Up Front and Personal

Speaking Up For Life Can Have Unexpected Results

By Kathleen M. Gallagher

So many New Yorkers continue to mourn the state legislature’s enactment of the most permissive abortion policy in the country. I share your grief.

But it’s time to turn that grief into action, and each one of us can help. The most important thing we can do right now to build a culture of life is to speak up in our little corner of the vineyard.  Allow me to share a story.

In January 2013, Governor Andrew Cuomo was particularly aggressive in pushing his late-term abortion proposal as part of a “women’s agenda.” I was distraught about the chances of the horrific bill being enacted that year. In February, I poured my heart out to my friend Katy one day over lunch, explaining all the grim details of the legislation and how I believed it would lead to dangerous consequences for women and their unborn children. Katy listened politely.

Over the next four months, the Church and other pro-life groups battled against that proposal very hard and were relieved when the legislature adjourned without passing the bill.

Fast forward to August, when I was enjoying myself at a cookout at Katy’s house and one of her neighbors introduced herself to me. Her name was Jane and she sold life insurance for a living. When I told her what I did for a living, she immediately asked if I knew about the late-term abortion legislation.

She explained that she was the president of a local chapter of an international women’s service and advocacy organization. She said that a representative from the governor’s office spoke at their meeting earlier in the year to get their support for his 10-point women’s agenda. The representative presented nine points of the agenda just fine, but when she got to the 10th one about “securing reproductive choice,” Jane said she raised her hand to inquire if that meant legalizing late-term abortions.

The governor’s rep kind of hemmed and hawed, Jane said, and then another woman raised her hand to ask if the abortion bill was really needed, because, after all, New York already has the highest abortion rate in the country.

One by one, the members of that little women’s club repeatedly questioned the abortion proposal. When the voting came, they decisively voted down the resolution to support the governor’s women’s agenda. All because I had explained it to Katy. And Katy had explained it to Jane. And Jane had explained it to her women’s club.

I still get goosebumps when I think about this. I realize how we can make a huge difference in the world simply by speaking up – at the dinner table, in the car on the way to school, over lunch with our friends, around the water cooler at work. Changing hearts and minds happens one person at a time through conversations and love.

We must not be afraid to speak up. Know the facts, be respectful, but please, speak up for life.


Gallagher is the director of pro-life activities for the New York State Catholic Conference.

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