In the first episode of EPPC’s Life After Dobbs podcast, hosts Ryan T. Anderson and Alexandra DeSanctis talk with March for Life President Jeanne Mancini about building a culture of life, how to care for moms and their babies, and the future of the pro-life movement at the federal and state levels.
Jeanne Mancini, President of the March for Life
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Ryan T. Anderson (@RyanTAnd)
Alexandra DeSanctis (@xan_desanctis)
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Life After Dobbs is a production of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. For more information, follow us on Twitter (@EPPCdc) or visit our website at eppc.org.
Produced by Josh Britton and Mark Shanoudy
Edited by Sarah Schutte
Art by Ella Sullivan Ramsay
with additional support by Christopher McCaffery and Alex Gorman
Jeanne Mancini has served for the past decade as president of the March for Life, which is best known for planning the annual March for Life in Washington, DC, every January around the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. She’s a frequent speaker for student groups, pro-life groups and pregnancy care centers and she serves as a consultant to the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops’ pro-life committee. Jeanne has testified before the U.S. Congress and regularly consults, meets with, and presents to state and federal elected officials, including at the White House and the Department of Justice. Previously, she worked with the Family Research Council and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Jeanne was the 2021 recipient of the Catholic Information Center’s John Paul II New Evangelization Award. So, Jeanne, thanks so much for joining us today.
I’m honored to join you two. Thanks so much for having me.
I wanted to start by asking if you could tell us a bit about the history not only of the pro-life movement, but in particular kind of the role of the March for Life in the pro-life movement and in particular the group’s founder, Nellie Gray.
Yeah. I’d love to. So, I’ve been working with the March for Life for nearly 10 years and the March began a year after Roe v. Wade. Of course, Roe came down, Roe and Doe came down January 22nd, 1973. And so the following October or so, Nellie Gray, the founder of the March for Life, gathered with other pro-life champions in her townhouse on Capitol Hill. And they talked about how they didn’t want that first anniversary of legalized abortion in the United States to go unmarked, how they wanted to draw a line in the sand. So, they put their heads together and came up with this idea that they’d have the first march. And so they did. They organized the very first March for Life in 1974. And there were approximately 20,000 there. It was very different than what the March looked like today.
It was right outside the Capitol. And I understand it was a very warm day [laugh], which is very different than we typically have. Typically, that time of year in Washington, D.C. tends to be sort of the bitterest cold of the season. But anyways, Nellie and the other pro-life leaders that organized that first March thought that that would go on one year, maybe, maybe two years, because they all anticipated that Roe would be corrected. I mean, even back then, of course they knew, they knew it was a decision of judicial activism and they certainly did not anticipate that it would stay in the books for nearly 50 years. So, they thought the March would be a one-year event, a two-year event. They never anticipated that it would go on this long, nor did they anticipate that it would grow to be the largest annual human rights demonstration worldwide.
So we are that and very proud that—quite the opposite of what abortion proponents expected, which is that we would become desensitized to abortion—that the March has grown in strength and volume every year, and lowered in terms of age demographics. So that’s a little bit about the March. And Nellie, Nellie herself…Nellie was an attorney. She was single, she never married. She was a devout Catholic and she was a very feisty woman, very ardent in her faith. She was known for saying, ‘no exceptions, no compromise.’ And just had so much tenacity. So, she’d worked for the government for many years. She had her undergrad in economics, really a scholar, and she dedicated her whole life—once Roe happened, she basically the following year, retired from government service and dedicated her life to building a culture of life, both with the National Right to Life, and then with the March for Life.
And she ultimately died working for the March for Life. Her last recorded conversation was with someone about the March for Life. And she was found the next day in her townhome deceased. And she was 88 when she passed away and she was running the March for Life by herself, which I have to tell you just blows me away. I mean, that was in 2012 and she wouldn’t use email, like she’d only communicate via fax and there she was at 88 running the March for Life, which I can’t even begin to understand, but God bless her.
