Everybody Can Serve:
What MLK Can Teach Us About Grassroots Organization
By Sonja Morin, Communications Intern
Early this month, the Supreme Court's crucial decision in the June v. Russo case reaffirmed what has been echoed throughout the past several months: now is the paramount time in the fight against abortion and its ill consequences for women, the pre-born, and society as a whole. The fight is a worthy one, that when successful, will ensure the safety, protection, and empowerment of people everywhere. This fight can simultaneously seem imposing and insurmountable, with many not knowing where to start in their activism. How does one change hearts and culture when they are so firmly set on abortion?
In the past, we have reflected on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s activism. His example of compassion, firmness, and nonviolent demonstration led the civil rights movement by leaps and bounds during the twentieth century and beyond. Dr. King aimed to shape hearts and minds, because through it comes the change necessary to shift culture. Now, more than ever, does it seem appropriate to look back to his example, so we may move forward with daring for the sake of life and liberty. This and the following two posts will examine elements of his activism, to pinpoint strategies that are most helpful to the cause for life and women’s empowerment.
The first clear element of Dr. King’s activism was grassroots organization. This type of institution is one where its members are composed of the local community, and aim to improve the conditions of said community in regards to a particular issue. Individuals first come together out of shared concern over an issue. They decide to work together to actively spread the word about the issue, as well as promote and practice solutions for it. Individuals are united against issues that attack the humanity of a person or group, not because they are the same as the attacked persons, but because they share humanity. This shared status is reason enough to be angered by the injustice, and encourages the motivation to reverse the injustice.
Grassroots organization is incredibly effective by nature in its ability to identify and solve local issues. Dr. King worked within the communities to identify the issues applying to civil rights within each area, so that change could be demanded within those areas. In the same way, pro-life grassroots movements can find the issues within each community that need to be addressed through action or help. For example, if there is an area lacking resources for women facing unexpected pregnancies, resources could be pooled to ensure that these women feel secure and supported in their decision to choose life. If there is a law in a city that makes abortion even more unsafe than it already is, the community within that city can call for it to be repealed.
Grassroots organization also encourages the changing of hearts and minds like no other form of movement. Discrimination is the result of disordered, prejudiced thinking, which breaks relationships between people. Grassroots movements are based in communities, which are uniting forces. They rely on actions between persons, rather than large entities against each other. This interpersonal nature of their activism appeals directly to the heart. The community is able to witness the positive change the organization accomplishes, as well as witness the respect the organization gives to the dehumanized. Eventually, these actions will move the community to accept these dehumanized persons as the organization has. The impact of the grassroots movement grows, not because of large actions, but rather because of interpersonal foundation and efforts.
It is not to say that top-down organizations, such as political parties, cannot create or implement change. However, especially in situations where discrimination and dehumanization are involved, it is all too easy for such groups to generalize the situation. This generalization not only leads to incomplete solutions, but also expediencies that do not solve the root issues. Grassroots movements respond to these flaws by speaking to individual and smaller-community needs, thus allowing their solutions to work through and with people on an ever-growing scale. With each person’s contribution comes a newer and more diverse understanding of the situation, as well as a better way to help.
Dr. King’s utilization of grassroots organization caused the civil rights movement to reach countless hearts throughout the United States, and help improve conditions for African Americans in all spheres of life. If we participate in pro-life grassroots movements, like our own MCFL, we are entering into the same kind of culture-shifting, interpersonal work that he and many movements before undertook. It is through this type of organization that will create positive change for the pre-born and women we strive to defend every single day.
For those interested in taking part in grassroots efforts in Massachusetts, join MCFL today! We are a MA-based grassroots organization with chapters in all parts of the state. Get in contact with your chapter's leader here: MCFL Chapter List
For those already part of MCFL: Consider your own activism efforts. How are you currently contributing to the cause? In what ways could you improve or grow your efforts?
The Center for Medical Progress released a video this week in which Planned Parenthood partners ABR (Advanced Bio Research Inc.), describe harvesting human body parts from babies born with still-beating hearts.
"Sometimes, they just fall out," reports one representative of ABR. When answering, "Do they have a heartbeat, when they just fall out?" she goes on, "I can see hearts...that are beating...independently."
