Recently two representatives from Council for Life had the privilege of being interviewed on KATH 910 AM, Guadalupe Radio Network. Dave Palmer spoke with Lee Anne Morris, Executive Director, and Suzanne Everbach, Director of Communication and Philanthropy of Council for Life.
They talked about the critical mission behind CFL, navigating the pro-life conversation in today’s world, and CFL’s plans to reach more regions across Texas.
You can listen to the audio or read the full transcript below.
Hi everybody and welcome to a very, very special edition of the KATH 910 AM interview the week here on the Guadalupe Radio Network.
I’m Dave Palmer. Diane Xavier is running the board and I am so excited about these next 25 minutes because this is an interview that has been a long time in preparation, and for a variety of reasons we’ve had to postpone and delay.
This is an organization that I have great respect for. They’re doing awesome work here in North Texas and planning for expansion and they are called Council for Life. You can find them online at councilforlife.org.
I have in studio with me, the Executive Director who’s been in this position for about a year. Her name is Lee Anne Morris. And also the Director of Communication and Philanthropy, Suzanne Everbach, who are going to be on there.
I want to thank Marianne Chapman, who has been a dear friend to this station. Has helped us in many ways. She has served on the board of Council for Life and she is here. But she is just offering moral support. She’s in the background. She won’t be speaking, but we really appreciate her because, without her, I don’t think this would have ever been put together.
So first of all, welcome to both of you, and thank you for being in studio with me.
Lee Anne Morris
Thank you, Dave. It is an honor to be with you in the studio today. We are grateful for the ability to talk about Council for Life whenever we can, so we’re thankful.
Amen. And that’s Lee Anne’s voice, in case you want to get the different voices there.
Lee Anne, tell me. For those that are saying, “Counselor for Life? Never heard of it.” There may be a few people out there in that category. What is it? What’s the purpose? What’s the mission?
Lee Anne Morris
Dave, first of all, we want to thank you and congratulate you on that fabulous award from last weekend, and all you do for the pro-life world.
We at Council for Life, empower women, men and youth to make life-affirming choices. We do that in two ways. We educate the community about the humanity of the preborn child and the complex issues that surround unplanned pregnancies. And we also fundraise to support like-minded agencies — the agencies that are out there doing the hard work, helping vulnerable women choose life for their babies.
So you’re able to have events and raise money and then choose the groups that are like-minded doing great work. I think the CPLC, Catholic Pro-Life Community, is one of them, right?
Lee Anne Morris
Yes, they are!
We go through a rigorous grant research cycle each year. This year we just wrapped up.
The beneficiary grant applications are due in December and then we research the agencies for two months. Board members or former board members are the researchers. They do site visits. They speak with the executive director. They get to know the staff and the project that is being considered. And then they report back.
We have meetings where we review the projects, talk about them, analyze them, and then we vote.
This year we’re going to support 27 agencies for a record amount of money that we hope to raise this year.
That’s where the Director of Philanthropy comes in, right? I am curious. I’ll go over to Suzanne Everbach, Director of Communications and Philanthropy.
Tell us a little bit about your role. You’ve been in your position for about a year. Tell us about the kind of day-to-day work that you do and also why being involved with Council for Life is important to you.
Absolutely, Dave. I just want to echo what Lee Anne said about what an incredible honor it is to be invited to share this time together with you today. Thank you for your bold, courageous voice for the vulnerable and voiceless. Thank you so much, and congratulations on being the pro-life person of the year. A well-deserved honor, I must say.
Oh, thank you.
As Lee Anne mentioned, we’re a nonprofit organization.
We’ve been around for 22 years. I wanted to speak to why we were formed.
Eleven ladies who were greatly grieved and disturbed about the devastation of abortion in our city, across our nation, stepped out with incredible boldness and courage to form Council for Life.
Their friends were supporting Planned Parenthood, going to their luncheon. We are so thankful for those ladies being so courageous and they have been unwaveringly true to Council for Life’s mission that Lee Anne shared with you.
And yes, we do want to educate. We feel like educating our community on the complex issues surrounding unplanned pregnancies and the irrefutable humanity of life in the womb is something that we are called to do. It’s even more essential in this post-Roe environment.
