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Missouri's last abortion clinic faces 'imminent' decision

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 22:01

St. Louis, Mo., Mar 19, 2020 / 08:01 pm (CNA).- Missouri authorities could soon rule on whether the state’s only remaining abortion clinic will remain open despite failures to meet basic patient care standards, and abortion advocates are already publicizing high abortion numbers at the new multi-million-dollar Planned Parenthood clinic built in secret just across the Illinois state line.

In June 2019, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services refused to renew the license of the clinic, Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, to perform abortions.

A Missouri judge and the Missouri Administration Hearing Commission both granted a temporary stay of the health department’s decision, allowing the clinic to remain open while the case was reviewed.

March 16 marked the deadline for written briefs to be filed with the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission. The state health department had requested an extension to the original Feb. 28 deadline.

A decision is now “imminent,” advocates in the case told the U.K. newspaper The Guardian.

Before Missouri’s health department refused to renew the license, it submitted to court a “Statement of Deficiencies.” It cited an “unprecedented lack of cooperation” on the part of the St. Louis clinic, as well as a “failure to meet basic standards of patient care.” The statement also identified four instances of failed abortion procedures at the clinic.

Planned Parenthood’s attorneys argued that the state “cherry-picked” a “handful of difficult cases” out of an estimated 3,000 abortions performed at the facility. Its defenders have said that state inspectors did not find an unsafe environment.

Planned Parenthood has provided an analysis to National Public Radio reporting that only three abortions were performed at its St. Louis clinic in February 2020, compared to 174 abortions the previous year. However, 323 abortions were performed at the new Planned Parenthood clinic in nearby Fairview Heights, Ill.

Yamelsie Rodriguez, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said that women are seeking abortions in Illinois due to more permissive abortion laws. Missouri also has a 72-hour waiting period for abortion.

“When they are weighing their options, the majority of patients are clearly seeing that abortion access is so unmanageable that they're choosing to cross state lines,” Rodriguez told NPR.

The new clinic, which opened in October 2019, has space of 18,000 square feet and cost about $7 million to build.

Mary Kate Knorr, Illinois Right to Life Executive Director, in October said the facility is a “money-making venture.”

“Make no mistake – this new mega-facility is not a response to an increased demand, nor is it a gesture of care for women. This facility was created to fill the gaping hole they’re seeing in their bottom line,” Knorr said.

“The construction of this new facility was a strategic business move – certainly not a defense of women.”

Planned Parenthood constructed its new abortion clinic in secret just 13 miles from the St. Louis clinic. It used a shell company to hide that the facility would become one of the nation’s largest abortion clinics.

Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, told CBS News in October that abortion facilities in other areas had faced public outcry and protest during their construction, hence their decision to build the clinic in secret.

Missouri authorities, however, could have final say over the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic.

According to the Missouri health department's “Statement of Deficiencies,” Planned Parenthood went back on its agreement to perform pelvic examinations as a “preoperative health requirement.” Several doctors at the clinic refused requests to provide interviews with the health department, and the clinic would not have been prepared for a case of a woman who suffered “severe hemorrhaging” at a hospital before being referred to Planned Parenthood.

For its part, Planned Parenthood has accused the state of weaponizing the regulatory process and claimed the state has admitted the pelvic exams are “medically unnecessary.”

Some states have seen strong trends in favor of restricting abortion and providing legal protections to the unborn, expecting possible changes in U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

Missouri enacted a comprehensive abortion ban in 2019, which Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed into law. The legislation was supported by Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis.

Missouri’s law set up a multi-tier ban on abortions after eight weeks, 14 weeks, 18 weeks and 20 weeks, as well as bans on abortions conducted solely because of the baby’s race, sex, or Down syndrome diagnosis.

The law was crafted to be able to survive in the courts, but a federal judge in August 2019 struck down all of the bans related to the stages of pregnancy. At present the court left intact the disability, race, and sex-selective abortion bans.

In contrast to Missouri, Illinois law has moved further in a pro-abortion rights direction. In June Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois signed legislation to expand vastly access to abortion in that state.

The Reproductive Rights Act ended a ban on dilation and evacuation abortion, removed regulations for abortion clinics, and ended required waiting periods to obtain an abortion. It also lifted criminal penalties for performing abortions, required all private health insurance plans to cover elective abortions, and eliminated abortion reporting requirements, as well as regulations requiring the investigation of maternal deaths due to abortion.