Under the Fetal Born Alive Protection Act, a living fetus is defined as a "fetus with a beating heart."
The Planned Parenthood partners also re-define viability as a fetus/human being "not able to survive outside the womb" as "dependent on the circumstances..."
Center for Medical Progress project lead David Daleiden urged authorities to take action immediately based on the horrific new evidence.
To review the history of CMP and David Deleiden's ongoing investigations into Planned Parenthood's sale of human baby parts for profit, you can access the full video and summaries of previous findings here; while the ongoing exposure of UCSF's complicity in harvesting living human body parts without consent can be followed here.
As you look forward to the Massachusetts March for Life, November 7th, 2020, you probably have a surprisingly open Summer calendar in front of you. After all, what do you do to support saving lives -- or just living your own -- during a pandemic?
One answer is the All-Ireland Rally for Life, July 4th. A yearly affair that brings human rights advocates from across the globe to stand joyfully for the lives of the preborn, the rally for life has gone online in 2020. The event's hashtag this year, #UnitedForLife, couldn't be more appropriate. We get to unite across oceans and nations for foundational recognition of every human being's right to live.
I and my fellow MCFL members and staff encourage you to join us online. This event is a fantastic chance to learn from other tenacious advocates for life, to support the Irish, and to have a wicked good time. Because the Irish don't advocate for saving lives without celebrating life!
So look ahead to heel-to-heel (hopefully pandemic-free) marching in Massachusetts in November! And in the meantime, celebrate life and get united for life in solidarity online July 1st through 4th. Check out the the screening of UnPlanned, talks by Jeannie Mancini and other stalwart American and Irish pro-lifers, and send us your highlights or ideas for bringing the momentum for life back to the Bay State!
*Just a couple years ago, Ireland's trailblazing constitutional amendment protecting the preborn was removed via referendum. It, like our own Roe v. Wave, can be reversed. We stand for a society that will not discard the smaller, the weaker, or the less seen. This is a movement that will be distinctly local and uniquely global.
But If Not
by Sonja Morin, Communications Intern
We find ourselves facing once again the most prevalent issue in American history up until now: human rights. A human being has the right to exist and live, no matter the circumstances in their lives, no matter the inherent elements of their identity, no matter the societal and cultural beliefs that are aimed towards them. A human being has a right to respect, not because of who they are or what they do, but because of what they are: humans endowed with dignity. A human being has the right to live free from violence. A human being has the right to fair treatment in a situation of legal intervention. These rights are among those most basic and inherent to our human identity.
Yet, time and again, they have come into question, not because they themselves have changed, but because human selfishness intervenes. Slavery was an effort aimed towards economic success, completely ignoring the dignity of Black people in exchange for desired personal advancement. Women were denied rights so that present leaders could retain their status. In the moment, we wish to serve ourselves, and often lose sight of what is right. This is where injustice shatters peace. Our American culture has ingrained values that attempt to protect rights, but our nation has certainly failed to carry those values out in different situations. We see it in the treatment of the pre-born, the elderly, the marginalized, the sick, and racial minorities, especially the Black community. The United States is wounded because of these injustices, sinking into a dark despair that would claim humans cannot rise above their sinful tendencies.
In the past few weeks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has been looked to not only as a model of justice and respect, but of hope. People have sought out his words and shared them with others in an attempt to advocate for better conditions. This made me look to a sermon from 1967, entitled “But If Not”. In this sermon, Dr. King relates the biblical story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These three stood against the tyranny of the Babylonian ruler, refusing to worship an idol and thus violate their religious rights. They were thrown into a fiery furnace, but even then, they refused to deny their God. Miraculously, they were saved, and this event prompted the king to reverse the unjust law.
Dr. King masterfully uses the story of these three Hebrew men to demonstrate that injustice has always accompanied humanity. There have always been times of unjust persecution, when the rights of individuals were sacrificed on the altar of self-gratification. The utilization of people as a means to advance one’s own interests is a deplorable condition that humanity has struggled with for centuries, and continues to wrestle with as years pass. As a result of these corruptive actions giving way to each other, the issue of creating justice in an unjust world seems almost insurmountable to many.