Ryan T. Anderson:
Ryan T. Anderson:
And thank you for, for running the March now for the past decade. I grew up in Baltimore, but I never went to the March for Life. You know, as a kid, my first March was when I was an undergraduate at Princeton. And now my wife and I make a point of going every year. We bring our kids. We were there this past year when it was like, I don’t know, 20 degrees. It didn’t snow that day, but it had snowed the previous day. So, there was snow on the ground and we brought our three-year-old, our one-and-a-half-year-old, and then we had a 38-week in utero child with us, which means that my wife did the entire March while 38 weeks pregnant. And we love it. And so, thank you for your leadership with the March. It was three years ago that the theme of the March was “pro-life is pro-science.” And I love that theme especially, given the past two years of COVID when we were repeatedly told to trust the science. Could you share a little bit about with us why you guys picked that as the theme for 2019 and also why the pro-life movement is on solid scientific grounds when we advocate for life.
Yeah. And I just want to digress for one minute. So, I follow you, Ryan, on social media as much as I can. I’m only on Twitter, I’m kind of nerdy. I don’t really get on Facebook. And I just love your—I saw that your wife was about to have a baby and then she was at the March. And I just love to follow the pictures of your family and your farm and everything. I mean, I just have a holy envy [laugh] of the life that you live. So thank you. You’re such a great witness of a culture of life, and Alexandra you are as well. And I want to really just thank both of you for your book, but hopefully we can get to that too. So as for “pro-life is pro-science,” so one thing that I’ve enjoyed and tried to really embrace is the opportunity for education that the March can be.
So, I see the March for Life as a springboard to allowing us to talk about what are the most cutting-edge issues in terms of building a culture of life. And so, one of the things that I guess I’m maybe I’m most proud of working with the March for Life is some of the different themes that we choose throughout the years. And recently I was doing an interview looking back over the last 10 years and the different themes that we’ve chosen. And they’ve each been chosen really for a very particular reason related to some negative thing happening with the culture of life, et cetera. So, “pro-life is pro science.” We chose that because the terrible and erroneous mantra of the other side is that we’re religious, that our pro-life principles are solely based on religion.
And I am a religious person, but my pro-life principles are not at all based on that. They’re much more based on philosophy and reason and logic and science. And just the reality that we are pro-science, we are pro reason, you think of Fides et Ratio, for example written by Pope John Paul II, that talks about how these two things, faith and reason go hand-in-glove. They’re not at odds with each other. And so…anecdotally I can remember I used to work for the Department of Health and Human Services. I did about five years with the government, and there was a time during the Obama administration that I was working in the office of the secretary. It was the first year of the Obama administration, but I was getting out of that job because I was frankly tired of the anti-life policies that were being introduced and implemented, and some of the things that were being undone from the former administration that had been pro-life.
And I had an atheist scientist who worked at the state department in the highest offices at the State Department corner me one day and say, ‘I need to just ask you, are you are you leaving because you’re pro-life?’ And I explained, ‘yes.’ And he said, ‘are you a religious person?’ And I said, ‘yes, but that’s not why I’m pro-life.’ And he went on to say to me, and this is all just anecdotal, but he said, ‘I don’t see how any scientist worth their weight would say that being pro-life is anti-science. Everything points to the fact that life begins at the moment of fertilization or conception. And it’s basically just not being honest to say that.’ And I appreciated that anecdotal story. We can remember that Obama said it was above his pay grade to define when life begins, but we do know the things that are necessary when life begins. And we know that life does begin from the moment of conception, at that moment that we have all of our DNA that we need for our entire life, et cetera, et cetera. So that’s just a little bit of fleshing out why we chose that theme.
Yeah. I think it’s a really important one. And, and some of my colleagues at National Review are, agnostics or atheists and some of the most pro-life people I know. And so…we all know in the pro-life movement that…many of us are very religious and that certainly informs our pro-life beliefs, but it’s not at all required to be opposed to abortion. I think it’s really a misunderstanding that’s kind of intentionally perpetuated by supporters of abortion who want to dismiss us all as kind of these theocrats. That’s something we talk a bit about in our book in chapter one, both about kind of the science of the unborn child, the fact that this is a human being and then the smear that we’re all just kind of religious zealots trying to impose our views.
