When I put my blouse on this morning my thoughts went back to Atlanta, Georgia, July, 1988. I was in a prison camp with sundry other prolifers, including the renowned Randy Terry and a rather feeble priest whose name I don’t recall. We were allowed to wear our own clothes in the camp but after a few days some of us badly needed a change. A call went out to Christians on the “outside” who brought clothing for us and that’s where my blouse came from. It has served me well.

We called ourselves rescuers although the media and the prison staff called us protesters. We were protesting abortion, yes, but the primary aim was to save the lives of babies scheduled to be killed on the particular morning of the rescue. We were pledged to be passive, to accomplish our goal by putting our bodies between the pregnant Moms and the abortionist. We would sit at the door of the “clinic” until the police carried us off. In the meantime our counselors would talk to the mothers and offer them help to deal with the pregnancies they wanted to end. Over the years when Rescue thrived, thousands of babies’ lives were saved in this way.

There was a time, in the early days of Rescue, when what we did, just sitting down and refusing to move, received a just punishment for a charge such as simple trespass. We did not usually have to deal with more than a few days in jail or a modest fine. FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) and RICO (Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organization Act), which were laws passed specifically to protect abortion, seriously upped the cost of resisting abortion. It was the fear of these laws, of years in jail, of thousands of dollars in fines, that stifled the Rescue movement and made killing unborn babies a deed legally protected by the government itself.

According to John Cavanaugh O’Keefe the need to resort to such Draconian laws as FACE and RICO was a clear measure of Rescue’s success. He writes:

FACE posed a question. “You say that zygotic dots and blastular mulberries and embryonic humanettes are your brothers and sisters. I don’t consider dots and mulberries to be members of my family. And you know what? I don’t think you believe that either. But if you want to keep saying that stuff, let’s test your words. You would go to jail for years to protect your little sister. Will you do the same for a slimy fetus?”

Is that “slimy fetus” a being worthy of protection? There is a DVD available called Baby Steps which shows 4-D ultrasound images of babies as they roll, yawn, blink, spin, smile and stretch throughout 16 stages of development from 8 to 34 weeks of pregnancy. It is a real eye-opener. This is obviously neither slime nor blob, but a creature of marvelous complexity. From a scientific standpoint, it is incontrovertible that a human being is formed when the sperm fertilizes the ovum. Everything is there in that tiny package — it has only to grow and develop. That zygotic dot has a full complement of 46 chromosomes and a lifetime supply of human DNA. YOU were once a little package such as that. (Click here for the diary of an unborn child.)

From a Christian point of view there is no question whether the unborn child is a person worthy of protection. Consider that when the the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was to bear the Son of God she “went in haste” to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was also pregnant. It was just days after Christ’s conception when they met, yet Elizabeth exclaimed “blessed is the fruit of thy womb” and the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leapt for joy at the presence of Jesus. The Greek word for the baby in Elizabeth’s womb is brephos, exactly the same word that is used to describe Christ in Luke 2:12: “You will find a babe {brephos} wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” No Christian can read the description in Luke and believe that killing an unborn child is a matter of no import.

There have been totally non-violent prolifers who have spent several years in jail due to the vagaries of the venues where they were arrested. Many others have months of incarceration to their credit. This is called “walking the walk.” Many of us however, have responded to the above question by saying we might go to jail for a few weeks to save a fetus, but not for years.

Richard John Neuhaus (FIRST THINGS, June 1999, pg. 85) writes:

…for more than twenty-five years there have been thousands of people who have stood vigil at America’s abortuaries, who have prayed, counseled, and sometimes gone to jail, in order to prevent the rest of us from averting our eyes from the horror. It is not the only way of being prolife or even of being a prolife activitist, but they are heroes and heroines, and we are all in their debt.

As Operation Rescue languished, it seems to me that the willingness of Christians (and even Catholic prelates) to confront abortion in the streets has increased. It is true, as Francis Schaeffer wrote, that each abortion mill exists with the permission of the Christians in that community. Praying and peaceful picketing are still relatively risk-free and more and more rosaries are being prayed where and when abortions are being done. Father Frank Pavone’s Priests for Life has been doing a masterful job. Among the others who have visibly witnessed to the evil of abortion in the streets the names of Msgr. Phillip Reilly, Bishop Austin Vaughn, Bishop George Lynch, Cardinal Francis George, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Bishop James McHugh, Bishop Paul Loverde, Bishop William Lori, and Father Michael Scanlon come to mind. There are many others.

Proverbs 24:11 still challenges us. “Rescue those who are being taken away to death…If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?”

We cannot say “We did not know this.” The right to kill the unborn is a hot topic in the current elections. I pray (and know) that there will always be Christians who are willing to put their bodies and lives on the line for their unborn brothers and sisters. Jesus was a Rescuer (some translate it Savior) who laid down his life that others might live. There is no more noble calling.


PASTOR RICK WARREN: At what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, you know, I think that whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is, is above my pay grade.


MR. BROKAW: Senator Obama saying the question of when life begins is above his pay grade, whether you’re looking at it scientifically or theologically. If he were to come to you and say, “Help me out here, Madame Speaker. When does life begin?” what would you tell him?

REP. PELOSI: I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition. And Senator–St. Augustine said at three months. We don’t know. The point is, is that it shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose. Roe v. Wade talks about very clear definitions of when the child–first trimester, certain considerations; second trimester; not so third trimester. There’s very clear distinctions. This isn’t about abortion on demand, it’s about a careful, careful consideration of all factors and–to–that a woman has to make with her doctor and her god. And so I don’t think anybody can tell you when life begins, human life begins. As I say, the Catholic Church for centuries has been discussing this, and there are those who’ve decided…

MR. BROKAW: The Catholic Church at the moment feels very strongly that it…

REP. PELOSI: I understand that.

MR. BROKAW: …begins at the point of conception.

REP. PELOSI: I understand. And this is like maybe 50 years or something like that. So again, over the history of the church, this is an issue of controversy. But it is, it is also true that God has given us, each of us, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And we want abortions to be safe, rare, and reduce the number of abortions. That’s why we have this fight in Congress over contraception.

My Republican colleagues do not support contraception. If you want to reduce the number of abortions, and we all do, we must–it would behoove you to support family planning and, and contraception, you would think. But that is not the case. So we have to take–you know, we have to handle this as respectfully–this is sacred ground. We have to handle it very respectfully and not politicize it, as it has been–and I’m not saying Rick Warren did, because I don’t think he did, but others will try to.

MR. BROKAW: Madame Speaker, thanks very much for being with us.

REP. PELOSI: It’s my pleasure. Thank you.




Like many other citizens of this nation, I was shocked to learn that the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America would make the kind of statements that were made to Mr. Tom Brokaw of NBC-TV on Sunday, August 24, 2008. What the Speaker had to say about theologians and their positions regarding abortion was not only misinformed; it was also, and especially, utterly incredible in this day and age.

We are blessed in the 21st century with crystal-clear photographs and action films of the living realities within their pregnant mothers. No one with the slightest measure of integrity or honor could fail to know what these marvelous beings manifestly, clearly, and obviously are, as they smile and wave into the world outside the womb. In simplest terms, they are human beings with an inalienable right to live, a right that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is bound to defend at all costs for the most basic of ethical reasons. They are not parts of their mothers, and what they are depends not at all upon the opinions of theologians of any faith. Anyone who dares to defend that they may be legitimately killed because another human being “chooses” to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name.

Edward Cardinal Egan
Archbishop of New York
August 26, 2008


Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.