However, the constancy of injustice has always been accompanied by the constancy of those who fought against it and for their fellow human beings, for a restoration of equity and peace. Those of us who suffer because of our age, because of our race or ethnicity, because of our physical or psychological abilities, or any other circumstances, are not alone. Those of us who fight to secure the rights of those cast off by society and culture are not alone. Behind us are thousands of years’ worth of individuals who stood up for the truth, even if it meant risking their lives.
What do these times mean to and for us? Dr. King’s sermon holds the answer: “You must love ultimately because it’s lovely to love. You must be just because it’s right to be just. You must be honest because it’s right to be honest.” As members of the pro-life movement, it is our chiefest duty to defend and celebrate human life from conception until natural death. We do so, not because it is convenient or easy, but because of our love for each other rising from our shared humanity.
As so many issues pertaining to life reach a boiling point - prominent among them racially-motivated discrimination and violence - we must work more persistently than ever to ensure that individuals are respected and treated with love. That love begins with us, in the way we interact with those around us. It begins with how we treat others online. It begins with how we respond to chaos - seeing it as an opportunity to care. It begins with refusing to transform deep wounds into political bullets. If there’s a time for standing up for those who are most vulnerable and marginalized in society, it is now. Raise your voices with Dr. King, with the Hebrews, with all those before us who stood for the truth. Let us work peacefully now for an end to discrimination and violence, to ensure that all people, who have been created equal, can live in the joy of that equality without fear.
By Sonja Morin, MCFL Intern
Hello, dear MCFL members. It seems that we find ourselves in odd and difficult times as of late, with the pandemic outbreak and our state under a stay-at-home order for the foreseeable future. Many of us have used the free time we’ve been given in this time to watch more films and television. Some of us are stuck, scouring our streaming platforms for good content, or unsure of where to start on our watchlists. To respond to this need, the next posts in this column will be film and television reviews, highlighting pro-life content from various genres and tastes. I hope you’ll find these reviews useful and enjoyable.
Our focus today will be family films. Being the oldest of seven children, I know the struggle of trying to find movies that are engaging and entertaining for various ages. Older kids enjoy stories with more substance, while younger viewers like bright visuals and fun characters. Bridging the gap - and finding a good message within it - is no struggle for these following movies.
- Meet the Robinsons (Rated G, streaming on Disney+)
This underrated 2007 gem masterfully explores the themes of family and human existence in a fun and engaging way. Louis, the teen protagonist, struggles with the fact that he might never be adopted and find a family of his own. When a science experiment and several parent interviews go terribly wrong, Louis begins to lose hope in his dreams for life. In the midst of the chaos, he is approached by Wilbur, a teen who takes Louis to the wonderful future. Louis encounters the Robinsons, a zany family willing to take him in as their own and accept him for who he is. But with the threat of the Bowler Hat Guy looming, Louis must make decisions that will save both his present time and the future.
Adoption as an expression of love is a central theme in the film. Louis attempts to find out why he was given up for adoption, and the exploration of those reasons becomes a poignant point in the film. His discovery, as well as his experience with the Robinsons, depicts adoption as an exchange filled with love. Since adoption is such a central discission in the pro-life movement, this introduction for younger viewers is definitely important. Kids of all ages are sure to enjoy this excellent movie, with its captivating story, bright and expressive animation, and fantastic one-liners.
- Tarzan (Rated G, streaming on Netflix and Disney+)
Yet another underrated animated classic, Tarzan is a beautiful story on the themes of family, redemption, and belonging. A mother gorilla finds an orphaned baby in the jungle and takes him in as her own, naming him Tarzan. While Tarzan is accepted by some of his community, he is still shunned for being different. When a human expedition interrupts the jungle’s peace, Tarzan discovers that he is not a gorilla, and begins to learn more about human civilization from one of the expedition’s participants. Torn between the human and animal worlds, Tarzan must come to terms with his life, and find where he truly belongs.
This movie particularly explores the theme of unity. For the characters, all it takes is a caring heart and understanding to make all the difference in someone else’s life. It does not matter whether there are differences between them, but rather what they are willing to do for the good of the other. These themes intertwined so well in the storyline, paired with beautiful hand-drawn animation and a stirring soundtrack by Phil Collins, make this a worthy watch for families.
- Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who (Rated G, streaming on Hulu)
If you have ever been to the March for Life, you’ve likely seen at least three signs with the inscription taken from this film: “A person’s a person, no matter how small”. This classic story from Dr. Seuss (a Massachusetts native, no less) is brought to life in colorful animation in this flick by Universal Studios. Horton, an elephant who lives in a peaceful jungle, hears a cry coming from a speck one day. Upon investigation, he discovers that there are Whos living in the speck. Despite insistence from other jungle animals that he is crazy, Horton is determined to protect this newly-discovered life at all costs.
The story is simple enough for even the youngest viewers to digest the message, but surely entertaining for people of all ages. The aforementioned message of the film definitely harkens to the core belief of the movement: the dignity of all human life in all stages and forms. While this mission may sometimes be difficult, it is certainly worth it in the end. This movie is a great selection, especially for families with children of varying ages.
We'd love to hear yours and yours families' reactions to these recommendations, or send us a note
with movies in which you've found encouragement, and life-affirming messages.
By Myrna Maloney Flynn, MCFL President
As far as this business of solitary confinement goes, the most important thing for survival is communication with someone . . . It makes all the difference. -John McCain
Joy’s text said the package arrived just in time. I'd sent her several issues of MCFL’s member magazine featuring her daughter, Hope, who was diagnosed at 12 weeks gestation with an occipital encephalocele, meaning her brain developed outside of her skull. Joy and her husband were told their child was “not compatible with life” and were advised to abort. Now five months old, Hope defied the odds. As I write this, the family is on their way to Boston for Hope’s first surgery this week. They wanted to make sure our magazine got to family and friends before they left.
Please keep Hope, her doctors, and the Dupells in your thoughts and prayers.
About an hour after I sent my April 11 email, in which I shared the compelling story of a Springfield teen who’d recently chosen life for her son, I received a response from a new MCFL member and volunteer named Faith Delaney, who wrote, “MCFL helped me when I was pregnant at age 23, unwed, and my boyfriend wanted me to get an abortion. I was pro-life and followed my beliefs. . . My son is now 32, I went to law school, and have a successful practice in Merrimack Valley. I will donate again but would like to speak to teens when we are allowed to gather.”
Our summer magazine issue will include Faith’s story, along with several other timely, informative, and inspiring pieces. We have chosen to highlight the women of Massachusetts’ pro-life movement, past and present. I got a sneak peek at the contents last week; the issue's going to be one of our best.
The magazine is just one MCFL membership benefit. Members receive voting privileges, ultimately electing the organization’s Board members at our Annual Meeting (due to the pandemic, this will likely be held in the second half of 2020). And when MCFL heads to Beacon Hill, we go on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves, but we also represent our members at the State House and fight on their behalf. In fact, despite the shutdown, my team and I continue our first-of-its-kind strategic lobbying effort with partner organizations and will soon deliver this united message to state representatives on behalf of our thousands of supporters: “Say No to ROE!”
Perhaps the benefit most coveted by our members, though, are the advance event invitations they receive to our well-known and much-anticipated gatherings.
- Members in 2020 will have first dibs on a seat at a November 10th Harvard debate between international pro-life activist Stephanie Gray and campus abortion rights supporters;
- Our members are already looking forward to one of MCFL’s most influential traditions, the Massachusetts March for Life, to be held November 7;
- Members out west will welcome Alveda King on October 15 to celebrate our postponed Mother’s Day Dinner;
- And, of course, MCFL members receive advance invitations to our premier event: the annual fundraising banquet, to be held on Thursday, September 17 at the Four Points Sheraton. It is my honor to announce Melissa Ohden as our keynote speaker.
Melissa is the survivor of a failed saline infusion abortion in 1977. Despite the initial concerns regarding her future after surviving the attempt to end her life at approximately seven months gestation, Melissa has not only survived but thrived. She is a Master’s-level prepared social worker, the author of You Carried Me: A Daughter's Memoir, and the founder and director of The Abortion Survivors Network. Melissa is a frequent contributor to pro-life news outlets and a regular guest on radio and television programs around the world. Fulfilling the purpose that she believes God set out for her when He saved her from the certain death of the abortion attempt, Melissa is truly a voice for the voiceless.
