John Fuller: The annual March for Life is coming to Washington, D.C., in just a couple of weeks. And there’s good reason for optimism in the pro-life movement. Just listen to some of these comments.
Woman #1: I think that, overwhelmingly,millennialshave become more and more pro-life.
Man #1: Protecting life is vital. Life is sacred. It doesn’t matter, you know, if it’s my life or the life of the unborn. I would want my life to be as protected.
Woman #2: I think that the March for Life is a very tangible thing for students, especially, because while we may not be changing in legislation, we are bringing awareness.
Woman #3: In our history, especially in America, we march when we truly believe in something. And so I think the March for Life is a great representation of that history.
End of Excerpt
John: Well, it’s great to hear such upbeat words about the value of life from millennials. And we’re going to hear more today on Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. And I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: Now, John, this year marks the 45th consecutive March for Life. And it is really sparked by the initial decision in the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade in 1973, legalizing abortion in the U.S. We want to talk about steps that have been made and are being made to protect pre-born life and hear about some of the big events that are planned for this month of January. Today’s the third, and there are some wonderful things occurring throughout the month, but especially in a couple of weeks in Washington, D.C. To talk about this, Jeanne Mancini - she’s been the president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund since 2012. And also our very own Vice President Kelly Rosati is with us. Kelly is Vice President of Community Outreach where she heads up the Sanctity of Human Life division, including Option Ultrasound, which many of you listeners know about and our adoption and orphan care initiative. Welcome to both of you.
Kelly Rosati: Thank you.
Jeanne Mancini: Thank you. It’s just an honor to be here.
Jim: Well, and I think what both of you are doing in the broader context of helping women and helping these babies, these children, come into this world is such an awesome thing. Let me go there. Jeanne, why? What brought you into this? Because it’s not always...
Jim: ...You know, an easy road to walk...
Jeanne: Oh, it’s not.
Jim: ...With people who vehemently disagree with you.
Jim: What drew you here?
Jeanne: No. I’d love - thank you - and it’s gotten harder, I would say, in our, you know, climate these days with - um - with - you know, where people stand on these issues. But - uh - you know, I especially had a moment in my life after college. I was working in a volunteer corps, and I worked in a youth crisis shelter in Arizona and was working with kids who had been either abused or neglected, and in some cases, sex offenders, as well, I mean, kids with very deep and profound wounds. And that year was a year of grappling a lot for me, I mean, with the inherent dignity of the human person and really asking some of the deeper questions. And, for me, maybe one of the deepest questions I was asking that year was, would it have been better if they were never born, if these young people were never born? The quality of life questions and seeing, you know, such profound wounds. And honestly, I came out on the other end. I feel like God showed me so much about who are you to judge the value of a life and, you know, that every human life has inherent human dignity. And it really made me even more pro-life, I guess, and very much informs sort of my approach to the work now. So, I think that was at least a turning point, in terms of understanding the inherent dignity of the human person.
Jim: Well, and I can only imagine, you have to have that conviction, that drive, you know, the fact...
Jim: ...That you’re in the role that you’re in, organizing and executing the March for Life, which is huge - how many people come to the March for Life in January in Washington, D.C., usually with really cold weather?
Jeanne: Yeah. It’s...
Jeanne: Historically, it’s the coldest week of the year in Washington, and there’s always some weather story, whether it’s the blizzard of 2016 or the subzero temperatures of 2015, or what have you, but we think it’s about 100,000.
Jim: It’s a lot of people. I’ve been there.
Jeanne: It’s a lot of people. I mean, it’s really - it’s almost immeasurable. But from different - pulling together, you know, all of our data, it seems to be somewhere around the realm of 100,000 and growing.
Jim: And just for those who don’t know, I mean, why is it that week? Why would they say why would organizers do it that week?
Jim: But there’s a very specific reason.
Jeanne: There is. And I can’t tell you how often it’s recommended that we would move the March to May or June or something like that...
Jim: Then somebody comes up and says...
Jeanne: ...And that we’ll get more people.
Jim: ...I have a great idea.
Jim: Let’s do this in March.
John: Yeah, bet you never thought of this.
Jeanne: Can’t tell you how many great ideas I’ve heard. So of course,January 22, 1973, was a changing date in the United States of America. It’s when abortion was legalized through all three trimesters in all states. And that was Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton were decided by the Supreme Court. And so we march on the anniversary of those dates every year - or right around the anniversary.
Jim: Yeah. And, again, it’s such an incredible event. I’ve been there. It - and the young people - there are so many young people that come. That’s what actually is so amazing. And, you know, researchers - uh - social scientists have said this group of millennials, this group of young people, the 20-somethings, teens, 30-somethings are the most pro-life people in this country.
