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Leadership Interview of Jeanneane Maxon: An Architect of the Pro-Life Movement

By Audrey Bancroft of Regent University

I am proud to say that for this interview, I had the honor and privilege of interviewing someone who I admire greatly: the illustrious Jeanneane Maxon. Ms. Maxon is a high-profile attorney whose work over the last decade has been focused on the pro-life movement. Her cause, her leadership skills, her faith, and her bravery make her both influential and inspirational. Though in the midst of overcoming obstacles, she is as strong as ever.

The daughter of dedicated pro-life parents, Jeanneane and her siblings grew up helping around the Pregnancy Resource Center (PRC) that their mother directed. Although she had wanted to be a lawyer from the age of six, it was not until a few years into her law career that God showed her His plan for her work within the pro-life movement. After some time spent working at a private practice law firm, Maxon became discontent and restless as she heard God telling her to do something good with her law degree and her life. A devout Christian, she had always gotten perfect grades in school, including graduating summa cum laude from Westminster College and cum laude from Boston University School of Law (Smith, 2016). God clearly had amazing work for her to do to further His kingdom.

Because of the connections her mother had, Jeanneane became aware of a position at the headquarters of Care Net, one of the main parent organizations for Pregnancy Resource Centers in the United States. She became Care Net’s General Counsel and served as such for five years. In 2012, she felt God’s urging her to move on again, this time to Americans United for Life (AUL). The people at AUL are touted as being the “architects of the prolife movement” as the organization has taken great steps to pass legislation that protects at-risk unborn children and their mothers. Ms. Maxon resigned from AUL last year because of extreme headaches and the Lord’s prompting her to return home to her family in Texas. Shortly thereafter, she was diagnosed with malignant grade 4 brain cancer that required immediate surgery. Since then, she has been undergoing chemotherapy. Though she is currently on disability and focusing largely on her health, Jeanneane still manages to keep leading and to keep fighting for the lives of America’s pre-born citizens through her pro bono work for Care Net, her advisory roles in two pro-life organizations, her speaking engagements, and her writing. It was September of 2015 when I first met Jeanneane at a Care Net conference in San Diego, California when she was still with AUL and prior to her cancer diagnosis. It was there that I was first able to hear her speak and witness her joyful, wise, and gracious demeanor. It is abundantly clear that she is doing the work of God.

Biblically, I notice several parallels between Jeanneane’s life and leadership and that of the prophet Elijah. Ms. Maxon did not originally plan on being a leader in the pro-life movement, but God provided the opportunity and the direction that got her to where she is today. “Like many of the prophets, Elijah did not seek to be God’s messenger. Instead, God chose him for the job. Once called, Elijah did not hesitate to take on his mission, even though it appeared that his life would be threatened by the wicked king” (Moen, 2016). Similarly, the atmosphere of Ms. Maxon’s cause is oftentimes hostile and many of the rulers of our country object to her God-ordained mission. In Elijah’s time, the king and the people were largely worshipers of Baal and Ashtoreth (1 Kings 17-18) Nowadays, in Maxon’s time, the government leaders and the people are largely “worshipers” of “self” and of convenience. “Abortion has the same intended outcome of personal and family prosperity as did the sacrifice of a child at the altar of [Baal] Moloch” (Murray, 2011). Both Jeanneane and Elijah show qualities of being leaders who take action, not just make plans. “Being a [person] of action is essential in leading others because aside from thinking of the things to do, he will have to execute them and set an example for his followers” (Tan, 2016). Both completely fueled by faith in God, both Elijah and Jeanneane have used their lives as examples to others in order to lead, and both leaders have been successful in their efforts to lessen the foothold of the presence of Satan in the land and amplify God’s purposes.

Though being largely motived by the tasks at hand, when assigning a leadership style, Ms. Maxon appears to be a great balance of “task” style and “relationship” style. She told me a story about a time when she was thirteen years old. There was a death in the family and the responsibility fell on her to care for fourteen younger children (siblings and other family) while the adults took care of the tasks and experienced the grief surrounding the family’s loss. She remembers it as being challenging, but also a good introduction to leadership. She saw something that needed to be done, and though it was challenging, she stepped up to help the ones she loved. While she has always been someone that “steps up to the plate” and does what is needed, she also constantly celebrates the people in her life. Currently, while she looks ahead and dreams up what she will accomplish next, she is using this time while she is fighting cancer to homeschool her nephew. Her decisions seem to be rooted in listening to God to form a continuous fusion of task and relationship. She is always focused on how she can accomplish tasks in order to serve people.

