Finding hope

Oct 6-12, 2005
VOL 124 NO. 34
Finding hope
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Photo Submitted
National speaker attends New Hope annual fall banquet

One of the most outspoken members of the pro-life movement, Jill Stanek, was guest speaker at the 18th Annual Fall Banquet of Syracuse’s New Hope Family Services program. The organization is non-denominational and works diligently to end abortion. They offer help and hope to people who are dealing with pregnancy, parenting issues, adoption or post abortion needs. The banquet was held at Drumlin’s in Syracuse and was attended by more than 600. Msgr. Eugene Yennock, pastor of St. Daniel Church, gave the invocation.

Before the main speaker, there was testimony from two families associated with New Hope. One family had adopted a baby girl three years ago through the agency. The family spoke of the despair they felt at not having a family of their own. Married in 1986, the couple had been foster parents and the wife provided day care in their home. This way of life brought children in and out of their lives, but none permanently. There was a waiting period during which the parents began to doubt their decision to adopt. They asked friends they knew at church to pray for them and they said that within a week afterward, they felt confident and continued to pursue adoption. Finally, in 2002, the baby was placed into their arms and the memory of that moment is still very much alive with the new parents today.

Testimony followed from a young woman who had been sexually active at a young age. She had a miscarriage at 19 and felt she had disappointed her family by becoming pregnant before marriage. She decided to go back to college, met a man and dated him for a short time. They had a long-distance relationship and she became pregnant after visiting him out of state. It was the first time they had been intimate. She found herself struggling again. The young woman turned to prayer and, though she felt her family was disappointed, they were supportive of her. She moved to the Syracuse area and with her pregnancy five months along, was still trying to figure out what to do when she came to New Hope to speak to a counselor. She decided to parent the baby and continued to pray for her unborn child every day. Her story was extraordinary. She told the baby’s father about her decision to keep the child and they kept in touch. She prayed more and more and found comfort and strength through her faith. Eventually, her boyfriend made the decision to move to Syracuse to be close to them and they married making the family complete.

After the testimonies, Dr. Leonard Marotta was presented with the Nathan Richardson Faithful Servant Award for his contributions to New Hope. The doctor makes it possible for the organization to offer free ultrasounds to women who are considering abortion. Organizers said it makes the decision to abort more difficult once a mother sees the baby growing inside her.

Jill Stanek, a registered nurse, was the main speaker for the evening. Stanek worked in the labor and delivery department of Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill. She began working there in 1995 and a year or so passed before she became aware that the hospital staff was performing live birth abortions. She described the procedure in which a doctor or resident inserts a medication into the mother’s birth canal, close to the cervix. It causes the cervix to open and the small, second or third trimester fetus falls out of the uterus, sometimes alive. If the baby is born alive, the hospital must issue both a birth and death certificate. Stanek said the cause of death most often listed for live aborted babies is “extreme prematurity.”

When Stanek was working and the procedure occurred, she would wrap the tiny babies in blankets and rock them until they died. She had to decide if she would stay at the hospital and expose the practice of live abortions, or if she would leave the hospital and go to work for one that she was absolutely certain did not provide abortions. Stanek said she had thought that a hospital named after Jesus Christ would not offer the procedure. In her case, she was mistaken.

Stanek has made numerous television and radio appearances since finally being fired from the hospital staff after a two-year battle. She now speaks openly about about what she witnessed there. Stanek said the hospital now has a “comfort room” where the live aborted babies are taken and wrapped in blankets until they die. Parents may hold the baby if they wish, if not a staff person cares for the baby. If there isn’t time for staff to provide the comfort care, they are taken to the Comfort Room which has a photo machine, baptismal supplies, gowns and certificates, foot printing equipment and baby bracelets for momentos. There is also a rocking chair in the room.

Stanek was invited to the White House in 2002 when President George Bush signed the Born Alive Infant Protection Act which protects live aborted children from infanticide. As well as describing the procedure itself, Stanek also spoke about the impact the practice has on parents. There were cases she witnessed in which parents had been told their baby had a disability or deformity, and when the procedure was done, they discovered that the baby was perfectly normal. The parents would be devastated, Stanek said.

Stanek’s talk was followed by an appeal for donations and some abortion facts were noted throughout the evening. Organizers said that 1,600 abortions are performed annually in Onondaga County alone. One highlight of the event was the news that New Hope will open a satellite office next door to Planned Parenthood in downtown Syracuse on E. Genesee and Walnut Streets. The building was obtained through the efforts of a group that also included Father Regis Rhodda, OFM Conv., a late Franciscan priest and previous leader of the diocese’s Charismatic Renewal. The building will be called the Regis Center.

For more information about New Hope Family Services, call (315) 437-8300.

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