Jeanne: It’s so true. It’s one of my favorite moments of the March for Life to get up on the stage and to look out and to see the crowd of young smiling faces. I mean, it brings tears to my eyes, because if our future is in their hands, we’re in very good shape. And it’s really almost - well, it’s convicting of different people. I’ll never forget reading about Nancy Keenan, I believe, who headed up NARAL Pro-Choice America, and coming out in D.C. around lunchtime one March for Life for a meeting that she had - a lunch meeting - and it was absolutely life-changing for her. She left seeing all of the young people and the joy and the enthusiasm and the positive nature of the science and what have you and decided that it was time for her to resign from her position, because they weren’t recruiting young people as we were. And so ultimately, she did resign. And essentially, they thought that they needed to hire someone younger for that role. And what I wish I could have had the moment to share with her is that it’s not necessarily your marketing, you know, that’s flawed to the young people. It’s the product that’s flawed. I mean, young people know that a life is a life is a life, and that abortion...
Jeanne: ...Is the human rights issue of today.
Jeanne: And so - but it was beautiful just to see that.
Jim: And you know what’s so important is how we go about this debate - the national debate. And by doing the March for Life, which is a Catholic-oriented march - and I want to make sure we point that out. But Protestants, man, let’s go. There’s an open invitation to get involved, to come, and I love that. This is an area we can certainly work together...
Jim: ...And not divide on theological issues. Let’s all be for life.
Jeanne: Well, interestingly - um - we’re nonsectarian...
Jeanne: ...Apparently. So we’re not Catholic. But the founder was Catholic. And I’m a proud Catholic. But the truth of the matter is having worked in pro-life public policy for many years, I have to say that my evangelical brothers and sisters in Christ are some of the most pro-life people that I know. And before I assumed the role of the president of the March for Life, an evangelical friend of mine, Casey Mattox, who works for Alliance Defending Freedom, asked if we could sit and meet to talk about why more evangelicals didn’t come to the March for Life. And so we sat and started brainstorming. And little did we know that within two years, I’d be, you know, sort of helping to change that a little bit. So I think that early on, in our earliest stages, that Nellie Gray, the founder of the March for Life, sort of wrestled with the grass roots and got them excited with Catholic priests. And for some reason, it became known as sort of a Catholic organization, but it’s not true. And...
Jim: It’s wide open.
Jim: Everybody’s invited.
Jim: And this is...
Jim: ...A great opportunity.
Jeanne: That’s right. And I think we’ve made great strides...
Jeanne: ...In opening wide the doors to - as well as to people who don’t necessarily have a certain faith, you know, but are pro-life, like, you know, secular pro-life people.
Jim: Well, and I - I need to say your leadership has brought about that kind of invitation and warmth. And we are grateful to it. And we’re grateful to the Catholic Church for being there on the front lines...
Jeanne: Thank you.
Jim: ...From the very decision of Roe v. Wade.
Jim: In many ways, you have been the example for the Protestant community to say, wait a minute. We need to get more active here. So thank you for that, broadly.
Jeanne: Well, I appreciate the gratitude.
Jeanne: I mean, I feel sort of, you know, not - like, I wouldn’t have put myself in this role, so all for the glory of God...
Jeanne: ...So, thank you.
Jim: Kelly, I want to pull you in here...
Jim: ...Because you’re, again, every day, walking in the doors here at “Focus on the Family” as the vice president that oversees life. I love giving...
Jim: ...You that title when I’m on the road. I’ll just say you’re the “V.P. of Life.”
Kelly: That’s a good title.
Jim: ...Talk about your passion in this area. I’m - I’m grateful for it because you walk in the door everyday thinking how can we help moms? How can we help these young children - pre-born? And you’re doing a great job. Option Ultrasound - we’ve saved 400,000 babies over the last 13 years or so.
Kelly: It’s incredible, isn’t it?
Jim: It is.
Kelly: Such a blessing to be a part of it.
Jim: And I hope your entire team - they’re sitting in the gallery right now - has a big smile on their face because, again, what an amazing effort, and we’re grateful for it. Tell us why you’re engaged here. You’re on the board of the March for Life.
Kelly: I am, and I’m so honored to - to be a part of that group. But, you know,I was thinking about how God first stirred this in my heart, and it was long before I knew God. And it was really the fact that my mom found herself 16 and pregnant and really not knowing what to do. And so, I just remember the moment I found out, as an elementary-school-aged girl, that I could have been aborted.
