Proclaim Freedom for the Unborn

The pro-life movement is all about freedom. That’s why Priests for Life, with the leadership of our pastoral associate Dr. Alveda King, is launching “Freedom Rides” for the unborn to galvanize pro-life activity across the country.

During the Civil Rights movement, the “Freedom Rides” constituted a distinctive moment of resolve and unity. The Supreme Court, in its 1960 decision Boynton vs. Virginia, had outlawed segregation in bus terminals and restaurants serving interstate travelers. So the following spring, 13 people – seven African-Americans and six whites – decided to travel by bus from Washington D.C. to New Orleans to test the enforcement of that Supreme Court decision.

Along the way, particularly in Alabama, they encountered opposition and violence from those who did not want desegregation. But having been brutally attacked, and some lying with wounds in hospital beds, the “Freedom Riders” vowed that the journey would continue. That’s when others joined in, and the initial Freedom Ride became 60 rides across Southern states in the summer of 1961, with some 450 riders participating. And by the fall of that same year, the government issued orders for the enforcement of desegregation at the bus terminals.

The Civil Rights movement and the Pro-Life movement have the same heart and soul: A longing for equal justice for everyone, based on the inherent dignity of every human life. That’s why, when Dr. Alveda King first walked with me at the annual March for Life and I asked her, “Does this remind you of the marches in the civil rights movement?” she declared, “Father Frank, this is the civil rights movement!” Both movements are movements of freedom.

Freedom Rides for the Unborn

It is therefore time for Freedom Rides for the unborn. The pro-life movement is more ready than ever to proclaim freedom…

  • Freedom from the lies and the deceit that allow abortion to continue…
  • Freedom from the fear of speaking up and taking action for the unborn…
  • Freedom from the shame and guilt of past involvement in abortion, so that those called to speak up and share their testimonies may do so as people who are “Silent No More”…
  • Freedom from the political oppression that tramples on human rights and denies equality before the law…
  • Freedom from violence and death itself.

People will be invited to participate in the Freedom Rides themselves. The bus rides are a symbol of the journey we are on, of the fellowship we share with each other, and of the fact that we are a movement. Major events in cities along the bus routes will be held, in which all the different facets of the pro-life movement will be invited to participate.

At the same time, people not on the rides or along the route can participate by being “Freedom Riders for the Unborn” and carrying out special projects that will be coordinated among Freedom Riders nationwide.

The first Freedom Ride will take place July 23-24 in Birmingham, Ala., and  Atlanta, Ga. We will begin with an assembly and concert at 7 p.m. July 23 at the Birmingham Jefferson County Convention Complex. The next morning at 9 we will gather to pray outside a Planned Parenthood abortion mill. At 11:30, Dr. King, my pastoral team, our special guests and I will board our special Freedom Bus for the drive to Atlanta. Anyone who wants to accompany us in their own car is welcome to be part of this caravan of hope. The concluding event of our inaugural Freedom Ride will be a prayer service at 4:30 p.m. at the tomb of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Please go to www.prolifefreedomrides.com for all the details. Our project has the endorsement of Bishop Robert Baker of the Diocese of Birmingham and a host of African-American leaders from across the nation. We need all of you to make it a success.

In his first public sermon, Jesus summarized his message and mission by saying he had come to “proclaim liberty to the captives…” As his disciples, as his People of Life, let us do the same!

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About the Author

National Director, Priests for Life Father Frank Pavone is a native New Yorker who was ordained in 1988 by Cardinal John O’Connor. He is a priest of the Amarillo Diocese in Texas and serves full-time in pro-life leadership with his bishop’s permission. In 1993 he became national director of Priests for Life. He is also the president of the National Pro-life Religious Council, and the national pastoral director of Rachel’s Vineyard, the world’s largest ministry of healing after abortion. He travels throughout the country preaching and teaching against abortion. He lived in Rome for two years while serving on the Pontifical Council for the Family, and recently was appointed to the Pontifical Academy for Life. In 2005, he was present at the bedside of Terri Schiavo as she was dying and was an outspoken advocate for her life. He was invited by members of the Class of 2009 at Notre Dame to lead an alternate commencement ceremony for those students who refused to attend the ceremony in which President Obama was honored. Father Pavone has received the “Proudly Pro-life Award” by the National Right to Life Committee, and numerous other pro-life awards and honorary doctorates. Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade abortion decision, has described him as “the catalyst that brought me into the Catholic Church.”

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