Missy Reilly Smith, Profile of a Pro-Life Hero
By Jim Fritz
All of us involved in Pro-Life activity recognize the names of heroes who exemplify the Pro-Life movement. Mention the names of Fr. Paul Marx, Joe Schiedler, Father Frank Pavone, Mark Crutcher, Jack Ames, Randall Terry, Janet Smith, Mary Ann Kreitzer, Sue Lopez, Kristan Hawkins, Judie Brown and many others, and thoughts will arise concerning specific accomplishments which have made them known to the rest of us. Someone mentions Randall Terry and you think of the many protests he has organized that often include posters and street theater. Mention Jack Ames and you recall the hundreds of "Face the Truth Tours" and his great monthly publication, Defend Life. Missy Smith belongs in this group. She shines like a many-faceted diamond, standing out in so many ways it is hard to focus on only a few which we shall do in this article.
Like many women in the pro-life movement, her involvement began unwillingly with an abortion in 1971. Her marriage had ended, leaving her with two small children. The man she loved assured her they would be married, so she stopped using the pill. When she became pregnant, he panicked, refusing to marry her and pressured her to have an abortion. He drove her to the hospital and returned later to drop her off at home. She was emotionally ill. She had been told it was not a baby, just a piece of tissue. [Sound familiar?]
Eventually, she married the father and had more children. One was a boy born with Down's syndrome. The next six years were filled with doctors, hospitalizations and surgeries. All the time her family was being drawn closer together and becoming healthier through the gift of "heaven's very special child," an imperfect child in the world's eyes, but in their eyes, pure love. The couple had five children together, and life was better. When she became pregnant for the eighth time, she did the unthinkable – she followed conventional wisdom and aborted. She marvels that everyone around her was so understanding! All thought it a wise decision. In a sense, Smith became pro-choice as a means of denying her guilt.
On March 16, 1993, their “special” son was walking through the gym with his school friends when he suffered a massive and fatal heart attack. He was nineteen years old. At that moment, her life changed. She saw her abortions as true sins and she went on a pilgrimage to a very Holy place. She went to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and started on her spiritual journey. She offered herself up to the Lord to be used as He saw fit, and use her He did! She joined a lay religious group with a spiritual advisor, and her life became God-centered. Her testimonies are especially powerful. As Smith says, "Yes, the post-abortive woman is the prophet of today - listen to her." Smith became an outspoken “Women Regret Abortion” spokesperson.This became the first facet of a full-time pro-life activist.
When Smith learned about the trafficking of body parts from aborted babies in the abortion industry, she along with four other women founded WAKEUP (Women Against the Killing and Exploitation of Unprotected Persons). She developed her own literature describing this gruesome business and began distributing it far and near. Thus began facet number two.
In the meantime, Smith learned about sidewalk counseling using Msgr. Reilly's methods and began counseling in earnest. She counsels women considering abortion on the devastating physical, emotional and spiritual effects of abortion and has been successful in saving the lives of women and babies simply by being there and praying in front of abortion facilities. She later became part of a group training new pro-life sidewalk counselors. Needless to say she has been very successful. Thus began facet number three.
Today WAKEUP sponsors a program called "Chastity, the New Sexual Revolution.” The program took off like a rocket thanks to the work of many volunteers. WAKEUP has brought chastity speakers and distributed chastity literature to seventh through twelfth grade students in numerous Catholic schools in the Washington Metropolitan area. They have formed a partnership with the well-known Pope John Paul II Cultural Center (JPIICC) just across from the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington to bring nationally-known chastity speakers to JPIICC. The JPIICC - WAKEUP partnership had several important chastity talks delivered by speakers such as Dr. Janet Smith, Angela King, Dawn Eden, Mark Houck and others. Persons attending these events were drawn from the Washington, Maryland and Northern Virginia areas.
In Smith's words, "Our mission is to awaken the world to the current Culture of Death, and to change hearts to embrace the Culture of Life. Our current plan is to draw public attention to the erosion of the traditional family, the plight of the unborn, and to promote Chastity – The New Sexual Revolution – to our youth. This new thrust, promoting the restoration of traditional family values, and the practice of purity and chastity among our youth, will reduce sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and curb the avalanche of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and abortions that now take place in America and throughout the world." Thus began facet number four.