Kelly: And it made such an impact on me. And so I’ve always just really thought we can do better. Life is, as you say so often, Jim, life’s a better choice. And, um - and these kids matter, and this really is the human rights issue of our time. And so that’s what’s drawn our passion, I think, in our family, and then, just coming to Christ in understanding His incredible love for every person.
Jim: Let me ask you this.
Jim: Both women, in that context, why is it such a debate? What is really going on behind scenes? And we see it on the news. We see the ideological, you know, woman’s right to reproductive health...
Jim: ...And all the terminology that makes it sanitized. But we’re still talking about the taking of an innocent human life.
Kelly: We are.
Jim: So how do we, as the Christian community, represent the great heart of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ...
Jim: ...Who can encounter the woman caught adultery and say, where are your accusers? Go and sin no more. How do we project that to the community that chooses abortion for their children? How do we make a better statement?
Kelly: Well, I think the first thing is what we’re trying to do, as Jeanne said, is recognize the inherent dignity of every person and make it clear that when we are talking about this issue, we care every bit about the mom and her life, as we do her pre-born babies. Like, we don’t have to choose between them. That’s the beauty of this. We can love them both and care about them both. I think one of the other things that’s important to do, Jeanne - and I don’t know how you feel about this is-- I think we have to understand where other people are coming from on this issue. And I don’t just mean, I think we know that a woman in an unexpected pregnancy is terrified. She’s scared. She sees no choice. That’s why abortion becomes the choice. But beyond that, for people who think this is important, I think it’s because there’s something underneath it, which is-- of course we should care about bodily autonomy. If we were talking about my appendix, I don’t want either of you telling me anything to do with my appendix. That’s a real thing to me. And so we have to get back to the reality that ultrasound has been so instrumental in showing us, which is that we’re talking about two people. It isn’t only my body. There are two bodies involved. And we can care for both bodies - both mom and baby. And I think - uh - us continuing to focus on that, as the movement has been doing, is going to continue to get us further...
Kelly: ...And further along.
Jeanne: I agree.
Kelly: I don’t know if you agree with that.
Jeanne: I do, I do. And if I can add just a slightly different nuance, I think that there’s so much confusion about male and femaleness, too - you know, equal in dignity, but inherently different. And I think that there’s this underlying sort of philosophy that drives a bad understanding of - of all of this and a - like, a really sort of flawed understanding of what it - of being pro-choice and what have you, that in order to be fully woman, I need to be almost the same as a man. And so my capacity for motherhood, instead of being a gift and a miracle, it’s a liability. You know, it’s a liability. And, in order to be treated equally, I need to sort of shut that liability down. And so, a lot of what we try to do at the March for Life is show how, you know, first of all, women and men are equal in dignity, but inherently different. And that’s good. You know, that’s good. And everybody lives that out differently. But that being pro-life is pro-woman, that - and choosing life is empowering, as you - as Kelly mentioned, you say, life is the better choice. And really, I mean, to believe other - it’s - it - Mother Teresa had said something like, abortion is profoundly anti-woman. All of the moms and half of the girls are, you know, negatively influenced by abortion. And I - I think that’s - that’s right on.
Jim: That’s a good statement. In fact - and, again, in the political environment, parties draw planks, and they get behind this or that. We’ve always said here at Focus on the Family that the pro-life perspective is not a political issue. It’s a moral issue that’s been pulled into...
Jim: ...The political sphere.
Jim: Dr. Dobson said that for years and years. And I think that’s true. And so when we speak about it, we don’t talk about Republican and Democrat. It’d be great for more and more Democrats to be pro-life. I think that’s a good thing.
Jim:But in that respect, last year, you had, for the first time, a vice president, or any administration send a high-level official. But Vice President Pence came to address the group. I want to play for you a clip that we’ve taken from that. So let’s listen in.
Mike Pence: Life is winning in America because of all of you. (CHEERING) So I urge you to press on. But as it is written, let your gentleness be evident to all. (Crowd Response)Let this movement be known for love, not anger.(CHEERING) Let this movement be known for compassion, not confrontation.(CHEERING)When it comes to matters of the heart, there is nothing stronger than gentleness.(CHEERING) I believe we will continue to win the hearts and minds of the rising generation, if our hearts first break for young mothers and their unborn children, and if we, each of us, do all we can to meet them where they are with generosity, not judgment.(CHEERING)
John: Addressing last year’s March for Life, that is Vice President Mike Pence. And his speech about gentleness and love and compassion, just, you could tell the audience was moved. This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller, and we’re talking today about the March for Life and Evangelicals for Life. And the March for Life is Friday, the 19th of this month. And our guests are Jeanne Mancini, the president for March for Life and Kelly Rosati, who is our vice president of life, as you put it, Jim.
