. Trump wants to repeal Obamacare which requires abortion as a covered service in state health insurance exchanges unless a state opts out, as Pennsylvania has wisely done.  Mrs. Clinton pledges “to defend Obamacare and build on its successes.”

Mr. Trump is against the late-term partial-birth abortion procedure according to his book, The America We Deserve, published in 2000.  Mrs. Clinton voted against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban when she was a U.S. Senator.

Mr. Trump opened a column in the Washington Examiner:  “Let me be clear — I am pro-life. I support that position with exceptions allowed for rape, incest or the life of the mother being at risk. I did not always hold this position, but I had a significant personal experience that brought the precious gift of life into perspective for me.”  Mrs. Clinton flatly told Chuck Todd, on Meet the Press, “The unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights.”

Finally, Mr. Trump is supported by the National Right to Life Committee Political Action Committee and endorsed by the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation Political Action Committee. Mrs. Clinton is endorsed by Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest pro-abortion political action committee.

“None-of-the-Above” Is Not on the Ballot 

Finally, some people tell me they would never vote for Mrs. Clinton because she is so pro-abortion. But they say they are not comfortable voting for Mr. Trump for various reasons. They are contemplating not voting at all, or writing in some other name for president.

Let’s face it, the next president will be Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton.  Anything other than a vote FOR TRUMP is a vote FOR CLINTON. Every vote counts, and that non-vote could have been the vote that would have given us a pro-life president and the headline:

Roe v. Wade Overturned:  States Free to Protect Children From Abortion


Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. at the Pennsylvania Pro-life Federation Celebrate Life Banquet Harrisburg, Pa., Sept. 29, 2016

EDITORS NOTE: Archbishop Chaput gave an inspiring and educational speech at the 2016 Celebrate Life Banquet. The text of his speech is below. You can also tune in to PCN Sunday at 4:30 P.M. and hear it yourself.

Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.

For the past 43 years we’ve been living the consequences of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that effectively legalized abortion on demand. And the abortion struggle of the past four decades teaches us a very useful lesson. Evil talks a lot about “tolerance” when it’s weak. When evil is strong, real tolerance gets kicked out the door. This in turn explains a lot about our current cultural climate. To put it simply: Evil cannot bear the counter-witness of truth. It cannot co-exist peacefully with goodness, because evil insists on being seen as right, and worshiped as being right. Therefore, the good must be made to seem hateful and wrong.

The very existence of people who refuse to accept evil and who seek to act virtuously burns the conscience of those who don’t. And so, quite logically, people like the people in this room, people who march and lobby and speak out to defend the unborn child will be – and are – reviled by political leaders and news media and abortion activists who turn the right to kill an unborn child into a shrine for personal choice.

Seventy years ago, abortion was a crime against humanity. Four decades ago, abortion supporters talked piously about the “tragedy” of abortion and the need to make it safe and rare. But not today. Not anymore. Now abortion is not just a so-called “right,” but a right that claims positive dignity, the license to demonize its opponents and the precedence to interfere with constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech, assembly and religion. We no longer tolerate abortion. We celebrate it. We venerate it as a totem.
People sometimes ask me if we can be optimistic, those of us who are religious believers, about the future of our country. My answer is always the same. Optimism and pessimism are equally dangerous for the believer because both God and the devil are full of surprises. But the virtue of hope is another matter. We have every reason to hope. Scripture tells us we must live in hope, and hope is a very different creature from optimism. Hope is the grace to trust that God is who he claims to be, and that in serving him, we do something fertile and precious for the renewal of the world.

Our lives matter not because of who we are. They matter because of who God is. His mercy, his justice, his love — these are the things that move the galaxies and reach into the womb to touch the unborn child with the grandeur of being human. And we become more truly human ourselves by seeing the humanity in the poor, the weak, the elderly and the unborn child — and then fighting for it.

Over the past 43 years, the prolife movement has been written off as defeated and finished too many times to count. Yet here you are tonight again, disappointing your critics and refusing to die. And why is that? It’s because no court decision, no law and no political lobby can ever change the truth about when human life begins and the sanctity that God attaches to each and every human person, born or unborn.

As I was gathering my thoughts for tonight, a line from Psalm 89 came back to me again and again: [Lord,] make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart. The time we have in this world is brief. The choices we make have real substance – precisely because we come this way in life only once, and the world will be better or worse for our passing.

So our presence here together tonight has a meaning much larger than a nice meal and a good conversation about shared values. It’s an opportunity to remember that God put us here for a purpose. He’s asking us turn our hearts to building the kind of world that embodies his love and honors the sanctity of the human children he created.

So based on what I’ve seen in the American prolife experience over the past 43 years, I’d like to offer a few “dos” and “don’ts” for building a culture of life. I’ll begin with the “don’ts.”

First, don’t let yourselves be bullied into silence.

