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AFTER A DECADE-LONG battle, Congress finally banned partial-birth abortion last year. Many young people, aware of aborted contemporaries they will never meet, are embracing an ethic of life. And ultrasound is revolutionizing the effectiveness of crisis pregnancy centers. Here's what several pro-life groups are planning for 2004 in the fight for life:
Pro-Life Action League, Chicago
"For 2004, we have relaunched the Pro-Life Activist Network (PLAN) to coordinate quarterly campaigns with local, national, and international pro-life activist groups," said Pro-Life Action League's Joseph Scheidler. "We also will continue to promote sidewalk counseling as the most effective direct means to save babies and help their mothers."
PLAL in 2004 will expand its Face the Truth tours, in which activists show large photographs of aborted babies along the public highways and city sidewalks, "bringing the horror of abortion to the public square." In addition, the group's Generations for Life youth outreach division is launching teen pro-life clubs nationwide.
Americans United for Life, Chicago
With the partial-birth abortion ban now tied up in court, Americans United for Life (AUL) will this year advise lawmakers on such issues as human cloning, the conscience rights of pro-life healthcare workers, and a federalism amendment that would place the abortion issue in the hands of the states.
"There are several shifts that we have seen and that are important to the future of the pro-life movement," said AUL staff counsel Denise Burke. "There is an increasing emphasis on educating Americans that abortion hurts women and is not the panacea that abortion advocates promised.... Until we can convince people that abortion is actually bad for women, there is unlikely to be sufficient public support to further restrict or prohibit abortion."
Priests for Life, Staten Island, N.Y.
It's an election year, and in 2004 Priests for Life plans to get out the pro-life vote, conducting church-based voter registration and using grassroots volunteers to get people to the polls on Nov. 2.
PFL will also focus this year on Silent No More, a campaign to mobilize women nationwide who have had abortions and are ready to speak publicly about their experience and healing. The group plans local and national events in which abortion survivors can publicly express their regret over having had an abortion.
National Right to Life Committee, Washington
Heading into 2004 with pro-life physician Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) leading the U.S. Senate, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) will focus on unfinished legislative business. In years past, "the Senate has been a bottleneck" for life-affirming federal laws, said NRLC legislative director Douglas Johnson, but Majority Leader Frist intends to move ahead with pro-life bills.
NRLC will work to pass legislation to prohibit government discriminating against healthcare workers who-and institutions that-refuse to participate in abortion; to make it a crime to transport minors across state lines to escape abortion-related parental involvement laws; to recognize unborn children as legal victims when they are injured or killed during the commission of federal crimes; and to suspend distribution of RU-486 pending a review of FDA procedures in approving the drug in 2000.
CareNet, Sterling, Va.
CareNet, a nonprofit group that supports a network of 700 pregnancy resource centers in the United States and Canada, this year will work to establish new centers in underserved urban areas such as Atlanta, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Detroit. "African-Americans in urban areas have the highest rate of abortions and are the most targeted by abortion groups," said CareNet spokeswoman Kristin Hansen. "That is why our project to help develop and plant pregnancy centers in under-served areas is focused on reaching that community."
CareNet has also partnered with Heartbeat International to staff and promote the Option Line, launched a year ago this month. The first 24-hour centralized call center for pregnancy centers across North America, the Option Line counsels callers and refers them to pregnancy centers in their local area.
American Life League, Stafford, Va.
The group will focus on informing voters about Roman Catholics holding public office who are pro-abortion. "It is not possible to be both pro-abortion and Catholic ... each and every Catholic must act in positive ways to defend life and affirm motherhood," said ALL president Judie Brown.
Meanwhile, ALL's music-based outreach Rock for Life is going to college campuses this year to educate and enlist young people in the struggle to end abortion.