Smith began her radio career by recording WAKEUP public service announcements on our own Defenders of the Faith, Inc. radio station in Berkeley Springs, WV. Her messages pertained to chastity and the fact that one in every three persons is living with an incurable STD, with this percentage increasing each year. An additional 19 million people (52,000 each day) become infected with an STD each year. Half of these are incurable and will be lifelong infections. In the United States, the leading cause of poverty is single-parent families, the number of which has increased steadily from 3.8 million in 1970 to over 15 million today. Single-parent families experience more poverty, abuse of women and children, school dropouts, criminal behavior, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions.
Smith went on to become a talk-show host on National Pro-Life Radio where she conducts her own weekly 15-minute show and interviews many national speakers regarding chastity. Those interviewed include Dick Retta, Angela King, Dawn Eden, Joe Scheidler, Joan Andrews, Chris Bell, Jack Ames, Mark Houck and many others. Thus began facet number five.
To help spread the message of WAKEUP, Smith implemented a website called www.wakeupnet.net.It includes all of the topics discussed above in great detail and motivates people to become involved. The home page states, "If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!" - Samuel Adams, Dakota Voice. This pretty well sums up Smith's viewpoint in her unrelenting service to God. Thus began facet number six.
One of Smith's spare time activities is participating in protests. Because she lives in Washington D.C., she has easy access to the federal government buildings and often has protested in front of the offices of Congress and in the halls of the Capitol. She has also taken part in protests in the areas next to the White House. Some of these protests have led to her physical removal from the vicinity.
When the (formerly) Catholic University of Notre Dame invited pro-abortion President Barack Obama to speak at their commencement exercises in May 2009 and presented him with an honorary degree, Missy Smith was there with hundreds of others to protest on behalf of faithful, pro-life Catholics. She was among the 88 who were arrested for trespassing on the grounds of the University and are now known as The ND88. Smith was one of a very few of the 88 who were arrested more than once and spent the night in jail. Thus began facet number seven.
To round the facets out to an even number (eight) we must report on Smith's current venture. It is by far her most extensive, expensive and courageous. She decided to run against long-time incumbent Eleanor Holmes Norton as the Republican candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in heavily-Democratic metro Washington, D.C. It was her friend Randall Terry who knew and advised her that holders of broadcast licenses are required to air federal candidates' advertisements unedited in whatever time slots they can afford.He suggested to several members of his "Insurrecta Nex" network that they run for office, using the accompanying legal protections to air the graphic anti-abortion ads. Smith was the only one who picked up the ball and ran with it. One of her 30-second ads includes the image of a bloodied late-term fetus, followed by a picture of two more fetuses, blackened and scarred by a saline abortion. Another ad begins with the stuff of "miracle of life" public-TV documentaries - before resolving into a photo of President Obama followed by a pair of dismembered fetal limbs, set next to a dime to highlight their proportions. Using e-mail lists compiled by Terry and others, Smith has appealed to like-minded activists across the country. In her appeals, she emphasizes the ads will run "in the belly of the beast" – in the city where Roe v. Wade was decided. "This is where it started, and this is where it's going to end," she said.
The ads ran for nearly three weeks on broadcast stations in the D.C. market, during programs such as "Seinfeld," "Saturday Night Live" and "Everybody Hates Chris." Thanks to a recent buy on Northern Virginia cable stations, Smith estimates her commercials have run more than 500 times accompanied in almost all cases by disclaimers making it clear the stations had no choice. The idea is by any measure ingenious. The federally–protected ads are one thing; the barrage of media coverage Smith has gotten as a result – what the campaign pros call "earned media" - is another. She appeared on CNN's "Situation Room" and on radio shows across the country. And, yes, in The Washington Post. Smith's campaign could become a biennial tradition. If she doesn't oust one of the pro-choice Democrats – or, as she prefers – the "party of death," she'll be back every two years with the same ads.
God bless Missy Smith, this beautiful diamond in a very large group of Pro-Life heroes.