Uniting for Life

National Pro-Life Religious Council

Summer 2003

Table of Contents

A Time for Decisive Action

ABORTION: A Womanís Right or Right for Women?

"The Old Gray Lady" Trembles

Changing Attitudes

The Joy of Life!

 

From the President

A Time for Decisive Action

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your interest in the National Pro-life Religious Council. It is crucial that we all work to make this organization even more widely known and influential. There is no entity on earth other than the Body of Christ that has the divine guarantee that it will overcome the forces of death. Efforts like the NPRC that are geared toward strengthening the response of the Church are therefore ultimately the most important efforts in the pro-life movement. As followers of Christ, we have been given the tools we need to end abortion. We have the Word, which will not return empty to the One who spoke it. We have the community gathered by that Word in faith, serving the world, witnessing to the Resurrection, and teaching the nations all that Christ has commanded us. We have the gifts of the Spirit, in all their diversity, equipping the members of Christ to do the work of renewing the earth and bringing justice to the oppressed.

How, then, can we fail? We fail through pulpits that are silent, disciples who are distracted, and pastoral programs that seek to meet peoples' needs while ignoring those most in need, the unborn. At the same time, we have the false witness of groups like the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Contrary to the clear, consistent teaching of the Christian community throughout history, this group maintains that the choice of abortion is consistent with a choice for Christ.

NPRC exists to change all this. It exists to preserve for the Church and the world the Christian witness to the dignity of life at a time when both churches and nations are permitting the destruction of the weakest and most defenseless. NPRC exists to strengthen pastors to preach the dominion of God over human life, and the healing and forgiveness available to those who repent of abortion. NPRC exists to help each and every Christian to take his or her part in the greatest cause of justice in our day, the pro-life movement.

You can help us by informing pastors and others in your congregation about the NPRC, its publications, its projects, and its website (www.nprcouncil.org). You can echo our call that every Christian worship service include a prayer for the unborn. You can carry our message that pastors should preach about post-abortion healing. You can assist our efforts to conduct non-partisan voter registration drives in churches, so that believers can be fully equipped to elect godly leaders. You can donate our books to your church, school, and public library.

Now is the time for decisive action. Let's build our NPRC family, so that together we can build a lasting culture of life!

Rev. Frank Pavone

President

 

ABORTION: A Womanís Right or Right for Women?

By Georgette Forney

The June 9th issue of Newsweek magazine featured a series of articles discussing the rights of the unborn. It showed page after page of color ultrasound photos that clearly illustrate the humanity and the dignity of the child in the motherís womb. Itís great that mainstream media has acknowledged the scientific evidence that proves itís a baby with a heartbeat. I am encouraged that they are recognizing that the unborn may be entitled to certain human rights.

Many of us hope more people will acknowledge that itís a baby, and abortion will end. But I wonder about that because according to abortion supporters, abortion isnít about the baby and itís rights, but the mother and her rights. They believe womenís reproductive rights trump everyone elseís - including the babyís and the fathers.

I think thatís why many people consider themselves pro-choice. They accept that abortion is the killing of a child, but believe it must remain legal because women want the right to exercise their reproductive rights and have abortions.

I like how Father Frank Pavone, Director of Priests for Life explains it:

"The difference between the pro-life and pro-choice movements is not that we care about the fetus and they care about the woman. Rather, they say you can separate the two and we say you canít. One cannot love the child without loving the mother, nor can one destroy the child without destroying the mother."

People need to consider abortion from the motherís perspective instead of the womenís rights perspective. They need to realize that abortion really has two victims: the baby and the mother. Thatís why efforts like the Silent No More Awareness Campaign are so important. Until people become aware of the after-effects of abortion on women, they wonít realize that abortion advocates are more concerned with protecting the right to abortion than doing whatís right for women. In other words, womenís rights should focus on helping women and not on keeping abortion legal.

Based on my own abortion experience and years of working with other women who have had abortions, I know that abortion hurts more than it helps. There are many negative consequences from the Ďprocedure,í but post-abortive women are afraid to talk about them. We sense weíre not allowed to discuss our painful abortion experiences because it was supposedly our choice. But I believe when "pro-choiceí people begin to hear our stories of how abortion affected us emotionally, physically and spiritually, abortion wonít be seen as an acceptable choice, instead it will become unthinkable.

The truth is an unplanned pregnancy creates a crisis for the woman. We want a quick, simple solution so we choose abortion, although sometimes we want the baby but other people coerce us into aborting.

Unfortunately, after the procedure, there is a lifetime of regret, a sense of guilt, despair and loss. The experience is always with us. We think about death, consider suicide and sometimes succeed. Drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, and nightmares fill our lives. Our most important relationships become strained and broken and we struggle to bond with or parent other children. The guilt creates a myriad of emotions in us, which affects those around us, and we end up feeling twice as bad.

