Gloria Purvis delivered the keynote address on Thursday at the Iowans For LIFE annual fundraising banquet in Altoona. She started by providing her conversion story, and then shared a challenging message for those in attendance.
“Later on in my life, when I was at mass…we were saying the creed,” Purvis said. “You know, you get to the part where you say I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life. And bam! At that moment I had what I call a mini-chastisement.”
Purvis said she heard a voice asking if she was blaspheming. If she was lying.
“How can you say you believe in me when you do nothing to protect the innocent gift of life that I give on Earth,” Purvis said. “At that moment I had a flash of all the souls going up and receiving communion unworthily. How dare I think that at the moment of judgement I can ask for eternal life when I have done nothing to defend life. All this happened in a second.”
She asked how she could profess things if her actions did not back it up.
She talked about Genesis 1:26-28 — “let us make men in our image. Male and female He created them.” She said our image is referring to the Holy Trinity. Sex, she said, is one of the ways humans image the Trinity.
“Then I started thinking about the enemy of humanity. We know the devil’s arms are too short to box with God, but could he come after us, the very image of God,” she asked. “Is it any surprise that the very act of marriage itself is under attack by the enemy? Sex itself is under attack. Our own understanding of it is just perverted.”
God, through His plan for us, created this way to create new life.
“A mortal soul that, depending on the choices that soul makes here on Earth while they’re alive, would either spent eternity in heaven with God or eternity in hell separated. And yet this very gift of life and the way that God planned for us to have new life is under attack in our culture.”
Purvis talked about how artificial contraception is a permanent no. She said prior to what she does now, she did most of her evangelism in her corporate job.
“And I said, ‘Lord you know I got a mortgage and all this stuff to pay, why are you trying to get me fired,'” she said.
She detailed some of the conversations she had with coworkers.
One of those conversations happened when Catholicism was brought up. Catholics were described as racist, sexist and homophobic.
There was a shouting match about women and how the church oppresses women.
“I said ‘Excuse me. The Catholic church does not ask me to check my fertility at the door to be a member,'” she said. “You feel all these pressures in corporate America to never get pregnant and not have any kids because it’s going to be an obstacle to your career. The Catholic church doesn’t ask me to do that. I said Jesus’ mother is one of our most revered saints, she is the blessed mother. How can you say we have oppressed women?”
The Catholic church, Purvis said, is where she found her freedom as a woman and is celebrated as a woman and all the gifts of her womanhood are considered a blessing and not a curse.
Then, Purvis said, they brought up that women cannot be priests.
“Here’s the problem, you are (basing) women’s success upon what is explicitly for men,” Purvis said. “No, I cannot become a priest. But what I can, with my husband and the gift of the Holy Spirit, is take the gift of my husband and create a human life. That’s my super power.”
The church, she said, helped her realize pregnancy isn’t a curse or unjust biology.
Pregnancy, she said, is not a sickness that gets treated by pills and if that doesn’t work you get a surgery and an abortion to make it go away.
Her allegiance to Jesus Christ pushed her to speak truth into that darkness, she said.
“Somebody’s gotta do it. We cannot be cheered all the time. Sometimes you’re going to be hated. Sometimes you’re going to be disliked. Sometimes they’re going to call you names.
“Well you know what I say to that, you should rejoice if you’re found worthy to suffer for Christ. Do you remember the Apostles when they were told not to preach His name and they were beaten and scourged. They left and rejoiced because they were found worthy.
What they’d do? They kept on preaching. That’s what we do. That’s what Iowans For LIFE does.”
If the truth is not spoken, she asked how people can be expected to know.
“How can we expect when we go to God and we have to stand in front of him in judgement that we’re like ‘no, no, I didn’t say anything. I just preferred my comfort,'” Purvis said. “How do you think that’s going to be when you’re looking at Christ who carried a cross and suffered His passion and death for us, that we said we preferred our comfort to being perhaps disliked or being called names. Oh what a great shame I think there will be in that moment.”
Purvis said it is time to start challenging, lovingly, to people. She talked about people who identify as pro-choice Catholics.
“I was like, ‘and you’re not in accord with your church. Why do you feel the need to identify yourself as Catholic and then at the same time say you’re completely opposed to her teaching,'” Purvis said.
A conscience should be formed by thinking with the mind of the church, not the mind of CNN, she said.
Purvis then shared her own story about infertility. They would be in front of abortion clinics, sidewalk counseling, but they were unable to get pregnant.