We did just kick off our fundraising. That’s the other piece of the equation, in addition to the education.
Last year the Lord blessed us abundantly. He went before us and we were able to raise a record $1,000,000+ to fund our 28 agencies, many of which are Catholic, Dave.
And we were so thrilled and blessed to have Jim Caviezel as our featured speaker.
How’d you swing that?
You know, it’s God. He’s working miracles. We really appreciate Jim’s dedication to speaking out about the life issue, which is not a popular position in the Hollywood community, and he’s been severely persecuted for that. He’s lost many roles, but he has stood firm. It was a really special luncheon. We were blessed.
We did just kick off this year’s fundraising. We have 27 beneficiaries and five of which are Catholic agencies. Birth Choice of Dallas; Catholic Pro-life Community; In My Shoes, a maternity home; Loreto House, a pregnancy resource center in Denton; and then the Vitae Foundation.
Wow, that is awesome.
I have to go back to you, Lee Anne. You’ve got these 27 groups, over $1,000,000 is being dispersed to them, and then they’re getting the money and then you start the cycle again. Is that how it works? It’s like, OK, that money has been spent, the bank account is pretty much flushed, and now we need to fill it back up again so that we can have another disbursement. Is that kind of how it works?
Lee Anne Morris
That’s exactly how it works. Thank you, Dave, for cluing in on that. We have our big fundraiser which is the luncheon in the fall. This year it will be October 27th. We don’t have the speaker completely confirmed, but we’re very close and so we’ll be announcing that very soon.
But we fundraise all year long, and we educate all year long. And as it’s happened lately, in the most recent years, our luncheon speakers have been extremely educational, and we’ve been grateful for their voice for the voiceless, as Suzanne said. And it is important to continue this effort.
The myth is that abortion is necessary because women can’t afford the child. They don’t have the means to become a mother, and that’s just not true. The reason we think abortion should be unthinkable is because it’s unnecessary. The love that is available, the care, the resources that are available throughout the state of Texas and here in north Texas are really large. We have not just our agencies, but we have researched and vetted and funded more than sixty life-affirming agencies in the north Texas area.
As Suzanne said, there are pregnancy resource centers. There are maternity homes for those girls and young women who are homeless and pregnant. There are targeted media outreach organizations like Vitae that do what they have to do to reach the women digitally and we all know that’s the most important means of reaching the woman. And then there are foster and adoption care agencies that we support. Parenting and life skills agencies, and then youth and college mentoring agencies.
I love what you all are doing because these groups are doing the work. They’re on the front lines and they would rather not have to spend so much time fundraising. And then Suzanne, y’all come in and say, here’s a grant. Keep doing what you’re doing. We are the ones out there raising the money for you. That’s just such a beautiful collaboration, isn’t it?
Yes, Dave, I could not agree more. Our beneficiaries are the heroes in this fight and it’s such an honor.
We have a unique model. We serve as the next nexus between God’s kingdoms, resources, and these beneficiaries who are the boots on the ground working tirelessly to serve these vulnerable, innocent, unborn babies. They’re precious moms who are desperate. They’re devoid of hope. Yes, we love those babies, but we love those mommas too.
As Lee Anne said, the resources are out there. We just need to increase awareness and connect them to that through their pregnancy. And then after the baby’s born, to come alongside them so that they can have flourishing lives. Or they can give their baby to a wonderful adoptive family to have a forever, loving home. But we want them to be able to bravely choose life and parent if they can.
Amen. You both told me before we started recording that you both have two children each. My wife and I have been blessed with three that we’ve been able to raise. And you also said that the 11 women who started it had a lot of friends who were involved in Planned Parenthood. And I just don’t get it and I don’t understand. Is it a darkness of the intellect? Or just misplaced priorities, you know?
And I love that you all are in the education business so to speak, because there is a lot of education. We can’t just preach to the choir. Do you have any indication that Council for Life may be changing some hearts? Or do you ever get testimonies of people saying, “I came to a luncheon. I heard that message and boy, I tell you, I’m pro-life now.” Is that part of the mission — changing hearts as well.
