If you've been stumped about your ability to be and act pro-life effectively under lockdown, this member has summed up some surprisingly simple actions you can take any time and from anywhere, actions that will make you, and our movement, stronger when this pandemic passes.
1. I've been sharing what I've learned at MCFL events with friends and neighbors
-I talked with a friend/neighbor across the gap between our two porches. I felt challenged bringing abortion into the conversation, but we were already talking about the people impacted most by the COVID19 shutdown, so I just shared how many girls I'd met outside Planned Parenthood who were going in to get abortions because they felt like they did not have the resource to carry their baby to term. I learned from an MCFL staff member who spoke at 40 Days to listen first, and listen completely. So I got to hear all of my neighbor's questions before I tried to defend myself too.
It was a great conversation, and I was reminded how grateful I am to have MCFL after I told them about the pregnancy center list online, and the annual gatherings at the banquet and national March for Life.
2. I've been sharing photos of people I know who are heroic advocates for babies, women, and the elderly and disabled on my Instagram
Christina Bennett (pro-life feminist in CT)
-I get to say why these people inspire me to be brave, and not give up. Christina was almost aborted as a preborn baby. I got to know her first by watching the film, Pro-Life Feminist, and then through C.J. at MCFL.
3. I've been asking one acquaintance each week to join MCFL
-Usually, this is on Zoom or messenger. We have a weekly book club with a group that used to meet online. In the after talk, MCFL came up naturally because the book was on dystopias and human rights being eroded.
4. I've been planning ahead for next year, looking at opportunities to join events or support organizations in-person when this pandemic recedes. MCFL is still holding the Massachusetts March for Life on November 7th, and other pro-life action is set for September and October
5. I've been donating the $5-15 dollars I'd spend on Starbucks and/public transportation to MCFL, or a rotating number of pregnancy resource centers, or getting groceries for my elderly neighbor each week
6. I signed the petition asking our legislators to oppose S.1209/H.3320 (the "ROE" Act), which would guarantee late-term abortions, discriminate against so-called "disabled" babies, and take away protections for teens at risk for sex-trafficking. (Here's the link to it: Petition Opposing "ROE" Act.)
7. I've been sending out emails or social media posts a few times a week, asking if any one in my extended circle is pregnant, considering abortion because of financial constraints, or just needing groceries or a friendly call. MCFL staff encouraged me in this, and told me they're setting up a list of members in areas across the state who have offered to do the same
These are small actions. But I've learned it's always the small gestures that make the big differences in the end. When I could stand outside the abortion facility, it wasn't a parade or a shout that saved the baby whose mom met my gaze, and turned around. It was just me being there.
I know we're physically distant from each other right now. That doesn't mean, however, that we have to be emotionally or socially distant. Being pro-life means being: being with. I can do that under any circumstances.
I hope you join me in ticking off some of the actions above, and one-up me even by adding more.
But for now, if you're not a member of MCFL and getting the regular email support, updates, videos, and action items, sign up here.
By Myrna Maloney Flynn, MCFL President
The key to winning is choosing to do God's will and loving others with all you've got.
- Lou Holtz
I pulled the VHS tape from my suitcase and eagerly gave it to my host sister after dinner. Though I was still jet-lagged from my flight to Osaka that morning, I felt only excitement at the thought of finally getting to share the home video I recorded prior to leaving the States. I’d shot snippets of a typical American teenage existence: my rowdy friends, good natured teachers, teasing siblings, my dog.
The whole Suzuki family gathered around the small living room TV to watch: my three host sisters, their parents and grandmother. My host sister pushed the tape into the player, and I anticipated the colorful opening scene—a pep rally in my school gym. Instead, a black and white picture appeared on the screen. In those first few seconds, I wasn’t sure what we were seeing among the images of billowing smoke and apparent chaos. Then I saw the ships and planes above them. “Oh dear God,” I thought. “That’s Pearl Harbor.”
