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 Myrna Maloney Flynn, MCFL President
"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. WadeSupreme 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 this week and 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.
As always, thank you for all you do to support Massachusetts Citizens for Life.
No One is Irrelevant: Person of Interest Review
by Sonja Morin, Communications Intern
Genre: Drama, Crime, Science Fiction
TV-14 (violence, heavy themes, some language)
MCFL Rating: ✭✭✭✭✬ (4.5)
I couldn’t quite contain my excitement when I found out that Person of Interest, one of my favorite series of all time, was available to stream in its entirety on Netflix. Set in modern-day New York City, the series follows Harold Finch - a secluded billionaire - and John Reese - a former CIA agent - as they use government-created A.I. to stop crimes before they occur. It intertwines crime drama with just a hint of science fiction in an intriguing and slowly intensifying story.
A story driven by using artificial intelligence might seem like an odd pick for a series of reviews dealing with pro-life content. However, the five-season show does an excellent job in exploring the themes of intrinsic rights, family, and the value of human life. By far one of the most underrated series on CBS, Person of Interest is a thoughtful exploration of what it means to be human.
The series opens with John Reese, struggling after his sudden departure from the CIA. Presumed dead, he wanders the streets of New York City to find some nourishment and shelter each night. One particular day, Harold Finch approaches Reese, and offers him a job: to aid in his quest to prevent crimes before they happen. Finch uses the Machine, a sophisticated A.I. he invented initially for the government to detect signs of a dangerous situation, accompanied with the number of a person that is involved in the situation. Together, the two must work together to determine if the person is the potential perpetrator or victim, and administer justice in the situation as best as they can.
Person of Interest is certainly a series that needs to be watched from the beginning and continued through to the end. Attempting to start on a random episode will likely make someone confused, because the storyline is masterfully expanded and made more complex over the course of the five seasons. Enemies become allies, the team grows, and old problems return to haunt the characters. The Machine grows in its capabilities, but grapples with its own freedom. By its last season, the series does not lose its intrigue or become monotonous in plot repetition; new situations and information appear, leaving the audience on the edge of their seats, waiting for more. The growing complexity and stakes of the story, as well as the continual fleshing-out of the characters and their motivations, are a crucial part of what makes this series incredible.
The most prevalent theme in the whole series is summed up in two lines from the show’s introduction: “The government considers these people irrelevant. We don’t”. The Machine was created for the government to distinguish and point out terrorists from common criminals, to prevent large-scale catastrophes from occurring. The people that would be potentially involved in terrorist activity - either as perpetrator or victim - would be labeled as ‘relevant’, while others would be marked ‘irrelevant’ and left alone to fend for themselves. The mission that Finch and Reese placed upon themselves was to protect these ‘irrelevant’ people that would not have otherwise been protected. Reese and Finch - and later the other characters that join them in their work - are brought together by this shared mission of saving lives. Their work and motivations mirror that of the pro-life movement to a grand degree, in that they strive to recognize and protect lives, even if others do not.
All in all, Person of Interest is a fantastic pick that fittingly explores the ethos of the pro-life movement, while being continuously creative in its approach. The series is an excellent selection, especially for fans of crime dramas or science fiction, but has a wider appeal and intrigue for all viewers. The storyline and characterization throughout the series is phenomenal, and keeps the audience intrigued even after the show ends. Person of Interest is more than just a well-planned and fascinating series, however; it explores the themes of dignity, rights, and the human family in a way that is evident and inspiring. In short, if you’re looking for a fulfilling series that will grab your attention and leave you wanting the next episode, look no further.
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.
Giving Tuesday typically takes place on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. On that day, consumers are encouraged to support nonprofits like Massachusetts Citizens for Life, who often see a decline during the holidays. This year, the nonprofit world celebrates Giving Tuesday a little early, today in fact, due to the significant impact the pandemic has had on most nonprofit fundraising efforts.
I hope you are able to make a gift to MCFL now to help us during our participation in Giving Tuesday using this secure link: https://www.masscitizensforlife.org/giving_tuesday_may_2020
While the office may be closed, our staff is working from home and busier than ever focusing on a number of our top priorities. Here are two quick examples:
- Fighting Against the ROE Act: though our outreach efforts may have changed, your MCFL team continues to educate the public and legislators alike on the dangers of the ROE Act.
