Intimacy: “Into-Me-See” Inherent Value

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By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

George Floyd’s life, without qualification, had inherent value.

His death and subsequent events come after a long period of nationwide isolation. At this time, we should be re-uniting in solidarity to proclaim the sanctity of a man’s life, of every human life, but instead society seems to be fracturing into shards of disunity and destruction.

How can we reconcile and heal? How can we fix the ills that beset our society?

There are no easy answers.  We have much soul-searching to do. But we must be willing to address the core of such unjustices.

Racism, and other –isms, such as sexism, ageism, and able-ism, are rooted in the same thing: a failure to fully and consciously recognize the inherent dignity that belongs to every person by virtue of being human.

In failing to recognize this fundamental dignity, we tend to objectify the other, seeing him as someone whose worth is based on what he can do, or looks like, or possesses, or knows, or some other arbitrary criteria, rather than the premise that a person has worth simply because he IS.

Someone once explained to me that “intimacy” means ‘into-me-see.” See the person. Truly see the person. In all his goodness and glory, with all his faults and imperfections.  Peer through the surface, and see their unrepeatable value.

We must look into the eyes of a person of a different race or creed, the eyes of a person with autism or Down Syndrome, the eyes of an elderly person frail and dependent, and allow ourselves to see the treasure of that individual.

We must truly listen to and hear those with whom we differ, dialogue earnestly with those who disagree with us, and persistently strive to remain civil even to the uncivilized.

We must advocate for the vulnerable, marginalized person threatened and overpowered by those bigger and stronger.

We must regard the sanctity of every life, without qualification, as our first and foremost right, seeking to defend, protect, and honor every life from its natural beginning to its natural end.

Let us honor the life and memory of George Floyd by changing how we look at one another.

Let us gaze selflessly and intimately at the other to see the value within.  Into-Me-See.

The Virtual Mother’s Day

Real Alternatives mother and child

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

For many during this year of the pandemic, Mother’s Day will be filled with virtual visits.

Forced to delete travel from the day’s to-do list because of Coronavirus-related stay-at-home orders, adult children will be connecting with their mothers through FaceTime, Skype, and other video conferencing platforms. Others will resort to the old-fashioned phone to spend some quality time with their mothers and grandmothers.

Between the cards and the cakes, the gift deliveries and the garden walks, let us remember the incredible treasure mothers represent in our lives.

When we were just months old, they held us through the night, when only their touch could console us. When we were children, they might have been our primary party-planners, making sure everything was just right for our birthdays.

As we grew older, they were witnesses to our lives, present for everything from play performances to proms, from graduation ceremonies to wedding vows.

We owe them so much–and, in a post-Roe world, children can credit their mothers with making the choice for life.

As a caller said to me this week, “Remember, if your mother had had an abortion, you wouldn’t be here.”

And so I would like to offer a round of applause to all mothers, whether your children came to you through birth or through the heart by adoption. You are the miracle-makers in our midst, and we all owe you a debt of gratitude.

Next year, I hope we can all deliver our thanks in person!

Wolf Veto Harmful to Health

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By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (D) is receiving national attention for his refusal to allow an expansion of telemedicine in the Commonwealth in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The reason? The Chief Executive—a former clinic escort for Planned Parenthood—vetoed a popular telemedicine bill because it would have banned the telemedicine distribution of dangerous drugs, such as the abortion pill RU-486.

Pennsylvania has been considered one of the “hot spots” for Coronavirus in the country. As a result, there has been a tremendous push to increase the availability of telemedicine, especially in under-served rural areas.

The telemedicine bill, known as Senate Bill 857, passed the Senate and landed in the PA House of Representatives. There, House members inserted an important amendment which would have barred telemedicine services not approved under what’s known as the Food and Drug Administration’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS). RU-486 has not been permitted under the REMS standard.

Responding to the public outcry over his veto, the Governor said, “As amended, this bill interferes with women’s health care and the crucial decision-making between patients and their physicians.”

But the truth is, the amendment would have safeguarded women’s health and safety by ensuring that dangerous medication was not dispensed without a physician physically present. RU-486 has a host of harmful side-effects, everything from excessive bleeding to vomiting, nausea, even death.

Two years ago, the abortion behemoth Planned Parenthood made public its plans to spend a whopping $1.5 million to re-elect Wolf, whose radical pro-abortion stance is considered at odds with Pennsylvania’s mainstream. He has routinely vetoed pro-life legislation, including a ban on brutal dismemberment abortions and a bill which would have banned the abortion of preborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome.

With his latest veto of the telemedicine bill, Wolf has cemented his reputation as an unapologetic cheerleader for the pro-abortion cause.

Don’t Miss This Pro-Life Production!

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By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

I recall when I first saw the movie, “Gosnell.” I cried a flood of tears as I saw the bags carrying the remains of babies who had died in abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s West Philadelphia House of Horrors.