Panic. Prayer. Pivot.
“Yameru!” (Stop!) I called out one of the few words I’d learned in my crash course in Japanese and jumped from my chair, madly searching for the remote control. Nobody moved. They just watched me. The next few seconds felt like a week. I prayed for guidance when no one else moved to turn off the video, seemingly unsurprised by their exchange student’s apparent poor judgment. I took the only action available. I pushed everyone aside, rushed to the player and hit the “stop” button myself, surely breaking all kinds of cultural norms.
From that moment on, I did everything I could to ensure good relationships with my host family, from laughing at jokes I didn’t get, to eating questionable foods, going to school, and taking karaoke seriously. A year later, my own family returned the hospitality I received and welcomed my host sister to our house.
I never learned how the tapes got switched. Even all these years later, it still doesn’t make sense to me. But, as humiliating as the experience was, I’ve come to understand that, for whatever reason, it was part of “The Plan.”
In the last few weeks, you and I experienced a certain level of panic. We have prayed unceasingly, perhaps for a return of very basic things we took for granted last month. We had plans. Lots of them. But for the sake of our neighbors, those we know and those we don’t, but who we love and respect just the same, we have chosen to pivot, to change our plans and make new ones. And as we settle into a “new normal,” we work to understand God’s will in all of this—and to do it.
I write to let you know that, first of all, at MCFL, it’s not panic we feel as much as an urgent sense of duty to recognize and honor those who are on Covid-19 related lifesaving missions. And we pray that we will be able to successfully pivot, as we have been called to do.
For example, we have asked our chapter directors to lead mask-sewing efforts. As I write this, several members have taken their Singers out of storage and are following simple sets of instructions we provided, making mask after mask to be delivered to area medical professionals in need. Want to help? Simply send an email to our team at action @ masscitizensforlife . org
Though we were forced to cancel our Annual Convention and will postpone our May 7 Mother’s Day Dinner, my team and I are in no way turning away from our efforts to defeat the so-called ROE Act. As we have been for over a year, MCFL is still doggedly working, daily, to reach legislators and convey our opposition on your behalf. While we cannot lobby in person as we’d like, we continue to communicate to our elected officials the grave dangers of this bill. If you have not yet done so, please sign our petition today.
Finally, my friends, I ask for your prayers for two members of our MCFL community. A week ago, we learned that former MCFL Board member and current President of the Pro Life Legal Defense Fund, Bob Joyce, tested positive for the coronavirus. He remains hospitalized but, according to his family, is improving after participating in a Remdesiver trial. We learned via email this morning that Bob, “is stable and his oxygen requirement has been reduced by more than 50%. He wants you to know how grateful he is for all of your thoughts and prayers.” A second MCFL community member also received positive test results last week. Please keep both her and Bob in your prayers.
We will win at the end of this thing. In a way, as we pull so quickly together as united, loving citizens during this unprecedented time, we already have. But until the game itself is over, we’ll have to work to discern, and then do, God’s will and love each other with all we’ve got.
Our efforts to restore protection and respect for each individual human life in our Commonwealth continue behind-the-scenes.
Your support at this time is just as critical. Please consider donating today as much as you feel you are able.
Culture shapes how we think of ourselves and others. The current culture is one of the most prominent causes of dehumanization of people everywhere. We are called to shape the culture in a way that respects life at all stages.
By Sonja Morin, MCFL Intern
This week, pro-lifers everywhere are celebrating the anniversary of one of the most significant documents to grace the movement: Evangelium Vitae, or The Gospel of Life.* It has been referred to as one of the best summations of the beliefs of the pro-life movement, not only citing its concerns but creating a structure for activism. The document gives a particular focus on culture, demonstrating the importance of culture to upholding human dignity, as well as a culture’s instrumental role in shedding light on how society dehumanizes many of our most vulnerable members today. Evangelium Vitae spurs on those of us involved in the culture to challenge and change the norms that are present in our world today, so that a culture of life may be restored.
