Local News Archive
Print Issue: October 3, 2002
Standing Vigil - Pro-Life Advocates Don't Want Abortion Issue To Be Forgotten
By Erika Anderson, Staff Writer
ATLANTA - They stand in silence on busy street corners holding signs.
"Abortion Hurts Women." "Jesus Heals and Forgives." "Adoption the Loving Option."
They kneel at the abortion clinics, rosaries in hand, beads dangling from their fingers. They pray the familiar prayers - "Hail Mary, full of grace . . ." - each decade offered for the women and their unborn babies who will enter the clinic.
The committed ones, the dedicated and passionate members of the pro-life movement do this every week, diligently present at the abortion clinics, praying for the helpless unborn children and their conflicted mothers. They do this in the rain, in the cold and in the heat of a Georgia July.
Is it worth it? Is it helping?
Absolutely, says Father Frank Pavone, co-founder and senior advisor for Priests for Life, an organization based in Staten Island, N.Y., dedicated to "helping priests around the world spread the Gospel of Life to their people."
"It works and we know it works. We get testimonies from all over the country that tell us we get results," he said. "We may not always hear from people but occasionally we do get feedback - someone will come up to us or will bring a baby to a Life Chain and tell us that they decided against abortion."
Father Pavone has been involved in the pro-life movement since 1976 when he was in high school, just three years after the Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion. He has been working full time for the movement for 10 years and believes the most effective way to change hearts and minds is by communicating with what he calls an "unwilling audience." Though it is important to feature pro-life speakers at churches and other environments dedicated to the movement, at those functions "you're not getting large numbers of the folks who really need to hear the message."
That is why standing at intersections with signs or praying at abortion clinics is so important. And as national Respect Life Month kicks off, vigils for the lives of the unborn will be taking place throughout the archdiocese and the nation. Sunday, Oct. 6, from 2:30-3:30 p.m. in front of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta, Archbishop John F. Donoghue will once again join others in a silent prayer chain for the lives of the unborn killed in abortion.
"You have to keep the issue in front of people who need to hear it, the people who are trying to ignore it," Father Pavone said.
Approximately 60 percent of Americans straddle the fence on the abortion topic.
"The issue will ultimately be decided by people in the middle," Father Pavone said. "Those are the people who affirm both positions of the conflict and say 'yes, abortion is wrong, but at the same time it should be legal.'"
Father Pavone said he has great hope for the pro-life movement and an end to legalized abortion.
"There is definitely hope. We are in a strange situation because there is no question that this is winnable," he said, adding that for the pro-life movement to be victorious there must be concentration on several fronts. "First by reaching that unwilling audience and second by attacking the financial power of the abortion industry . . . The money that gets paid by women who are having abortions in large percentage goes back to the politicians and that's why these pro-abortion politicians are getting elected."
Most importantly, Father Pavone said, is that those who consider themselves pro-life need to get involved.
"The problem is that we don't have enough people engaged in the issue . . . If I had 1,000 people knock on my door, I'd have work for each of them and I know that work would yield results."
Those who are uncomfortable with public statements can also be involved in numerous ways, he said, including writing letters, making phone calls and helping with mailings.
"We need people who are living active, spiritual lives. So many people miss the connection between their spiritual lives and fighting for the lives of these babies," he said. "The more in touch with God we are, the more we are in touch with the people around us, especially the most helpless. There are people who have the right position, but they're not fired up about it. They don't see it an emergency, but just as an issue."
For more information about Priests for Life, visit their Web site at www.priestsforlife.org.