But another point we talk about a bit in the book that I think the March for Life has addressed in the past is kind of the idea that women who have abortions are actually also deeply harmed by this, right? It’s not a solution in the way that abortion supporters say it is. It obviously is a harm to the unborn child. It kills the unborn child, but the woman is harmed as well. So, I know a recent March for Life theme was “life empowers women.” So could you tell us a bit about this theme, why it was chosen and maybe explain a bit about why pro-lifers often say pregnant mothers are the second victim of abortion.
Yeah. So, I’m going to begin with the last part of that about how abortion harms women. So, one of my favorite professors or authors on this is Priscilla Coleman, who’s a psychologist in Ohio. I think she was at Bowling Green for a while, but she’s done extensive research on basically the trauma of abortion to women. And so, there is no question that women suffer tremendously, by and large, from having chosen abortions. So, things such as suicidal [ideation], depression, anxiety, other mental health issues exponentially increase after a woman—substance abuse—after a woman has chosen abortion. And so there may be situations where that doesn’t happen to someone, but I’d say by and large, it’s more normative for a woman to really, to have suffered psychological and emotional consequences of having made that choice. And so, I don’t think that that is well known in our culture.
And my sense is that when a woman does make that choice—and you’ve heard of course this saying where no one would wish this upon our worst enemy. And that a woman is basically almost backed into a corner when she’d make a choice like that. But the reality is that we’re hearing from sort of the other side this “shout your abortion” kind of mantra, that there should be no shame associated with something like this. And I just go back to the fact that reality is not arbitrary and that when you choose abortion, you are taking a life and that you can’t undo that or pretend that you’re not taking a life. You can call it something different, but taking a life does have its consequences. And there is always hope and healing, but the sociological and physiological and psychological reality is that women suffer war wounds after having chosen abortions. So that’s the first thing.
“Life empowers women.” Well, gosh, there’s so much to be said there. And I would say one of my favorite one of my favorite people that is a leader in this area is your colleague, Erika Bachiochi. And I think she’s got such a good understanding of how an erroneous view of a woman’s reproductive system can sort of hurt her economically or, or career wise, et cetera. And so, the bottom line with our theme “life empowers women” was to show that yes, choosing life can be very hard, especially when you’re up against a lot, like when a woman is facing an unexpected pregnancy, maybe when she doesn’t have the support of the father, et cetera. We’re not saying that this is easy, but it is the right choice. And we want to do everything we can as a culture to give her what she needs to make that choice and to “empower her” and that she has it.
Often what a woman needs to be told in the moment where she is facing an unexpected pregnancy and has this temptation to actually take the life of her unborn child is “you’ve got this; you can do it.” And of course, we know so many stories of women who have chosen that, and either they’ve chosen to go the route, which I consider so noble of being a birth mother, so choosing adoption for their baby or choosing the child to, bringing the child to term and raising the child and having a beautiful testimony there as well.
Ryan T. Anderson:
Yeah. Thank you. And thank you for mentioning Erica. Xan and I, we quote her in the book, but her book, The Rights of Women: Reclaiming a Lost Vision, is just such a wonderful study on what could have been—the missteps of the modern feminist movement’s losing footing from some of the original feminist thinkers in our country who were all pro-life, all of whom saw that abortion was bad for women. You know, we’re recording this before the Supreme Court announces its decision in Dobbs, although after the leaked draft of the opinion was in fact leaked. And so, if the outcome is what we all hope and pray it is, this is going to be a post-Roe America in a couple of weeks.
What does that mean for the March for Life? What does the March for Life look like in a post-Roe America? And then follow-up question. It’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but does the date stay the same? Do we have the March each year in the middle of January in the freezing cold, or do we move the date of the March for Life to the celebration date of Dobbs? Like how are you guys thinking about all of that? What does the March look like? Is it going to be more celebratory? How are you processing?
