Monica Migliorino Miller
The Untold Story of the Abortion Wars
through Saint Benedict
Press in 2012. It tells the story of how, as a college student in the
1970s, she became involved in the pro-life movement, through 1994, when the
blockading of abortion clinics through Operation Rescue effectively came to an
While many Americans describe themselves as pro-life, few have dedicated
themselves wholly to the cause as Miller has, devoting countless hours on the
streets in front of abortion clinics “sidewalk counseling,” or trying to
persuade abortion-minded women entering abortion clinicsor “abortuaries” as
you may hear her call themto choose life. Her aggressive, on-the-street
action has included the photographing and displaying of the bodies of aborted
children collected from the dumpsters behind abortion clinics, to painting over
or covering the contact information on subway advertisements of abortion
clinics, to being arrested for linking arms with other pro-lifers in front of
the entrances to abortion clinics. (It is important to note that she and
her fellow pro-life activists never used any sort of violence as a tactic, and
that violence used in the name of the pro-life cause is rare and quickly denounced
by the leaders of the movement.)
While some Americans may be turned off by her activism, to Miller it is more
than justified by the atrocities that occur every day in the nation’s abortion
clinics. Such atrocities, she believes, are tantamount to those of
Hitler’s extermination camps or Stalin’s gulags, and it is her role (and should
be that of any pro-life American) to stand in solidarity with the unborn child
threatened with abortion, and employ all morally acceptable means to save that
In a recent interview with CWR
discussed her new book.
did you choose to write Abandoned?
I wanted to tell the truth.
I’ve been in a position as a pro-life activist that has given me a unique
and incredible experience to see what 40 years of legalized abortion has
brought to our country. I’ve experienced the tragedy of abortion in a
profound way. I wanted to share that experience with everyone.
The book covers a specific 19-year period, from the 1970s through the 90s; I
wanted to preserve this important moment in history and share it with future
generations. We’re fighting the most important social justice issue of
our time, and it is important for us to explain what it is and what it meant.
I wanted to tell the story as someone active in the pro-life cause, so we
don’t have to rely on scholars and journalists to tell it. In the 19th
century, by comparison, in the fight against slavery, it would have been a
tragedy if we didn’t have the writings of the abolitionists themselves, and
instead had to rely only on the interpretations of historians.
Also, while I tell the story from my own perspective, I hope people will see
that the real main character of the book is not me, but the unborn child.
He is the hidden victim of abortion.
reaction has Abandoned received?
We’ve had a good reaction; I
think Saint Benedict Press is very excited. I’ve written other books that
have been published, but none has achieved the success Abandoned
has. We’re still in the early stages of promoting the book, and we’ve
already sold 6,000 copies.
is the most effective way to save babies from abortion?
I believe it is sidewalk
counseling, being outside of the clinics and talking women out of abortions,
that is most successful. It’s a fact that if I and other pro-lifers had
not been out there, many babies who were saved would have died. We’ve had
the opportunity to drag some of those victims out of the fire and save them.
I also thought the rescues [where pro-lifers physically block the entrances to
clinics, violating trespassing laws] were enormously effective. They
delayed the abortions, and gave some women the time they needed to change their
I also believe in doing educational and awareness-related work, to awaken our
culture to the tragedy of abortion. When we held public burials of the aborted
babies we’d recovered, for example, I thought it was an incredible teaching
moment. When we held these burials in 1987 and 1988, we received a lot of
media attention. Judging the response we received from our enemies, these
burials were very effective.
gives you the most satisfaction when you think about your years of involvement
in the pro-life cause?
I’m most pleased when I
think about all the babies we’ve saved from abortion, by standing in the gap
between the expectant mother and the abortionist. I’ve personally been a
part of saving hundreds of babies; if I hadn’t been there, those babies would
Pro-life activism continues to be a major part of my life. I’ve always
tried to do my best, and leave the rest up to God.
your Catholic faith been an important factor in keeping you motivated to do
your pro-life work?
I would not do what I do
if I were not Catholic. It is the foundation of my pro-life commitment.
I also keep motivated by remembering that someone needs to be at the clinic
advocating for the victims of abortion, no matter how aggressive the opposition
may be. The unborn child threatened with abortion is an abandoned human
being. If someone isn’t out there, standing in solidarity with the
unwanted unborn, it would be sad. We have to do it.
you seen many non-Catholics convert to Catholicism due to their involvement in
the pro-life movement?
