Stepping it up

"Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility." – Eleanor Roosevelt

No one said it would be easy, this mission of ours. Perhaps it’s because we’re months into a pandemic, we’re having to relearn life, the unsettling unknown requires more energy, or the drumbeat surrounding the November election has already got us marching at a pace that feels more appropriate for the chill of September, not the typical sunny slowdown of May. The word “exasperated” came up in a remote learning session my daughter and I worked on last week. Her teacher’s failed attempt at wit notwithstanding, I had to admit I couldn’t come up with a better adjective to describe my mood.

I’d just read about a new documentary featuring a “deathbed confession” by Norma McCorvey, otherwise known as “Jane Roe” in the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court case. Following the decision that legalized elective abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, and which has resulted in more than 60 million American lives lost, McCorvey not only revealed regret for participating in the case but became an outspoken pro-life advocate. In the new film, however, she apparently claims her advocacy was false, and that she was motivated solely by money from those who wished to use her to advance the right to life; such a delicious entree for the media to serve up.

Conversely, the media kept a lid on something a little more difficult to stomach: the $80 million in CARES Act funding which 37 Planned Parenthood chapters improperly applied for and received from the Small Business Administration. The money is part of the coronavirus-related Paycheck Protection Program, meant to assist employers and provide support for their employees during pandemic-related shutdowns. 

To qualify, an employer, which may include a nonprofit incorporated as a 501c3, must have fewer than 500 employees. It’s simply up to each applicant to truthfully declare that stipulation is met. In total, Planned Parenthood employs about 16 thousand, but the 37 clinics applied separately, claiming each was its own small business, conveniently unrelated to its billion-dollar parent. Because MCFL is both a 501c3 and a 501c4, we knew we’d be ineligible and didn’t apply.

I know, I know. It pays to be honest. But I can’t blame Planned Parenthood for giving in to the temptation. A couple million dollars to advance a mission sounds good to me, too. And if that organization’s mission was exclusively to offer cancer screenings, birth control, and STD testing—or to fund a single mother’s education, childcare expenses, medical bills, or rent—the amount of government funding or how it was obtained wouldn’t be as concerning. 

But we know the truth. We know the annual numbers: 340,000. Too many lives. Too many women each year believe, because of what they are told, that they have no better option. 

But we know the truth. It’s our job to speak it, however we can. A pro-life friend, until recently mostly private about her belief, told me this week she proudly ordered a choose life license plate for her car, defiantly saying, “I’m stepping it up!”  

We remember on this Memorial Day those men and women who died so that we might live freely. May we honor them daily by recognizing our responsibilities: to use our freedom of speech to respectfully educate others, to lovingly sacrifice our time for women who need us, and to defend those who cannot defend themselves. 

It’s not easy, this mission we’re on. At times, it feels exasperating. But no matter where the national conversation might take us, or which diversion happens to be the topic of the day, the truth remains.

Enjoy your holiday! As always, thank you for all you do to support Massachusetts Citizens for Life.