Over the years I have met many amazing women who are adamantly pro-life and truly make a difference for life. On the national scene I think of Gail Quinn, the Executive Director Emeritus of the USCCB Pro-Life Activities Committee and Helen Alvare, Law Professor at the George Mason School of Law. Both of them have labored tirelessly and spoken out courageously as advocates for the protection of human life from conception to natural death. Here in Oregon I am impressed with the leadership of Gayle Atteberry, the Executive Director of Oregon Right to Life. Through education, lobbying and political activity she has been successfully changing hearts and saving lives right here in our own communities. I also think of Lynda Harrington, a Catholic parishioner of St. Catherine’s Church in Mill City, Gayle’s predecessor as Executive Director of ORL, who back in 1993 challenged the first United States clinical trials here in Oregon of the French abortion pill, RU-486.
All of these women do much more than talk about the right to life. They walk their talk. Let me give one very concrete and successful example. Last January at the Pro-Life Rally in Portland’s Pioneer Square, Lynda Harrington shared the success story of Standupgirl.com. This website, a ten-year-old project of Oregon Right to Life, has saved thousands of babies and their mothers from the cruelty of abortion. Young mothers from all over the world have come to Standupgirl.com in their search for hope and courage to stand up and do the right thing. Lynda wrote about this success story in the summer issue of ORL’s Life in Oregon.
Lynda tells how the website has grown beyond all expectations. When troubled young women approach Standupgirl.com, eleven volunteers respond to them through emails, chat rooms, forums and blogs. The website also offers 3-D and 4-D ultrasound images of developing fetuses, toll-free confidential help-line information, quick answers to common pregnancy and fetal development questions and a core of young women who are all in need of one another’s support. Standupgirl.com has become one of the top five abortion-related websites in the world. There were two million visitors last year and since the year 2000 there have been 17 million visitors.
Why such success? The personal stories of young women tug at the heartstrings. One visitor, wrote, “I was going to give my baby life because I read stories of girls who terminated their pregnancies and they were all feeling so down. I carried on with school even though I was pregnant. People teased me and passed snotty comments and ugly stares to me. It broke my heart.” When her baby was born she realized that she “had done the right thing – all that I went through was worth it.” The big difference with Standupgirl.com is that, unlike most pro-life websites which reach only those who are already solidly pro-life, this one attracts visitors from all perspectives about pro-life issues and from a host of countries across the globe.
Life-affirming strategies like this are so important in our efforts to change minds and hearts about the dignity of every single human life. We pro-life men certainly have a role to play in efforts underway these days to protect all human life, but since so many look upon this as a woman’s issue, pro-life women like Lynda, Gayle, Gail and Helen are the very best at touching hearts and changing minds. The next time you find yourself at the computer, check out Standupgirl.com. It’s making a difference in the cause for life.