Jason Jones of Hawaii was 17 when, after he lost his daughter to abortion, he went knocking on doors to preach on behalf of the unborn. He’s now a human rights activist, produces movies celebrating life, and his daughter Marion made a pro-life YouTube video that went viral.
Colleen Miner and her husband John of Saranac Lake, N.Y., are Respect Life directors in the Diocese of Ogdensburg. His parents, Roger and Mary Ellen Miner, co-chaired a pro-life affiliate, and the couple’s three daughters are the third generation of pro-life advocates.
In Chicago, Joe Scheidler’s wife Ann was pregnant when Roe v. Wade was passed. “I realized that the baby she was carrying was not protected by my government, and that incensed me,” he said.
He began working full time for the protection of the unborn, and for 19 years fought the landmark case, National Organization of Women v. Scheidler. He is founder and national director of Pro-Life Action League. His son Eric is executive director; his son Peter is helping him to write a book; and his daughter Annie started Generations for Life Youth Group for college campuses.
So how in the increasingly secular world do parents raise children with such passion for the unborn?
A joyful home
“Most important is to raise them in a loving home where their dignity is honored,” Jones said. “We need to be charitable. We need to show that we honor human dignity through self-sacrifice, charity, joy and acts of mercy.”
After his girlfriend’s father forced her to have the abortion, Jones wanted people to acknowledge the dignity of his daughter. He was an atheist then, and didn’t know what “pro-life” meant. He later entered college, married, had children, got divorced and struggled as a single father.
“I was 25 and had kids, 7 and 6, and took them with me when I spoke on radio shows and at churches,” he said. “Then I became involved on the national level. At a very early age, they were going to the March for Life, and they heard what I was talking about with my friends. I made them a part of my apostolate.”
Jones joined the Church in 2003, and his wife Alexandra converted in 2004. They have five children, including a newborn.
Jones is president of I Am Whole Life and the founder of Movie to Movement, a website that promotes positive movies. He was a producer of “Bella,” “Crescendo” and “The Stoning of Soraya M.”, and is making a documentary about pro-life Hollywood. He believes that children are naturally pro-life, but need to be protected from anti-life indoctrination. “We need to inoculate them from the culture of death,” he said.
Called the Green Beret of pro-life and “the father of pro-life activism,” Scheidler, 86 has seven children and 22 grandchildren. He had multiple convictions of racketeering on charges of attempting to put abortionists out of business. Those decisions were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006, although NOW continues litigation against the judgment. His advice for parents is to talk to their children about the issues and to take them to conferences and sidewalk ministries. That influenced his children when they were young, and now the grandchildren.
“The kids talk to their friends and their parents,” he said. “They are like little apostles. They believe in the value of life.”
Against the odds
Although Miner attended Catholic schools, she knew little about abortion until she met her pro-life future in-laws. She became active and involved her children (Amanda, Erin and Ellen, now 26, 22 and 17 respectively) in marches and other events. When Amanda was in high school, administrators would not excuse her absence to attend a March for Life.
“It’s educational and spiritual and should be counted as a legal absence,” Miner said. “Amanda had to forge the way. She was also treated unfairly in (public) high school and couldn’t do any papers on abortion, nor debate on pro-life issues. If she spoke up to share her views, she would be told to shut up. People would poke fun at her.”
But one pregnant classmate who had an abortion at 16 told Amanda that she didn’t want to do it again, and kept the baby.
“Young people are the future of pro-life, and I’m really hopeful,” Miner said. “They are smart, they understand, and with technology today, they can see it’s a baby.”
Maryann Gogniat Eidemiller writes from Pennsylvania.