Playing Defense

Frank Pavone, Rev.
National Director/ Priests for Life
September 15, 2001

If there's one thing the pro-abortion forces in this nation do not know how to do well, it's to play defense. They are so used to taking the first steps, framing the issues, and putting pro–life people and organizations on the defensive, that they hardly know what to do when the tables are turned.

Priests for Life has been turning those tables with full page ads in papers like the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. A recent series of these ads called on the abortion industry to accountfor the deaths and injuries of women in so-called “safe and legal” abortion clinics nationwide.

Consider what happens when an abortionist is killed. Not only is the presumption immediately and irresponsibly made that a “pro–life” person did this, but the abortion industry calls on the entire leadership of the pro–life movement to denounce this violence, separate themselves from it, and do everything possible to prevent it. Certainly we do denounce such violence, no matter who carries it out. But the dilemma that is created for us is that every time we denounce acts of violence at abortion facilities, we call attention to the fact that there has been violence at abortion facilities — and that's what the pro–abortion groups want the public to know.

Through our ads, we put the abortion industry in a similar dilemma. We know, through court cases, news stories, testimonies of former abortionists, and from the victims and their families, that women are abused, maimed, and killed in legal abortion clinics nationwide. Through the ads, we bring these facts out into the open. We take the initiative to expose this hidden tragedy.

What, then, are the pro–abortion forces to do? If they say anything, they have to distance themselves from the problem. “Oh, that doesn't happen in our clinic,” many of them will say. “Our doctors have higher standards. We take more precautions than others; our facilities are safe and clean and regulated. No patient has died in our facilities.”

Their very attempt to defend themselves calls attention to the fact that these tragedies have happened in at least some abortion clinics.

Their other option, of course, is that they can ignore the whole matter. But how, then, do they — claiming to champion women's rights and health — explain their silence in the face of women being abused, injured and killed?

Our ads have only just begun, and are carefully documented in every detail. We offer a partial list of the names of women killed in abortion clinics as well as additional information about documented cases. (See our website at

Nobody knows how many of these incidents occur, because they are carefully covered–up, including by falsification of medical records. This much is certain, however: the more one looks for these cases, the more one finds. And the more we find, the more we should proclaim it, and let the pro–aborts play defense for a change.