In the book by Northouse (2015, p. 123), leadership skills are grouped into three categories, “administrative skills, interpersonal skills, and conceptual skills”. Of these three areas, I am inclined to believe that Ms. Maxon’s strengths in these areas are mostly a combination of interpersonal skills and conceptual skills. Her interpersonal skills are made evident with her ability to stand for life during all of its stages, while also understanding the plight of women and families facing unintended pregnancy. She combines grace and justice, fighting for truth while remaining loving and tender to those on the other side of the issue. She clearly has a strong sense of humanity and empathy. Her conceptual skills are made evident in her influential work as a lawyer and the strides made within the pro-life community in the years since she has been a part of the mission. Last year, a press release by pro-life group Operation Rescue celebrated Jeanneane’s achievements saying:

Maxon’s instrumental and sacrificial team-building work with AUL contributed to a flood of new pro-life legislation that has led to a dramatic number abortion clinic closures and a reduction in abortions in America to historic new lows (Operation Rescue, 2016).

Though she herself is being celebrated as the one implementing change and influencing hearts, when asked what makes a good leader, she said, “an element of humility and perspective” and also to listen to others with different beliefs and views (J. Maxon, personal communication, September 23, 2016). The idea that we as leaders know more than everyone else is completely incorrect and harmful. If we keep the lines of communication open in our leader and follower relationships, it is beneficial for everyone involved. She spoke of how Christian leaders cannot get too wrapped up in what they themselves are trying to do, but rather must realize that “it’s about the mission and Christ” (J. Maxon, personal communication, September 23, 2016). Listening to all members on a team and also listening to opponents is important for a well-rounded view.

That being said, knowing that these traits make a good leader does not mean that what has occurred from implementing these ideas has always been easy for her. One of the greatest challenges of leadership, she said, involves when we do listen but we do not see eye-to-eye with people. The thing to meet this challenge, is good communication and the leader’s ability to “rise above… even when people are nasty” (J. Maxon, personal communication, September 23, 2016). Basically, leaders need to remember how to deal with difficult people graciously. She spoke of the strength that comes when leaders can take the challenge of “not seeing eye-to-eye” and use it as a strengthening thing instead of a problem. Taking differences in perspective as an opportunity for the leader to grow is what she recommends. Another thing she has struggled with more personally in her leadership, is her ability to delegate tasks: she wants to be able to do everything on her own. Although this is her natural inclination and weakness, she acknowledges it and works to keep it in check. This idea fits in well with the Centre of Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP) Assessment and the advice that comes with it when the text “suggests that effective people try to minimize their weaknesses so as to make them irrelevant or of less concern” (Northouse, 2015, p. 60).

Jeanneane Maxon is a highly-influential woman who was created by God for great purposes. Her strong faith, flexibility, and influence will surely continue to help her advance. When asked about her plans for the future, she spoke of how every time she has thought she knew what “the plan” was, it has ended up changing; plot twist after plot twist. I can relate to this concept as I am sure many people can. Keeping the vision of “serving God” as our driving force, obeying Him, and leaving the details to Him is a wise practice. Nowadays, she aspires to be healthy, to travel, and to be a consultant and speaker. She hopes to use her experience with cancer to bring others to Christ.

In my opinion, the key to her continuing to live up to her potential is to focus on balance. She is on the right track in this regard; neither overdoing her activities nor letting her talents atrophy as her body heals. Since delegating tasks has always been a challenge for her, this season of life as she fights cancer gives her an opportunity to grow in this area since more than ever she needs to accept support and more than ever she needs to rely solely on God. It is a chance to rejuvenate, grow, reflect, and see what God’s will is in this next chapter. Jeanneane, both as a leader and as a person, is like the woman of noble character spoken of in Proverbs 31:

    She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.

   When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness (NLT, 25-26).

