Life Issues Forum
Pro-Life Persistence Pays Off
By Mary E. McClusky
March 19, 2010
Though the liturgical season of Lent brings forty days of spiritual challenges and growth through sacrifice, it concludes with the glorious Resurrection of Christ and joyful Easter celebrations. Perhaps the small group of scrappy Florida pro-lifers used the Lenten season as inspiration when they took on the largest state affiliate of Planned Parenthood. After a four-year struggle, they believe that their efforts have finally led a local Planned Parenthood to not re-apply for a $50,000 grant to continue a program to promote contraception and abortion among Hispanics. This story shows that no matter the level of state or federal funding received by abortion providers like Planned Parenthood, their destructive effect can be minimized when people of good will commit to persistent action on behalf of life.
Though the executive director of the affiliate, Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast, accused the group of harassment and threats, the group says all they did was respectfully bring to light the problematic reporting practices and ineffectiveness of the program. They did their investigative footwork by interviewing members of the targeted Hispanic community who related that the program was useless and problematic. The investigators spread their documented research through interviews and at public and legislative meetings. They held protests, fasted and prayed. Most importantly, they did not give up. Local activist Ed Daccarett believes that the Planned Parenthood affiliate declined to reapply for grant money to avoid further investigation and bad publicity. The fact that the previous chapter in this area was shut down years earlier because of “clinical and financial mismanagement” adds weight to his claim.
This is just the latest example of grassroots activists working hard to end abortion and provide help to pregnant women. Throughout the years, similar efforts were successful in Orange County, California and Corpus Christi, Texas. Across the country, participants in 40 Days For Life, a prayer campaign in front of abortion facilities, regularly report stories of hundreds of children’s lives saved from abortion and grateful pregnant women being connected to caring people who meet their emotional and material needs.
Of course, the struggle to reclaim the culture continues. Amidst regular reports of closed clinics or resigned abortion providers, abortion “supercenters” have opened across the country in cities like Houston, Texas and Portland, Oregon. Planned Parenthood has invested millions in these new buildings to promote their so-called “reproductive health services” to the minority communities in these neighborhoods. However, despite being frequently outspent, pro-lifers can always hope to change hearts and minds on abortion. As the stories above relate, this occurs when pro-lifers are inspired to pray and act with grit and resolve to shed light on the abortion industry.
A recently homily used the image of a hammer hitting a rock fifty times. Every one of the fifty strikes, not only the final blow, was needed to break the rock. May the season of Lent inspire pro-lifers everywhere to continue to chip away at the foundations of the culture of death, until our nation heals from its wounds and joyfully embraces the culture of life.
Mary McClusky is Special Projects Coordinator at the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. To learn more about the bishops’ pro-life activities, go to www.usccb.org/prolife.