The Blessing of Babies: Top 7 Pro-Life Stories of 2023
Here are the best moments to keep in mind from the last year as we push forward to build a more pro-life, pro-family America.
As we rounded out our first full year as a country no longer under the grips of a national abortion law, the pro-life movement is steadfastly working not only to protect sacred life in the womb but also those growing old or infirm amid the rampant uptick in countries and states pushing for euthanasia.
Thank God for the pro-life movement, hard at work protecting one of God’s greatest blessings: the family. From stories of babies overcoming odds to survive to young mothers facing terminal illnesses by clutching Christ on the cross, here are the best moments to keep in mind from the last year as we push forward to build a more pro-life, pro-family America.
1. Adiah and Adrial Rajendram
The Guinness-record-holding twins of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Toronto, Adiah and Adrial Rajendram are thriving after being born at just 21 weeks and 5 days. Speaking to their mother, Shakina, about her then-harrowing-now-hopeful story, she recalled that her babies’ future looked grim until she learned about 22 Matters, a group that works to help babies born before “viability.” Past tubes, tape and fragile skin, she and her husband saw only beating hearts. “We constantly saw their strength; we constantly saw resilience ... we never gave up on them. Because we would look at the babies and we would see the will to survive,” Shakina told the Register. Adiah and Adrial are happy holding their Guinness records for now, but Shakina hopes those will soon be broken, so more mothers will see their preemies survive and thrive.
2. Nicole LeBlanc
Nicole LeBlanc, the mother of conjoined twins, chose life for her babies, despite her doctor’s abortion-minded advice. Giving birth to Maria Therese and Rachel Clare on May 16, the girls were both baptized and confirmed, and the family shared 90 blessed minutes together before the two babies passed. As LeBlanc recalled to the Register, they are “enjoying the splendors of the Beatific Vision. My beautiful saints in heaven, pray for us.”
3. Brooke and Billy High
Brooke and Billy High continue to flourish with their little family, after choosing life in Texas, where abortion is banned after 6 weeks. It was just before the fall of Roe that Americans learned about the young couple, from a secular media outlet working overtime to portray the trauma of a young woman “trapped” in a pregnancy. She had 48 hours to get an abortion before Texas’ heartbeat law went into effect. Unable to get an appointment, she visited a pro-life pregnancy center, where she learned she was three months pregnant and her twins had strong beating hearts. This mother, father and their two babies are living witnesses to the good that comes from choosing life.
4. Alanie Stuart
Baby Alanie Stuart, born at 23 weeks and weighing only one pound, is still thriving, a true testament to the amazing advances in neonatal medicine. After living his first five months outside the womb inside a Florida hospital’s NICU, Alanie “graduated” and went home with his proud mother. After spending a month on a ventilator, receiving steroids for his lungs, suffering from stage-two retinopathy of prematurity, enduring a stage-one brain bleed, and overcoming various infections, Dr. Johny Tryzmel reported that Alanie “beat the odds. You’re talking about a baby that the chances for survival were … around 30%, 40% — and [he] beat the odds.” May we pray for the future pro-life generation that will only build on these awesome advances in medical science.
5. Lisa Wheeler
Catholic PR executive Lisa Wheeler described the blessing of being a foster mother of 20 as “bringing together a family from brokenness.” Deciding to foster and adopt (now five children), Wheeler talked about not only why Catholics need to do more for these “modern-day orphans,” especially in a post-Roe landscape, but also the true joy she found being a mother after carrying the cross of infertility, telling the Register: “I think children who are languishing in the foster-care system with no permanency experience that same longing. They ultimately want to love and be loved by a safe and forever family.”
6. Amber VanVickle
The story of young mother Amber VanVickle entering hospice after a long battle with cancer gripped many readers. VanVickle’s courage in doing all she could for her own children, two who have severe disabilities, only to then herself receive a terminal diagnosis, even had Franciscan Father Dave Pivonka, president of Franciscan University of Steubenville, grappling with the path that lay ahead for her.
Through it all, VanVickle stood at the foot of the cross like Mary, exposing the reality of pain and anguish, only to find comfort in the suffering Christ, and offering Catholics a living reminder of what true love requires. Praying for VanVickle, may we remember her profound witness in her grief, as she offered all to God.
As she wrote so eloquently in the pages of the Register:
“Despite my burdens and my heartbrokenness, because of my crosses, I was finally able to say to God, ‘I love you, always, always, always.’”
7. Mary Elizabeth Bauer
The captivating story of baby Mary Elizabeth Bauer and her mother Jennifer’s trust in the Divine Physician, as doctors said the baby’s chance of survival was impossible, touched many hearts. The now-bubbly toddler was born with several heart defects, and the Bauer family put all their faith and trust in Divine Mercy, trusting the Divine Physician would care for their darling child. After spending countless hours and nights in a NICU, Mary Elizabeth was able to come home to be dotted on by her six siblings and ever-grateful parents. Speaking about that providential day for her children, Jennifer Bauer told the Register, “I caught a glimpse of heaven that day when they were reunited one by one with Mary Elizabeth. The pure love they had for their tiny baby sister was poured out that day.”
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