I am certain that Jeanneane has endless potential for advancement and growth. She is a visionary whose passions are for serving Christ, defending the weak, and bringing justice to a depraved world. She is always eager to both learn and teach, and when she looks at challenges she sees them as opportunities. With strengths like hers, great things are bound to happen.

References

Murray, William. (2011). http://www.religiousfreedomcoalition.org/2011/01/21/worshiping-   moloch-%E2%80%93-the-human-sacrifice-of-children-to-assure-prosperity/

Northouse, Peter. (2015). Introduction to Leadership (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks: SAGE

Operation Rescue. (4 January, 2016). Pro-Life Person of the Year Recipient: Jeanneane Maxon.

Retrieved from http://www.operationrescue.org/archives/operation-rescues-2015-pro-  life-person-of-the-year/

Smith, Warren. (7 January, 2016). Pro-life Leader Jeanneane Maxon on Hearing God.               

         Retrieved from https://world.wng.org/2016/01/pro_life_leader_jeanneane_maxon_on_hearing_god

Tan, Karel. (2016). Leadership Quality from the Prophet Elijah. Leadership Qualities From the     Bible, Infogram. Retrieved from https://infogr.am/LEADERSHIP-QUALITIES-FROM-THE-BIBLE

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Big Abortion Shares Gosnell's Guilt

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Big Abortion Shares Gosnell's Guilt

Published by the Washington Times on May 15, 2013

Two weeks ago, I sat less than 10 feet away from Kermit Gosnell in the Philadelphia courtroom where his fate was ultimately decided. Now he sits in a jail cell, awaiting his final sentence for murdering newly born children in his abortion clinic. The prosecutor gave an impassioned closing argument detailing gruesome evidence of suffering and death, while Gosnell at times smiled, even laughed. The Gosnell jury did their job, though. Now we, the American public, must do ours.

Much like the Gosnell jury, the American people have had the chance to see the natural consequence of an unregulated profit-driven abortion clinic industry, including the reality of infanticide, which is the logical conclusion of the abortion worldview. Gosnell’s clinic is not the only “house of horrors” in our nation. In recent years, 15 states have investigated substandard conditions and providers.

It is clear the time is now to protect women and children victimized by Big Abortion by enacting common-sense clinic regulations, informed consent requirements, mandated reporting of sexual abuse, parental involvement in young girl’s abortion decisions and legal protections for born-alive infants. Americans United for Life has been championing these laws for decades, providing model legislation and protecting women from unregulated Big Abortion.

Far from being a restrictive abortion environment, the United States stands with North Korea, China and Canada in having the most radical abortion policies in the world. In this country, abortion clinics are not regulated like the legitimate medical facilities they claim to be. Only four states regulate abortion in the same manner as other outpatient surgical centers. This means that in our supposedly progressive society, patients receiving virtually any outpatient surgery are worthy of basic health protections, yet women who receive abortions somehow are not.

The consequences are dire. Women die under horrendous circumstances from botched abortions every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Gosnell’s case, the victim was Karnamaya Mongar, the mother of four who had survived 20 years in a refugee camp, only to die from an abortion she received at a house of horrors clinic. It took emergency personnel 20 critical minutes to simply remove her from the clinic because the hallways were too narrow to navigate a stretcher.

In 2012, 24-year-old Tonya Reaves died following a botched abortion in Planned Parenthood’s flagship clinic in Chicago across the street from the art museum. She bled inside the clinic for more than five hours before Planned Parenthood bothered to call emergency personnel. In 2013, Jennifer Morbelli, a 29-year-old kindergarten teacher, died after an abortion by infamous abortionist LeRoy Carhart. As she started to develop complications, her family attempted to reach out to him, but he was unavailable.

In response to Monday’s verdict, Planned Parenthood called Gosnell’s crimes “appalling.” What of Planned Parenthood’s own actions? The local Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation knew of the conditions inside Gosnell’s house of horrors; they did not report them. Two former nurses of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Delaware are now reporting similarly appalling acts in the Delaware clinic, including use of unsterilized instruments and failure to wash down operating tables. What of Planned Parenthood’s own victims, like Tonya Reaves? Much like Gosnell, who decided to take the stand and testify in his defense, Planned Parenthood has remained remarkably silent.