Well, we are processing and we haven’t fully processed. I mean, what seems very obvious to me is that we will need to continue to march at the national level. For example, we just saw yesterday the Women’s Health Protection Act—the so-called Women’s Health Protection Act—which thankfully didn’t pass in the Senate. We’ll continue to have fights at the federal judiciary as well, not only legislative. What does a post-Roe, please God, a post-Roe March look like? Well, I’m hoping we can talk a little bit about our state March for Life initiative, which we began about five years ago. And we plan to be in all 50 states, hopefully over the course of the next five years or so. This year we’re in five states, but I think that the state marches will be all the more important because rallying the grassroots at the level of the states will be critical because so much can happen within the legislative branches of the states if Roe does fully get overturned and the question of abortion legislation can return to the states. And then nationally, what I would say is that we would be in a new season. I’m loving, there’s a great Churchill quote from sort of the beginning of World War II. And he talked about, after they’d won a few of the most significant victories, that they were at the end of the beginning. And I keep thinking about this in terms of where we are now, culturally, and especially if this leaked opinion does fully get adopted, that we’re at the end of the beginning, but we’re just going into chapter two or maybe chapter three of building a culture of life in the United States. And we’ve got so much work ahead of us. It’s not that we’re done because of course the ultimate goal is to make abortion unthinkable, not just to overturn Roe—which is huge. And if we do, oh my gosh, there will be so much reason to celebrate, but to continue to make abortion unthinkable and to work more at the states and still at the federal level and all of those kinds of things. So, we’re grappling with all those questions about how the March for Life can best serve and how its importance will still stand in a post Roe world, please God.
Yeah. Just to quickly follow up on that. Are there any kind of new March for Life initiatives? I know you mentioned the state marches, but are there any other kind of projects on the horizon for your group as you kind of turn to the possibility that this will become very much a state and local battle?
Well, why don’t I just share a little bit more about the state March initiative. We’re putting most of our energies in that and have been for some time. And as I mentioned, this isn’t a new initiative. In fact, we even began this before President Trump was elected, before we had our Supreme Court makeup as it is now. So, we were asked five, six years ago so many questions about starting marches on the ground in states, et cetera, that we just wanted to do a deeper dive and look into it. And also, just as the organization had, I was sensing that we were doing a little bit of mission creep, and I wanted us to remain as, pure and focused and clear as possible so that we’d be able to bear the most fruit. And so, we really began asking the question, or continued asking the question, what do we bring to the table that no other pro-life group brings to the table? And how can we uniquely help to build a culture of life?
And I mean, simply, it’s through marches. I mean, that’s what we do and do really well. So, we decided to say yes to helping some of these groups start on the ground. And so, what we’ve found in the states is that there are two or three groups that are doing such good work. Typically, the state Catholic Conference is doing a lot of great work. And most states have a Catholic Conference. There’s typically a Family Policy Council in the state, like in Virginia it’s the Virginia Family Foundation run by Victoria Cobb. And often there’s a Right to Life chapter in the state. And hopefully those three groups work together. Not always, unfortunately, but we’re coming alongside those groups in some capacity and rallying their people, our people, to be able to pass good legislation in the state.
So, I’ll give you one or two examples of some fun things that have happened. Last year was our first California March for Life in Sacramento. And that was the first pro-life March—they’ve had a few pro-life marches in California that are fantastic; my friend Eva Muntean runs the West Coast Walk—but this was the first March that was specifically at the Capitol, on the steps of the Capitol. And we had a smaller crowd that day. It was in August, but it was a good crowd for our first March. And we had everyone text in about a bill related to health insurance coverage of abortion. And the next day it was removed from the House floor. That was a total victory for us. And we saw that even under a thousand people texting in can make a difference there. Now it was reintroduced this year, so we’re going to be fighting it again. But between that, and then just anecdotally, I was in Connecticut, we had our first annual Connecticut March for Life in Hartford back in the end of March. And we had about 3000 people show up for that. And it’s a very blue state and a very, very pro-choice state. And to get that many people out for the first March for Life was a pretty big deal. And in the process of just, interacting and engaging with the marchers, we’ll ask them questions kind of soundbyte-y, chanty questions like, ‘do you want to make abortion unthinkable?’ And you can just imagine the roar of the crowd. And so not only do we hear that, but we were getting text messages from legislators inside saying how powerful that was. To those who are on the other side of this issue to see so many young, happy, positive, loving faces, and to hear their loving chants of how important this is is really impactful.
