Friday, November 03, 2006

Pro-life supporters urged to get active

By: Dean Cousino story updated October 27. 2006 11:58AM

LaSALLE - Although abortions in Michigan are at an all-time low, citizens cannot sit idle and can do more to build a culture of life.

"Life is that foundation for every other right," guest speaker Pamela Sherstad said Thursday night. "Our souls must ask, ‘What have we done today to build a climate of life in our communities?' "

There are many ways to promote life from the very moment of conception to natural death, Mrs. Sherstad said. Both she and Diane Hanson from Michigan Right to Life spoke at the Monroe County RTL's annual Focus on Life dinner at LaRoy's Hall. Both focused on taking more active roles in stopping abortions in Michigan and preparing for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade that made abortion on demand legal in 1973.

Michigan ranks No. 1 in defending life, according to one Chicago-area pro-life agency. RTL successfully has passed three petition drives, the latest in 2004 to override Gov. Jennifer Granholm's veto of the Legal Birth Definition Act that banned partial birth abortions.

The number of abortions peaked at more than 49,000 in 1987 but has declined 49 percent since then to just over 25,000 in 2005. The number of abortions by minors in 2005 (1,000) also decreased by 60 percent since then. The declines are due primarily to new technology, educating women facing unwanted pregnancies and RTL-backed legislation and referendums passed by voters.

"A picture can tell more than a thousand words," Ms. Hanson said about new ultrasound equipment that shows a baby inside the womb. "It can save a human life."

She told the story of how a woman walked out of a Michigan abortion clinic after seeing a picture of her baby on a screen.

"She saw that the baby was a real human life and not just a blob of cells," Ms. Hanson said. "Right to Life worked hard to get that new law to allow that viewing option."

RTL led a voter-approved referendum in 1988 that ended tax-funded abortions and spearheaded an informed consent law approved by lawmakers that requires abortion clinics to provide information about the procedure, the doctors and options. It also helped pass a parental consent law that requires parents to be notified if a person is younger than 18.

Opting to have an abortion can be a "life-changing decision" that can lead to a "broken-hearted, emotionally injured and spiritually injured" spirit, she said.

Pro-life supporters need to be ready to defend a reversal of Roe vs. Wade, Ms. Hanson told about 115 people present.

"We haven't got a moment to lose," she noted. "Legalized abortion will come to an end. We must be ready when God answers our prayers."

Michigan is one of eight states that already has a law on the books banning abortion. As soon as the nation's highest court overturns Roe vs. Wade, abortion would become illegal again. That likely would draw legal challenges from the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and other abortion supporters, Ms. Hanson said.

College-age students are most at risk and likely to face an unwanted pregnancy. And when they do, they often get bad advice or little support from close friends and family who don't know how to respond.

"We need to practice and prepare now to be willing to help them" choose life, said Mrs. Sherstad, 39. "Parents should be asking themselves, ‘How are you going to help them get through this?' "

There were 186 abortions in Monroe County in 2005. More than 100 of the women were age 24 or younger, she said.

She outlined different reasons why women get abortions. She also listed ways to get involved in the pro-life movement:

  • Volunteer at pregnancy centers.
  • Write letters to the editor.
  • Talk to neighbors about issues.
  • Be willing to listen to people with different points of view.
  • Yet another option is prayer.

"Pray for women who have had abortions, for abortion doctors and women facing an unplanned pregnancy and people who come into contact with them," she said.

Citizens also need to become informed about issues and support pro-life candidates who are "willing to stand up for the defenseless," she said. She added that pro-life lawmakers "do make a difference" in curbing abortions.

"The number of abortions will increase if we don't vote pro-life," the married mother of two twin boys said. "I'm proud to be a single-issue voter. The right to life is the foundation for all other rights."

Other speakers included Paula Springer, director of the Eastern Michigan Offices for Adoption Associates Inc., and Monroe Mayor C.D. (Al) Cappuccilli, who served as master of ceremonies and told how "blessed" he was to have a handicapped son.

Further information about RTL of Michigan is available at Information about Monroe County RTL is available by calling Denise Poet, president, at 241-8180 or Dolores at 243-5616 or e-mailing