Meanwhile, the Big Abortion lobby is attempting to distract the American public, arguing that the solution to Gosnell’s crimes is to give women more access to abortion, all while vehemently opposing the regulation of abortion clinics. How can the solution be more unregulated abortion? It’s nonsensical.

With this tragedy, America can no longer ignore the impact of what occurs in abortion clinics. The facts and evidence are at hand, and we are now obliged to render our own verdict. Will we turn a blind eye to the horrors occurring every day across our country inside the houses of Big Abortion, or will we model the courageous example of the Gosnell jury and provide justice? It is time to weigh impartially the evidence of more than 40 years of abortion in unregulated, unrestricted, unrepentant clinics. Justice was served in the Gosnell verdict, but other women and children need our help.

 

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Gosnell: Are you Human?

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Gosnell: Are you Human?

Published by the Daily Caller on May 3, 2013

On Monday, I sat in the Philadelphia courtroom where abortionist Kermit Gosnell was being tried for murder. I was there as a representative of Americans United for Life (AUL), a pro-life group.

Gosnell is accused of snapping the spinal cords of four babies who survived botched abortions. He’s also on the hook for the 2009 overdose of a woman at his clinic.

Prosecutor Ed Cameron delivered a passionate closing argument. At one point Cameron turned to Gosnell and asked, “Are you human?”

In light of the facts revealed during the trial, it was a legitimate question. Gosnell responded with laughter.

The prosecution presented evidence of appalling conditions in the clinic (including the re-use of unsterilized instruments, blood on chairs and equipment, fetal body parts clogging the plumbing, and general filth). The defense responded by stating that the clinic was “not perfect” and was engaging in “urban healthcare.”

The defense didn’t try to dispute the allegation that Gosnell snipped the babies’ spinal cords. The evidence was too clear — there were photographs, babies’ bodies, and several incidents described in testimony. Gosnell’s attorney simply argued that the babies were already dead when the snipping occurred.

This raises an obvious question: Why would Gosnell and his staff snip the necks of dead babies? Gosnell’s attorney suggested they were trying to alleviate some sort of pain. But how can dead babies feel pain?

Ultimately, Gosnell’s fate hinges on one question: Did he kill these third-trimester, fully formed infants while they were still inside their mothers’ wombs, or did he wait until they were delivered hours or moments later? The court’s answer to that question will determine whether Gosnell is guilty of murder.

Illogical? Yes. Incomprehensible? Absolutely. But our nation’s laws are radically pro-abortion. Only North Korea, China, and Canada regulate late-term abortion as loosely as the United States.

And then there’s what happened to Karnamaya Mongar, the wife and mother of four who had survived 20 years in a refugee camp in Bhutan only to die, surrounded by filth, in Gosnell’s clinic from a drug overdose administered by Gosnell’s staff under his supervision. Karnamaya could not be revived by the clinic’s broken defibrillator.

According to the grand jury report, the emergency entrance was locked and chained, and the hallways were too narrow to fit a stretcher. Tragically, it took emergency personnel over 20 minutes to simply get Karnamaya out of the building.

Yet the abortion lobby continues to oppose common-sense clinic regulations that would protect women from these conditions. On Tuesday, one day after the closing arguments in the Gosnell case, “PBS NewsHour” featured a debate between AUL President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest and NARAL Pro-Choice America President IIyse Hogue. Ms. Hogue called regulating the width of clinic hallways an “arbitrary restriction” because, she said, the width of a clinic’s hallways has “no bearing on the medical care that a woman can get.”

But, as shown in the Gosnell case, it’s important to regulate the width of medical facilities’ hallways to guarantee that emergency workers with life-saving gear and equipment can easily access the people inside. Such regulations do not single out abortion clinics — though the abortion industry frequently chooses inadequate venues out of greed and a general unwillingness to conform to medical standards.

The Gosnell case resonates because of the questions it raises. Do we believe that those inside abortion clinics, the women and the babies, are worthy of the same dignity and care afforded to other human beings? Or do we reject that notion in favor of expediency and arbitrary decision-making about whether a person’s life is worthy of another day?

Of course, given the radicalism of the American abortion lobby, treating women and babies in abortion clinics with the respect they deserve won’t be easy. But there are a few steps states can take to get started.

