Giving Ventures Podcast: Pro-Life Beyond Policy

On the latest episode of Giving Ventures, host and DonorsTrust Vice President Peter Lipsett talks with three policy experts working to make abortion unthinkable. Those experts are Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life; Jeff Bradford, president of Human Coalition; and Ryan Hanlon, president and CEO of the National Council for Adoption.

March for Life Founders ‘Draw a Line in the Sand’ After Roe

Jeanne Mancini has been at the helm of the March for Life for more than a decade, deftly navigating a team that influenced hearts and minds and, ultimately, helped overturn Roe v. Wade, the infamous 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

“Of course, 1973 — January 22 — were the terrible Supreme Court decisions, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, and that made abortion legal in all 50 states in the United States,” says Jeanne.

“The following year, there were a group of people, including our founder — Nellie Gray — who wanted that anniversary to be noticed; they wanted to draw a line in the sand and, so, they created what they thought would be a one-time or two-time event, the March for Life, on the anniversary of Roe. Little did they know that here, 51 years later, that we’d still be marching.”

March to End at Capitol Now Instead of Supreme Court

The March for Life every year since 1974 in an effort to protest the decision in Roe v. Wade gathered pro-life groups from all over the country to march to the Supreme Court. Now that the landmark decision is overturned, however, the annual march will end on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

This change to the march route will hopefully signal to the world that the march participants are working toward a day when lawmakers at the federal and state level acknowledge and codify the rights of unborn children.

March for Life Founders Thought Roe ‘Would Be Corrected Much Earlier’

The 7-2 Supreme Court decision was widely received by legal experts on both sides of the political aisle as poorly reasoned legal precedent. As the Washington Post reported, even Democrat-appointed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg criticized the lack of sound legal reasoning behind Roe v. Wade.

“[The March for Life founders] thought that the judicial-activism decision that Roe was would be corrected much earlier than 50 years later,” says Jeanne. “It was such a horrendous and activist decision — they thought it would be corrected in a year or two.”

Human Coalition Team Members Bring Abortive Women into ‘System of Care’

Jeff Bradford likewise is working to make abortion unthinkable. Unlike the March for Life, however, the team at Human Coalition works directly with women intent on going through with an abortion and endeavor to help abortion-minded women resolve the hurdles that persuaded them to seek out abortion in the first place.

“It’s one of the largest, pro-life, pro-women organizations in the country and, as you mention, we work directly with clients and we intervene. And women who are, what we would define as ‘planning to abort’ — meaning they’ve already made a decision to have an abortion and they’re looking for options — and we bring them in to a system of care,” says Jeff.

Seventy-Six Percent of Abortion-Minded Women Would Rather Parent if ‘Circumstances Were Different’

The Human Coalition offers ‘wrap-around’ service, meaning the organization provides not only provides counseling to abortion-minded women but also provides women with other resources like housing and education so women can secure better job opportunities and actually support themselves and their unborn children financially.

“Very difficult situations that women are in, that feel like abortion is their only option. And, so, we help them with an empowered decision, and 76% of the women who plan to abort would say they would prefer to parent if their circumstances were different. And, so, through private-public partnerships, we expand that unified national rescue system,” says Jeff.

Legislative Goal? ‘Make Good Laws’ That Help Women ‘Flourish as Moms’

In addition to providing tangible care to abortion-minded women, the team at Human Coalition helps craft legislation that protects women and families in an effort to reduce the number of women that consider or are pressured into abortion in the first place.

“We’re uniquely qualified [to craft pro-life legislation] because we work directly with women and understand really what moves the needle for them,” he says, adding Human Coalition is preoccupied with this question: “How do we make good laws that really protect women and help them flourish as moms and families?”

Women Facing Unplanned Pregnancy Need ‘Accurate Information About Adoption’

One of the options available to abortion-minded women, as many pro-lifers and medical providers like to point out, is adoption. Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, it’s possible more mothers will choose to put their children up for adoption but it’s still too soon to say, says Ryan.

“I think it’s going to take probably a year or two until we can really definitely say exactly what the impact is in terms of whether or not there are more adoption placement. Regardless, I think what’s really important is that we need to ensure that anyone who is facing an unplanned pregnancy has accurate information about adoption.”

Unfortunately, says Ryan, he doesn’t believe the majority of women who face an unplanned pregnancy have adequate or accurate information about adoption and the adoption process. For example, he says, women can choose their biological child’s adoptive parents and can pick the extent to which she wants an ongoing relationship with her child. Many women, however, simply don’t know this.

Connecting Adoption Professionals Nationwide

Moreover, the team at National Council for Adoption helps social workers and — as well as those who, for a variety of reasons, are seeking to adopt — navigate the paperwork and complex emotions that come with putting a child up for adoption and, conversely, adopting a child.

“A big thing we want to do is help connect professionals with one another throughout the country. So, adoption agencies are usually relatively small working in their local community and they often benefit when they can be working and learning from their peers across the country.”

As a result, says Ryan, he and his team host a multi-day annual conference where adoption professionals can share best practices. He and his team also host webinars, inviting subject-matter-experts to present via Zoom to community members, who then earn continuing-educations credits.

Inclusive Adoption Education Makes a Difference

In addition to helping adoption professionals grow in their understanding of the needs of birth mothers and adoptive families, the team at National Council for Adoption also provides resources for those women and families putting children up for adoption as well as the general public and others.

“We focus on education for everyone who’s involved with adoption — birth families, adoptive families, adopted individuals themselves, members of the wider community, the media, policy makers. They often benefit from more education around adoption and so we publish articles and provide other educational collateral so the community can learn more about adoption.”

His group also conducts research and partners with university professors to collect data on information gaps and generally better understand the adoption landscape so he and his team can then educate policy makers and those who work in the adoption industry.

“The government sets policies at the state level and at the federal level in terms of funding and appropriations and resources, and we want to be a voice that says, ‘Let’s make sure that we’re providing post-adoption support to families. Let’s be sure that the work we’re doing isn’t going to be making life more difficult for adoptive families or that we’re not disincentivizing a family to pursue adoption instead of remaining a foster parent.”


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