The legislation was strongly opposed by Illinois’ Catholic bishops.

Quarantined Sunday: How can families keep the day holy when Masses are canceled?

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 18:51

Denver, Colo., Mar 19, 2020 / 04:51 pm (CNA).- The Hernon family just barely makes the cut for the latest coronavirus social distancing measures, which allow only 10 people or less to gather together.

Though Mike and Alicia have 10 children, two of them are married and no longer live at home. They still have eight children under their roof, ranging in age from 7-22.

And now, as Sunday approaches and Masses across the country are canceled, the Hernon family, who run a ministry called The Messy Family Project, are thinking about how they can keep Sunday as a holy day without the liturgical celebration of the Mass.

“My first thought is that this pandemic is Lent for the world,” Mike said.

“It's an imposed sacrifice that we didn't choose, but like Lent, it's stripping us away from things of this world. And it gives us an opportunity to focus on what matters, our faith and our families. Not to make light of anything, but to see...this as a way for us to become more intentional in our family life.

On March 11, the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. Two days later, announcements from Catholic dioceses in the United States started trickling in. Public Masses were suspended in order to stop the spread of the disease. By March 18, every Latin Catholic diocese in the United States had suspended public Masses.

The Hernons were able to attend Mass last Sunday, so this weekend will be their first Sunday without Mass during the coronavirus pandemic.

They said the new situation should encourage Catholic parents to be the spiritual leaders of their homes.

“I think sometimes parents, we rely on (our parish) to kind of help us celebrate Sunday. We're like, ‘Oh, go to Mass, and then we'll come home and just whatever. It's just another day.’ So we were relying on Father, your pastor, to do Mass. Well now that you can’t do that, parents actually have to take that responsibility,” Alicia said.

Mike especially encouraged fathers to take the lead.

He said that on Sunday, their family plans to read the Mass readings for the day, and on to pray morning prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. Mike said fathers could consider leading the family in a simple meditation on the Gospel or another scripture passage of the day.

“Just meditating and spending some time (in silence) as a family. And then discussing it and having a conversation, instead of a homily, but having a little bit of that type of discussion with the family. Particularly dads need to really take some leadership in the way that they lead a time of prayer on Sunday. It doesn't have to be elaborate,” he said.

The Hernons also suggest a family examination of conscience, and a time for family members to apologize to each other if necessary.

“Everybody can modify based upon their kids, and what's age appropriate, if they have older kids or younger kids,” Mike said. Alicia also encouraged dads to take the lead in celebrating Sunday.

“This is a great time for dads to step up and take that mantle that God has given them all along,” Alicia said.

The Hernons encouraged families to set aside the time for silence and family prayer, even if they are also planning on watching a televised Mass. They said younger children are likely to respond best to incorporating physical elements of prayer, such as candles or religious images, into their prayer time.

“Kids, but not even just kids, as people, we are so tangible. We are Catholics, we need physical things,” Alicia said.

“Make up a little altar, light candles, have a picture of Jesus, have a picture of the Blessed Mother. If you don't have a statue or religious things, get them. Buy them on Amazon, immediately,” she said. “Include holy water in your ritual. Have everyone bless themselves.”

Alicia added that keeping Sundays holy should include not only prayer, but the way the rest of the day is lived out.

“If you look in the Catechism about how to celebrate Sunday, it doesn't say just go to Mass. You have Mass, but then you also refrain from unnecessary work, take time to join with other families, take time to focus on each other,” she said.

Obviously, those things will look different in a world of social isolation, Mike and Alicia said, but it can include games and other forms of recreation, as well as special meals.

“You could make a maze out of your home, you could do a treasure hunt, you can get outside for goodness sake, we don't have to stay inside,” Alicia said.

“You can still go on a hike. If there's a lake nearby, you can go swimming, you can go to a beach, you can just get outside and do something with your family.”

The Hernons said they discussed a lot of ideas for how to spend this time of pandemic as a family on their latest podcast episode, and that they plan on coming up with a Sunday guide for prayer time that families can follow on their website.

Adam Barlett is also planning on making a guide to help families lead prayer in their homes on Sundays. Bartlett is the founder and president of Source and Summit, a new Catholic apostolate dedicated to helping parishes elevate the liturgy. He is also a husband and father to two girls, aged 13 and 9.