When I viewed the movie “Unplanned,” my heart ached for the protagonist, Abby Johnson, when she witnessed a preborn baby dying before her eyes as she watched an ultrasound-guided abortion.

In both cases, the movies seared my conscience, and motivated me to redouble my efforts to stop the tragedy of abortion.

As a result, I am eagerly awaiting “Viable,” the play being streamed at watchsalemmedia.com starting on Mother’s Day. Viable is a story of redemption and forgiveness following one woman’s 30-year-old choice. It is a powerful tale of love and healing–and a marvelous gift to present to the mother in your life.

Please join me in viewing Viable.  Together, we just may be inspired to approach the issue of abortion prevention in a whole new, exciting way.

 

Fighting Assisted Suicide = Giving Hope

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By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

When my father died, the emotional pain experienced by my mother, sister, and myself felt overwhelming. He was the rock of our family, our protector, and the world felt a little less safe without him in it.

Yet, we were consoled by the fact that medical personnel had done everything they could to save his life. The best medical equipment gave him every opportunity to rebound. But sadly, he just could not recover.

I think of my father when discussions turn to assisted suicide–or, more appropriately referred to as doctor-prescribed suicide. Proponents argue that it is the solution to what ails many in our society–the feeling of a loss of control, the fear of intractable pain.

And yet, doctor-prescribed suicide leads to a host of problems. The vulnerable and the mentally ill are especially susceptible.

Consider this statement from Dr. Charles Bentz: “Instead of helping my patient, (a) once-trusted colleague decided my patient was ‘better off dead’ and became an accomplice in his suicide.

“This is the real tragedy of assisted suicide in Oregon. Instead of providing excellent care, my patient’s life was cut short by a physician who did not address the issues underlying his suicidality.”

Research indicates that as many as 90 percent of suicides in this country are linked to  mental illness, most notably depression. Yet in 2015, a paltry 5 out of 132 assisted suicide victims had obtained psychiatric counseling.

It is also important to note that, when individuals choose assisted suicide, pain, or even the fear of pain, ranks at the bottom of the list of reasons for their decision. Rather, the top reason listed is losing autonomy, or independence.

Fighting assisted suicide equals giving hope. We must redouble our efforts to attend to patients’ physical and psychological needs, so that doctor-prescribed suicide is not only unappealing, but also unthinkable.

Questions I Wish Journalists Would Ask About the Life Issues

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By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

When I worked for the mainstream media, I noticed a double standard when it came to covering the core life issues.

Planned Parenthood was considered to be the irrefutable expert in all matters related to abortion. Their assertions were seldom questioned; their pronouncements were accepted uncritically.

Pro-life advocates, on the other hand, were viewed with high skepticism. Anything they said was assumed to come from a place of religious faith and, therefore, suspect. Grilling of pro-lifers was encouraged and, in fact, expected–grilling of abortion advocates frowned upon.

Now, as a pro-life advocate, I find I wish there were questions that the news media would pose to spokespeople for the abortion industry and their allies. The answers to these questions would make for more interesting, more informative articles and broadcast news stories.

I wish reporters would ask the simple question: What is abortion? And not be willing to accept a ridiculous answer such as “the right to choose.”

It would also be helpful if reporters would ask Planned Parenthood why their abortion totals keep rising–even as overall abortion numbers are declining nationwide.

I think it would be beneficial if the media asked the abortion industry what specific help it provided to pregnant women who chose to keep their babies. In addition, inquiring minds want to know what abortion facilities are doing to facilitate adoptions.

I wish reporters would ask what abortion businesses are doing to combat domestic violence–since research shows as many as 60 percent of abortions are coerced.

I would like a reporter to ask an abortionist to describe, in detail, the process of abortion and its aftermath–and not accept euphemisms as valid responses.

A free press is a time-honored way to preserve democracy. For far too long, the free press has given a free pass to the abortion industry. Let’s challenge the news media to take on a watchdog mentality when it comes to abortion. After all, lives are at stake.

Fortresses of Courage in the Wilderness of Mourning

Woman in wilderness

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

As I write these words, I know of two women who are accompanying loved ones on their final journeys. One is a wife, tending to her dying husband. The other is a daughter, spending the remaining precious moments with her ailing father.

At such times, the crush of emotions can be overwhelming. The torrent of sadness pouring over one’s soul. The deep longing for opportunities missed. The chilling realization that goodbye will come all too soon.

These women are fortresses of courage in the face of death. They deal with its stinging reality everyday, yet they manage to share smiles with friends and co-workers who desperately wish they could relieve them of their current pain.

Yet, at such times, there is also a special grace that shines through the wilderness of mourning. It is the realization of the inherent, unmistakable value of life–that life, in all its complexity, is worth living.There can be gratitude for the celebrations in days past…thankfulness for the memories shared.

