PRIESTS FOR LIFE SPONSORS INTERVIEWS WITH EX-ABORTIONIST
By Henry V. King
STATEN ISLAND-"In fact, Joy Davis, who ran six abortion mills, says
that a single priest praying in front of an abortion mill
tremendously slows down the work inside. The patients become more
hesitant and the workers get emotional, often to the point of
That motivating revelation for pro-lifers came from Fr. Frank A.
Pavone just prior to Priests for Life's decision to launch a radio
and TV interview campaign with Joy Davis, who for 12 years was
regional manager of six abortion centers in Alabama and Mississippi,
and with Sarah Smith and her mother, Betty.
Sarah, now a young lady, was almost aborted more than a score of
years ago when her twin was aborted instead.
Fr. Pavone is national director of Priests for Life, an association
of Catholics who "give special emphasis to promoting and defending
the sanctity of human life." Its chief aim is to persuade and
encourage priests in every diocese and city of America to speak out
from the altar, and to become active in exerting influence against
abortion, euthanasia, and other violations of human life.
"Joy, Sarah, and Betty have marvelously meaningful stories to tell,
and they're ready to share their testimonies against the horrors of
abortion over radio and TV," said Fr. Pavone, a 35-year-old priest
of the Archdiocese of New York who, with the consent of John Cardinal
O'Connor, devotes all his time to heading Priests for Life from its
main office on Staten Island:
"But traveling to a number of cities for interviews, and for talks to
special groups, costs money. Continued donations from Catholics are
needed to bring these powerful messages to many thousands more. You
see, they will tell priests why it's so important to speak up, and
they will astonish people who will hear them explain what really goes
on in the abortion industry-and what it's like to have almost been
Fr. Pavone recently spent a number of mornings and afternoons with
Joy, Sarah, and Betty in Birmingham, Ala., taping 13 radio and TV
programs. He pronounced their testimonies truly remarkable:
"Betty's story centers around the fact that neither she nor her
abortionist knew she was expecting twins. After her son-whom she
later named Thomas - was aborted, Betty returned home not knowing
that Sarah, a twin, was alive in her womb. Soon after when little
Sarah started kicking Betty decided, no matter what, she had to give
birth to her baby-a decision for which she is still thanking God."
Priests for Life now has more than 1,200 priests along with several
thousand lay members. Begun in San Francisco by Fr. Lee Kaylor who
first realized the necessity of establishing a network of priests who
were preaching on the evils of abortion, the group was officially
recognized by San Francisco's Archbishop John Quinn in April, 1991.
Since then, with Fr. Pavone and the associate national director, Fr.
James Heyd of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Priests for Life has
branched out. Its newsletter, published six times a year, not only
carries important up-to-date commentary on life issues, but it
addresses obstacles that often stop priests from preaching on
To one fairly common obstacle for priests, "Am I 'turned off' by the
eccentricity of some prolifers?," Priests for Life responds:
"There are 'eccentrics' in every movement. But if our own prevailing
impression of pro- lifers is that they are 'eccentric,' it may
indicate that we ourselves have had very little exposure to the
people in the movement. Pro-lifers are among the most dedicated and
selfless people in the world. They love those who cannot love them
back, and endure ridicule, cost, and injury in the process.
"The pro-life movement is the largest grass-roots movement in the
history of the United States. Of course there are eccentrics. There
are also many saints. (Sometimes these categories overlap!) Studies
show that the pro-life movement, vast and varied as it is, is more a
reflection of America than the pro-abortion movement."
To, "Do I see the 'consistent ethic of life' as incompatible with a
focus on abortion?," Priests for Life counsels:
"The 1985 Reaffirmation of the Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activists
of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops stated, 'Focus on
abortion and the Church's firm commitment to a consistent ethic of
life complement each other.' Consistency does not mean watering down
anything. It means speaking up! Consistency also means that if
abortion is murder, we need to treat it that way."
Fr. Pavone is no armchair prolifer. Recently, in Birmingham, Ala.,
after praying with more than a score of pro-lifers congregating
outside a local abortuary, Fr. Pavone read aloud the names of some of
the women killed by abortion in the United States. The effect this
had on passersby was, in the words of one pro-lifer, "numbing because
of its stark reality. Linking abortion with the death of mothers has
an unforgettable impact."
It is Fr. Pavone's hope that with more and more priests speaking out,
the number of abortions will drop markedly among American Catholics,
as was the case in Poland where the latest figures reveal only 777
abortions for all of 1993. In 1987, in then-Soviet- dominated Poland,
there were 123,534 abortions. Later, with new laws outlawing abortion
and with priests permitted to hammer against it in the churches, the
total number of abortions dropped to 30,878 in 1991 to 11,640 in
1992, then to the latest low of 777.
Special donations to help spread the testimonies of Joy, Sarah, and
Betty may be sent to Priests for Life, P.O. Box 141172, Staten
Island, N.Y., 10314. In addition both priests and laity may join
Priests for Life which is supported solely by individual
contributions, by sending $15.00 for a one-year membership.
This article was taken from the January 26, 1995 issue of "The
Wanderer," 201 Ohio Street, St. Paul, MN 55107, 612-224-5733.
Subscription Price: $35.00 per year; six months $20.00.