Every state should enact AUL’s model Abortion Patients’ Enhanced Safety Act to ensure that women in abortion clinics receive the same basic standard of care required of any other outpatient surgical center. States should also enact AUL’s Women’s Health Defense Act, which prohibits late-term abortions based on increasing evidence that such abortions harm women’s health, as well as concerns about the pain felt by the children. All states should enact AUL’s Born Alive Infant Protection Act to create a specific affirmative duty for abortionists to provide medical care and treatment to infants born alive after botched abortions.

Surely the abortion industry should protect women, girls and infants born in its facilities. This should be an area of bipartisan agreement.

Critics of our largely unregulated abortion industry shouldn’t lose hope. In 2011 and 2012 alone, we saw the enactment of over 130 common-sense state-level abortion restrictions. The Gosnell trial is awakening even more Americans to the power of the abortion lobby and to the dangers faced by women and girls in abortion clinics.

The time for smart regulation and monitoring of the abortion industry is now. The need is great, because women deserve better than Gosnell. Refusing to act will endanger the unsuspecting and innocent. In the end, we must act in order to protect the humanity of us all.

 

 

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I know when life begins

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I know when life begins

Published by Washington Times on March 24, 2014

George Washington once wrote, “Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light.” Pain is what it takes these days to get a straight answer out of political figures encased behind walls erected by media and public-relations professionals.

When a persistent reporter recently broke through the barriers protecting the head of the nation’s largest chain of abortion providers, what little truth could be gleaned became news, with implications for the 2014 midterm elections.

The award for “the audacity of hope” goes to Fusion TV’s America with Jorge Ramos, who refused to allow Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, to dodge the question: “For you, when does life begin?”

Just hearing the question, Ms. Cecile found herself between the proverbial rock and hard place. As head of an organization claiming to be the expert on all things related to women’s health, she could not revert to the standard copout answer, “It’s above my pay grade.” Nor could she admit that life begins at some point in the womb, lest she complicate Planned Parenthood’s financial decision to offer abortion up until birth.

Instead, Ms. Cecile admitted a truth that the abortion industry strains to conceal: For them, when life begins doesn’t matter. Ms. Cecile’s exact words: “I don’t know that it’s really relevant to the, relevant to the conversation.”

It is certainly relevant to many Americans, some embroiled in lawsuits pending before the Supreme Court. Through Obamacare mandates, they are forced to subsidize life-ending drugs and devices, and sometimes abortions themselves, in pursuit of a federal policy that steamrolls personal objections to ending life. In this instance, the question of when life begins is at the heart and soul of the objections of many to the anti-life mandates in the health care law.

But in her answer, Ms. Cecile reveals Big Abortions’ callous disinterest in the science of unborn life and growth, and her contempt for those who do believe life counts. Instead, she reinforces a politically correct take on situational ethics — that whether an unborn child should continue living should be arbitrarily left in the hands of another. To reinforce her position, she went on to state that she did not consider her own three children “alive” until after she delivered them at birth.

It would seem that in Ms. Cecile’s definition of life, the scientific view — that life can be observed in response to stimuli or by growth, for example — is discarded, replaced by an implausible position that life is defined by location. She seems to assert that people’s humanity is not their own, but rather a construct of the people around them.

Ms. Cecile’s view is at odds with those of every mother who sees her child in an ultrasound, a seminal event and one of many quandaries for abortion advocates as science exposes the faulty reasoning in Roe v. Wade. It is indisputable that at conception a zygote, with unique human DNA, forms and begins to grow, within weeks taking on all the characteristics attributable to fully formed humans.

That Ms. Cecile and other abortion-industry champions have fought so hard against laws that would protect children who are five-months along, moving and experiencing life in their mothers’ wombs, shows a breathtaking disregard of the obvious unique humanity of a young human being.

Alarmingly, America’s own pro-abortion policies support such an extreme position. In fact, the United States remains only one in four nations that allow abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason and sometimes with taxpayer subsidies. Only Canada, China and North Korea share this distinction. Under Ms. Cecile’s watch, Planned Parenthood ended the lives of 327,166 unborn children through abortion from Oct. 1, 2011, to Sept. 30, 2012, the last year covered under Planned Parenthood’s latest annual report.

