(Editor's Note: This is the second in our series of Friday interviews with people of interest to family advocates. The format is simple: five questions every Friday.)
When Planned Parenthood tried to sneak an abortion clinic into suburban Chicago this year, it forgot to do its homework on local life advocate Jill Stanek. She, along with thousands of other pro-lifers, helped to delay the opening of the nation's largest abortion clinic for 14 days.
Eight years ago, Stanek was minding her own business, working as a nurse on the southwest side of Chicago. In a moment, her life changed, and she's been championing the life movement since. In January 2003, World magazine named her one of the 30 most prominent pro-life leaders of the past 30 years.
Stanek is a weekly columnist for WorldNetDaily and a public speaker on life issues. She told her story to CitizenLink.
1. What led you to the pro-life movement, and what keeps you so involved?
I was not actively involved in the pro-life movement, just somebody on the sidelines, until I held a live aborted baby, in my capacity as a registered nurse at Christ Hospital on the southwest side of Chicago, in 1999. The hospital was involved in an abortion procedure called induced-labor abortion. One night, a nursing co-worker was taking one of the live aborted babies to our soiled utility room to die, so I held him for 45 minutes until he died. He was a little baby who had Down syndrome. He was between 21 and 22 weeks old.
Obviously, that was a life-changing event. It instantly catapulted me into becoming a pro-life activist, which I heretofore had thought were pro-life 'crazies.' My life segued after that into pro-life apologetics, both speaking and in writing, and I do that full time. I was just an instant convert to the movement. I think about it all the time. I'm obsessed by it, I admit it. I wake up thinking about it. I think about it all day long. I think about it when I go to bed. Sometimes, I have nightmares about it.
2. Explain induced-labor abortion.
The procedure was not known publicly before that time. This is an abortion procedure that's very often used with moms carrying wanted babies who find out through second-trimester testing that their babies are handicapped in some way. It involves dilating the cervix, before 23 weeks usually, and the baby just falls out of the uterus.
This is an abortion technique that is favored by doctors in hospitals because they don't have to be actively involved in this abortion. It's a 'medical abortion.' They can relegate. They don't have to be present when the baby is delivered. They don't have to get their hands dirty. This allows them to covertly be involved in abortion, not actively kill the baby, because the baby, they say, dies 'naturally.'
3. For 14 days, Planned Parenthood was kept from opening the nation's largest abortion clinic. Tell me why that's significant and what lessons you learned.
This Aurora Planned Parenthood debacle was significant for a lot of reasons. Planned Parenthood built this clinic under cloak of darkness. They created a front company called Gemini Office Development that was deceptive with the city of Aurora, saying they did not know who was going to occupy the building. They were only caught in July.
This kind of created a chink in Planned Parenthood's armor, because no one likes to be scammed. Even 'pro-choicers' don't like to be hoodwinked. Even if you are 'pro-choice,' no one likes an abortion clinic in their backyard. Whenever there were any protests, there would be, literally, a thousand pro-lifers and maybe 17 abortion proponents. I'm sure they (abortion supporters) have trouble getting people to sacrifice a Saturday, or a weeknight, to promote sacrificing children.
The lesson from Aurora really started as a lesson we got in Austin, Texas, back in 2003, when Chris Danze, a concrete contractor, pulled a boycott. He was able to get contractors and workers not to help build a clinic, and that is the reason that Planned Parenthood decided to go stealth with their future buildings. We weren't entirely successful (in Texas), because I think we only held them up for eight months. But that taught pro-lifers a lesson: On the local level, pro-lifers wield huge influence.
They have so much power that they don't understand that they have. The power for the pro-aborts is basically in Washington, D.C., and New York. But pro-aborts do not have what we have. In every county, just about, in the United States, there is a pro-life organization. I think there's a tool we've been underusing, and that is ourselves doing something in our own communities to discourage abortion, discourage abortion clinics, put a stigma on abortion and also to encourage life.
4. Do you think Americans' attitudes on abortion are changing?
Definitely. Abortion proponents thought in 1973, 'OK. It's settled. It's legal. And now go away.' It's been almost 35 years, and there's still a tremendous stigma attached with abortion, which will never go away, which only shows that abortion is wrong. They cannot make it into a good thing. Also, 3D and 4D ultrasound has made a huge difference. They can no longer say, and they do no longer say, that preborn babies are blobs of tissue.
It's becoming something that we're winning. And these kids that are coming up are important. Anybody under the age of 35 is an abortion survivor, and these kids are conservative on their beliefs on abortion. They know that they've had siblings aborted. They've had friends that aren't here because they've been aborted.
5. This year, finally, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the partial-birth abortion ban. What do you see as the next battlefront for the pro-life movement?
The Born Alive Infants Protection Act says that any baby born alive no matter what gestational age, no matter what reason, aborted or not is a legal person. It doesn't have any penalties attached to it, and that is one reason it has become difficult to enforce.
Born Alive passed unanimously in the Senate, passed overwhelmingly in the House. Everybody just went along with it, and hoped that by going along with it, it would not get a lot of publicity and kind of die away. And it really has.
I wish the pro-life movement would go back and look at the Born Alive Act, and really work harder on seeing that enforced. It would be such an easy law to get public approval on and to really spotlight the atrocity of abortion.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
To learn more about Jill Stanek, or to invite her to speak in your area, visit her blog.