Ted Harvey needed a way to communicate a pro-life message quickly. Providence was on his side. He met someone who could move hearts in a powerful way.
Ted Harvey is a member of the Colorado State House of Representatives. He was shocked when he heard the agenda for that upcoming Monday this past May. The House Majority Leader was proposing a resolution honoring the 90-year anniversary of Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood.
Harvey was well aware that despite its air of respectability, Planned Parenthood’s policy is maintenance and support of legal abortion. In fact, Planned Parenthood is the largest single provider of abortions and abortion referrals in the United States.
“I was disgusted by the idea that we were scheduled to pass a resolution honoring this 90-year legacy of genocide. I drove home that night wondering what I could say that might pierce the darkness during the debate on this heinous resolution,” he said.
At a pro-life function Harvey attended that weekend, Gianna Jessen sang for those present in a beautiful voice. Later she told her story, which had been told to her when she was twelve years old by her adoptive mother.
“When my biological mother was 17 years old and 7-months pregnant, she went to a Planned Parenthood clinic to have an abortion. As God would have it, the abortion failed and I was brought into the world. I weighed two pounds and was born with cerebral palsy.
“Fortunately for me, the abortionist in charge did not report for work until several hours later. In the meantime, one alert nurse managed to whisk me away to a nearby hospital.
“The doctors thought I would never survive. The doctors were wrong.” “Imagine the timing!” mused Harvey as he listened to the handicapped young woman. “A survivor of a Planned Parenthood abortion arrived in town just days before the Colorado House of Representatives was to celebrate Planned Parenthood’s ‘wonderful’ work.”
Although it was too late to schedule her to testify before his fellow legislators, he immediately asked her if she would sing the national anthem and allow him to tell her story at the final day’s session of the Colorado House the following Monday. To his surprise, she agreed.
A powerful performance
On the House floor that morning, all was sweetness and light, at first.
Representative Harvey introduced Gianna as a cerebral palsy spokesperson who had consented to open the session with her rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. As the small 29-year old with blond wavy hair approached the microphone, she was greeted with a polite ripple of applause. Soon the chamber was mesmerized by the power of the voice bursting forth from her frail body. Halfway through the anthem, she forgot the words and begun to hum. “Please forgive me,” she said. “I am so nervous.” When she immediately began singing again, this time in full voice, every House member and every chamber guest sang along, over 100 voices strong, giving her encouragement.
“I had chills running all over my body,” said Harvey. “I knew that I had just witnessed an act of God.”
Once more, Gianna had touched hearts. Harvey noted ironically that Alice Madden, sponsor of the Planned Parenthood resolution, was the first on her feet.
At the anthem’s conclusion, the House speaker spoke, “Let us all give her a hand not only for her performance today, but also for her advocacy work.” This time the applause thundered through the hall—she had everyone in the palm of her hand.
Introducing a hero
This welcoming atmosphere continued as Harvey launched into his introduction. He explained that because of her low birth weight, the doctors believed that she would never creep or walk or even sit up independently. But due to the support and prayers of her foster mother, she began walking with leg braces and a walker shortly before her fourth birthday.
“She continued in physical therapy and after a total of four surgeries, she was able to walk without assistance. Two years ago she entered a health club and said she wanted a private trainer. At the time her legs could not lift 30 pounds. Today she can leg press 200 pounds.
“She became so physically fit that she began running marathons to raise money and awareness for cerebral palsy. She just returned last week from England where she ran in the London Marathon. It took her more than 8_ hours to compete. They were taking down the course by the time she made it to the finish line. But she made it, nonetheless. With bloody feet and aching joints, she finished the race.
“Members, would you help me recognize a modern-day hero—Gianna Jessen?”
Applause exploded. Once more, Gianna had touched hearts. Harvey noted ironically that Alice Madden, sponsor of the Planned Parenthood resolution, was the first on her feet. No one knew there was more, much more, to the story.
The Chamber Jolted
When the applause died down, Harvey explained that Gianna’s cerebral palsy was not some biological free fall, but rather the choice of her mother who went to a Planned Parenthood clinic to seek a late-term abortion.
“The abortionist performed a saline abortion on this 17-year-old. This procedure requires the injection of a high concentration of saline into the mother’s womb, which the fetus is then bathed in and swallows which works inside and out to burn the fetus to death. Within 24 hours the results are normally an induced, stillborn abortion.