Evangelium Vitae was written by Pope John Paul II, a stalwart of the pro-life movement during the twentieth and early twenty-first century. Pope John Paul II used his experiences and belief in human dignity to advocate for those without a voice throughout his papacy, and this encyclical is a shining example. Ever a masterful writer, John Paul II identifies the issues that plague the world as a result of a cultural dehumanization of our vulnerable, and reviews underlying causes of these attitudes, and what may be done to remedy them. While it is a document created by the leader of the Catholic Church, Evangelium Vitae is truly a document meant for “all people of good will” to consider in terms of human dignity and rights.
What does this document have to say for us, twenty-five years later? It turns out that Pope John Paul II’s words ring truer still for our current situation than perhaps they did upon the first release of the encyclical.
- Culture shapes how we think of ourselves and others.
When Pope John Paul II identifies culture as one of the root causes of dehumanization in the modern world, he recognizes the force of culture in shaping minds and hearts. Culture is not just a system of products and creations; rather, it is a set of beliefs shared by people. These beliefs then stream into the literature, art, and other works people can experience and partake in together. Whether good or bad, these cultural norms and their effects shape our national and global community in how we perceive ourselves and each other.
2. The current culture is one of the most prominent causes of dehumanization of people everywhere.
It is in this document that Pope John Paul II refers so prominently to the “culture of death” the world has inherited. The international culture promotes the idea that value is not objective; rather, it can fluctuate at any time based on anyone’s belief or emotion. If one does not have consistent value, then it does not matter whether someone disregards their dignity or not. One does not have to relate to others, or help them in times of need. One can control life and its effects. One can decide whether the life of another is worth continuation or not. These sad beliefs are the reality of the culture which has taken root in our world.
3. We are called to shape the culture in a way that respects life at all stage.
In the last sections of Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II begs that the people of the world reinstate a “culture of life” for all. This comes first from reversing the beliefs that have too long held grip in our institutions. We must always seek to promote the dignity of life, not only in what we say, but also in how we act towards others. Our love for all people will certainly speak louder. No matter what stage of life we are in, nor what our occupation in life is, we can certainly incorporate these attitudes into our lives. Our action on a day to day basis can - and will - impact the culture.
Cheers to this twenty-fifth anniversary of Evangelium Vitae--a document that does not merely point out the issues of our time, but offers concrete solutions by which anyone may promote the pro-life message of human dignity and value. May the words of Pope John Paul II continue to inspire us as we move forward into such a crucial time for the defense of all life.
We invite you to join MCFL today and begin to challenge and change some concrete aspects of our society in Massachusetts, and restore respect for women, the unborn, and the elderly, vulnerable, or differently abled.
By Dr. Mark Rollo, MCFL Board Member
Regarding the recent letter from Don P. Perez, MD [ in the Worcester Telegram ] I must respectfully yet strenuously disagree. His letter opined that in spite of the coronavirus outbreak state legislators must move forward on passing H. 1926 and S. 1208 which would legalize physician assisted suicide (PAS) in Massachusetts. Actually, it is because of the coronavirus outbreak that we can see the dangers of PAS.
PAS creates a financial incentive to steer people toward suicide. This has already happened in states which have legalized PAS. In some of these states insurance companies and Medicaid have refused to cover expensive therapies but have offered to cover inexpensive suicide pills. The economic pressures exerted by the coronavirus outbreak will only accentuate the temptation to steer the poor, people with disabilities and minorities toward suicide.
Dr Perez noted that nine states have passed PAS laws. However, during the same time period, 30 states have rejected PAS. The supposed absence of abuses in Oregon is an empty statement due to the lack of mandated reporting on PAS. We know that people in Oregon have been steered toward suicide. Barbara Wagner of Oregon is just one of many examples. Medicaid refused to cover expensive chemotherapy for her advanced lung cancer but indicated her suicide pills would be covered.