So, we are making a difference with these state marches. So, this year we are in, like I said, California, it will be our second annual—that’s in June. We just did Virginia two weeks ago. That was our fourth annual, and that was exciting. The first one in Virginia was just a few months after then-Governor Northam had made his terrible snafu talking about abortion after birth. And then, let’s see, we were in Connecticut and then we’ll also be in Ohio in October and in Pennsylvania for our second annual in September. Next year, we plan to be in 10 states.
Ryan T. Anderson:
That is awesome. And let me put in a plug for the March for Life. We’re going to have listeners all across the country, some of whom can’t make it to D.C., but if you can get to D.C., the national March for Life is always such a joyful occasion, right? It’s—happy’s not the right word because we’re there to kind of bear witness to a terrible Supreme Court ruling that wasn’t just a bad court case, but was an injustice to the unborn—but it’s a joyful way of bearing witness. And it’s very positive, it’s not focusing on the negative, it’s a celebration of life. And so if you’ve never been to the March for Life and you can make it to D.C. try to do so. If you can’t make it to D.C., try to attend your state March for Life.
I didn’t realize that you were going to be up to 10 next year. That’s just great. So, let me ask you this. If you were to do a SWOT analysis, how do you evaluate the health of the pro-life movement right now? Are we ready for when Roe is overturned? What more should we be doing to prepare what more should we be doing the day that Roe is finally, please God, overturned, how do you kind of analyze where we are and what more we need to be doing?
I think we’re in a very good place. I think that where we’re winning is changing hearts and minds, and yet we still have a long way to go. But here’s where we’ve changed over the last 50 years or 40 years even. 35, 40 years ago, we had about 2000 abortion clinics. Today, we have about 700 abortion clinics. At that time, we had about 500 pregnancy care centers—or then they were called crisis pregnancy centers—today, well over 3000 and increasing in terms of financial support that they give to women and men every single year. The downtick in abortions is significant to the extent that we’re almost at the lowest abortion rate and lowest number of abortions since Roe v. Wade ever, like within a year or two of that. So, the high point sadly, which was a low point for our culture, would’ve been in the early ‘90s, late 1980s. And then, of course, public opinion is shifting in the direction of life.
So, we all know that most people, when it’s really sifted out, like “where do you stand on abortion?” That most people wouldn’t be favorable towards what Roe allows. So, the large majority of Americans would limit abortion at most of the first three months of pregnancy. And, of course, we know that most abortions happen in the first three months. We want to continue to do the work there to change hearts and minds, but even moving in that direction is fantastic. So, all of those things are good, but where do we need to grow? I think that we need to always grow in unity as a movement. I feel like divide and conquer is the enemy of what is real, true, and good, and that can be our Achilles heel in the pro-life movement.
You know, we can be competitive. And—and I see this especially at the level of the states—there’s so much division and competition. So, I think to really seek unity and humility in our work—and importantly supporting women, of course—so we’ve come a long way. So even when you look at like five, six years ago, the pregnancy care movement and the maternity home movement were supplying upwards of $100 million in free resources to women and men facing unexpected pregnancy. So, these are things like diapers, formula. I hate to say formula with a shortage right now, but these kinds of things: healthcare, housing, childcare, all of these different things, two years ago, it was already increased to $270 million. I think now in the wake of the Texas law that passed in September, the heartbeat law, I’m guessing that we’ve doubled that $270 million already or close to that. So, we are doing a lot to give resources to men and women facing unexpected pregnancies in our country, but we’re going to need to continue to really come alongside families and support them and give them everything that they need and also enact good policies to help these young families.
So let me change gears a bit here, Jeanne. Something we talk about in our book: we have a whole chapter that we kind of pitch as a chapter about equality and the ways in which legal abortion has harmed equality in our society. And a couple of the big themes we touch on there are the horrible reality of sex-selective abortion, particularly in countries around the world, and then disability-based abortion and the idea that some human beings are better off dead because of their disabilities or parents and families might suffer too much of these children are brought into the world, this sort of thing. I wonder if you could talk a bit about those particularly difficult topics and especially how Americans who are on the fence about abortion in general might learn to think about these particular types of abortion.