If you’re an MCFL member, then you can relate to the value membership brings. If you’re not, I hope you will join today—to experience our events in a new way, to expand your knowledge though our magazine, to influence MCFL’s leadership and, with your powerful vote, propel this phenomenal organization toward a forward-thinking, vibrant, lifegiving new decade.
I wish you a wonderful week! As we each continue our confinement, I hope you receive all varieties of communication from friends and family, as I have, that make you laugh, prompt a good deed, elicit a prayer, and ensure our common survival.
In a recent blog post, Secular Pro-Life president and founder gives us an on-point review of the new and fantastic little picture book, Pro-Life Kids, by the Radiance FOundation's Tiffany Bomberger.
If you're considering last minute gifts, or thinking of shipping to relatives far afield, you could do much worse than this thoughtful, well-rhymed piece of life-affirming literature.
As Kelsey writes: "Pro-Life Kids, written by Bethany Bomberger and illustrated by Ed Koehler, is a rhyming picture book that introduces children to the concept that all humans are people: at every age, no matter where they live, and even before they are born. This concept is conveyed clearly and illustrated beautifully, including children of all races and abilities."
When art shows the truth more often, our society will save lives rather than tossing them out.
Read the full review here.
press conference and annual State House Celebration of Life this Wednesday
Massachusetts Citizens for Life and partner organizations to illustrate dangerous impact of proposed ROE Act.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - BOSTON, MA - 28 October, 2019 - During the Celebration of Life, an annual lobby day that highlights holistic and life-affirming resources for women and children, Massachusetts Citizens for Life invites media to a press conference at noon on Wednesday, October 30th. National experts from a broad spectrum of political backgrounds, including abortion survivor, Claire Culwell, will speak on the impact of provisions in the ROE ACT(S.1209/H.3320).
Great Hall, Massachusetts State House
Press Conference: 12:00 noon - 1:00pm
Celebration of Life Event: 10:00am - 3:00pm
C.J. Williams, Director of Community Engagement, MCFL: "Massachusetts can do much better than a bill that ditches basic standards of medical care in favor of a burnt-earth push for abortion access over women's safety. In no other medical procedure do we reduce regulations and safety- it's backward. In this case, it uniquely discriminates against women."
Regarding a weeklong campaign launched by MassNARAL that claims, "Massachusetts can do better," MCFL President Myrna Maloney Flynn said, "I agree 100% with NARAL. Massachusetts can do better. But the so-called ROE Act wi make things worse. Instead, let's start talking about prevention, about the facts of fetal development, the effect abortion has on a woman's long-term mental health, adoption, and, especially, universal childcare programs like the one Senator Warren proposes," she said. "That's doing better."
Bill Gilmeister, executive director of RenewMass, said, regarding the showcasing of resource centers, "Pregnancy health centers offer a positive response to pregnant women in difficult circumstances. They provide the resources women need when experiencing tough pregnancies. They are willing to come alongside in support. This is in stark contrast to the abortion businesses that seek to profit from women in need.”
New Mexico attorney Mike Seibel will speak to reporters in the Great Hall Wednesday. Siebel is currently prosecuting the outpatient abortion facility on behalf of his client, mother of Keisha Atkins, who was killed by the deregulation of late-term abortion procedures in New Mexico, the same kind of provision that "R.O.E.” would permit in Massachusetts.
Seibel said, "Massachusetts may take late-term abortion out of hospitals and away from life-saving medical equipment. Let [New Mexico] be a lesson for Massachusetts. You pass that bill, and there will be transports to hospitals for uncontrolled bleeding, uterine rupture, sepsis . . . just like here in New Mexico. Massachusetts will devolve from its first-class status in healthcare to substandard care. There will be deaths just like those in New Mexico."
Depositions, testimony, and other legal documents will be available to press following the speakers’ statements, as will activist and abortion survivor Claire Culwell.
