By Arlene Edmonds

Special to The CS&T

Some 1,400 people from the Delaware Valley took time to “Stand Up for Life” at the Pro-Life Union of South Eastern Pennsylvania dinner held Nov. 23 at the Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel.

They celebrated the contributions of local pro-life leaders, learned more about the chastity education work of Generation Life and heard how the African-American community can further energize the pro-life movement.

Among those who drew a rousing standing ovation from the sold-out crowd was keynote speaker Dr. Alveda King. As the niece of the slain civil rights leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Alveda King drew attention to the fact that she came from a pro-life family. This, she said, mirrored many African American families, churches and communities.

She pointed to the fact that some 70 percent of African-American voters in California voted for Proposition 8, proving that the black community still holds conservative family values.

“For 15 years I taught business law to college students,” said King. “When we discussed morals and ethics, I’d say that a mother has the right to choose what happens to her body. I’d point out that the baby is a separate person. I’d ask them, where was the lawyer for the baby?” This question drew an outburst of spontaneous applause from the audience.

King culminated her speech by asking the audience members to join hands and sing, “This Little Light of Mine,” with their feet marching to the steady rhythm. “Let your life shine,” she concluded.

John Stanton, former Pro-Life Union president, also received a standing ovation at the dinner. He received one of the many awards given to pro-life advocates.

Other honorees were Rita Schiavone, the Lynch Award, an honor given to a person devoted to handicapped persons; Father Joseph Coffey, the Defender of Life Award, given to a sustainer of right to life issues; Marcella Deysher, the Dr. James D. Kelly Pro-Life Pioneer Award, given to an inspanidual or couple who are vigilant in the pro-life movement; Mary Worthington, the Chastity Award, given to a person who educates young people about chastity and marriage; and Anita Brothers, the Guardian Award, given to a pro-life advocate who convinces a mother to retreat from abortion.

The evening’s program opened with remarks from Molly Kelly. Auxiliary Bishop Robert Maginnis delivered the invocation before a welcome came from Stuart Stone and Kim Savage. Edel Finnegan, the Pro-Life Union executive director, introduced the evening’s guests.

One of the highlights of the event was the Generation Life presentation by Judy Neal. She said that since 2000 the group has reached 220,154 young people worldwide with its chastity message. “If you have not heard of Generation Life, you must be new to town,” she said. “We are educating young people about the sacredness of sexuality. We believe that chastity will (curtail) abortion.”

The program concluded with a blessing from Pastor Patrick Cheston from the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Spring House. For more information about the Pro-Life Union call 215-885-8150 or visit

Arlene Edmonds is a freelance writer and St. Raymond of Penafort parishioner. She may be reached at