As a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society, I am embarrassed that MMS has opted for neutrality when it comes to protecting the public from PAS.
The American Medical Association continues to rightly strongly oppose PAS as should lawmakers.
Make your voice heard for the vulnerable. Tell your legislator you oppose H. 1926 and S.1208 by emailing and calling the Joint Committee on the Public Health today.
FIND CONTACT INFORMATION FOR THE JOINT COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC HEALTH AT THIS LINK: Chair and Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health.
Support our continued advocacy by donating today: Secure Donation Here.
Despite Massachusetts' Gov. Baker's ban on elective surgical procedures during the state of emergency surrounding the COVID-19's outbreak, Planned Parenthood has again put abortion promotion before women's safety. And not just women's safety -- the abortion industry giant has decided it's more important to abort than maintain safe social distancing during the pandemic.
In the New Boston Post report, MCFL is quoted:
We were disheartened to learn that, upon Governor Baker’s approval, elective abortion will still be permitted in the coming weeks, even while other elective surgeries have been prohibited due to the coronavirus pandemic. Women’s health and safety should be our top priority now, as always. Risking exposure to the highly contagious disease during visits to abortion clinics not only puts our women at risk but their families and those of clinic workers as well. This is yet another indication that the once-popular abortion-rights mantra ‘safe, legal, and rare’ is a complete farce. In the face of a global pandemic, the abortion industry once again demonstrates that protecting women’s health has never been its priority. Instead, the abortion lobby’s singular goal is to increase the bottom line, even at the expense of risking the health and wellbeing of those who enter their clinics and those who work at them during these unprecedented times.
MCFL President, Myrna Maloney Flynn, also spoke with reporters from The Daily Caller, where she offered a similar comment. It is critical to note the following:
We would like to invite you to write the governor in these challenging times, expressing your concern.
His office can receive email and phone calls at the following address:
ATTN: Governor Charlie Baker, Massachusetts State House, Beacon St #280, Boston, MA 02133
Planned Parenthood, in their healthcare capacity, should be doubly aware of the risks during COVID-19. To insist on performing abortions is to insist that a woman's life has less value than that of the male population. That is not the spirit of our Commonwealth, and it is radically opposed to the fundamental fact of equal rights.
Whether pro-life or pro-choice, we have an obligation to speak out and speak up. One voice--yours--could very well save hundreds of preborn lives, along with as many lives of our born fellow citizens.
By Sonja Morin, MCFL Communications Intern
Even before the screen brightens, the jazz music softly enters, quiet but bright. It rises as the screen fades to a shade of blue reminiscent of the ocean. Watercolors overlap footage of daily life - people walking, trading, exchanging stories - and images of Nelson Mandela and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A woman’s humming joins the calming jazz, floating with the melody. She sings no words in particular. The swirling imagery and music crescendo, enveloping the audience in its thoughtful embrace.
This is the way in which the 2019 documentary Humanité: The Beloved Community introduces itself to the audience. This masterful documentary, directed by Jim Hanon, unfolds as an exploration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of “the beloved community”: the idea that all people can share in brotherhood despite their diverse circumstances and backgrounds. Specifically, the documentary ponders how music ties people together, even from across the world. Kirk Whalum, a Grammy-award winning musician from Memphis, introduces the idea of the beloved community as he first experienced it growing up. His father worked in the civil rights movement of the 1960s along with Dr. King, right up to the point where the latter was assassinated mere blocks away from their home.
The telling of his story then gives way to others’ as well. Musicians from across the world explain how music has served as a unitive element. “Music… incorporates strands of man in so many different ways”, one recounted. As the stories unfold in Humanité, those strands become clear. For some, it brought musicians out of addiction, destitution, and other struggles. Others testified that music helped them find friends and make connections. Still others felt that music is a conduit of self-expression, while at the same time allowing understanding between performer and listener. The communion between people that is made manifest in music is, quite literally, often beyond words.