Director of Community Engagement
Massachusetts Citizens for Life
857 302 0466
Are you a concerned citizen or MCFL member? Do you have the resource, but maybe not the ability or energy to spend time or travel to engage in the activism and education MCFL facilitates?
You can still support our work.
To support our digital and local action campaigns to shelve this anti-life bill, you can donate now. Just click through our secure links here: Donate to MCFL.
Are you wondering: Why go walk for life Saturday?
During the Civil Rights era, walking was the walk, and talk came after. Love is the only answer to the lie that women need violence to obtain equality. Killing is not care. So what is?
Love is a positive, not a negative reaction; and not just a label of pro-life that I pin on my sleeve.
In his speech, "Walk for Freedom", Martin Luther King Jr. stated, "Love must be at the forefront of our movement if it is to be a successful movement. And when we speak of love, we speak of understanding, good will toward all men. We speak of a creative, a redemptive sort of love, so that as we look at the problem, we see that the real tension is not between the Negro citizens and the white citizens of Montgomery, but it is a conflict between justice and injustice [...]"
Our real tension is not between the people who label themselves pro-life or pro-choice. Our real tension lies in the conflict between commitment to love, or commitment to fear and violence, and the cycle of abuse.
So why walk this Saturday?
Because the power of presence is a power greater than any statement of fact, and any argument. It's the power of presence -- not argument or counseling -- that makes Planned Parenthood's no-show rate skyrocket to 70%+ when someone is simply standing on the sidewalk during abortion hours. Because presence is love. I'm here for you, is a statement that your life matters and has dignity. And that can only be acted; it cannot just be talked.
When I go out to walk for life, or to sidewalk counsel, I often speak to a fellow millennial who is pro-choice.
More often than not, we agree: Violence isn't how you solve problems. Equality can't be based in violence. Freedom can't be based in violence.
Abortion is violently dangerous to women subjected to it; and terminally dangerous on every level to the in-utero child subjected to it. But violence you don't see, or know about, is hard to oppose. That's why dialogue, and walks, make a difference.
Walks provide us, and our communities, with three integral ingredients for success in saving lives and changing society:
-- Break from isolation: Every movement for justice has had to unite at a massive level to oppose and expose systemic violence and injustice.
-- Break into the wider community: Every movement for human rights has had to reach, re-educate, and relate to the community at large.
-- Break the chain: Every movement for truth and restoration has had to break an entrenched system of thought and action rooted in a lie, and replace it with bonds of freedom and love. Your walk is a concrete way to re-forge relationships on the basis of love, not violence; openness, not fear; hope, not despair.
This weekend, do something that...
- Connects you with a like-minded community that puts love in action into action for the preborn, women, the vulnerable and marginalized
- Introduces you to the positive resources in your region for women facing unexpected or difficult pregnancies
- Demonstrates to the wider area and state the massive, loving, visible presence of the movement for human rights in the womb, and out of it, defying stereotypes
Walk with me in Western Mass.
For the preborn.
For the women.
Because we all suffer in a society based in violence; and we all deserve a world built in love and justice, free from violence.
Our president reflects on the attitude and actions we to need to create a culture based in relationship, valuing the humanity of the other, no matter the cost. Foundational to ending violence is a proactive personal commitment to generosity and peace.
by Myrna Maloney Flynn, MCFL President
How is it they live in such harmony, the billions of stars, when most men can barely go a minute without declaring war in their minds? ― Thomas Aquinas
I spent the summer before my senior year of high school as an exchange student in Japan. When I arrived, my host family gave me a choice between two weekend destinations that we could visit at the end of my stay: the beach or Hiroshima.
Now, if you’ve spent each of your 17 years in Minnesota, with its countless, albeit beautiful, lakes, hanging out on the exotic sands of Okinawa is a no brainer. After all, I reasoned, I was on vacation; I preferred the thought of lounging comfortably. Plus, the prospect of being an American in Hiroshima wasuncomfortable.
Yet as my return trip to the U.S. approached, I changed my mind. I’d find comfort back home soon enough, I thought. So the week before I left, we embarked on a road trip to Hiroshima: my non English-speaking host parents, their teenage daughter, and me.Read more