Judie Brown’s Pro-Life Impact: A Catalyst for Change

During Women’s History Month, we reflect on the women who have made an impact on our society so that we can emulate them as we forge ahead and create our own lasting impact. We examine their actions and how they overcame obstacles, and we look at how they have made the world a better place.

We all probably know a woman who has made an impact on our lives—a mother, an aunt, a grandmother—as a woman doesn’t have to be famous to have made a difference. But I want to share with you the story of Judie Brown, president of American Life League—a pro-life nonprofit organization with a mission to protect all human beings from creation until death—who just recently celebrated her 80th birthday.

The impact Judie has made, not only within her own family and within the American Life League family, but throughout the country, is one we should celebrate every day, not just during Women’s History Month.

Judie has always had a brilliant way of expressing herself and her pro-life views. Her ability to teach others about the humanity of the preborn baby led her parish priest to ask her to debate a local abortionist. That was in 1973—the year that Roe v. Wade was decided. It was a pivotal moment in Judie Brown’s life and the beginning of a career she likely never imagined.

In 1979, knowing they couldn’t stand by as abortion and a culture of death mentality continued spreading its tentacles throughout the country, Judie and a few others founded American Life League—a no exceptions, no compromise pro-life organization that is unapologetic in its protection of all human beings from creation until death.

This month, American Life League celebrates its 45-year anniversary. Over the past nearly five decades, Judie has not only developed a friendship with pro-life greats such as Mildred Fay Jefferson and Nellie Gray, but she has helped inspire other pro-life organizations, including Human Life International, Priests for Life, and the Pro-Life Action League. She has appeared on 20/20, 60 Minutes, Mother Angelica Live, The O’Reilly Factor, Good Morning America, Oprah, and Larry King Live, as well as hundreds of other television and radio talk shows. Her articles still regularly appear in major print media nationwide.

In addition, Judie has won several pro-life awards, was given an honorary doctorate, and served under both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI on the Pontifical Academy for Life.

To this day, Judie still plays a pivotal role in American Life League and is extremely proud that her son Hugh serves as ALL’s executive vice president and her granddaughter Katie serves as ALL’s director of communications. That two of her close relatives have chosen to fight for the protection of all human beings is a true testament to her enduring impact.

As Judie says, being unapologetically pro-life has not always been easy, but she proceeded undaunted, always serving moms and babies with great dignity and love. I asked Judie what some of the obstacles she faced early on were, and she responded, “One of the largest obstacles confronting me even in the 1980s was the argument that there should be no law that would end abortion. I found this everywhere including among those in the pro-life movement who argued that we had to allow exceptions for rape, incest, fetal deformity, and life of the mother if we ever wanted to achieve acceptance of a so-called pro-life agenda. I never understood this and consistently argued that such a position contradicted the truth that every preborn child is a human being who deserves protection.”

Judie understands that we will never change hearts and minds if we teach that only some babies are worth saving. Doing so means that we agree that some babies are expendable and don’t deserve to continue living. Someone who is truly pro-life could never agree to such a belief.

This is just one of the many things that makes Judie Brown exceptional and a woman worthy of emulation. The impact she has made is immeasurable, and we will never know how many mothers she has saved from abortion. But one story in particular has stayed with her over the years. After giving a talk in California many years ago, Judie met a woman named Barbara. Judie stated, “She came up to me and asked if I had a minute to talk to her in private. Once we were alone, she said ‘I came tonight to argue with you because I wanted to get an abortion. But, Mrs. Brown, I was wrong. Thank you for your kind words.’ She was weeping, and by the time we parted company we had wept together. Six months later, Barbara gave birth to a healthy little boy.”

Saving lives, protecting the vulnerable, teaching the truth that all human beings have value, and living that mission to its fullest. That is the life Judie Brown has led, and that is why she is a hero not only to her family and the staff at American Life League, but to the many people whose lives she has saved and to the people whose hearts she has touched.

Judie is an extraordinary example of the fact that speaking about the sanctity of life in truth and charity is of vital importance, and those of us who know her know that she speaks those words in love, for she truly sees Christ in everyone. This is why we celebrate Judie Brown this Women’s History Month; her life is indeed what it means to leave a legacy.

This article first appeared in Catholic 365 at catholic365.com/article/38076/judie-browns-pro-life-impact-a-catalyst-for-change.html.

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About the author

Susan Ciancio

Susan Ciancio is the editor of Celebrate Life Magazine and executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program.