“As Gianna can testify, the procedure is not always 100 percent effective. Gianna is an aborted late-term fetus who was born alive. The high concentration of saline in the womb for 24 hours resulted in a lack of oxygen to her brain and is the cause of her cerebral palsy.
“Members, today we are going to recognize the 90th anniversary of Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood…”
BANG! At this point, the speaker gaveled Harvey into silence.
“Representative Harvey.” the speaker fumed, “I will allow you to continue your introduction, but not for the purposes of debating a measure now pending before the House.”
“Mr. Speaker, I understand. I just wanted to put a face to what we are celebrating today,” concluded Harvey as he relinquished the microphone.
Representative Harvey’s courageous act carried a price. Not only had he run afoul of the House speaker, but many House members avoided him the rest of the session. Harvey was also under fire by local media. The next day The Denver Post headlined, “Abortion Jab Earns Rebuke,” with a prominent quote from majority leader Alice Madden, “I think it was amazingly rude to use a human being as an example of his personal politics.”
But Harvey has no regrets. “I have been in the Legislature for five tough years, but this made it all worthwhile,” he said.
Gianna was also glad Harvey told her story. Toward the end of the Post report, she is quoted, “We need to discuss the humanity of it. I’m glad to be able to speak up for the children in the womb,” she said. “If abortion is about women’s rights, where were my rights?”
Speaking the Truth
Ted Harvey did not manipulate Gianna Jessen. He did surprise the opposition with a special twist to Gianna’s story.
Sometimes the truth hurts deeply. Gianna Jessen is a witness to the truth about abortion. She would like the truth to be known. She would like human lives to be saved.
Defending human life offends some people because they have let mistaken ideas or personal selfishness blind them. In this case, the blinders were taken off so quickly that those who were promoting abortion were left staring at the facts for one brief moment.
For them, this was shock treatment. It was painful, but it made a powerful point at a moment when abortion was about to further promoted. Doing this took courage from Ted Harvey and Gianna Jessen, but they are glad they did it.
There are many ways that the pro-life movement is working to win hearts, but our legislatures continue to be a battle ground where courage is needed. We can pray that our politicians gain the courage to do this battle for life. We can also join in ourselves by making our support for life known to them and by being active in the pro-life movement ourselves. Every time we do something to promote life we are taking steps in saving lives, lives that are precious both to us and to our Creator.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.”
“The innocent and the just you shall not put to death.”
“From man in regard to his fellow man I will demand an accounting for human life.”
“We must obey God rather than men.”
“…’All’ human life, as such, is worthy of and calls for always being defended and promoted. We know well that this truth runs the risk of being contradicted often by the widespread hedonism in the socalled welfare societies.” (Benedict XVI, February 5, 2006)
“Man is not the master of life; rather, he is its custodian and steward, and under God’s primacy, this priority of administrating and preserving human life, created by God, comes automatically into being.”
(Benedict XVI, February 5, 2006)
“To be actively prolife is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good.”
(John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, 101)
(1915) “As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life.”
(1929) “Social justice can be obtained only in respecting the transcendent dignity of man.”
(2273) “The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation: … When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined.”
SAINTS AND HEROES
SAINT JUSTIN MARTYR (100-165)
Saint Justin was a pagan philosopher who converted to Christianity when he was 30 after reading the Scriptures and seeing the heroism and faith of martyrs. He spent the rest of his life using his philosophical skills to debate with pagans and explain the faith. He opened a school of public debate in Rome. He was martyred for being a Christian. His writings are still studied today. His feast day is June 1. He is patron saint of speakers, philosophers, and apologists.
BLESSED LYDWINA (1380-1433)
Lydwina (also called Lydwid) lived in Holland. When she was 16 she had an accident while ice skating which caused her to be permanently handicapped and in tremendous pain. Her pain increased each year. She bore the pain as reparation for the sins of others. In 1407 she began to experience ecstasies and visions in which she participated in the Passion of Christ, saw purgatory and heaven, and visited with saints. The last nineteen years of her life her only food was Communion. When her extraordinary suffering attracted widespread attention a Church commission was appoint to investigate. The commission declared that her experiences were valid. She was canonized in 1890. Her feast day is April 14.
Advocacy – speaking or writing in support of something; being in favor of
Genocide – the systematic killing of, or a program of action intended to destroy, a whole group of people
Heinous – outrageously evil or wicked; abominable
Mesmerized – to spellbind, to capture the attention completely
Providence – the care or benevolent guidance of God
Witness – a person who saw, or can give a fi rsthand account of, something