Lee Anne Morris
In fact, you asked why? Why are people so abortion-minded, abortion-convinced? I believe, and Council for Life has gone along with my thinking on this — for 50 years we have had voices of authority in our country telling every citizen that abortion is a constitutional right and a moral good. And anyone who opposes it opposes women’s healthcare and reproductive rights. It’s been a messaging issue for 50 years. That’s what we feel in this post-Roe environment — that we must speak into the message.
We do think our model is effective. We do hear testimonies of people changing their heart and their mind.
But what really is evidence that the model is working is that we started in Waco, TX three years ago, a Council for Life affiliate. They took our model out of Dallas and replicated it in Waco with six counties being served in Central Texas.
And what we found was, in 2021, they went through the beneficiary process and they funded four agencies for a small amount of money. In 2023, they will fund six agencies for six times the amount of money that they funded just two years ago. They are definitely changing hearts and minds.
And it means that we have to start speaking about life in the womb — what it is and what abortion actually is. That’s what our ladies did 22 years ago. And we are delighted to say that this year we will have raised and funded $12 million for different agencies.
Oh wow, that’s a lot of money.
I want to get back to the expansion. You’re in Waco. And when I mentioned expansion earlier, you kind of lit up. Is the plan going forward to move to other places in Texas and maybe even beyond?
Lee Anne Morris
Absolutely, Dave, and I’ll have Suzanne hop in on this one too.
But you know, Planned Parenthood gives us the statistics on how many abortions happen annually in the United States. Somewhere between 800,000 and 1,000,000 abortions; 1,000,000 unwanted pregnancies, unwanted babies every year are conceived. In Texas we account for 50,000 of those. It’s a tragic number and if you think about how that is allocated across our state in our four major cities that means that in Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio, 12,500 abortions happen every year. If you think about Dallas, 12,500 abortions every year, that’s 34 abortions every day. Take a minute for that to sink in. Thirty-four today will lose their life.
So, yes, of course, our strategy is to reach into the other major metropolitan areas — Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and of course, Fort Worth. We are delighted that we fund several agencies in Fort Worth. This year we’re funding six agencies in Tarrant County. We are excited about the prospect of moving a Council for Life affiliate into Fort Worth.
Oh, well, congratulations on that!
Suzanne, Director of Communications, obviously that implies getting the word out. You’re doing an interview right now, so that’s certainly part of it. How do you get the word out? You probably have your set number of donors, but you’d like to let other people know about the mission like we’re doing right now. What’s your strategy for getting the word out?
As we mentioned earlier, we have a number of educational events throughout the year and we’re actually going to have a really fun family-friendly event on April 30th. That doesn’t have so much of a focus on education, but it’s to bring together the community to support life. It’s going to be at SMU in the Armstrong Fieldhouse. And we’re really honored and blessed that Meredith and Scottie Scheffler — you know, he’s been in the golf news these days — they are going to be a sponsor along with some of our other generous and faithful constituents.
It’s kind of like a family event. Bring the kids, that kind of thing?
Yes, absolutely. We’re going to have The Dad Band, a bounce house, face painting, food, a golf simulator, putt-putt, and just more fun than should be allowed.
Do you buy tickets or is it free admission?
It is free admission. You can register on our website.
Then immediately following that, on May 4th, we will have more of an educational focus at our neighborhood outreach event. That’s going to be in the Park Cities and anyone is welcome to attend.
We’re going to have a pro-life OBGYN speak at that and probably one of our pregnancy resource center executive directors to talk about what they are experiencing since the Dobbs decision.
The world has changed and, praise God, abortion is illegal in the state of Texas and in many other states across our nation, but that does not mean that we can rest. Because abortion is still pervasive in our nation. Abortion clinics in Texas have shut down, or they’ve moved to states where abortion is legal.
But there is an evil out there, Dave, called the chemical abortion pill, and they are infiltrating our state. We’d love to say that abortion had gone down to zero. Lee Anne was talking about the statistics just a moment ago, but unfortunately, we don’t believe that there’s going to be a significant decrease because of these abortion pills.
We are encouraged though, because there’s a federal case that’s going on right now in the city of Amarillo before federal Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk. He is a Trump appointee and he will be rendering his decision on whether the FDA was correct in lawfully putting these Mifepristone chemical abortion pills on the market a couple of decades ago.