Democracy depends on people of conviction carrying their beliefs into public debate — respectfully, legally and non-violently, but vigorously and without apology. Real pluralism demands that people with different beliefs should pursue their beliefs energetically in the public square. This is the only way a public debate can be honest and fruitful. We should never apologize for being prolife, or for advancing our beliefs in private or in public.

Second, don’t let divisions take root.

St. Augustine said that we need to be united in the essentials, free in the debatables, and charitable in all things. Diverse prolife opinion is part of the movement’s richness. As a bishop, I’ve always been baffled by how much energy can be wasted on internal prolife bickering. We can never allow our differences to become personal. Acrimony within the prolife movement is a gift to our opponents. It’s also a form of theft from the unborn children who will suffer the consequences of our division.

Third, don’t get trapped by politics — especially partisan politics.

The more prolifers tie themselves to a single political party, the less they can speak to society at large. In the United States, Catholics — both on the left and the right — have too often made the mistake of becoming cheerleaders for a specific candidate.

Fourth don’t create or accept false oppositions.

Dialectical thinking, and by that I mean the idea that most of our options involve “either/or” choices, is deeply misleading. Back during the 2008 presidential election, we saw the emergence of so-called prolife voices that argued we should stop fighting the legal struggle over abortion. Instead we should join with “pro-choice” supporters to seek “common ground.”

Their argument was simple: Why fight a losing battle on the legal, cultural and moral fronts since — according to them — we haven’t yet made serious progress in ending legalized abortion? Let’s drop the “divisive” political battle, they said, and instead let’s all work together to tackle the economic and health issues that might eventually reduce abortions.

Of course, many of these voices turned out to be flacks for the Obama presidential campaign. In reality, the Obama White House has been extraordinary for its refusal to compromise on anything involving so-called “reproductive rights,” and for its belligerent hostility to prolife and religious liberty concerns.

But we need to look beyond the current White House to recent American history. Did Americans take a gradual, social-improvement road to “reducing” racism? No. We passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Nor have I ever heard anyone suggest that the best way to deal with murder, rape or domestic abuse is to improve people’s access to psychotherapy and job training. We make sexual assault illegal — even though we know it will still sometimes tragically occur — because it’s gravely evil. It’s an act of violence, and the law should proscribe it. Of course, we also have a duty to improve the social conditions that can breed domestic and sexual violence. But that doesn’t change the need for a law.

Likewise, if we really believe that abortion is an intimate act of violence, then we can’t aim at anything less than ending abortion. It doesn’t matter that some abortions have always occurred, and that some abortions will always occur. If we really believe that abortion kills a developing, human life, then we can never be satisfied with mere “reductions” in the body count.

Fifth and finally, don’t hate the adversary.

People who support a so-called “right” to abortion are our opponents, but they’re never our “enemies.” Abortion-friendly lawmakers and organizations, and even people who despise us for what we believe, are not our enemies. They’re brothers and sisters. We need to trust in the long-term power of love — the true power of God – to convert the human heart even in the face of our own failures. We can never allow ourselves to become bitter. The great second century Church Father, Irenaeus of Lyon, warned early Christians that we’ve been sent like sheep into the midst of wolves. The moment we become wolves ourselves, we lose.

OK, so much for the don’ts. What about the “dos,” how should we proceed?

Here’s the first and most important do. It’s very simple: Do become martyrs. Be ready and willing to pay a price for your beliefs. In today’s world, we may never be asked to shed our blood in witnessing for our faith. But we do see character assassinations, mud-slinging and lies against good people every day in the public media. And we should be ready to bear the cost. Nothing, not even our good name, should stop us from doing what we know to be right.

Here’s the second do. Keep hope alive.

Cultivating a spirit of joy is not an act of self-deception. It’s a way to acknowledge that God is on our side, and that human nature, created by God and despite the damage of original sin, is also on our side. Nothing is more inspiring than happy warriors. I’ve never in my life seen a joy-filled pro-abortion event. And I’ve always found that instructive.

Here’s the third do. Be strategic.

Being sheep in the midst of wolves doesn’t mean we can also be dumb as rocks. Prolife organizations are always outspent by pro-abortion forces. Our efforts are dwarfed by their money. We rarely have their access to friendly media, foundations and circles of power. But this can be a blessing disguised as a curse. It forces us to be creative, long-term thinkers and resourceful with our modest means.

Being strategic means planning ahead, working together and outsmarting our adversaries. To achieve these goals, we need a big dose of realism. We should never dream or whine about all the things we could do with the millions of dollars we don’t have. We need to focus on the real dollars we do have.

Two fishes and five loaves of bread, well invested — in other words, given to the Lord — fed a multitude. History shows that guerrilla wars, if well planned and methodically carried out, can defeat great armies. And we should never forget that the greatest “guerrilla” leader of them all wasn’t Mao Zedong or Che Guevara, but a young shepherd named David, who became a king.

Here’s the fourth and final do. Remember that renewing the culture, not gaining power, is our ultimate goal.

