The BLOG: Voices

Why I became a pro-life activist

Becoming pro-life

Roughly five years before Roe v. Wade, I became a pro-lifer. It was in the late 60s, and as an undergraduate student in biology, I was taking a course in vertebrate development. The professor had shown us a film called “The First Days of Life,” a beautiful film in the days before ultrasound, with images of developing life, from conception, through various stages until birth. I wasn’t a particularly religious person at the time, but when I came out of that auditorium after seeing those images of prenatal children, I felt as if I had just seen an honest-to-God miracle. That feeling is still with me today.

Becoming an activist

I taught science for 34 years in the Boston Public Schools. As a young teacher, in order to make my work relevant, I decided to teach prenatal development in my high school science class. I was using beautiful images from a photo essay in Life magazine – “Drama of Life Before Birth.” As I stood in front of my class outlining various stages of life and showing the photos, I heard a noise at the back of my room. I looked up, and right into the face of a young girl who was crying. I didn’t know it, but this particular girl had been pregnant, and in fact, she had just had an abortion. To this day I always remember what she said to her friends. “If I knew my baby looked like that, I never would have done it.” I was devastated. My beautiful lesson on pregnancy had turned into something painful for a young girl who had made a terrible mistake because no one had shown her the truth.

The experience taught me that there was something I could do to be of service to young people. I could tell them the truth before they made the same mistake as this young girl. I would show these images to as many young people as possible before they became sexually involved. I also added a second program on Respect for Love. The success of these programs amazed me. Young people were hungry for the truth. In the past 34 years, I have spoken to more than 200,000 students, and the most common response is, “Why didn’t anyone ever tell us this before?”

My pro-life hero

Sometimes, after a presentation, people will share their stories with me. (If I had the resources, I would create a TV series called “Choosing Life” because these stories deserve to be told.) On one particular night, I had given the students a copy of pictures of developing children, so that they would remember the lesson. A young man came up to me to return the images after the class and said, “I’m never going to need these.” Puzzled, I asked him why. He told me that when his mother was pregnant with him, three different doctors had told her that if she continued the pregnancy, not only would he fail to survive, but so would she. Then he said to me, “I’m still here, and so is she.” I don’t know where someone gets the courage and faith to defy three medical opinions and risk her life for the sake of a child, but I can only express wonder and awe at the love of such an amazing woman.

The future

My experience with pro-life education has been a most rewarding privilege. I hope to continue this work, and would love to join with other teachers in doing this.  Perhaps some of you would consider contacting me through Massachusetts Citizens for Life, or the Pro-Life Office of the Archdiocese of Boston.

“There is only one miracle. It is life.”

Linda Thayer is the Vice President of Educational Affairs for Massachusetts Citizens for Life.