Yesterday afternoon, after I'd drafted the email below, we learned that Massachusetts resident Jean Marshall has been found guilty of violating the FACE Act, a federal law. Marshall, 72, of Kingston, and her sister Paulette, 73, are two of ten pro-life advocates charged with the violation, after they peacefully attempted to save unborn lives at a Washington, D.C. clinic in October 2020.
The FACE Act, which stands for Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances, comes with severe penalties if violated; Jean and the others could end up with 11-year prison sentences and up to $350,000 in fines. While we expect yesterday's decision to be appealed, it is unclear whether Jean will be released before then. She and the others were taken into custody following yesterday's finding. Paulette's trial begins on October 23. You'll find links below with more information on this story. For now, please keep Jean, Paulette and the others in your prayers.
The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live. He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything. - Albert Schweitzer
Every September a city within a city springs to life in western Massachusetts, as the 17-day Eastern States Exposition (AKA “The Big E”) approaches. Located on fairgrounds in West Springfield, The Big E features big-name concerts, home and garden displays, farm animals, agricultural contests, fried food on a stick, how-have-I-lived-without-this-as-seen-on-TV-item exhibits, outdoor pubs and a midway. It draws hundreds of vendors from around the country and over one million visitors annually.
For decades, and again this year, our statewide MCFL team has organized and staffed a booth at the Big E, with the goal of bringing the pro-life message to young and old, would-be supporters and those we desperately need to befriend – and convert. Before the fair even opened Friday, we’d turned plenty of heads. In fact, during the flurried setup on Thursday, one gentleman couldn’t help but notice the lifelike fetal models we’d just unpacked. He stopped what he was doing, walked over to our display and marveled at the distinct human features present on the 10, 14 and 18-week-sized models. Impressed, he helped himself to one of our giveaways, a blue “pro-life” bracelet. He looked at our volunteer and thanked her for what MCFL is doing, slipping the bracelet on as he walked away.
There will be many stories like this over the next couple of weeks. Dozens of volunteers from across the state signed up to staff our booth, and I am grateful for each one of them! If you head to the Big E, you’ll find MCFL in the Better Living Center near door 9.
As our 50th Anniversary year enters its final four months, what looks to be a very busy four months, a brief 6-point update seems appropriate; conveying gratitude to many is essential.
LATEST ABORTION DATA
First, the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services Registry of Vital Records and Statistics released its latest numbers from 2022. While there were more abortions last year than in 2021, we can be somewhat grateful that the numbers are lower than they were in years just prior to that. An increase in out-of-state expectant mothers contributed significantly to the 2022 increase.
Thank you for your resolve to help us persevere in our mission to educate others, in order to reduce these numbers, one day to zeros across each category.
PREGNANCY CARE ALLIANCE
Second, the Pregnancy Care Alliance of Massachusetts (PCAll) continues to pick up momentum! Once we launched PCAll’s main public awareness website earlier this year, our digital communications team began work on a companion site. The target audience for the Massachusetts Pregnancy Care Network: women in crisis pregnancies. We hope this site, and additional features coming soon, will offer them a way to quickly find life-affirming care nearest to them.
We are grateful for those who have supported PCAll during its infancy. Because of each donor, we are just days away from unveiling our first PCAll billboard, which you’ll be able to find along I-93 in Braintree through mid-October. Stay tuned for pictures!
WORCESTER CITY COUNCIL
Third, as we’ve written about over the last several weeks, two draft ordinances before the Worcester City Council would impede that city’s two pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) from operating effectively, essentially imposing on them compelled speech and censorship guidelines. During a lengthy, and drama-filled, September 12 Council meeting, a majority of city councilors voted against sending the ordinances to committee for further discussion. City Solicitor Michael Traynor, referencing a 2018 Supreme Court decision, advised councilors not to pass the ordinances, because he believed neither would prove to be constitutional. Proceedings continue at the next meeting on September 19, when councilors can vote to do one of three things: enact, file – essentially killing – or table the ordinances for the future.
Many thanks to those of you who sent opposition testimonies via MCFL’s new Legislative Action Center. Worcester City Councilors have received nearly 1,700 from this group alone. You can still submit testimony, if you've not already done so.
FALL ISSUE OF MCFL MAGAZINE
Fourth, just in time for your weekend reading, here's the (exclusively digital) fall issue of our MCFL Magazine! Members will receive a special post-Gala print edition in their mailbox before Christmas.
My sincere thanks to editor Helen Harris Cross for another solid and informative piece. My article pick: A fascinating look back into MCFL history, featuring letters the organization received from the likes of Senator Ted Kennedy regarding his stance on conscience protection. See “From the Archives” on page 6.
VIRTUAL SPEAKER SERIES
Fifth, don’t miss our upcoming virtual speaker series when it resumes on Tuesday! We’re excited to welcome Jim Bopp, who serves as general counsel at National Right to Life. Jim will talk about the best ways to fight for the unborn now, drawing on his extensive experience drafting and working to pass pro-life legislation as well as through his legal efforts, including arguing before the Supreme Court. Register here for the Sep. 19 event from 7-8:00 PM.
We’re grateful for each of this year’s virtual guests! And we’re thrilled to welcome Dr. Christina Francis, president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, for our final webinar of 2023, coming up on Tuesday, December 5. Registration will be open next month.
GALA TICKETS GOING FAST
Finally, I am beyond grateful for many hands working behind the scenes as I write this, preparing for what is sure to be a phenomenal 50th Anniversary Gala, quickly approaching four weeks from today on Saturday, October 14. A few tickets remain, so I encourage you to snatch a few of them up this weekend.
As always, we are thankful for you, and your continued support. You are the reason MCFL is stronger than at any time in its 50-year history. And, with you, we will continue to build a culture of life.
Enjoy your weekend, with gratitude.
MORE ON JEAN MARSHALL'S CONVICTION