“Source and Summit exists to serve parishes fundamentally, but by extension to help all Catholics elevate liturgical prayer,” Bartlett told CNA. “So we found it kind of ironic that the moment we launched, parishes and diocese just started shutting down the public celebration of Mass. And so we felt kind of a obligation to respond in some way.”

To respond to canceled public Masses, Bartlett and his team at Source and Summit have begun building a website that can serve as a liturgical guide for families on Sundays during this time of canceled Masses, titled Keep the Lord’s Day.

The site will include a guide and texts of that Sunday’s Morning Prayer, as well as the Liturgy of the Word for Mass, and a prayer to make a spiritual communion. There will also be a musical component guiding families in liturgical chant.

“It’s a resource for Catholics to help them continue to pray the liturgy, and to unite themselves through the never ending prayer - the liturgy - from their homes when they can't attend Mass at their parish.”

The Bartlett family started praying the Liturgy of the Hours this last week, as Colorado was one of the first states to announce that all Masses were suspended to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“We realize that for a lot of people, the Liturgy of the Hours can be confusing or intimidating. It can be really difficult to navigate. And a lot of times people don't know about it or if they're even doing it correctly. So we thought we could put together a little resource for real liturgical prayer in the home for Sundays to help families unite themselves to this one never ending eternal prayer of the Church, which is a type of liturgy,” he said.

The Liturgy of the Hours are a set of prayers, including Psalms and readings from both the Old and New Testaments, that are prayed multiple times a day throughout the world by Catholic priests, nuns, and religious sisters and brothers, Bartlett said, but the Church also invites lay Catholics to pray the Hours as well.

“All of the lay faithful are invited to join in this prayer,” he said.

While watching a livestream Mass can be a place to start for families, Bartlett said he hopes Catholics will also consider praying the Liturgy of the Hours with their families, because of its sacramental and liturgical nature.

“As Catholics, our worship is sacramental... meaning that God communicates himself to us through physical things. And we're able to worship and to pray not only in a purely spiritual way, but also in a physical way with our bodies, with our voices, with gesture, with things that engage all of our senses,” he said.

Mass, of course, uses all of these things, he added. Catholics sit, stand, speak, sing, listen, smell incense and taste the Eucharist.

“It engages all of our senses,” he said. “And this is the way that Christ chose to draw to himself and to unite us to himself in that, not only the spiritual way but the very real sacramental way.”

But if Catholics only participate in prayer through a screen for the next few months, they will miss out on the sacramentality and the liturgy of the Church, he said.

“That can be a little bit more of a passive engagement rather than a real physical participation in the liturgy itself,” he said.

Another reason he would encourage Catholics to pray the Liturgy of the Hours would be because it would feel set apart from the day-to-day activities, which, during a time of pandemic, will increasingly take place in front of a screen, he said.

“Part of the nature of liturgical prayer is that it's intentionally set apart; and another way of saying that is that it's sacred. We use sacred objects. It's set apart from the ordinary aspects of our life,” he said.

“Now, being in our homes will kind of limit our ability to go into a beautiful church and into a sacred place for prayer. But if we think about watching the Mass in the same place where we watch Netflix, there's a kind of challenge there, in that it's not a time that we're setting apart for the sacred,” he said.

“So really what we're encouraging people to do, particularly on Sundays, on the Lord's Day, is to create a kind of sacred space in their home for prayer and to engage in it themselves,” Bartlett added.

Fr. Ryan Hilderbrand, the pastor of St. Mary's in Huntingburg, Indiana, is streaming and posting his Masses on his new YouTube channel. He said watching Mass on a livestream or on TV on Sundays can be a great start for families, but he also encouraged them to participate in “age-appropriate devotionals.”

“Watching a live stream is a great way to participate in the Mass if someone can't attend. Actual graces are still present and can stir the heart to a deeper relationship with Jesus,” Hildebrand told CNA.

“However, it is clearly different from participating in Mass by one's physical presence. Among other things, Mass is the reunion of Christ the Head with his Mystical Body, the Church. We are all sons and daughters of the Father, coming together as that one body in Jesus for Mass. Additionally, we are made members of one another at Mass - we carry one another's burdens, offer support and prayer, and encourage one another in worshiping the Father,” he added.

