Stephen Beale has been a freelance writer and journalist for over 10 years, reporting on presidential politics, government corruption, and other public affairs. He also writes frequently about Church history, spirituality, and theology. He holds an undergraduate from Brown University in classics and history. He currently resides in Providence, Rhode Island.
When Nichole Rowley received a card from her governor congratulating her and her husband on the birth of their second son, something seemed off.
The note itself was kind enough. The problem was her governor, Democrat Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, was pro-choice and had just come out in support of the Reproductive Health Care Act (RHCA), an abortion rights bill on par with what passed in New York.
“The card expressed the joy of having children, but the sentiment didn’t make sense coming from Governor Raimondo,” Rowley told NBC 10. “If children are such a special gift, as the card claims, why does she offer those children no rights before they are born?”
So Nichole and her husband Tyler decided to send a note back to the governor. “We thought this would be a good opportunity to show her the gift of life by sending her back a simple message. We used the two most powerful images we had. We combined side-by-side an ultrasound photo next to a born photo of our son and wrote the words ‘Me … Still Me’ over them,” Rowley told me. (Full disclosure: Nichole and her husband are friends of mine.)
Nichole also asked friends with newborns to send their versions of the Me Still Me note. Then Nichole launched a Facebook page and a Twitter handle with the hashtag #MeStillMe. Though the number of online followers remains relatively small, the movement has already attracted wide attention. At the end of January, Father Rocky of Relevant Radio shared one of Nichole’s original posts with his four-plus million followers. One post shared by EWTN resulted in 360 shares and 1,400 likes. Pro-lifers from about half a dozen other states have participated, including California, Arkansas, and Illinois.
For Nichole the movement was yet another step in her and her husband’s journey as pro-life advocates. She and her husband, who are parishioners at St. Pius V Church in Providence, Rhode Island, got their start them they were asked to be on the board of Servants of Christ for Life, a local Catholic pro-life organization. At the time, they were trying to have children and were struggling to conceive.
“Something so painful—struggling to conceive—made us consider and appreciate the sanctity of human life even more. We hoped and prayed every day to conceive while down the street unborn babies were killed. It broke our heart,” Nichole told me.
Soon her husband became president of the organization and the couple regularly participated in sidewalk counseling and other events outside the local Planned Parenthood facility in Providence.
Now her newest campaign conveys the simple yet profound truth behind the pro-life movement in a way that philosophical and scientific arguments about personhood do not: the newborn infant outside the womb is the same person as the one depicted in the ultrasound, regardless of stage of development.
Or, as Nichole puts it: “It humanizes the baby and visually shows the continuum of human life from the womb to a mother’s arms.”
“It’s hard to imagine and relate to the deaths of 60 million people, but when you think about just one, the face of just one beautiful unborn baby, it quickly puts the abortion issue into perspective,” Nichole adds. “The image is so powerful that the pro-choice side demanded the Me ... Still Me signs be taken down during the RHCA hearings at the Statehouse.”
Nichole says another indication of the campaign’s effectiveness is the response from people she didn’t expect to speak out on the life issue who said they had been moved by the campaign.
“I have been so moved by the people who have reached out to me personally. Women have told me incredible stories. They tell me I encourage them but it’s really their incredible stories of choosing life in this culture of death that is encouraging. Their kindness and thankfulness gives me the confidence to keep fighting,” Nichole said.