The direction and artful interplay of visuals with sounds blend together to immerse the audience in the intertwined stories being presented. The imagery is always tinted a cool shade of blue, much like the aforementioned opening credits. This common thread, no matter the setting, ties together the visuals in a shade that is often used to represent peace and unity. An unusual technique utilized in Humanité is the overlap of footage with still photos, often of Dr. King or Nelson Mandela. This is used at poignant points in the documentary, to demonstrate how the ideas of these deceased leaders are still living in those who seek to be the beloved community. The music swells and decreases, but is always present. Often without words, it allows an audience of diverse languages to enjoy the mood being conveyed without having to decipher lyrics. Not only are the visual and audial elements utilized in such a way that it is pleasing to the audience, but it masterfully sweeps up the audience in the embrace of the conveyed ideals of the beloved community.
The end of Humanité dwells on the lines in Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” regarding the common brotherhood of man. Whalum recounts a particular phrase in the Letter: “If not now, when?” He points out that, despite our great ability to connect with others, we have become more isolated as an international community. If we do not form that bridge to communion with others now, then when? How long will we wait before we recognize the dignity of our brothers and sisters across the world, or close to home, no matter their circumstances? This question is left lingering at the end of the documentary, but not without a realization: that community is possible, even in our stratified and disconnected world. We have the opportunity to create this communion which we, as humans, naturally desire. But it is up to us to create that union, and reach out to those around us in the here and now.
By Myrna Maloney Flynn, MCFL President
We fight on the side of the angels. - Patricia Stewart
During these unprecedented days of sudden uncertainty and constantly-changing information, I write today to share reassuring news—a happy announcement that underscores MCFL’s organizational strength and, more importantly, the role you play in ensuring its lifesaving contributions within the Commonwealth.
It is my sincere pleasure to welcome Patricia (Pat) Stewart back to MCFL to resume her role as executive director.
Pat will be responsible for the day-to-day management of MCFL’s offices and our staff. She’ll work closely alongside me and other officers to execute our comprehensive strategy, with a focus on achieving long-term value, growth, and progress as we work on your behalf to open minds and soften the hearts of those around us.
“I am thrilled to be rejoining MCFL’s team of dedicated pro-lifers as we continue its decades-long tradition of defending the cause of LIFE,” Pat told me this week. “More than ever before, the sanctity of life is under attack in ways we never imagined possible—killing abortion survivors, hastening the death of the elderly, and encouraging the suicide of the seriously ill. Despite this dark moment in time, however, I am confident that MCFL and its legion of supporters will prevail. After all, we fight on the side of the angels.”
Michael Wiseman, MCFL clerk and member of the Board’s Personnel Committee, which unanimously supported recruiting Pat, previously worked with her and says, “Everything I ever saw Pat Stewart do was very professionally done. I don’t think I could come up with a better recommendation for a candidate for the job.”
Another longtime member of our family, Matt Hanafin, says, “I had the pleasure of working under Pat when she first joined the team as the executive director in 2013, when I was MCFL’s director of outreach. Now, as a member of MCFL working in DC, I am excited to see her back at the helm. Her professionalism, diligence, and passion to help society’s vulnerable will lead MCFL to accomplish great things.”
A native of North Attleboro, Pat has practiced law in Massachusetts for over 35 years. After 25 years as a trial lawyer in the area of aviation law, representing victims of aircraft accidents, she turned her attention to health care. In 2007, she authored and published The Health Care Decision Guide for Catholics, a how-to for patients and caregivers seeking to make medical choices in accord with Catholic teaching.
For the past 12 years, she has instructed lay and religious audiences throughout Massachusetts on end-of-life issues, advance health-care planning, and developments in health-care law affecting patient rights.