- Candidate Position Outreach: we are contacting every candidate running for public office to get their official positions on issues we care about on record. The candidate’s responses to our survey will be published, so every voter can make informed decisions in their primaries and on election day.
Unlike some nonprofits who receive government funds, MCFL is completely dependent on the generous gifts of our members who boldly stand up for life. If you would like to support our work during these uncertain times, you can make a donation by clicking here.
Thank you for all you do for life! I wish you good health and peace of mind in the weeks ahead.
We continue witnessing miracles during these challenging. Your generosity and support is one miracle we won't forget.
Arguments may win Ph.D's, but art wins hearts and saves lives. Why? Because a story bridges the gap between a heart and mind, and can leap the line that divides you from me. If that doesn't sum up the conflict in our culture today over abortion, I don't know what does. It also neatly describes the new stage play, Viable, premiered last year at the NRLC.
This Mother's Day, we want to participate in healing. Stories, love -- and this play -- are a great gift.
For a limited time, beginning on Mother's Day, Viable will be available to purchase and stream.
Check out the trailer here:
We'd love to hear your reactions to this powerful piece of drama. Whatever your story, Viable will meet you on the theme of reconciliation and rehumanization. Share it.
Download and watch Viable HERE beginning May 10th.
Give a gift in honor of a mother who deserves special recognition
By Myrna Maloney Flynn, MCFL President
Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap.
-- Luke 6:38
This week, I had the pleasure of talking for the first time with one of MCFL’s longtime supporters. We planned to “meet” over a video call* and, as I thought ahead to our conversation, I knew there was one thing I wanted to find out: why he is so committed to the pro-life mission. So staunch is his support that he answered my question before I had a chance to ask it.
He told me he’d been adopted and, as he got older, realized what his birth mother must have gone through, the magnitude of her sacrifice, and the impact of his adoptive parents’ decision. “If Roe v. Wade had been around, I might not be here,” he said. “This issue will always be at the core of my being.” Then, elaborating on all his parents provided for him over the years, he explained his consistent MCFL support. “Their [human rights] pro-life work continues, even though they’re not here anymore, through me.”
This pandemic prevents us from rallying at the State House or gathering for our spring events, yet my colleagues and I continue to advance MCFL’s mission to “restore respect for human life and defend the right to life of all human beings, born and pre-born.
Our Board members and staff are writing op-eds, posting the undeniable truth of prenatal development on social media, and applying nonstop pressure on our elected officials. We are investigating questionable practices that are considered the “norm.” Our volunteers are informing women of the better option, recruiting new members, and, of course, donating.
None on our team want anything in return for their gifts. Yet I fully expect that they will one day find goodness packed, shaken, and poured into their laps.
This Tuesday, May 5, provides you with an opportunity to bolster our work—work that is significantly more challenging due to the coronavirus. I understand pandemic-related fallout is affecting people in a variety of ways. But, if you can, I humbly ask that you consider making a contribution to our state’s oldest pro-life organization during Giving Tuesday, somewhat of a “new” national holiday. You don’t have to wait until Tuesday though. Take a moment now to visit our website.
Thank you for whatever gift you are able to make. And thank you for the support you provide simply by being an ally—one who will read this and reaffirm in your heart the value of human life and the work we do to protect it.
For those following the story of Baby Hope, an update: the five-month-old once again astounded her doctors in Boston last week, when a preoperative MRI revealed that, over the last few months, most of the brain tissue that had been in an external sack at the back of her head went back inside her skull. According to her mom, Joy, “The doctor is amazed and hasn't seen anything like it.” Surgeons operated successfully, and indications are that there was little, if any, damage to brain tissue. “She looks great,” Joy told me. “She will still have battles ahead of her, but they have gotten a lot easier.”
I wish you a week filled with gifts, whether they are eagerly anticipated or unexpected. May they overflow, inspire, and multiply.
*Though it has become the go-to video conferencing tool for organizations and individuals alike during Covid-19 lockdowns, Zoom, and its leaders, ardently support abortion rights and Planned Parenthood. In June 2019, for example, its CEO signed onto the national “Don’t Ban Equality” campaign, which called attention to workplace “restrictions” to “comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion.” Google Meet is an easy-to-use Zoom alternative. However, through its support of the United Way, Google indirectly supports Planned Parenthood.
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.
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