A man does what he must—in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures— and that is the basis of all human morality. - Winston Churchill
Murphy’s Law often shows up suddenly at special events, like an obnoxious guest crashing a wedding. For more than a year, my team and I worked diligently to ensure that the Massachusetts Citizens for Life 50th Anniversary Gala would run smoothly. We planned each element of the evening down to the minute. We tried to anticipate and prevent various disasters. I’m happy to report that the celebration we intended unfolded beautifully and without a peep from Mr. Murphy! Check out photos and a summary here.
At the heart of our movement, of course, is the concept of things not planned but unplanned. So it wasn’t too surprising that, in the two weeks since our Gala, I’ve realized that an unintended yet shining thread ended up running through it, a gleaming cord made even brighter amidst an inky celebrity revelation. More on that later.
At the Newton Marriott, we recognized courageous women and doubled down on our plans to support mothers in the years ahead, as we have every day since our founding in 1973. But in hindsight, our program revealed honorable men, like keynote speaker Dr. Ben Carson, whose defense of innocent human life deserves mention and, more importantly, must be duplicated until it is the new cultural norm. It’s my pleasure to share a few of their stories here.
MCFL Chairman David Franks recalled the arrival, and passing, of his 21-week-old daughter, Lucia, on September 19. "Our little Lucia was born alive, I baptized her, and Julia held her on her chest for the minutes she had left.
Enveloped by love. Julia heroically lived out the pro-life principles we celebrate tonight, resisting several attempts to pressure her to submit to a D & C after her water broke early. She fought for those ten days Lucia had living in her womb. Because every moment of life is precious. But the field of obstetrics, which should know this well, has been corrupted by the enemy we fight. This enemy is not of flesh and blood: they are powers and principalities who hate flesh and blood, who hate life and vulnerability and imperfection. The very opposite of God: intelligence without love, driven by a will to destroy the icon of God’s passion that is each human body...
We worked for decades to see Dobbs decided. And we continue to work in order to see love conquer all. See love conquer the rapacity of our oligarchic and sexual regime. Conquer the gravity in our hearts that resists transcending selfish satisfactions in order to take care. Love transcends into a divine beyond of limitless love. That is why we are non-partisan. We are for all—mother, child, all... The pro-lifer looks around our agonized American republic: there is no party of the little person. There is only this movement."
Mark, a young MCFL member and new first-time father, spoke about his unborn daughter’s hydrocephalus diagnosis, noting that it’s “a condition in which her spinal fluid, which normally flows around in the brain, was blocked and was building up in her head, causing her head size to increase dramatically. We also learned that she had other brain malformations."
He continued, “In our meetings with some of the doctors, abortion was put on the table as an option, and [we] always gave a polite but firm “No.” As new parents . . . we never anticipated how hard it would be to hear advice from some specialists, such as ‘your child could end up on a ventilator or a feeding tube her whole life. Is that really the kind of life you want for your child?’ Comments like that one broke our hearts. Of course we would hope for a normal life for her, but we knew that her life, like that of every unborn baby, was worth fighting for. Imagine that—we sought out doctors to help and save her, and they present death as an option.”
Mark and his wife maintained their resolve and protected their daughter’s life, refusing each suggestion to abort. After a March delivery and surgical procedure when she was three months old, Mark’s daughter is “doing fantastic.”
Hogan and his wife were met with similar circumstances in the spring of 2020, when doctors discovered their unborn daughter had a rare, congenital heart defect. Each physician’s recommendation to schedule an abortion met Hogan’s staunch refusal, as he stood in solidarity with his wife.
This father did what he knew was right, in spite of pressures, and guarded his daughter and her mother at Boston Children’s Hospital for the entirety of the little girl’s three-month life. The couple has since welcomed two more daughters and joined us on October 14.
We shared another story about Christopher and his girlfriend, who discovered four years ago that she was pregnant. Scared, and believing an abortion provider’s lies, the young woman scheduled an appointment. Christopher, though, fought for his child’s life, convincing his girlfriend to instead visit Heartbeat Pregnancy Help Center in Burlington. There, the couple found compassion and support along with confidence. Promising to raise the baby himself, Christopher talked his son’s mother out of the abortion and, today, is a father to this little boy.
Finally, we paid special tribute to longtime MCFL Board member Dr. Mark Rollo, who passed away suddenly in August 2022. Throughout his career, Mark practiced medicine with integrity, living out his vow to first, do no harm, despite our state’s consistent pull in the opposite direction. Mark’s legacy will be sustained through our new annual recognition: The Dr. Mark Rollo Award for Life.
Dr. Carson presented the inaugural award to Mark's wife, Annette. Our hope is that recipients of this honor always feel sustained by the warmth of Mark's smile and hear his words of encouragement as they fight for life in his memory.
And then there’s Justin Timberlake. Just days after we applauded men of character and grace, excerpts from pop singer Brittany Spears’ new memoir revealed not only her abortion at age 19, but the pressure from then-boyfriend Timberlake to take their baby’s life. Spears reportedly writes in her new book, "If it had been left up to me alone, I never would have done it. And yet Justin was so sure that he didn’t want to be a father."
Reports state that neither wanted anyone to know about the abortion. So, rocker Timberlake stood by – playing his guitar – while Spears took the abortion pills at home, without any physician’s knowledge or help. "I kept crying and sobbing until it was all over,” Spears writes, describing the scene on her bathroom floor. “It took hours, and I don’t remember how it ended, but I do, twenty years later, remember the pain of it, and the fear... To this day, it’s one of the most agonizing things I have ever experienced in my life."
What’s worth knowing here isn’t so much about the celebrities and their tragic decisions as very young adults. Rather, Spears’ revelation prompted a more or less universal reaction of disgust toward Timberlake, shared across social media. (Most of the comments are too off-color for reposting here.) It seems that, when given the option, our culture still prefers men who do what they must—in spite of personal consequences. And there is hope in that for all of us.
Before I close, a call to action:
This past week, 16 state attorneys general signed an open letter regarding our country’s pregnancy resource centers, meaning that they launched yet another unwarranted attack on charitable organizations that exist solely to help women in need. Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell is among the signatories.
Read the letter. Then arm yourself with the facts about our state’s PRCs and let Attorney General Campbell know the truth. Better yet, invite her to join you on a tour of a PRC close to you.
You can contact the Attorney General's office at (617) 727-2200 or visit https://www.mass.gov/contact-the-attorney-generals-office.
Thank you for making this Respect Life Month one to remember. As always, we are grateful for everything you do to support our lifesaving efforts. MCFL receives no other funding except from partners like you. So you can see just how critical you are to every project we undertake.
Enjoy your weekend,
Myrna Maloney Flynn, President
P.S. Mark your calendars for these upcoming events:
Tuesday, November 14
Giving for Impact webinar – Learn how to ensure your pro-life legacy.
Wednesday, December 6
Virtual Speaker Series – Abortion Pill Rescue updates with Dr. Christina Francis, CEO, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG)
Saturday, May 2, 2024
Save the date! MCFL Mother’s Day Dinner at the Springfield Sheraton; Keynote speaker announced soon!