Yes, we have seen many
convert. I guess they start rubbing elbows with Catholics and they find
out that we are Christians after all!
was the support of the Catholic bishops during the 1970s through 90s?
It was awful. Church
leadership was nonexistent. We had difficulties with the Archdiocese of
Chicago; my bishop during part of that period, Archbishop Rembert Weakland of
Milwaukee, was also unsupportive. In fact, he seemed to sympathize with
the other side. He was not our friend. We did have some priests
involved, but, by and large, we were on our own. We just continued on to
do what we had to do despite the lack of support.
But, I’m glad to say, it’s a whole new Church today. There is a much
deeper awareness among both priests and bishops of the injustice of abortion.
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit,
Bishop John Quinn of Winona (Minnesota), Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansingmy
bishopare just a few examples of bishops who have been supportive. They
listen to us. It’s completely different than 20 or 25 years ago. We
have a new set of bishops who are more on fire for their faith, and realize
that the Church is in a crisis situation in our culture.
you discouraged by the Obama Administration’s support of legalized abortion?
I think it’s despicable,
and a sign of the tenor of American society itself. In 2008, he said of
his two daughters becoming pregnant out of wedlock: “If they make a mistake, I
don’t want them punished with a baby.” I can’t believe that someone could
have said that a generation ago and had gotten elected.
do you think the work of Operation Rescue ceased?
First of all, I think
Operation Rescue was an important witness to what is going on inside abortion
clinics. What I think effectively ended it was when, in 1994, President
Bill Clinton signed into law the “Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.”
It made it a felony to even block the door of a clinic. You could
go to prison for months, and when you leave, you have a felony record.
you ever been afraid for your safety in front of clinics?
Not usually. My
greatest fear is fear of failure, failure that our work saving babies would be
thwarted, that our message would be misunderstood or rejected, or that during
rescues the police would take us away too quickly.
I originally had a chapter in the book about police brutality against pro-life
people, which was a big problem in the 1980s. I myself experienced some
police torture. I had to cut the chapter out because the book was too
long, originally 600 pages. [It’s currently 298 pages.]
do you think the pro-life movement is doing today?
We’ve made some progress
at the state level, with the passage of some pro-life legislation. Some
polls show a shift in public opinion about the Roe v. Wade decision [in 1973,
striking down the nation’s abortion laws], with most Americans not supporting
the original decision. We’ve won the argument about late-term abortions
on demand; most Americans are opposed to it.
are some of the pro-life activists whom you admire the most?
Certainly Joe Scheidler
of the Pro-Life Action League in Chicago is my mentor. In defending life,
he’s been fearless and willing to do the hard things to confront the abortion
practice. He’s always called a spade a spade, saying that abortion is
murder and abortionists are committing an act of murder.
Fr. Paul Marx (1920-2010), founder of Human Life International, was
outstanding, as is Judy Brown of the American Life League. Fr. Norm
Weslin (1930-2012) founder of The Lambs of Christ, who would also block the
doors to abortion clinics, was a great man. I’m impressed by Joan Andrews
Bell, who is prominently featured in my book, and also Fr. Frank Pavone of
Priests for Life.
are you doing now?
I’m married to my
husband Edmund, whom I met through the pro-life movement. We have three
children. We live near Ann Arbor, Michigan. I am an assistant
professor of theology at Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan, a suburb of
Detroit. I teach both undergraduate and graduate students.
I am also director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society (www.prolifesociety.com
pleased to say that, after an intense battle, we managed to keep a Planned
Parenthood “mega-clinic” from opening in Auburn Hills, Michigan. We did
this by talking to surrounding businesses and members of the city council and
other local politicians; we also picketed and fought them through the courts.
If we hadn’t done anything, they’d be open.
I’ve also been busy, too, with a lot of speaking engagements related to the
publication of Abandoned
. People have called me and emailed
me to say that while they’re pro-life, they’ve been sitting on the sidelines
and haven’t been active in the movement. My book has inspired them to get
involved, and be a part of it. That has been one of the book’s most
To purchase a copy of Abandoned
, visit www.prolifesociety.com