The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates is a nonprofit organization that provides education and legal support to thousands of pro-life pregnancy centers nationwide. More than 1,200 NIFLA members are licensed medical clinics.
March is Women’s History Month. Although NIFLA strives to support women at every stage of life all year, this month offers a special opportunity to promote female leaders working to protect the unborn. It is also a time for recognizing the value and dignity of human life in the womb. On March 25, NIFLA will join the pro-life movement in celebrating the Day of the Unborn Child.
There are many dedicated women on the front lines of the fight for life. Although the mainstream media may ignore these voices, their efforts on behalf of the weakest among us deserve recognition. In honor of Women’s History Month, NIFLA will celebrate the strong, brave women who make up the pro-life community.
Dr. Mildred Jefferson was the first Black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School. She was also the first Black woman who worked as a general surgeon at Boston University’s Medical Center.
Dr. Jefferson was a passionate pro-life advocate. She once cited the Hippocratic Oath as the foundation of her beliefs during an interview with The Boston Globe.
“I took the Hippocratic oath. As a physician, I am morally bound to the preservation of life. As far as I’m concerned, abortion is a process by which a pregnancy is interrupted for the purpose of preventing the birth of a living child. As far as I’m concerned, it’s killing an unborn child.”
Dr. Jefferson publicized her views and started her activism in response to the American Medical Association’s support of abortion. She co-founded Massachusetts Citizens for Life and the National Right to Life Committee, serving as president from 1975 to 1978.
Dr. Jefferson gave numerous speeches all across the country. She also participated in debates. Her work and her words inspired many to join the pro-life cause. This includes politicians like Ronald Reagan, who wrote a letter to her after seeing her in a television interview.
Dr. Jeffereson passed away on Oct. 15, 2010. An award in her honor will be presented at the 2022 NIFLA Leadership Summit. NIFLA President Thomas Glessner also wrote a touching tribute to her lasting influence and legacy which was published this month in Townhall.
As NIFLA Vice President of Legal Affairs, Anne O’Connor is heavily involved in the pregnancy center movement. She helps these centers serve women, babies and families in their communities.
After graduating from Loyola School of Law, O’Connor decided to use her degree to protect pro-life organizations.
O’Connor played a major role in NIFLA v. Becerra. The state of California tried to force pro-life medical clinics to violate their conscience and advertise state-funded abortion through the so-called “Reproductive FACT” Act. O’Connor served on NIFLA’s legal team during the fight against this clearly biased legislation designed to stop the work of pro-life centers.
In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in NIFLA’s favor. The court decided California’s law was unconstitutional. O’Connor’s contributions to the case helped protect the free speech rights of pregnancy centers and all Americans.
Karolyn Schrage is the executive director of LifeChoices Health Network, a pregnancy center in Joplin, MO.
Schrage’s center received referrals from other health organizations in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. She was featured in a Fox News article on pregnancy centers during the pandemic.
She received a letter from the state department’s Senior Epidemiology Specialist, thanking her and her center for their efforts.
Schrage serves as an example of how dedicated those in the pregnancy center movement are to supporting women, babies and families during times of crisis.
Karen D. Poehailos is a family physician in Virginia. She currently serves as NIFLA Assistant Medical Director as well as on the NIFLA board.
Dr. Poehailos is a certified fertility care medical consultant and a FEMM medical provider working with women on recurrent miscarriage, infertility, and irregular cycles without IVF or hormonal contraception.
She has also been on the Abortion Pill Reversal hotline for the past seven years. Dr. Poehailos has worked with roughly 20 women over those years, guiding them through the process of reversing the effects of the abortion pill. Media outlets such as Fox News and others have interviewed Dr. Poehailos on abortion pill reversal and other pro-life issues, including natural family planning.
These pro-life women have dedicated their lives to helping those in need. Their many important contributions to the pro-life movement deserve recognition. They have made a positive impact on our nation by defending the unborn and empowering women in need.
You can also make a difference in our county. Please participate in the Day of the Unborn Child. This month, help us empower women and promote life. Support NIFLA and the women serving their communities by making a donation. If you are unable to donate, consider volunteering at your local pregnancy center. If you have been helped by a pregnancy center, please send your story to us by emailing [email protected]. There are many different ways you can help us build a culture of life.
Heather Valenzano graduated from Iona College with a degree in Mass Communications, a concentration in Journalism and a minor in English. She wrote blogs on adoption and surrogacy during a previous internship with Adoption Choices of Oklahoma.