As former executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, Pat drafted and filed pro-life legislation, testified in numerous state legislative committee hearings, and advocated on behalf of every individual’s right to life from conception to natural death. Through her legal work, Pat has continued her mission in support of life, representing patients and families confronting claims of medical futility or denial of medical care.
Currently, Pat serves on the Board of Directors of the Pro-Life Legal Defense Fund and is an Allied Attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom. She makes her home in Norwell, Massachusetts.
Our ability to welcome Pat to our hardworking staff is a direct result of your generous support. Thank you for believing in our mission. Thank you for your confidence in our team. And thank you for your membership commitment.
To our members and advocates for life,
We understand that many of you continue to be concerned about coronavirus (COVID-19). As Massachusetts continues to face the impact of the pandemic on our communities, it is our commitment to put our utmost into meeting our mission while respecting public health and moving with care.
Our lobby days will be held virtually this year via zoom or other technology, and we continue to advocate for the unborn through email and phone calls. Please join, if you have not already, to receive our quarterly magazine and weekly email calls-to-action, as well as to get involved in our campaign to repeal the "ROE" Act.
We also invite you sign up for virtual and socially-distanced activism around the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. Register today to raise funds for a virtual march here! January 22-29 will also be packed with educational events, regional and physically-distanced marches, and a collaboration with Students for Life for a remote-lobby-day!
You may also join fellow members in safely social-distanced advocacy outside the abortion centers in our state. Social-distanced sidewalk advocacy is critical while abortion businesses continue to target vulnerable women and abort babies in Massachusetts despite the risk of COVID transmission.
We look forward to your participation, and support and your feedback and questions as we transition to the virtual.
If anything additional changes, and we believe your safety is at risk, we will be in touch with more updates on our outreach and advocacy. But social distancing does not mean distancing from supporting, educating, or being available to those we serve and protect.
Your health and safety, along with the health and safety of the little ones we seek to protect, is our top priority.
For additional questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to our team by email.
Stay safe, savvy, and remember that even if you're settled at home away from the virus, you can continue to make a vital impact for life in our state and community.
Yours for the most vulnerable,
C.J. Williams, Director of Community Engagement
Massachusetts Citizens for Life
On Friday, February 21st, members, including our communications intern, Sonja Morin, gathered on the beautiful Boston College campus to watch a film.
The documentary, featuring Grammy award-winning artist, Kirk Whalum, is Humanite: The Beloved Community. Produced and distributed by Minus Red, a film studio whose mission is uncommon stories, common threads, the film pays homage to Martin Luther King Jr. through both sonic and visual weaving of Kirk's original music and a startling diverse supporting range of musicians and artists.
For Massachusetts Citizens for Life, the the clear theme of shared humanity was particularly relevant. The documentary threads its narration with stories of the civil rights movement. But it digs deeper than a single moment in history.
It looks at history through the lens those common threads that arise at different eras and in different nations -- the stories that remind us of our shared humanity. More than that, it neatly illustrates the way in which artists see and embrace other, integrating disimilarities with love rather than fear. We are more alike than we think; we are more different than we ever need to fear.
The takeaway? Born, or preborn; black or white; American or Malaysian; well or differently-abled, we are a beloved community, a family.
This theme gave rise to what was perhaps the highlight of the evening: A lively and thorough discussion of human rights, opposition to abortion, and building relationships in Boston, Worcester, Western Massachusetts, and beyond.
Boston College pro-life club leaders agreed that when they stand outside Planned Parenthood, relationship -- building that bridge to the woman or man entering the building even in a split-second -- was what mattered.
After all, how can you ask a woman to see her child, if she doesn't see herself as worthy of life?
One member recalled just asking and listening to a girl's story, and when they finished talking, she left without going in for her appointment.
Others touched briefly on the legal aspects of outreach and public sidewalks. The conversation veered into planning, and then into the beauty of engaging in art that can turn hearts and make those marginalized see and feel their place in the beloved community.