One woman writing to me said, "Throughout the years, grief has consumed me at different times in my life, and because I have never dealt with this, I have made some very bad relationship choices. I was in two very bad marriages, and most of the men that I have chosen are no good. I know it stems from abortion, and from me not feeling worthy of love because I did a horrible thing... I had my abortion 17 years ago and I still feel the pain. I canít forgive myself. Iím the mother of 2 beautiful well-adjusted children.

But I am always thinking about it. I donít take care of myself and I weigh 300 pounds. I feel like I am destroying myself because of the terrible thing that I did..."

During the January 2003 Silent No More event in Washington D.C., many women shared stories like this. They also shared the truth about the physical problems they had after their abortion. According to a study by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, 11% of women having abortions experience immediate complications like excessive bleeding, infections, uterine scarring and perforation, cervical trauma, failed abortions and incomplete abortions.

Consider the aftereffects of these safe, legal abortions:

a. In 1997, a 27 year-old woman died because the doctor punctured her uterus and cut into her bowel-she bled to death.

b. In 1998, Lou Ann Herron bled to death in a Phoenix Clinic.

c. In 1999, a 22 year-old woman bled to death in a Brooklyn clinic.

d. In 2000, a woman in Bucks County, Pennsylvania went home from an abortion facility in pain, she called the clinic back because she was having painful bleeding but the doctor never responded. She went to the ER and had emergency surgery to remove the fetus from the fallopian tube.

e. In 2001, a woman had an emergency hysterectomy after complications from abortion. f.. In 2002, 25 year-old Diana Lopez died at a Los Angeles clinic because the staff failed to follow established protocols before and after the abortion. If they had, they would have realized she wasnít a good candidate for abortion because of blood pressure problems. Afterwards when her cervix was punctured during the abortion they should have called for an ambulance. These are real women, going through real pain (physical and emotional) because of abortion. These are the facts that those who support abortion need to understand. (For a complete list of women who have not survived safe legal abortions, visit: http://www.priestsforlife.org/brochures/maternaldeaths.html)

In 1973, women stood in front of the Supreme Court building saying they will be silent no more, because women were being killed from illegal abortion. In 2003, almost 100 women stood in front of the same building sharing how legal abortion had caused them injury and pain. Maybe we should learn, legal or illegal, abortion is bad medicine for women.

The Silent No More Awareness Campaign is revealing what 30 years of experimenting with womenís reproductive rights has done to women. As more people hear the truth, I believe they will stop worrying about abortion rights and start working for womenís rights that truly benefit all women. Abortion should be unthinkable and unacceptable, both women and children deserve better.

Now that Newsweek has done a story on the rights of the unborn children, they should do a story on the truth of how abortion hurts women.

 

"The Old Gray Lady" Trembles

By Rev. Paul T. Stallsworth, United Methodist Church

By the way, "the old gray lady" is an old nickname for The New York Times. This nickname was obviously coined before the advent of color in the Times.

For almost twenty years now, your scribe has read The New York Times on a nearly daily basis. Needless to say The New York Times, during most of its century and a half, has possessed and exercised a tremendous amount of journalistic, political, and cultural power in American society. For generations, what the Times printed set the agenda for many other newspapers across the nation, for network television's news, and for radio news. Boasting "All the News That's Fit to Print" on page one of each issue, the Times was the self-confident, left-of-center voice of elite opinion in our society. Its news articles, its editorials, and most of its guest editorials maintained a party line that was not often broken. For example, regarding the issue of abortion, the Times was always pro-abortion. Therefore, when the United States House of Representatives passed the partial-birth abortion ban in June, the Times editorialized on "'Partial-Birth' Mendacity Again" (6/4/03 ).

All of this is to suggest that The New York Times has played an essential role in sustaining the legitimacy of the abortion liberty in American law, politics, and culture. The Times, with all its prestige and all its power, has aggressively supported Roe v Wade from January 1973 until the present.

During these three decades, the Times has misrepresented Roe by routinely asserting that it legalized abortion only "during the first trimester of pregnancy." Furthermore, discussing abortion, it has used the language of rights and laws, not the language of rights and wrongs. And in the eyes of the Times, there are those who are "pro-choice," and there are those who are "anti-abortion." The term "pro-life" is not to be found in the vocabulary or in the pages of the Times. Unfortunately, the Times probably plays a major role in informing and forming many denominational executives of The United Methodist Church in New York City and Washington, DC on the issue of abortion.

But now The New York Times is experiencing some major internal troubles. In April of this year, Mr. Jayson Blair, a Times reporter, was discovered to have filed many "falsified and erroneous stories" (Shelley Emling, The News & Observer, 6/13/ 03). So Mr. Blair was gone. Then Mr. Rick Bragg, a Pulitzer Prizewinning reporter at the Times, resigned because of his habit of running unattributed reports as his own. Then the scandal deepened: the resignations of Mr. Howell Raines, the executive editor of the newspaper, and Mr. Gerald Boyd, its managing editor, which were related to the Blair and Bragg problems, were received in mid-June.

To many, this might seem like "a tempest in a teapot." If it does, the tempest is indeed rough and tumble, and the teapot is indeed large. For this journalistic scandal, coupled with declining sales of the Times, could well be leading to a major shake-up at this national newspaper of record.

