Diocesan News

‘We Are Here for the Unborn,’ Activist Says at Gift of Life Walk 

LOWER MANHATTAN — Standing on historic ground in lower Manhattan — including key sites in the American Revolution — a pro-life speaker remarked how “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are unavailable to unborn but unwanted children.

Barbara from Harlem,” as the pro-life activist and author is popularly known, referenced that key phrase in the Declaration of Independence during the 2021 International Gift of Life Walk-NYC, Thursday, March 25. She was the event’s grand marshal.

The fifth annual walk stepped off from Thomas Paine Park in Foley Square, where New Yorkers colonists protested the 1765 Stamp Act. The march continued to nearby City Hall Park, which once served as a bivouac area for occupying British troops during the Revolution.

Before the walk began, Barbara from Harlem and other speakers lamented that more than 62 million babies disappeared via abortion since 1973. That year, Roe vs. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, determined that abortion was a constitutionally protected “right.”

  • A young man participates in the 2021 International Gift of Life Walk-NYC, Thursday, March 25, in Lower Manhattan. His sign translated from Spanish reads, "Papá, you decide, too." (Photos: Bill Miller)
  • Author and speaker "Barbara from Harlem," addresses the crowd during the 2021 International Gift of Life Walk-NYC, Thursday, March 25, in Lower Manhattan. She was the event's grand marshal.
  • New York City Police officers escort participants of the 2021 International Gift of Life Walk-NYC, Thursday, March 25, in Lower Manhattan.
  • A statue of Mary is carried through Lower Manhattan Thursday during the 2021 International Gift of Life Walk-NYC. The annual event celebrates motherhood by coinciding with the feast day of the Annunciation, March 25. The Annunciation is when Gabriel the Archangel visited the Virgin Mary to tell her she would be the mother of Jesus.
  • Participants turn a corner during participates in the 2021 International Gift of Life Walk-NYC, Thursday, March 25, in Lower Manhattan.
  • A woman in Lower Manhattan appeals to people considering abortions. She was part of the 2021 International Gift of Life Walk-NYC, Thursday March 25.

“You know, what gets me is that when we look at history, only barbarians and pagans sacrificed babies to their gods,” she said. “But America was founded on Judeo-Christian values. We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

She noted that Scripture in Proverbs 6:17 says that this same Creator believes the “hands that shed innocent blood” are an abomination.

“What could be more innocent than the blood of an unborn baby?” she asked. “These babies are not given the opportunity to pursue their happiness, to live.

“So, we have work to do.”

Feast of the Annunciation

Catherine Donohoe, a walk organizer, said the annual event is held on March 25 in New York to coincide with the Annunciation. This feast day commemorates Gabriel the Archangel’s appearance to the Virgin Mary, informing her that she would be the mother of Jesus. 

“That’s why we are here — for the unborn children and their mothers,” said Donohoe, president of The Bridge to Life, a Queens-based support center for pregnant women and their families.

Foley Square is an appropriate spot to begin the walk, said another organizer, Dawn Eskew, president and founder of the pro-life group Personhood Education NY. She explained Foley Square is not far from African Burial Ground National Monument.

“They were denied personhood,” Eskew said of the 419 people buried there, most of them slaves. “When human beings do not have their personhood acknowledged, bad things happen.

“Your dignity is attacked, or people are killed, as we see in the womb.”

Donohoe said the event in previous years had drawn as many as 500 walkers, but fewer than 100 people attended this year.

Donohoe reminded, however, that “God did amazing things with just 12 people.”

“So,” she added, “we are going forward regardless of the numbers.”

 Our worst nightmare

Speakers and organizers agreed that the pro-life movement has a tough four years ahead with President Joe Biden in the White House.

Speaker Chris Slattery, president of Expectant Mothers Care Frontline Pregnancy Centers, said the president uses his Catholicism as a photo-op prop.

Biden has said he opposes abortion but has refused to impose his religious beliefs on other people. This stance, Slattery claimed, shows Biden is the most outspoken abortion advocate ever to be president.

For example, the president has appointed the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, who, in previous government jobs, championed abortion rights.

Also, within days of his inauguration, Biden rescinded the so-called “Mexico City Policy.” This 1984 measure blocked U.S. funding for nongovernmental organizations that perform or actively promote abortion in other nations.

“This administration is our worst nightmare,” Slattery said. “We’re going to have a long four years here in the United States.”

‘We’re not barbarians’

Donohoe said there is a monetary fine for destroying the nest and eggs of a bald eagle, but no penalty “when you kill an unborn child.”

“That is completely ludicrous,” she said. “We need people to get the message that all life deserves to be protected under the legislation. (And) legislation is the way to go. You have to be involved politically.”

Barbara from Harlem agreed. She is known for her opinions as a frequent caller to talk radio programs; she identified herself as “Barbara from Harlem.” The nickname stuck as she became an author and speaker.

“I find too many church-going people who think it’s all right to vote for people who believe in killing babies,” she said. “(But) when they vote for people who believe in abortion, they are accomplices to murder. That is a human life. It’s not just a blob, a glob, or a bunch of nothingness.

“So tell your neighbors, tell your friends, and even tell your enemies, ‘Let me have a talk with you for a moment. God said you’re created in my image! God said he knew me before I was formed in my mother’s womb!’

“We have to let these young people know they are precious. They are created in the image of God.”

The speakers were interrupted by a trio of street performers who flailed through the crowd in gaudy costumes. A woman wearing an adult diaper and not much else wailed loudly to mimic childbirth. She cursed profusely.

Barbara from Harlem addressed the performers.

“This is not beautiful,” she told them. “This is ugly and demonic madness.”

But she also expressed compassion for the troupe and urged the audience to do likewise.

“We have to pray for those people,” she said. “Because we’re not barbarians in America. Only barbarians do barbaric things.”