Jim: That’s right.
Jim: This is exciting. And I think the goal here, just so the listeners are clear, January 19, we would love for more people to come out. I mean, we need to make it 200-300,000 people. I know it’s cold, but can you stand in some inclement weather for the pre-born child? I think that’s the question. It’s busy. Hotels are packed, but make your plans to join us at the March for Life on January 19th, and also for the Evangelicals for Life conference, which is sponsored by Focus on the Familyand the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. That’s Dr. Russell Moore. And our whole goal is to get more people making a statement that we are here for life. It’s important. Our politicians see it. They look out the window and see 100,000 or more there. Reporters see it. They report on it. I - they - I’m sure they think we’re crazy...
Jim: ...Because we’re standing in blizzards, sometimes.
Jim: But it is awesome. And, Jeanne, I would love for as many of the Focus listeners to get there as possible. And I hope they do.
Jeanne: I do, too.
Jim: Let me change the - the direction of the conversation when it comes to a woman’s decision. You know, it has become politicized. But what is really going on? Paint a picture. Kelly, you have such a good relationship with Focus, with the pregnancy resource centers, just describe it. Not everybody has gone through that trauma. And if you have, Focus is here. We have caring counselors who can help you. Don’t feel the burden of guilt and shame. Jesus has died for your sins and mine. And we are here to help you think that through and pray that over you and be there with you. So don’t bear that burden alone but take us through that kind of decision. You touched on it. But what do we need to know about what a startled, afraid 16-year-old, 24-year-old, maybe 35-year-old, is considering in that moment where there’s no support? Just describe that environment that’s typical.
Kelly: I think it’s exactly what you both just described. It is a sense of complete hopelessness and brokenness and fear, and being overwhelmed, and not seeing a way forward. And so, in some ways, it is just the most opportune mission-field, because the body of Christ can come around the woman in the situation like this and offer to her exactly what Jesus tells us to do - to give her that cold cup of water, except it’s going to be a lot more than water. It’s going to be tangible, practical support. And that is something that we can all do and be a part of. And that’s what’s so great about the opportunity to minister there. But it’s got to start with a heart of compassion, Jim, like you just said, and not an attitude of judgment about someone who finds themself in that situation. Because honestly, haven’t we all screwed up? I’ve screwed up so mightily, and I’m so thankful for the grace of God...
Kelly: ...And the grace of God’s people toward me. And that’s what we need to show to a woman...
Kelly: ...In that situation.
Jim: So true.
Jeanne: I could not agree more. I’ve heard it said that when a woman is facing an unexpected pregnancy that, in that moment of fear and so much emotion, that there are - what she sees is three deaths in front of her. The first is a death of her dreams, if she decides to carry the baby to term and to choose life and - and raise the child. The second is death of her motherhood, which is choosing an adoption plan. And many women, so sadly, have a stigma that to - to choose adoption is actually - it makes them a bad mother. And there’s so much work for us in the pro-life movement, you know, on that, and in marketing and what have you. And then the last is death of the child, and that’s abortion. And often, a woman thinks that the death of the child is going to be the least painful of the three deaths. And we can see that in the data. I mean, we know that there are close to a million abortions in the United States every year, and that there are only about 20,000 infant adoptions in the United States every year. And so you see this, you know, huge discrepancy. And, what happens, though, is that sometimes women think that they’re almost erasing a life, when they choose abortion. But you can’t ever erase a life. And that’s what’s so hard is that, then the woman herself often struggles with, you know, a variety of psychological consequences, having made that decision, because there’s a real life that was taken. And there’s always hope and healing for anyone who’s made that decision.
Jeanne: And you guys have so many wonderful programs here at Focus. Um, so that’s so important to say that, anyone who’s listening, there’s always hope and healing for anyone who’s been...
Jim: Well, and I think, you know, so often those that would oppose life, paint a picture that’s very fearful. It reinforces all those concerns that a young woman, older woman is feeling if they’re forced with that decision. Um, and it’s unfortunate because, Kelly, you talked about your background. My mom - even though this is pre-Roe v. Wade, but in California, if you’re over 40 - my mom was 42 - you could have a medical abortion at the time for medical reasons, because of the incidents of issues that that baby could encounter. And she was leaning in that direction. My dad talked her out of it. But just think of that. When you’re thinking about, if we just let nature continue, the nurturing in the womb that that child will continue to grow, be viable and then born obviously. And you’re evidence of that. I’m evidence of that. Millions of children are evidence of that. Um, trust that God, even though it may be difficult, will prosper you in that - in different ways - spiritually, emotionally - and that life will continue. So often, we - we are gripped by fear - you know, what job to take or what to do, Lord. Um, don’t fall for that bait. Life - God will honor that. It may not be easy, but God will honor that. And I think that adoption option is really strong. We talk about those million abortions per year. I’ve been told - I don’t know if the evidence is there, Kelly, but that about a million people want to adopt infants every year. If we could just connect that all and make it a healthy situation, that would be a - an incredible step forward in bringing these children into life. Anything to say on that one?