Besides prayer and watching Mass, Hildebrand encouraged families to observe Sundays as a day of joy and rest by spending time together.

“For families with kids, they could follow the old rule of ‘spirituality, service, silliness’ - that is, pray together, do something constructive together, and have fun together,” he said.

Service might look different under social distancing, he added, but it could be cleaning out closets together or collecting toys and clothes for future donations.

As for silliness -“Have fun together! Watch a movie, play a board game, joust with pool noodles - what is important is that they do something as a family,” he said.

Calvin Mueller is the coordinator of rural parish evangelization at the Archdiocese of Omaha, which had Mass last weekend, but announced on Monday the “indefinite” suspension of public Masses and other sacraments with 10 or more people present.

That day, Mueller posted to his Facebook page a personalized “Mueller Family Pandemic Plan,” which included plans for worship and prayer, and asked his friends for feedback.

With three children under the age of 5, Mueller said planning a lot of structured prayer time is difficult. Their family plans to say a daily rosary, for example, but they will say only as many decades as they can “until our kids lose it,” he said.

As for Sundays, Mueller said the family plans on watching their local parish’s livestream Mass and making a spiritual communion. Mueller said he also wants to plan his family’s Sundays around three different areas: reverence of holy things, reverence of others, and experiencing the joy of Christ.

Even if a family does not stream Mass, Mueller said they could spend some time in silence and prayer with “engagement in scripture, making a spiritual communion, and the rosary.”

As for reverencing others, Mueller said he would encourage families to think about who they could reach out to either through phone calls or video chats on Sundays.

“That might be grandparents, or other loved ones, in order that you can experience community together,” Mueller said.

Mueller added that even though most restaurants and venues are closed, Sundays should not stop being days to experience the joy of the Lord. “That might mean baking a particular food, or serving a particular drink, or playing a game that you know is going to bring life to your family,” he said.

Ultimately, while this is an “unprecedented time” in the life of the modern Church, Mueller said he is viewing it as a gift that calls for an “unprecedented response” from Christians.

“I see this as a tremendous gift, to actually be able to slow down and reevaluate the sainthood that Christ is calling all of us to. And I'm grateful that people are recognizing the ephemeral pleasures that they're used to...are not adequate for what the Lord has really made us for. So to have this time, to actually have that come to the light, I see it as a tremendous gift and my hope is that the Church, and ourselves as the Church, will seize this opportunity to fill the void.”


Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib to leave office, join the Jesuits

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 16:30

Washington D.C., Mar 19, 2020 / 02:30 pm (CNA).- The lieutenant governor of Washington announced on Thursday that he will not seek re-election and instead will enter the Society of Jesus this autumn. 

Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib (D), 38, will end his eight-year career in public office after what he described as “two years of careful and prayerful discernment” led him to apply to join the Jesuits.

Habib, who was elected lieutenant governor in 2016, is the highest-ranking Iranian-American elected official in the United States. 

As his discernment process was “almost entirely private,” Habib said that he expected many of his constituents and supporters would find his decision to be a “major surprise,” particularly he was considered by many to have a bright political future.

“Many will be wondering why someone who has spent the last eight years climbing the political ladder and who has a not insignificant chance of acceding to the governorship next year, would trade a life of authority for one of obedience,” Habib said in an essay explaining his decision in America magazine, which is published by the Society of Jesus.

In the essay, he credited his Catholic faith for initially motivating him to enter politics, and for guiding his decisions in office. 

“My priorities in office were firmly rooted in Catholic social teaching, which places the poor, the sick, the disabled, the immigrant, the prisoner and all who are marginalized at the center of our social and political agenda,” he wrote in America. 

Habib lost his sight at the age of eight due to cancer and is a three-time cancer survivor.

“I knew from childhood what it was like to be excluded for being a blind kid from an Iranian family, and I have tried to use the power I have been given by the voters to ensure that we move urgently toward that day when no one will feel left behind or left out in our society.” 

Despite his political successes and bright prospects for the future, Habib told America that recently he felt called to a different lifestyle, “albeit one that is also oriented around service and social justice.” 