Culture is everything. Culture is our “human ecology.” It’s the environment where we human beings breathe not only air, but ideas, beliefs and values. Getting political power has its short-term value. But it’s not what prolifers are finally about. Our real task, and our much longer-term and more important goal, is to carry out what the late Pope John Paul II called the “evangelization of culture.”

We need to work to change the culture. And that demands a lifelong commitment to education, formation and, ultimately, conversion. Only genuinely holy persons really change the world. And therein lies our ultimate victory: If we change one heart at a time, while we save one unborn life at a time, the day will come when we won’t need to worry about saving babies, because they’ll be surrounded by a loving and welcoming culture.

Will I see that day with my own eyes? I don’t think I can hold my breath that long. But then I never expected to see a Pope from Argentina or the fall of the Iron Curtain either. We may not see that day in our own lifetimes, but the children of your grandchildren will. The future depends on our choices and actions right here, right now, tonight — together.

I want to end with one final thought. I spent nine happy years of my life as a young bishop in Rapid City, South Dakota. The reason for that happiness was the people I served. Dakotans have a sanity that comes from their closeness to a very beautiful but also a very hard land. In the Dakotas, if you behave like a fool in the way you mistreat the land, or ignore the weather, or abuse the environment – well, very soon you’re a dead fool. So Dakotans get character or they get gone, pretty quickly.

Pennsylvania is a long way from South Dakota. It has its own beauties and its own problems. But the human realities are very much the same. Pennsylvanians can be a skeptical breed. The cultural, legal and political terrain here can be very rough. It takes people of exceptional character, people with the courage to fight the good fight at great personal cost, to endure and achieve anything good.

A lot of those good people are in this room tonight. Your character, your faith and your dedication to the sanctity of the human person matter. They matter not just now; and not just here in our Commonwealth; and not just for the thousands of people your work influences without even knowing their names. Your commitment to human life matters eternally, because some lives will be lived only because your voice at the decisive moment for a young mother made them possible.

So no matter how tired you get, no matter how hard the work becomes, no matter who praises you or who condemns you, the only thing that finally matters is this: God is good; he never abandons his people; and because of his love, and because of the witness of people like you in the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, the future is ours. And the best is yet to come.

So may God bless the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, and send it the supporters and resources and generous donors it needs, because we’ve never needed its witness and its service to human dignity more than we do today.

Taking the Message of LIFE to Those Who Need it Most

Many of our ovFullSizeRenderer 40 chapters over the summer participated in fairs, festivals, and carnivals across Pennsylvania.  We recently asked two of our chapter presidents—Tim Broderick of People for Life in Erie County and Jeff Myers of Life 30:19, our Franklin County chapter, some questions about their participation in taking the pro-life message to the community.

Below are the answers from Tim Broderick…stay tuned next week for Jeff’s responses.

Editor’s note: some answers have been edited for space.

Editor: What is the most common question/statement you get while working at a fair/festival?

Tim: We hear a wide range of comments. Most all of them are friendly and positive, thankfully. The single most common statement is, simply “Thank you for being here!”

Another question that we often hear is very straight-forward and goes something like: “Why are you here?” Or simply, “What IS this?” The short answer might be: “This is a pro-life booth and we’re here to stop abortion!” But we like to be a little more circumspect. If a little child is asking, we might say, “We’re here to remind people that EVERYONE is important, no matter how SMALL they are.” On other occasions, we might gesture toward the unborn baby models and say, “We’re here because we think babies like this should be protected.” Most people get the idea.

Editor: Why do you participate in local fairs/festivals?

Tim: We believe that the right to life is a basic human right that should be on everyone’s mind.

Every person needs to hear and understand the pro-life message. But some of the people who need to hear it the most are not likely, for instance, to walk into a pro-life organization’s office, to visit a pro-life website, or to hear a pro-life sermon in some pro-life church. We try to take the message where those people can be found, if not at a rib fest, maybe a wine fest, a pumpkin fest, a fire company carnival, or maybe a country fair. We want to help “mainstream” the pro-life cause and make wholesome, pro-life attitudes a natural, everyday part of American culture.

We hope our booths can help at least in some small way to get some of our fellow Americans to “lighten up,” to get back in touch with who they really are as human beings, and to be able to marvel along with us at the amazing mysteries of human life.

Editor: What piece of advice would you give someone looking to participate at a pro-life booth at their local fair/festival?

Tim: Keep it real! We always try to make it obvious that we are just regular, every-day people who happen to have some interesting information that we like to share with our friends and neighbors.

Have fun! Sometimes smiles speak louder than actions, or words.

Tailor your booth and your message for everyone! All kinds — all kinds — of people can understand and relate to the idea of defending innocent human lives. The important thing is for people to know that they can make a difference if they want to.

Don’t do anything to narrow your audience to “pro-lifers,” or churchgoers, or people that you might identify with politically.