These two women are witnesses to their loved ones’ lives. They are the cheering section, even in those final, difficult moments when eternity beckons. They are the caregivers who give their beloved the wings to fly back home to God.

While it is painfully hard to serve as a bystander in such circumstances, it is also ennobling. For in living life to the fullest, these unrepeatable human beings are teaching us all how to live. And they are sharing the lesson with us that each life is to be treasured and protected until the point of natural death.

 

 

Wolf Veto: A Sad Day for PA Women

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HARRISBURG, Pa. –Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has ushered in a policy that will do grave harm to women, as a result of his veto of an important telemedicine bill.

The measure, known as Senate Bill 857, would have banned the telemedicine distribution of dangerous drugs, such as the abortion pill RU-486.

“The women of Pennsylvania deserve to be protected from the harm that can be caused by tele-abortions,” said Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, an affiliate of National Right to Life.

This veto sends the disturbing message that women’s health will be compromised in order to placate the abortion industry,” Gallagher added.

RU-486 can cause a number of complications, including excessive bleeding, vomiting, and nausea. Without the restrictions contained in Senate Bill 857, women will be forced to deal with these possible dangerous side-effects on their own, without a physician physically present.

Senate Bill 857 passed the Senate, then passed the House with the insertion of a key amendment halting the dispensing of dangerous drugs by telemedicine. The Senate concurred with the amendment, sending the legislation to the Governor for his review.

“Once again, Governor Wolf has sided with the abortion industry over the interests of the women of Pennsylvania. The veto is appalling and demonstrates how out of touch the Wolf Administration is when it comes to medical care for women,” Gallagher said.   

Stop and Smell the Hypocrisy!

by Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director

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Governor Tom Wolf has enacted far-reaching measures to protect the most vulnerable from Covid-19, closing schools, places of worship, and non-essential businesses for weeks. Citizens are sacrificing freedoms and finances for a greater good.

Yet, while stay-at-home orders have been issued for the entire state, Wolf allows the eviction of some from their first home in their mother’s wombs.  Amidst the myriad of closures, abortion centers remain open.

The irony is tragically rich and the hypocrisy blatant. Abortion essential? A life-sustaining business? Isn’t it quite the opposite?

And now, Wolf recklessly promises to veto Senate Bill 857, the Telemedicine Bill, because it prohibits dangerous abortion pills being dispensed via phone or video.

These are women who would not have been examined by a physician. Women who don’t know exactly how far along they are. Women who may have an ectopic pregnancy, or multiple pregnancies, or high blood pressure, or other complicating factors.

Wolf somehow believes it is “life-sustaining” to prescribe a pill that will starve a growing baby and then expel it. Does he realize there could be hemorrhaging or baby parts left behind or a dozen other scenarios that necessitate a trip to a hospital emergency room or that could jeopardize a woman’s life? Does he realize the trauma a woman may endure when holding her own lifeless child in her hands?

By insisting abortion drugs be included in a telemedicine bill, he contradicts the recommendation of the FDA.

So protective of access to abortion, Wolf is willing to trade every Pennsylvanians’ access to telemedicine for it, revealing an incredibly inconsistent life ethic.

If he believes in sustaining life, he should stop supporting those who steal it.

He should close the abortion centers and promote life-sustaining options to women facing difficult pregnancies.

And he should not hold health care hostage to the powerful, profitable abortion lobby.

Philadelphia Abortion Center Fails to Ensure Parental Consent for Abortions

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By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

A Philadelphia abortion facility has failed to ensure parental consent for some abortions, a clear violation of the long-standing Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act.

PA Health Department inspectors found that, in half of the ten pediatric medical records reviewed, the Philadelphia Women’s Center neglected to obtain parents’ permission before administering chemical abortions.

The RU-486 abortions took place in February, May, June, July, and November of last year, without the parental oversight required by state law.

The health inspection report states that a “request was made…on February 12, 2020, for a policy that addressed parental consent for medications that are included in the termination of a pregnancy for pediatric patients. None was provided.”

In case after case, the health department documents that “there was no parental or legal guardian consent” for the use of Mifepristone and Misoprostol, the drugs used in RU-486 abortions.

Lack of parental consent for abortions in Pennsylvania is egregious under any circumstances and violates a key provision of the 1989 Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act, which was the basis of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling known as Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Other provisions of the landmark law include a 24-hour waiting period for abortions and informed consent, meaning that a woman must be told the risks of abortion and alternatives to abortion prior to an abortion taking place.

Ironically, the Health Department report also shows that the Philadelphia Women’s Center “failed to establish a patient safety committee, as required by the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act of 2002.”

In addition, Health Department inspectors found in February that the abortion center “failed to establish an infection control committee.”

Given the crisis ultimately created by the COVID-19 pandemic, this omission is all the more alarming—especially in Philadelphia, which is now considered a Coronavirus hot spot.