COLUMBIA — More than 1,000 people followed a contingent of the Knights of Columbus in the annual Stand Up for Life march and rally on a brilliant, cold Saturday morning, Jan. 11. Then they stood in the sunshine at the foot of the Statehouse steps to hear a compelling message from a nurse who blew the whistle on a hospital performing a particularly odious type of abortion.
“It’s called induced labor abortion,” said Jill Stanek, a registered nurse. “Hospital administrators called it the most compassionate kind of abortion because the parents get closure; they get to see their baby die.”
Stanek and other obstetrical nurses at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, a suburb of Chicago, saw those aborted babies die also, once when one was mistakenly thrown in a trashcan, then dropped on a floor — while still alive. On other occasions, aborted babies were left alone, naked, to die in the soiled utility room at the hospital. Even more shocking to the nurses’ sensibilities, however, was the introduction of a so-called comfort room in the hospital, where mothers could rock their aborted babies to death, use a First Foto machine or footprint them. The comfort room also contained bracelets, baptismal supplies and other mementos of their ghastly decision to undergo what is now officially described as infanticide.
It took anywhere from 45 minutes to three hours for these “extreme prematurity” babies to die following delivery. In induced labor abortions, mothers-to-be are chemically forced into labor, typically in the 21st week or so of gestation, when the fetus is too young to survive even with today’s exotic neonatal care.
The shock of her discoveries forced Stanek into activism. She is not a Catholic, but she persuaded the Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, to write a protest letter, as did former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. To no avail. Then, Stanek’s pastor “triggered an outcry” with a publicity campaign, and Stanek began fighting the abortion practices from within Christ Hospital. She was eventually fired for her activist stance, but she was instrumental in getting the federal Born Alive Infants Protection Act passed. When President George W. Bush signed the legislation, Stanek was by his side.
The Bishop of Charleston, who gave the invocation for the 2003 Stand Up for Life rally, was impressed by the speech Stanek gave.
“It was one of the most powerful messages I’ve heard. It should encourage people who are wavering,” Bishop Robert J. Baker said.
In his prayer opening the annual rally, Bishop Baker asked God to bless “all your laborers for love and life,” especially Jill Stanek.
Stanek is a member of the National Association of Pro-Life Nurses and a member of the Priests For Life speaker bureau.
Also at the Stand Up for Life rally, governor-elect, now Gov. Mark Sanford relayed a message via spokesperson Ken Wingate. Retiring Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler and Attorney General Charlie Condon were chosen by the South Carolina Citizens for Life as co-winners of the Pro-Life Public Official of the Year award. In his acceptance speech, Condon, who is Catholic, said that he will not rest until Roe v. Wade is overturned. The retiring attorney general said afterward that the pro-life movement “is dear to my heart. I intend to stay very active on the issue.”