Last Saturday, the Human Life Review’s EXPECT initiative and ProLife Future NYC hosted a discussion panel on how four organizations are working to build a culture of life in America. The participants were Aimee Murphy of Rehumanize International, John Hinshaw of Good Counsel Homes, Nadja Wolfe of World Youth Alliance, and Alexis Carra of the Archdiocese of New York’s public policy office.
Each panelist discussed current strategies for enabling the choice for life. Rehumanize International, a secular and non-partisan organization, adheres to the consistent life ethic, dedicated to ending all forms of violent aggression against humanity from embryonic stem-cell research to assisted suicide. Aimee Murphy recounted how she and other members of the group participated in the Women’s March on Washington last January, carrying signs that read “embrace nonviolence.” Even though the march had the abortion industry’s full support and sponsorship, Rehumanize was treated well by other marchers, and prides itself on reaching liberals, and on gaining support from the majority left-leaning youth.
The World Youth Alliance approaches life issues by addressing root causes. Nadja Wolfe, who represents WYA at the UN, described a triangular model of policy, funding, and implementation which that organization follows. Once policy is formed, such as in a UN resolution, funding then is directed to finance that policy, which ensures successful implementation. Successful implementation, in turn, influences what the next policy will be. WYA fights to keep words like abortion from being included in UN resolutions and reports. WYA has also created a kindergarten through eighth-grade human-dignity curriculum as an alternative to mainstream sex-education. It addresses the human being as a whole, and provides children a foundation for understanding their sexuality: that they have value as individuals and are to be treated with respect.
John Hinshaw described Good Counsel Homes as probably the largest network of maternity homes in the country. GCH recognizes the immediate need of a homeless pregnant woman and provides her a place to sleep the same night she contacts them for help. The group never turns away a pregnant woman who needs a place to stay. Each of their seven homes houses between 10-14 expectant mothers and their young children. Hinshaw stressed that the women are not given a time limit after which they have to move out, though the average stay is one year. GCH also has a nation-wide intake procedure and a hotline available 24/7 to help connect every woman who calls with available resources closest to her. GCH celebrated their 1,000th birth in 2016; as of last Saturday there were 1089 births. Their philosophy is that saving babies means rescuing their mothers from dangerous situations and providing them a safe haven.
Working in the public policy office of the New York Archdiocese, Alexis Carra focuses on abortion, assisted suicide, and human trafficking on the local level. Her office filed an Amicus brief with the NY State Court of Appeals, which recently held that there is no constitutional right to assisted suicide. She hosts discussion groups in the city for young people to dialogue and get informed on the relationship between pro-life policy issues and their faith. Through education, activism, and evangelization, the office seeks to inform, educate, and equip people to promote human dignity in their spheres of influence, including state and local politics, and with family, friends, and colleagues.
Two related topics the panelists addressed were whether abortion should be categorized as a women’s issue and whether it should be considered as impacting certain groups more than others. They all agreed abortion uniquely affects women. Hinshaw noted that “we definitely deal with more minority women than white women.” The founders of Planned Parenthood, he went on, “targeted minority women who they didn’t want having children.” Furthermore, he argued, the rise of abortion demand came out of the sexual revolution, which compromised women and increased danger for women and young girls. Murphy added that different pro-life issues reflect different targeted segments of the population. For instance, unjust wars target young men as the number one casualty, with women and children being collateral damage. Wolfe said she hoped people understand that life issues affect everyone, and that men’s voices should not be excluded from the abortion debate.
When addressing how the first eight months of Donald Trump’s presidency has affected their work, the panelists had surprising responses. Carra cautioned that it is still too early to determine the effect Trump’s administration will have on the pro-life movement. So far there has been backlash at the local level in New York, she said, as many pro-choicers are (falsely) convinced that Trump will quickly rescind all abortion rights in the nation. This fear has produced unprecedented activism and lobbying for expansion of abortion rights in the state.
Murphy also presented a sobering perspective, saying she has observed less pro-life activism on the grassroots level since the election of Trump because, like the pro-choicers Carra mentioned, prolifers assumed President Trump was going to magically eradicate abortion. She finds their complacency and laxity troubling because politics is only one avenue to fight for life, and will not alone solve the problem. Rehumanize is also concerned about what they view as the callous way Trump is considering the nuclear option to deal with North Korea. On a personal level as a rape victim, Murphy distrusts a president that boasted about his unrestrained sexual aggression toward women.
Because Good Counsel Homes is a service organization, Hinshaw said, they are monitoring issues the Trump administration takes on that would affect the women in their homes. Whatever immigration policies the White House seeks to implement, GCH “will not compromise the safety of the mothers and babies in their care.”
Wolfe granted the other panelists’ valid concerns, but did commend the administration’s reinstatement of the Mexico City policy barring NGOs from performing abortions with U.S. aid. The others agreed the Trump administration deserved credit for this. Carra also lauded Trump’s pick of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court.
While the panelists presented different perspectives and strategies as pro-life advocates, they are all working to ensure that the pro-life movement continues to broaden across political and social lines. Rehumanize, a “radically inclusive” organization, attracts young liberals looking for a consistent ideology to believe in. WYA and the New York Archdiocese’s public policy office provide much needed education to empower people making arguments for life, and Good Counsel Homes reaches out to women desperately looking for help so they can choose life. Strategies like these ensure that the pro-life movement will continue to gain the wide support necessary to change the culture.