“Being openly pro-life and not having a kid, people started to go there,” Purvis said. “That hurts so bad. We didn’t want to run out and say we’re infertile. We just realized this whispering and talking about us behind our backs maybe was a good dose of humility for us.”
She said she went to her husband and told him to leave her. She told him to find a woman who could give him a child.
Of course, he did not.
She went to a doctor who sent her to another place for an examination. At that place, IVF was pushed upon her.
“I just said, ‘I’m a Catholic,'” Purvis said. “And he just started shouting.”
She said there was temptation toward the IVF.
“But I also understood it’s against God’s plan and even if I desired it, I had to say no, and say no strongly,” Purvis said.
The couple started saving for adoption.
A trip to Lourdes resulted in quite the experience and an opportunity for healing.
One day, she did indeed become pregnant.
“I was so thrilled,” she said. “Oh my gosh, the joy after 15 years of infertility, many tears, many prayers — and our Lady came through in the clutch,” Purvis said. “Here I was in the doctor’s office telling the doctor I’m pregnant and the first words out of her mouth were ‘then we should consider termination.'”
The doctor went through all the possible things that could wrong.
“I’m sitting there thinking, I’ve got a good job, I’ve got insurance, we’ve got money, we want this child,” Purvis said. “She didn’t know any of that, but more importantly she also didn’t know I had Jesus up in there with me.”
Purvis told her they were going to have the baby. The doctor threw out more nightmarish scenarios.
“I had had it. I said, ‘let me tell you something,'” Purvis said. “‘I don’t care if I give birth to an eyeball with a strand of hair, one day I’m going to put a pink ribbon on it and call it my girl. The next day I’ll put a blue ribbon on it and call it my boy. We are going to have this baby.'”
It was a 30-minute argument during what is typically a 15-minute visit. The doctor’s last-ditch effort was asking what her husband would say about having a severely disabled child.
“I said, ‘Lady, you don’t want me to go out there and tell my husband you want to kill his firstborn. Trust me, you do not,'” Purvis said. “She said, ‘OK, appointment’s over thank you very much.’ I wish I could tell you that was the end of the story. It wasn’t. Getting to delivery was like running the gauntlet.”
The couple found a pro-life, Catholic doctor. He sent her for an ultrasound to find out if the baby needed anything at delivery the doctor would have to prepare for.
“When I’m in there getting the ultrasound they start talking to me about termination,” Purvis said. “When I tell you it was like running the gauntlet to get to deliver, I am not exaggerating.”
The attitude Purvis encountered from the medical field was one of termination.
Her second ultrasound she had to go was done by a doctor who was seven months pregnant.
“My husband went with me this time because I said ‘Baby I need you to go because I’m going to catch a charge if they say something to me crazy,'” Purvis said. “So we go and as we’re checking out the doctor says ‘I see no need to terminate.’ And I’m making a fist and I just felt my husband grab my wrist. I’m tired of this. No support, constant pressure to abort, the idea that if the child isn’t perfect that you’re an irresponsible person for having this baby.”
Her baby was a perfectly healthy baby girl. The couple named her Lourdes Grace.
“You hear about these high numbers of abortions in the African American community,” Purvis said. “If my experience is typical, it’s no wonder. If any woman goes in there without anything of the things I had — if you don’t have Jesus, No. 1, you’re at risk. If you don’t have money, you don’t have a job, you don’t have a husband, you’re an unexpected pregnancy — that doctor can put you over the edge. (I) chose life. But my choice was not respected.”
She said husbands need to go to those appointments with their wives.
“She would’ve scheduled that termination lickety-split without my husband knowing,” Purvis said. “Men be there. Support your wives. And if it happens and it’s your girlfriend, so what. The devil is a double dipper. Yeah, you fornicated, he’d love you to do that second sin of aborting — don’t do it. Men, please, take up your role. Be defenders of virtue. Be defenders of the family, not the defilers that the world glorifies.
“We need you. We need authentic, masculine, virtuous men. You are a part of the pro-life movement. You are a part of helping turn around the culture. And contrary to what you hear, yes, you’re voice matters in this discussion.”
Purvis said the African American community is not an abortion-loving community, it is abortion-targeted.
“I can’t tell you how many of my girlfriends told me they’ve had similar experiences going in for their pregnancies,” Purvis said. “Every single one of those except one had healthy children. Is it racism, I don’t know.”