Friday, 24 March 2023
“Decades in the trenches” - Pregnancy help pioneers to be honored at national pro-life prayer event Liane Metzler/Unsplash

“Decades in the trenches” - Pregnancy help pioneers to be honored at national pro-life prayer event

The pregnancy help movement and some of its forerunners will be honored by the pro-life movement in January.

Pregnancy centers have been under attack from the abortion cartel since long before Roe v. Wade was overturned, but the leak of the Dobbs decision in May brought a new level of violence to centers across the country.

What’s the motive for attacking centers that offer help to mothers in all sorts of circumstances? 

The worship of abortion. 

Abortion fanatics who talk about a woman’s right to choose want the only choice to be abortion. Some 3,000 pregnancy help centers in the U.S. get in the way of that, offering mothers in unexpected pregnancies the things they need – from baby supplies to job training, education to housing help – to be able to choose life. 

Vandals, often claiming to be from a pro-abortion group called Jane’s Revenge, have firebombed at least one center, and smashed windows and painted ominous graffiti on numerous others. 

Not a single arrest has been made, but on Nov. 15 – the same day a group of pro-lifers demanded action during a protest outside the Department of Justice in Washington D.C. – the FBI released video of two men who attacked the CompassCare Pregnancy Services in Buffalo, N.Y., and posted a $25,000 reward to help identify and prosecute them.

Aside from the physical violence, some U.S. Senators (like Elizabeth Warren) want legislation passed to shut down the centers because of the “harm” they do to women across the nation.

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But even under all these threats, the life-saving work of pregnancy help carries on day after day, saving taxpayers millions of dollars annually, but more importantly - saving lives.

Tweet This: Even under all these threats, the life-saving work of pregnancy help carries on day after day, saving taxpayers millions of dollars annually, but more importantly - saving lives.

That work, and the people who pioneered it, will be the focal point of January’s National Prayer Service, held every year on the morning of the March for Life in Washington, D.C. 

Those who will be honored during the interdenominational service have each spent decades in the trenches, some of them starting their work before the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion throughout the country.

The recipients of the 2023 Pro-Life Recognition Award are:

Margaret (Peggy) Hartshorn, chairman of the board of Heartbeat International. She became involved in the pro-life movement soon after Roe v. Wade and she and her husband, Michael Hartshorn, began housing pregnant women a year later. Mrs. Hartshorn is an architect of the pregnancy help movement, opening a health center in Ohio in 1981 and later serving as the first full-time president of Heartbeat International. 

Denise Cocciolone, founder and president of the National Life Center, the parent organization of 1st Way Pregnancy Centers. Her first center, opened in her hometown of Woodbury, N.J., was the fourth in the nation. Mrs. Cocciolone was formerly the executive director and member of the board of directors of Birthright USA. 

Thomas Glessner, founder and president of the National Association of Family and Life Advocates, which represents more than 1,600 pregnancy centers and medical clinics across the country. In 2018, the organization won a free-speech case before that benefits pregnancy centers and all Americans.

Christopher Bell, founder and executive director of Good Counsel Homes, a network of supportive residential homes for expectant and new mothers, and their children. It was founded in 1985 and currently has four homes in New York and New Jersey. 

Joan Andrews Bell, a pioneer in pro-life activism who has faced arrest more than 100 times for blocking the doors of abortion businesses. Mrs. Bell spent more than two years in prison, some of it in solitary confinement for refusing to promise to leave the rescue movement. 

Christopher Slattery, founder and president of Expectant Mother Care – EMC Frontline Pregnancy Centers, a network of alternatives-to-abortion centers currently operating in three of New York City’s five boroughs. 

We will also remember Sister Paula Vandegaer, now deceased. Founder of International Life Services, she was a longtime pro-life advocate in California who helped to establish hundreds of pro-life pregnancy centers around the U.S. and the world.

We will likewise give honor to Care Net and Birthright, both of which have done and continue to do amazing life-saving work.

The 28th annual National Prayer Service at Constitution Hall will feature preaching, music, and the awards ceremony. 

The hall opens at 7:30 a.m. ET for a Catholic Mass for anyone wishing to attend. The service itself will run from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Last year’s musical guest, Christian recording artist Mike Donehey, will return for an encore performance.

The service is free, tickets are not required and groups traveling by bus to the March can be easily accommodated.

Constitution Hall is at 1776 D St. NW, Washington, D.C.

Editor's note: Leslie Palma serves as Communications Director for Priests for Life. Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help News. 





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