By TAMI QUIGLEY Staff writer
“Here in the early 21st century, the fight for life is on the line,” Michael Ciccocioppo told the 67 pro-life advocates gathered for a Pro-Life Town Hall Tour, one in a series being held across Pennsylvania, that took center stage May 3 at SS. Simon and Jude, Bethlehem.
Ciccocioppo, executive director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, and Bonnie Finnerty, education director, were featured speakers of the evening event. Topics included Life on the Line, Life in the Culture, Life at the Capitol, Voice for Life and Vision for Life.
Pennsylvanians for Human Life, Bethlehem/Easton, sponsored the event. Sal Rizzo is president of the chapter.
Father Michael Kon of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Bethlehem, offered the invocation and benediction at the meeting.
As Ciccocioppo presented “Life on the Line,” he noted the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation is not affiliated with any religion and is nonpartisan.
He said though “we believe” life comes from God, to use that as the basis for the pro-life movement would lead those who don’t believe in God to think they don’t have to care about pro-life issues. And no matter a candidate’s party, if the candidate is pro-life, the federation will try to help them get elected.
“Remember the good old days?” Ciccocioppo said, defining the good old days as when Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, the mainstream media and all those who are pro-abortion never said the “a” word – abortion.
“They knew people didn’t like it, so used words like women’s reproductive health care. They knew it was a code word for abortion. They co-opted the word choice, and now you can’t say it without thinking it’s about abortion,” Ciccocioppo said, eliciting laughter because there is nothing about “choice” in abortion. They are simply pro-abortion, not pro-choice.
“They lied when they said their goal was to make abortion safe, legal and rare,” Ciccocioppo said. “But behind the curtain they planned slick marketing techniques for more abortion, to make more money on abortions and to have taxes and insurance companies pay for abortion.”
Americans elected the most pro-life president in U.S. history in the most unlikely person, Donald Trump,” Ciccocioppo said.
Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, and now the “court is starting to tip a different way.”
He said the “radical” abortion advocates “see the inevitable – Roe v. Wade will be overturned.”
Ciccocioppo cautioned though that when Roe v. Wade is overturned, it will be sent back to the individual states to make their own abortion laws, so the work of pro-lifers will continue.
“Pro-abortion advocates have become increasingly explicit in their real intention – to kill preborn children at any stage of pregnancy and even deny care if it survives.”
Ciccocioppo pointed to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signing the Reproductive Health Care Act, which legalizes abortion up until birth, on Jan. 22 this year, the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. “The law also allows medical personnel to abandon the baby and let it die. So many people were horrified.”
He noted Virginia then tried to pass a similar law, but it failed by one vote in the legislature, and Rhode Island is one of the states talking about enacting such a law.
Ciccocioppo said if Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortions could still be performed legally in New York because the state has this law, unlike states that have restrictions such as Pennsylvania, thanks to Casey vs. Planned Parenthood.
He said since mid-January, many people have contacted the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation to volunteer to see what they can do because of what’s happening in this nation.
“Maybe some of you have never attended an event like this,” Ciccocioppo said, adding they are “very welcome” in the pro-life movement.
He said a Marist poll – which is a public opinion poll – taken Feb. 12-19 “shows a dramatic shift away from pro-choice.” In the poll 47 percent were pro-life and 47 percent were pro-choice. The same poll, taken Jan. 19, before the New York and Virginia laws and State of the Union, resulted in 38 percent pro-life.
“We can’t take a breather and we can’t be complacent,” said Ciccocioppo.
“The good news is we’re gaining ground in many ways.”
“You probably all have a story that brought you here tonight,” Finnerty said presenting “Life in the Culture.”
Finnerty shared her story of being a student at Bucknell University, Lewisburg with a positive pregnancy test. The campus doctor offered her no choice but abortion. “I’m thankful I didn’t take her option, but my heart bleeds for those who did.”
Finnerty married her boyfriend, and today their unplanned daughter is 32 “and literally married to a rocket scientist.” Finnerty and her husband had four more children, and now have three grandchildren.
“I was raised in a home with the culture of life,” Finnerty said. “We need to build a culture of life, where life is in our own culture now.
Finnerty spoke of several pro-life movies that are affecting our culture, beginning with “Gosnell,” the story of Dr. Kermit Gosnell of Philadelphia, whose dangerous and unethical practices in his abortion clinic led to his conviction on murder and manslaughter charges, resulting in a life sentence in prison.
“He was delivering full-term babies and snipping their spinal cords,” Finnerty said. Though some scenes may be difficult to see, “We as pro-life advocates can’t turn our backs on truths that are uncomfortable – that’s what pro-abortion advocates do.”
She also mentioned the movie “Unplanned,” which chronicles how the horror of abortion ultimately turned the heart of Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson to embrace life.
“Twitter suspended Unplanned’s account on its opening weekend – by mistake of course,” Finnerty said. The mainstream media ignored and then attacked it. Google labeled it propaganda. But it opened fourth at the box office its opening weekend … it is changing hearts and minds.”
Finnerty said the movie “Roe v. Wade” starring Jon Voight is tentatively slated to open this fall, but faces obstacles because “Hollywood is so pro-abortion.”
“Please show your support. Movies like these are so important because they challenge the narrative that abortions are so good and empowering for women. People’s minds are changed when confronted with the truth,” said Finnerty.
Finnerty encouraged those attending to read the book “Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement” by Sue Ellen Browder. It details the story of Browder’s conversion to the pro-life movement.
“Feminism says if you’re anti-choice, you’re anti-woman. It’s a myth that feminism and abortion go hand-in-hand. The original feminist movement of the 1960s didn’t advocate for abortion,” Finnerty said.
Finnerty added that Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was a “eugenicist and racist.” “But early in her career she called abortion barbaric.”
Finnerty lauded President Trump’s pro-life rule, which would force Planned Parenthood to physically and fiscally separate their abortions from everything else. “Our tax dollars shouldn’t help abortions … even for the water used to clean up spilled blood,” she said.
“Two judges have filed injunctions to stop the rule. Hopefully the injunctions will be lifted.”
Finnerty said the pro-life rally “Alive From New York” the next day would feature a live 4-D ultrasound in Times Square. As the live ultrasound was performed, a poignant moment swept through the crowd when they found out it was Abby Johnson’s baby’s heartbeat.
“There are some really good things in the pro-life culture,” Finnerty said.
“It’s up to us to keep life in the culture in all we do, in our words, wallets and votes.”