“I have felt a calling to dedicate my life in a more direct and personal way to serving the marginalized, empowering the vulnerable, healing those who suffer from spiritual wounds and accompanying those discerning their own futures,” he said. “I have come to believe that the best way to deepen my commitment to social justice is to reduce the complexity in my own life and dedicate it to serving others.” 

And while acknowledging the importance and influence of a role in public life, Habib said he realized that “meeting the challenges our country faces will require more than just policy-making,” and that people “are in dire need of spiritual support and companionship.”

Habib praised the Jesuits for their commitment to education, and said that it is “far too early” to know where his life in the order will lead him, “but I am confident that it will involve teaching, intercultural and interfaith dialogue, advocacy and spiritual accompaniment.” 

Jesuit formation typically takes between eight and 17 years. Habib did not say which of the four American provinces of the Society of Jesus he would be entering in the fall, but he did request prayers. 

“I ask you all to keep me in your prayers as I travel this new road; you will, of course, be in mine,” he said.

'No higher calling': Lipinski says he is proud of pro-life record

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 13:00

Chicago, Ill., Mar 19, 2020 / 11:00 am (CNA).- Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) conceded his primary race on Wednesday, saying that he stood by his pro-life principles even if they led to his defeat.  

“There was one issue that loomed especially large in this campaign, the fact that I am pro-life,” Lipinski, a Catholic eight-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives, told reporters on Wednesday as primary election results showed him more than 2,400 votes behind his challenger Marie Newman.

“Over the years I’ve watched many other politicians succumb to pressure and change their position on this issue,” he said, noting that his pro-life stance was based upon his Catholic faith and “on science, which shows us that life begins at conception.”

“I could never give up protecting the most vulnerable human beings in the world, simply to win an election,” Lipinski said.

“My faith teaches—and the Democratic Party preaches—that we should serve everyone, especially the most vulnerable,” he said.

“To stand in solidarity with the vulnerable is to become vulnerable. There is no higher calling for anyone. But politicians don’t like to be vulnerable.”

Lipinski, representing Illinois’ third congressional district on Chicago’s south side and suburbs, is recognized as the last reliably pro-life Democrat in the House.

In recent years, he joined Republicans in supporting a “pain-capable” 20-week abortion ban, a bill to mandate care for babies who survive botched abortions, and legislation to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funds.

His opponent, Marie Newman, was backed by national pro-abortion groups who targeted Lipinski’s pro-life record in ads during the primary.

“We ran a good campaign against tremendous headwinds,” Lipinski said on Wednesday, acknowledging his defeat and offering his congratulations to Newman. “As I said during the primary, I’ll support the winner of the primary,” he said.

For the second consecutive election cycles, Lipinski faced an onslaught of opposition from progressive and pro-abortion groups. 

Pro-abortion groups such as NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and EMILY’s List all joined a coalition that invested $1.4 million into the race, targeting him in digital, TV, and mail ads and highlighting his pro-life record.

Even two politically activist nuns from the Sisters of Mercy—Sisters JoAnn Persch and Pat Murphy—publicly endorsed Newman in a campaign video. The endorsement was “the most embarrassing, or shameful, moment” in the race, said Joshua Mercer, editor of’s “The Loop.”

Lipinski said on Wednesday that he “was pilloried in millions of dollars of TV ads and mailers” on the abortion issue. He had told CNA in January that he had not seen as much support from pro-life groups as he had hoped for.

The pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List told CNA on Thursday that they spent a total of $45,000 on the race, including a $5,000 direct contribution to the Lipinski campaign and independent expenditures for Lipinski and against Newman.

“The pro-life community doesn’t have as much money as the abortion lobby, for sure,” said Kirsten Day executive director of Democrats for Life in America. Ads from pro-abortion groups also targeted Lipinski for opposing health care, immigration, and the minimum wage, even where he had voted reliably Democrat on an issue. “There was no counter to that,” Day said.

Lipinski’s seat was a symbolical for the abortion industry, Mercer said, and groups like NARAL understood that.

“It’s very few times when abortion legislation in the House would rise or fall on one vote. The abortion industry understood how frustrating it was to their cause to have someone who was a very reliable Democrat say ‘no, I’m pro-life,’” Mercer said.

“They saw him as undermining their cause, and they saw the value in spending millions of dollars to defeat him.”

Some progressive Democratic members of Congress, including freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), officially endorsed Newman.

Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) made headlines in 2019 for backing out of a DCCC fundraiser to support Lipinski after she endured backlash from abortion supporters in the party. On Wednesday, she congratulated Newman on her victory and thanked Lipinski for his service.

Lipinski on Wednesday said that he “was shunned by many of my colleagues and other Democratic Party members and operators. I was shunned because of my pro-life stance.”

“The pressure in the Democratic Party on the life issue has never been as great as it is now,” he said.

Democratic leadership in the House and senators from Illinois “did very little” to back the eight-term incumbent, even as other Democratic members were endorsing Newman, said Day.

Lipinski voted often with his party, so “to receive this kind of treatment over his support for human life, it just is a bad direction for the party,” she said.

Some party leaders, such as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), have said that there is still room in the party for pro-life Democrats like Lipinski. Endorsements of his colleagues in Congress, however, never materialized as they did for Newman.

“They want the votes of Catholic voters,” Mercer said of Democratic Party leaders. “They don’t want the voices.”

In the wake of Lipinski’s defeat, political commentators said that the Democratic Party’s abortion extremism will come back to haunt them in the general election. Presidential candidates have endorsed abortion-on-demand even until birth, and all the candidates support taxpayer-funded abortions.

Day said that pro-life Democrats need to turn their attention to the general election and the party’s platform, which will be adopted at the 2020 convention in Milwaukee later this summer.

The 2016 DNC platform called for taxpayer funding of abortions in the U.S. and overseas, a significant shift on the issue. Day said that the platform contributed to the party’s extremist shift in favor of abortion, including efforts to unseat Lipinski.

Based on her conversations with moderate Democratic, independent, and Republican voters in Lipinski’s district, Day said the party’s abortion “extremism” had already convinced some of them to stay home on Tuesday rather than vote in the party’s primary.

“If the Democratic Party thinks that they’re going to do well in November with [Joe] Biden, who has really apologized for opposing taxpayer funding of abortion—if they think they’re going to get these independents to cross over and vote for Biden, I think that they’re going to be surprised,” Day said.

Biden, she said, needs to make “concessions” on the issue and there must be “drastic change to the [party] platform.”

Political strategist Jacob Lupfer said the pro-life movement could have done far more to save Lipinski.

“It is strategically insane for the party to move in this extreme direction,” Lupfer said.

While Students for Life volunteers canvassed for Lipinski in the closing days of the race, he noted, “the institutional pro-life movement did not make significant investments in this race commensurate with its wealth and power. The big pro-choice groups did.”

Mercer, however, questioned the lack of support Lipinski received from the “Catholic Left,” some of whom support presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—who also endorsed Newman last year.

“It makes you wonder about what’s going on with the Catholic Left, that stuff like this happens,” Mercer said of pro-labor Lipinski’s defeat by the more liberal Newman who advocated for policies such as Medicare-for-All and the Green New Deal.

“These are two Democrats. It’s like, what kind of Democratic Party do you want? Do you want it to be a cheerleader for the abortion industry? Then that’s Marie Newman. Or do you want the Democratic Party to say ‘we can be pro-labor, pro-environment, and still be pro-life’? That’s Dan Lipinski,” Mercer said.

Pro-lifers also need to recruit candidates from a more demographically diverse field, Lupfer said, noting that "it doesn't look good for the movement when all the pro-life Democrats in Congress are moderate white men.”

The movement needs to be bipartisan to succeed on the national level, he said, and this means going on offense and running candidates in primaries in moderate and swing districts, targeting vulnerable incumbents.

Pro-lifers should “do what AOC did, but do it in reverse,” he said, referring to the unexpected success of young Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who ousted a Democratic incumbent in a 2018 primary.

“They need to go in and recruit black church leaders to run for Congress. Or go find Hispanic moms in state legislatures who are pro-life Democrats,” Lupfer said. “Go around the country and get 30 or 40 of these candidates and run them in Democratic congressional primaries against complacent, entrenched, or corrupt incumbents.”

Lipinski was one of the last remaining pro-life Democrats because he stood fast by his principles, Mercer said.

“It’s easy to get disappointed by politicians, and the enormous pressures that politicians face between voters and institutional party,” he said.

“Dan Lipinski was somebody who stood strong on the principle of defending the unborn, and was willing to pay whatever political price for it. And that’s a tremendous amount of courage.”