That one person can arbitrarily decide the fate of another without due process smacks of the antiquated and radical ideologies of the pro-slavery lobby that conspired to profit off human misery, and is certainly contrary to American principles of equality, justice and opportunity.

The good news is that pro-life Americans are gaining ground. As just one example, more pro-life laws have been enacted in the past three years than in the entire previous decade. As early election events unfold, it is clear that a backlash is building against politicians who forced the anti-life policies of Obamacare on the nation.

Abortion ends life; life exists in the womb; women suffer at the hands of abortion industry profiteers; and anti-life Obamacare mandates violate the First Amendment conscience rights of many Americans. These are relevant topics, with political consequences. Regardless of Ms. Cecile’s extreme stance, issues involving life will remain relevant as we respond to our own personal beliefs about life at the ballot box.

 

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Marching for Life

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Marching for Life

Published by the Christian Science Monitor on September 17, 2013

The timing of Jahr’s pontificating is ironic as it came while I was in Denver as a representative of Americans United for Life (AUL) at the Care Net national conference. Care Net is an organization that supports more than 1,000 pregnancy resource centers across the country. Pregnancy centers provide free care and resources to women facing unintended pregnancies. I was surrounded by more than a thousand staff members and volunteers who have given countless hours of time, and countless dollars, to compassionately care for women facing an abortion decision. 

From age seven, I’ve witnessed and shared in the loving responsibility of providing whatever assistance a pregnant mother might need, as my own mother worked tirelessly as an executive director of a pregnancy care center.

Pro-life Americans understand this kind of daily dedication – responding with money, time, and treasure to nurture the potential of every unborn life with tangible resources. 

At the March for Life thousands upon thousands of people from all walks of life  charities, churches, synagogues, non-profits, individuals, and business leaders – join together to reconfirm their belief in something larger than themselves. Family celebrations are a perfect way to recommit to the reality of life and all it demands. Sometimes the best way to show your love for people is a party or a memorial, a celebration of the hope that draws us together.

It’s inadequate to draw conclusions about the pro-life movement based on limited observation of the March for Life, as Jahr does. Consider these facts taken from a survey of pregnancy centers in 2010: Through pregnancy centers, the pro-life community served more than 2.3 million families facing unintended pregnancies, with services including peer counseling, free pregnancy tests, free ultrasounds, parental education, and post-abortion support. These services were provided by 71,000 volunteers who logged more than 5.7 million volunteer hours.

Approximately 54 percent of the 2,000 pregnancy centers in the US provide medical services to women facing unintended pregnancies, almost all for free. In 2010, pregnancy centers provided needy families with free services valued at nearly $101 million.

And pregnancy centers did all this while taking very little government funding, if any. In fact, the work of the pro-life movement in serving their communities was so extraordinary that, in 2008, the White House specifically recognized pregnancy centers for their volunteerism.

Likewise, dozens of states have passed resolutions honoring the work of these centers. Indeed, having spent decades working in the pro-life movement, I am convinced that the safest and most caring place for a woman facing an unintended pregnancy to be is inside a pro-life pregnancy center. Most pregnancy centers boast client satisfaction rates upward of 90 percent.

And what of the legal organizations that work to enact pro-life laws, organizations like Americans United for Life? Do they care about women? Of course.

AUL’s has several legislation models which have served as the basis for state bills. AUL's "Abortion Patients’ Enhanced Safety Act," for example, would require abortion clinics to meet medically appropriate standards of patient care – care that all women deserve. Women die every year inside under-regulated abortion clinics, including Tonya Reeves who bled to death for five hours inside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Chicago before an ambulance was called.

AUL’s “Women’s Right to Know Act” model legislation equips women with information about the abortion procedure, and its risks and alternatives so that women can have full information before making such a major life decision. The pro-life movement believes women are intelligent and deserving of this information. And AUL’s “Parental Involvement Enhancement Act” model legislation enhances parental consent laws to ensure that sexual abusers of minor girls are not able to force girls into abortion. 

And where is the pro-choice movement spending its money? Many groups spend it intensely opposing these very bills every time they are introduced. When you look at the complete picture, it is the pro-life movement that is caring for and defending women. At our core we believe all women and children deserve the best life possible. 

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