Yeah, absolutely. Great question. By the way, our theme for the March for Life this year was ‘equality begins in the womb’ as well. And so yeah, the beautiful thing about equality is what we’re really talking about. There is being equal in dignity, but all inherently different like the difference in gender in men and women, but also just the difference in every human being. And I’m just reminded now, as I’m sort of speaking out loud, of this beautiful little mini-documentary that was done a number of years ago—gosh, like maybe 10 years ago now—and it was called “Flashes of Color” and it was all about people with disabilities, how they bring such color to the world in different ways. And we all do, because none of us is ‘perfect,’ right?
But essentially, this philosophical understanding of what it means to be human and to have inherent human dignity just simply because we are human and we are persons. And you can look at that from different perspectives. From the religious perspective, it’s because we’re made in the image of God. From the philosophical person it’s because our essence is personhood that we are persons and that we are all equal in dignity, but different therein. So, I think just to carry that to the most vulnerable of persons—the youngest in the womb—is so critical. So, a person in the womb is just developing in their stages and they need our protection as they’re developing, but it’s just horrific to recognize the reality that a little one who has a poor prenatal diagnosis—whether it’s false or not, and many of them are false—is much disproportionately targeted for abortion.
I mean, anywhere from 60 to 85%, more likely to be aborted. And, in Iceland, they brag about having ‘eradicated’ little ones with Down Syndrome. Well, they haven’t eradicated Down Syndrome. They’ve aborted all of the little ones there or—yes, yes—the gender-selective abortion. So even in our country, that’s a problem. When you look at the CDC reports, I’m sorry to say that some Asian-American populations do disproportionately target little girls for abortion because little boys are prized a little bit more. And certainly around the country. I mean, we remember the book, I think it was called ‘Gendercide.’ We know in India and China, for example, that they’re having problems having enough wives for the men that are there. I mean, real societal problems because of the sex-selective abortion. So, these are issues that not only just break your heart because of the discriminatory basis behind them, but they have long-ranging societal implications with very negative ramifications.
Ryan T. Anderson:
Yeah. I think we cite some of those same statistics, both on the Down Syndrome statistic, the missing girls, the gendercide all in the book. And it’s heartbreaking to really think about what that means. You know, the realities that lie behind those statistics. I want to go back to something that you said and answer to my previous question about the strengths, the weaknesses, where we are, and you mentioned that we now have up to 3000 of the pregnancy resource centers. And I want to encourage people listening to pray for these centers. If you have the wherewithal to make financial donations, please do so, get to know the ones that are in your neighborhood.
We used to live on Capitol Hill, my wife and I, and Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center was right down the road. We got to know some of the people there in the Northwest Center of DC. Now, now we’re in Virginia—Birthright Loudoun, Mary’s Shelter. There are these wonderful organizations all across the globe or all across the states, probably all across the globe as well. Can you tell us more about them? One of the things—when I was working at the Heritage Foundation every year, we did a day of service for my department. Jennifer Marshall was my boss, she organized it. And one year we actually went to Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center. And we just spent the day reorganizing all the shelves of clothes, and people had donated baby clothes and all that stuff, but until you actually get to know it, you don’t really know what they’re all about. Could you share for our listeners the heroic work that goes on there and any suggestions you have for how they can be supportive?
So, for starters, I would describe the pregnancy resource center movement, as well as the maternity home movement, as the untold story in the pro-life movement or culture of life movement. And these folks are so on the front lines, because they’re facing and interacting and serving women and men who are really thinking about choosing abortion every single day. But they’re not talking to the media or they’re not getting a lot of accolades for the kind of work that they do, et cetera. And pregnancy care centers are primarily voluntarily staffed. I think it’s something like 95% voluntary staffed, but, and this is critical—most of them these days have gone ‘medical,’ which means that they have ultrasonography available. So, they’ll give free ultrasounds or other STD or pregnancy tests to their clients.
And for, because of that, they do have medical oversight…they’ll typically have a doctor or a nurse practitioner or someone like that who’s their medical expert on staff who can sign off and make sure that things are running well. But I know I mentioned some of this before. Let me say this. The Charlotte Lozier Institute has one of my favorite resources on pregnancy care centers. It’s just a booklet. It’s either the third or the fourth edition. And I was blessed years ago when I worked at Family Research Council to be part of compiling this booklet. And it just tells some of the stories of pregnancy care centers and how far the movement’s come, since the mid-eighties and shows how we pulled together the data—these days giving over well over 270 million in free resources to men and women, but they also serve [2 million] people a year.