Kelly: I couldn’t agree more strongly. And Jim, I just have to say, even as I’m listening to you talk, I’m thankful for the reality around this table and the reality at Focus, which is, you know, the dignity of life issue and the fact that there’s a hundred thousand kids right now waiting for families. And so we keep caring about life, and we know firsthand and tell people very honestly. It is not easy. We are not sugarcoating and pretending it’s afairy tale. We’re actually doing the opposite. We’re saying God will meet us there in the middle of that mess. And I know we all walk that out...
Kelly: ...Every single day in certain ways. But life is worth it.
Jim: I appreciate that. And that momentum here at Focus - Option Ultrasound - for those that aren’t aware of it, describe it briefly Kelly, and tell us what you’re doing.
Kelly: Sure. Well, basically we provide ultrasound machines to pregnancy medical clinics around the nation. And the reason we do it is simple - ultrasound is a window to the womb. And it’s the picture worth a thousand words. It’s the evidence in front of your face that what we’re talking about here today is not a blob of tissue, is not a problem to be disposed of, but is a baby. And is, in fact, that mom’s baby. And so, what we see is that when we give these machines to clinics around the country, and people are able to meet that woman at her point of need, first of all to show her the love and the kindness and the grace and the mercy that we’ve been talking about, and then take it to the next level and reveal to her through that ultrasound that she’s carrying her child, she changes her mind. Often she changes her mind. And we’ve been keeping track of how often that happens, Jim. And since the beginning of the program, we’ve had almost 400,000 babies that we know have been saved from abortion.
Jim: And you know it’s hard Kelly. So often, when we’re using those kind of numbers people are going, wow. But I want to play a clip from one, Dixie, who kind of encapsulates what women experience through the program.
Dixie: When I took the pregnancy test at home, my first reaction was disbelief, shock, this can’t be happening. Aborting the baby, you know, that was my first thought. My mind was already made up and nobody was going to be able to change it. My mom ended up bringing me in, not only to talk to somebody about the situation, but hopefully to get a sono (sic) and actually see the actual situation and not - you know, not just make a choice, you know, not realizing what I’m gonna give up, if I don’t go through with it. Actually seeing it for the first time and seeing her heartbeat, I knew that there was no way I could terminate her, you know what I mean? And at that point I didn’t know if it was a girl or boy. But I was just like, oh my gosh. Look at it. You know, you could just see the heartbeat just, you know, going so fast. And it was life-changing.(SOUND OF HEARTBEAT)
If it had not been for a pregnancy resource center, I can almost guarantee you that I wouldn’t be a changed person. My daughter wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have a job. I wouldn’t be taking care of my responsibilities. I wouldn’t be seeing life as... as it should be seen. I found meaning again because of the PR center.
Jim: Wow. I mean, that’s it folks. You want to be involved? You want to make a difference in the years that God has given you on this earth? Join us. Join us at the March for Life January 19th. Join us at the Evangelicals for Life Conference at that same time, and support Option Ultrasound. You want to make - I mean, $60 will help save a life, come on. Can we not do this? Let’s see a million children saved over the next few years. Let’s move from 400,000 to 1 million saved. We can do it together. And I hope you will participate. Let’s stand for life in Washington, January 19th. Join us. Jeanne, Kelly, thank you for just helping us better understand what’s happening and what the Lord is up to. Thanks for being with us.
Jeanne: Thank you so much for having me. It’s just such a delight and honor to be part of this. Thank you.
Kelly: Thank you.
John: What an encouraging conversation. And when you donate, please make a monthly pledge to save pre-born babies and donate on a regular basis to the ministry. You can do so by calling 800-232-6459 or at focusonthefamily.com/radio. And when you’re at the site you’ll find information about the March for Life, the Evangelicals for Life Conference and watching the simulcast of that latter event. All of that and more at focusonthefamily.com/radio.
Well next time on our broadcast, Jonathan McKee offers some great advice for connecting with your tech-absorbed kids.
Jonathan McKee: The relationship is so important, ‘cause the relationship is gonna be the element that transcends when they’re out of the house, when you don’t have any boundaries. So don’t mess up bonding with way too many boundaries.
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