By Susan LeDoux
Anne LeBlanc, President of Rochester Area Right to Life (RARTL), is determined to keep on doing what they have been doing to protect the life of vulnerable people at both ends of the age spectrum. It has been a year of successes and challenges for the Right to Life movement in the greater Rochester area, and LeBlanc pulled no punches when she spoke with The Good News about 2018 and her view of 2019.
The Good News: What progress did RARTL and the Right to Life movement make in 2018?
LeBlanc told of a 16-year-old girl who was about to have an abortion. While waiting her turn, another young girl walked toward the exit, crying and saying, “I can’t believe I just killed my own baby.” The 16-year-old left immediately, went home, and told her mother about it.
There is nothing stronger than personal testimony such as that. LeBlanc credits the courageous women who have had abortions for changing hearts and minds across America because they shared their experiences.
“There were fewer abortions in New York because these women told how they ‘drank the kool-aid.’ Now they say, ‘Don’t do it,” LeBlanc said, referencing Jim Jones and the 1978 mass suicide at Jonestown where members of the Peoples’ Temple killed themselves by drinking poisoned kool-aid.
She spoke of the phenomenal success of the film, Gosnell: Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer. From the website: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/jun/29/abortion-doctor-kermit-gosnell-the-trial-of-americas-biggest-serial-killer-release: “Gosnell’s case became a lightning rod in the battle over abortion rights in the US.
Known for doing late-term abortions, with frequent accidental live births, his procedure included “snipping” the spinal cord with scissors to ensure the baby was dead. He eventually was arrested. Again, from the website, “In 2013 he was convicted on three counts of murder and the involuntary manslaughter in 2009 of Karnamaya Mongar, one of his patients.”
LeBlanc said that because the judge warned the prosecutors that this was not a trial about abortion, but rather, murder, the message became more powerful because people will not tolerate murder.
She added that the producers, failing to obtain standard financial backing, had to turn to crowd funding. In spite of barriers, she said, “the film made the top 10 in the first week at 600 theaters versus the competitions’ in thousands of theaters.”
Frequently, the movie’s last credits ran before silent, motionless audiences.
Another highlight for 2018 was the confirmation of two conservative justices to the Supreme Court, albeit after a tortuous Senate confirmation process.
The Good News: What has inspired you on the local level?
LeBlanc smiled as she told about Jim Havens and ROC Sidewalk Advocates for Life ((http://sidewalkadvocates.org/home/). She said their work combines prayer partners with people who interact with potential abortion clients. Among other ministry roles, Havens is host of Love will End Abortion (https://lovewillendabortion.com/).
Havens generously responded by email to The Good News’ questions.
“The first step is to get people to show up two-by-two at the (Greece) Planned Parenthood facility) to stand and maintain a peaceful, prayerful presence…Former Planned Parenthood manager, Abby Johnson, explains Planned Parenthood’s internal data shows that a peaceful, prayerful presence on the sidewalk outside of an abortion facility, raises the no-show rate to as high as 75%. That means three out of four people with appointments that day do not show up.” Havens added that with a continuous, year-round presence, those facilities would close, as their budgets would not be sustainable. Such a presence is effective, even without any outreach. Consequently, abortion facility staff warns clients about these advocates, at times escorting moms from their cars to the door.
Havens shared one of his experiences.
“I will never forget talking to one father who came out to talk, while the mom was inside having the abortion. He told me how Planned Parenthood told them over the phone not to talk to us, and how he wished he would not have listened to them. He knew by that point in talking with me, that we were the exact opposite of how Planned Parenthood falsely labeled us, and that we could have helped them. But by then it was too late.
“I was still able to help him with what to expect after the abortion, how to support and love the mom well, and where to find support and healing when ready. But I will never forget the regret in his eyes of having been lied to by Planned Parenthood.”
The Good News: What about 2019?
“We are going to be looking very carefully about what we can do legislatively, having lost the NYS Senate…The Senate has always been our protection, together with the independent Democrat caucus.”
She is concerned about health care practitioners losing their conscience protection, coercing them to practice against their faith. “A lot of doctors said ‘I don’t need this harassment; I don’t need this bureaucracy; I’m retiring.’ And these doctors are telling their sons and daughters, (not to) go into medicine.”
The assisted suicide issue in New York raises another big concern. LeBlanc told of a Vietnam War veteran who said he is living in the bull’s-eye of euthanasia. Having lost both legs, and undergoing numerous surgeries, he is concerned every time he enters a hospital that someone will “take pity on him” and he will never come out.
RARTL encourages members to approach lawmakers and provide facts, including how assisted suicide has created problems in Canada. They will continue to write articles to educate the public as well.
LeBlanc will partner with any church or organization to set up their display where RARTL volunteers will provide information on euthanasia, abortion, fetal development, and where to go for help before and after an abortion.
For more information, visit, http://righttoliferoch.org/.