So, the amount of people that they’re serving is just truly astounding, but so I’d encourage your listeners to check that out. You did ask, Ryan—and I love this question—what can they do to get involved? So always just supporting financially is great. And your money will go really far. Because like I said, these are primarily voluntarily staffed and they really stretch their pennies. I can tell you just from working a little bit with Mary’s Shelter in Fredericksburg, they, they do so much on a real shoestring budget. And another kind of a fun idea, something that I’ve been involved in before is, you can throw a baby shower for your local pregnancy center or maternity home center and then give everything that people bring to that—whether it is like the diapers, the formula, the clothes, the crib, all the different things.
You can donate that to your local center or they almost all have local benefits that you can support as well. And certainly they’re always looking for—and I would say that this is a call to discern like a unique, personal mission to work at a pregnancy center or volunteer there a couple hours a week. One of my best friends did that for a period of time. And she would also counsel women who were coming in and were considering abortion at that time. And it was so beautiful to hear the stories that she would experience on a regular basis. And she’s still in touch with some of the women that she counseled then. So that’s a beautiful thing to do. So those are some of the ways that you can get involved.
Thanks so much for those suggestions. I always have people asking what they can do to get involved in the pro-life movement. I think that really is for most people the frontline and it will be even more so if, as we’re hoping, Roe’s overturned. Jeanne, do you have any kind of final thoughts you want to add about any of these topics we’ve discussed or anything else?
You know, there’s one topic that I like to bring up when we’re talking about pro-life issues and it’s adoption. And I think that adoption is a tough thing. I’m not going to say that it’s this easy, simple thing, but often what happens when a woman is facing an unexpected pregnancy is she sees in front of her three possible choices, and she’s trying to figure out what could be the least pain for her life. What’s going to be the best path, the least painful path for my life? And so, what she sees in front of her, the three choices, the first would be choosing life for the child, raise it, bringing the child to term and raising the child. And sadly, she would sometimes see that as death of her dreams because this is an unexpected pregnancy and it’s different than she had planned.
The second choice, death of the child, which is abortion. And so, she sees that as a viable opportunity. And then third it’s sadly, sometimes called death of her motherhood because many women feel like, ‘oh, a good woman couldn’t actually choose to give up her child for adoption.’ But the truth is that adoption is a noble and it’s a beautiful and a very sacrificial decision. Not an easy decision, but a beautiful decision. And so, you’re looking at these three things: adoption, abortion, and then having your child and raising your child. And I think that when a woman is facing these different opportunities or these different possibilities, she thinks that if she chooses abortion, that it’s almost like taking a pencil and erasing away that life rather than actually taking the life. And we all know that’s not true, it is taking a life.
And that causes such enormous pain as we were talking about earlier in the show, obviously death to the child, but also such incredible pain to the mother emotionally and physically and psychologically. And so, I like to put a plug in for adoption whenever I can, because there is such a disparity there’s in our country every year, there are only about 20,000 infant adoptions, but there are well over 800,000 abortions. And if we could, I know it sounds so simplistic, but if we could bridge that gap when women are backed into a corner, if they could consider choosing the noble option of adoption, it would just make such a difference. And so that’s something I like to talk about. So, I would just add that.
Thank you for raising that. It’s really important. And, and definitely I’ve heard, pro-lifers bring this up to say, women almost feel like they, there’s something kind of scary or dangerous about their child going out there into the world without them. And obviously that’s understandable, but it shouldn’t be to the point where you think, killing them is a better option or somehow a safer option for them, right? Because death is never better than an unknown, a life full of unknowns. So, I’m glad that you emphasize that point, but we want to thank you so much, not only for all the work you do for March for Life and for the pro-life movement, but for joining us today and for your excellent insights into all these topics.
Oh, well, thanks so much for having me and congratulations on your phenomenal book. It’s so good. And it’s such a gift to the movement at this particular time. So, thank you for taking the time to write that and thank you to both of you who are working so hard to build a culture of life.