We should not jump to conclusions and dream that The New York Times will, in the months to come, become pro-life in its political and social positions. But we might well hope, with regard to life and abortion, that it will begin reporting with more honesty and with a bit more objectivity, and that it will bring more diversity to its editorial page.

The Bible has more than a little to say about the pride of humanity. Human pride, the Scriptures make clear, leads to an arrogance that can neglect its critics, and then become slothful and reckless. This applies to institutions as well as to individuals. When institutions or individuals pridefully bracket or subvert the truth, in the service of a political or cultural agenda, the truth will inevitably snap back sooner or later. Then a fall of some kind will follow, and an opportunity for humility and truth-telling will arise.

While The New York Times trembles, a time for a little more truth, even about abortion, might be at hand. But the operative word is might.

 

Changing Attitudes

By Dennis DeMauro, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod

Recently I have been encouraged by the changing societal attitudes on the abortion debate.

First of all, there seem to be more radio and television commentators who are pro-life and who are speaking out in defense of the unborn. This is especially the case in talk radio, on cable television, and on the internet. It seems that the pro-choice monopoly on the press has been broken, and this change can only lead to more substantive dialogue on abortion, euthanasia, and a host of other pro-life topics. Not only that, but now even the more liberal news agencies are beginning to use the terminology of pro-life advocates. This has been shown most clearly in the use of the term "unborn child" --a term that not so long ago the press shied away from, preferring to use the term "fetus". But the press coverage of the Laci and Conner Peterson murders has almost universally used the phrase "Laci and her unborn son Conner." This is a watershed change, because it recognizes that Conner was indeed a child, even though he had not yet been born.

And I am also seeing a change in the attitudes of the average person. A recent article in the Washington Times reported that in a survey by the Center for the Advancement of Women [a strongly pro-abortion organization headed by the former president of Planned Parenthood], 51% of women surveyed said the government should prohibit abortion or limit it to extreme cases, such as rape, incest, or life-threatening complications. So the idea that women are overwhelmingly pro-abortion is thankfully a thing of the past.

Finally, it seems clear that we will have a partial-birth abortion ban signed by President Bush later this year. This will be the first limitation on abortion passed since the Roe v Wade decision, and is certainly a cause for celebration.

With all this success it might be time to sit down, pat oneself on the back, and congratulate our fine pro-life work. But maybe Someone else is at work here. My pastor, Monte Frohm, once preached that true faith isn't just faith in Jesus as our Savior, but it also includes the faith that Christ is actively working everyday for good in the world. In short, we have to know that God is actively working for the good of all people, and that His grace is at work forgiving our sins, and saving unborn human lives. So let's give thanks to God for His gift of changing attitudes, and know that He is always walking nearby, helping us save our society's most vulnerable members.

 

The Joy of Life!

By Dr. James Lamb, Lutherans For Life (LFL) Executive Director

"I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. " (John 16:20)

"Now is your time for grief, but l will see you again and you will rejoice and no one will take away your joy. " (John 16:22)

When Jesus promised His disciples that He would see them again, He wasn't talking about seeing them in Heaven when this mournful life was over. When He promised them that their grief would turn to joy, He wasn't talking about the joy of Heaven that they would receive after they struggled through all the grief of this life. Jesus promised His disciples that He would see them after His resurrection. He would appear to them, talk with them, and command them to "make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). His resurrection would give them a joy here on earth that no one could take away.

I have heard a lot of "joy talk" lately. "Harvest of Joy" was the theme of a district Lutheran church convention I attended last month. The focus was on the joy of ministry, the joy of carrying out Jesus' discipleship command, and the joy of seeing Him at work producing the harvest. Bishop Joseph Naumann of the Archdiocese of St. Louis spoke at the recent National Right to Life Convention of the joy of pro-life work. The issues with which we deal are distressing and sometimes overwhelming. Yet there is a spirit of joy present when pro-life Christians gather together. "We are the 'happy-faced' people," says LFL President Linda Bartlett.

Where does such joy come from when there is so much grief and sorrow, suffering and death? How can there be joy when babies are dying and so many people do not seem to care? The answer is one word. It was repeated over and over again at the District convention, and it was repeated over and over again by Bishop Naumann-Jesus! Through the eyes of faith we have seen the resurrected Jesus. It is not the absence of grief-producing circumstances but the presence of Jesus that gives us joy. Because we were baptized into Jesus' resurrection (Romans 6:4), His Holy Spirit produces in us the fruit of joy (Galatians 5:22). No one and nothing can take this joy away. Its source is from God not ourselves. This joy is not so much a feeling as it is a promise.

We realize this promise and understand this joy the most when we are sharing it with others. That is why pro-lifers are the "happy-faced" people! It is true that the issues with which we deal are distressing and heartbreaking. But we have the greatest message in the world to apply to them. The risen and ascended Jesus has conquered death and rules life. He has given His Spirit to bring help to the distressed and hope to the brokenhearted. It is a message of joy! It is a message that brings joy!

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