The Persistent Myth

This has led me and others to emphasize the need of the pro-life movement not only to point out the humanity of the child, but the reality of the help that is available to the mother, to assist her to preserve and nurture the life of that child, and to find that her own fulfillment is not sacrificed in the process.

Nevertheless, there is a myth that persists about the child.

Analysis of the opinion of Americans about abortion is least helpful when it focuses on the slogans with which people associate themselves, and most helpful when it focuses on the specific positions with which people associate themselves. One of the key parameters in which those positions are analyzed is the time framework of pregnancy.

Predictably, support for abortion drastically declines as you go later into the stages of pregnancy. A New York Times – Wirthlin poll revealed only 7% of Americans supporting abortion in the third trimester, and only 15% supporting it in the second trimester of pregnancy.

Yet to understand how we are doing in the overall effort to end abortion, we have to consider that third-trimester procedures constitute about 1% of abortions, and second-trimester procedures constitute about 9%. All the rest of the abortions — some 90% — occur in the first trimester. It is in that period that we find 61% of Americans supporting the availability of abortion. It is also in that period that we find the persistent myth: that the unborn is not really a human child at that point.

We live in a visual culture. Much of the erosion of support for late-term abortions can be traced to the partial-birth abortion controversy. The visual reality of this procedure, performed in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, has been presented in the halls of Congress and on national TV by means of medically accurate diagrams. Moreover, actual photos of aborted babies are, for the most part, of babies in these same time frames. But again, most Americans already oppose abortion at those times, and most abortions take place before that period.

It is time to attack directly the persistent myth that the first trimester baby is not a baby, and that the first trimester abortion is not really an act of violence that kills a baby. We at Priests for Life have taken a step in this direction by publishing on our website color photos of first trimester aborted children (visit

No pro-life educational effort has the kind of impact that this has. Seeing is believing. America will simply not reject abortion until America sees abortion.

(Contact Priests for Life at P.O. Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314; Tel: 888-PFL-3448, 718-980-4400; Fax: 718-980-6515; email:; web:

Fr. Pavone Calls Again for Definitive Cancellation of McVeigh Execution

In the strongest possible terms, Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, renewed his plea to President Bush and other government officials to intervene to definitively cancel the execution of Timothy McVeigh, and in fact to abandon the use of the death penalty altogether.

“Whoever can stop this, should intervene to stop it now,” Fr. Pavone said. “The time has come for our nation, and for each of us individually, to realize that nothing is solved by putting criminals to death. The victims do not come back to life, the wounds we have are not healed, and we are all diminished in the process.”

Fr. Pavone further explained, “To call for the cancellation of the execution of Mr. McVeigh is not to deny that what he has done deserves punishment, but rather to declare that death is not the appropriate form of punishment. It is not to deny that the state has the right to use capital punishment, but rather to declare that the time for its use is past. It is not to deny the pain and grief of the families and friends of the victims, but rather to declare that nobody mourning a killing will find peace as a result of more killing. Our problems are not solved by eliminating people at any stage or circumstance of life. We live in a culture of death. To change it, we are called to absorb violence, not inflict it.”

“We are proud to join our voices with those of the Holy Father and our bishops, as we seek the restoration of a Culture of Life in America.”

Fr. Frank Pavone


Father Frank A. Pavone is an American Roman Catholic priest and pro-life activist. He is the National Director of Priests for Life and serves as the Chairman and Pastoral Director of Rachel's Vineyard.

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