During the pandemic, the Biden administration, the restrictions that were safeguards to protect women’s health, many of those have been loosened. And the women who are obtaining these pills, they don’t understand the dangers, Dave. There are many dangers involved with that. Mifepristone is the first in a two-pill regimen.
Basically what it does is, a woman will take the pill and it’s like a self-managed abortion. She basically becomes the abortionist. And then what happens is the nutrients to the baby are cut off and the baby dies within her womb.
Then there’s a second pill in the regimen that she takes that induces uterine contractions and the deceased baby at that point is expelled from her uterus. Many times it’s in her bathroom and she sees the baby. So there’s a lot of trauma that can happen with that. In a surgical abortion, she’s really removed from any kind of visual, right?
But we hear from our pregnancy resource center directors and the Catholic pro-life community as a matter of fact, they have a beautiful support after abortion ministry. It can take women and men who have experienced an abortion decades for that to come to the surface and to seek reconciliation and healing. But now, with this chemical abortion, the trauma is much sooner. It’s virtually immediate.
Yeah, I remember that scene in the Abby Johnson movie Unplanned, when she was pulled up in her bathroom and they had that aerial shot. I think she had had her second abortion, a chemical abortion. People think, oh, you take a pill and move on with your life. But obviously, that’s not the case.
Well, thank you for that information and that really highlights the need to remain active.
I want to come back to you, Lee Anne, and talk about how people can help you if they’re listening right now and they want to get on board. I know you’ve got the event coming up May 17th in Waco. So speak to the various ways people can help you if they feel so inclined.
Lee Anne Morris
We are grateful for that invitation, Dave. The first and foremost thing everyone can do, every listener, I would ask you to pray. Pray for abortion to come to an end in our country. It’s kind of an 1860 moment when the country is divided over a moral issue. In 1860 the issue was slavery. Today it’s abortion. We can unite our country, and it will take prayer to bring our country together to love life in the womb and protect it.
The second thing: we’d love for you to go to councilforlife.org and donate and be a supporter. You’re supporting our educational efforts and you’re supporting the organizations that do the work, as we’ve said.
Then the third thing that you can do is attend our events. And more importantly, invite a friend. This is an issue that has to be a conversation between individuals, and so that’s what we’re asking. We want to talk about the issue and we want to talk about it with grace and love but with truth. And the truth is life begins at conception. Sex does produce pregnancies. We want the conversation to also include sex as a gift from God for the Covenant of Marriage.
The culture has really pushed the thinking that sex can happen anytime, anywhere, and with no consequences. You never see a pregnant woman on the TV or in the movies. What you see is just a lot of sex outside of marriage.
Yeah, right. You don’t see the beautiful fact about the consequences exactly.
I love your comparison to 1860. Because nowadays somebody who supports slavery, people are just like, seriously? Whereas back then it was very common. And eventually, that’s going to be the case with abortion.
As people look back in history, it’s going to be it didn’t happen on its own. It happened because people stood up. People like you, people like Council for Life. People like Guadalupe Radio Network and Catholic pro-life community stood up. It will be the patience, the diligence, the long-suffering, the hard work that makes it happen. Of course, with God’s grace and His outpouring of showering of blessings upon us. Thank you for your work and God bless you.
Thank you for spending time with me today.
Again, Leanne Morris, Executive Director, and Suzanne Everbach, Director of Communications and Philanthropy, along with Marianne Chapman, who has been watching and probably praying for us. I really appreciate her friendship and her support. Former board member of Council for Life.
So the most important thing to take away from this is to pray. Pray for the work of Council for Life and visit their website, counselforlife.org. Volunteer and attend their events. April 30th is the Family Fun for Life event at SMU. The Central Texas Celebrating Life Luncheon is on May 17th in Waco. Get involved. Donate and support them. They’re taking the money and giving it to all these 27 different organizations that are very much in need.
Thank you so much and it’s great to see you both here.
Lee Anne Morris
Thank you, Dave. We so appreciate it.
Thank you, Dave. God bless you.
And also another wonderful lady, Diane Xavier, running the board here. Thanks to her help as well.
And thank you for listening to the interview of the week. If you are like Marianne and you have a suggestion for a great interview in the future, please contact me directly firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great rest of your weekend and may God bless you.