Pro-life pioneer Chris Slattery passed away in the early hours of November 22 at Calvary Hospice in Bronx, N.Y., after battling cancer. He was 68.
The founder of the EMC (Expectant Mother Care) network of New York pregnancy help centers, he is credited with saving tens of thousands of lives and training generations of pro-life activists, and he is being remembered as a hero and champion of pro-life advocacy.
“Chris’ legacy will echo into eternity with an estimated 43,000 babies alive today who otherwise would have been aborted—enough to fill his beloved Yankee Stadium,” a release from CompassCare Pregnancy Services said.
CompassCare is assuming operation of EMC.
In the statement on Slattery’s passing CompassCare CEO Rev. Jim Harden shared examples of Slattery’s approach to pro-life advocacy.
“What was the belief driving his undying passion to spare both women and babies from abortion in his words?” Harden asked, “The most precious beings in the world are human beings, made in [God’s] likeness and image, with an eternal soul.””
He also shared how in a recent interview Slattery had observed, “I have a unique talent of saving children from being killed.”
And Harden noted further that Slattery was quick to say, “It’s not just about saving the babies. It’s saving the mother’s soul, helping her to fulfill her mission in life.”
“It is humbling and a privilege that Chris placed his pro-life mantle in NYC on me,” Harden said, explaining that his organization is now joining with EMC “to continue Chris’ lifesaving vision, saving twice as many women and babies from abortion in 2024 in what he called "the abortion capital of the world."”
Slattery left his career at a New York City advertising firm to perform pro-life advocacy, which he would do for more than four decades, beginning in 1979.
He was inspired after seeing a woman he knew praying and sidewalk counseling outside an abortion facility. Slattery joined her and was able to convince a 15-year-old not to abort her baby.
“Six months later I was holding that 15-year-old’s baby in my arms in their apartment in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn,” Slattery said in an interview with Aleteia. “I was new to this. I just looked into this baby’s eyes and thought, ‘Oh my God, I just saved a baby. I saved this baby’s life.’ It was absolutely transformational. I said, ‘My God, you can use me to save babies. How can I do this?’”
Tweet This: Chris Slattery’s legacy will echo into eternity with an estimated 43,000 babies alive today who otherwise would have been aborted
He founded Expectant Mother Care, which later became EMC Frontline Pregnancy Centers with 14 locations in the five-borough area.
Slattery had a hand in the advent of ultrasounds for pregnancy help work in 1986, Harden reports, 20 years before the technology was widely used, and he brought imaging to the streets of New York via mobile medical vans, which have also since become prevalent in pregnancy help.
Slattery’s efforts in this area continued to this year, with EMC Frontline working to convert and circulate ultrasound vans around New York City to counter the city’s plan to give away tens of thousands of abortion pills at each of its four new “sexual health clinics.”
Slattery’s work also involved rescues, protests, and getting arrested.
He would attempt to start pregnancy help clinics elsewhere in the U.S., recruiting volunteer interns from Spain to work in them.
"Most Wanted" pro-lifer
He had numerous legal go-rounds with pro-abortion elected officials in the state’s attorney general and governor’s office and the New York City Council, who sought in varying ways to quash the pregnancy help ministry.
Slattery was among the pro-life pioneers honored for “decades in the trenches” of pro-life work by Priests for Life and the National Pro-Life Religious Council in January of this year at the annual National Prayer Service in conjunction with the national March for Life.
The full effects of his pro-life witness and activism are known only to the Lord, and the myriad tributes to his work flowed from the grassroots of the pro-life community up to pro-life leaders.
“To some outsiders Chris’s gruff New Yorker persona obscured his deep compassion for women feeling forced into abortion,” said Jor-El Godsey, president of Heartbeat International. “Yet it was that same persona that helped him to serve tens of thousands of NYC women with life-saving help over the decades.”
Well done, good and faithful servant
“Words cannot never fully capture the impact of the pro-life work of Chris over the past 40 years in NYC and the tens of thousands of lives he saved from abortion violence,” said Director of the Christian Defense Coalition Rev. Patrick Mahoney.
“Well done, good and faithful servant!” Mahoney said. “#Hero #Legend #IMissYou.”
Pro-life activist Jason Jones posted on social media, “a Hui Hou. Will miss you my brother” (“until we meet again” in Native Hawaiian).
“Too many of my buddies have passed away!” said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue. “RIP Chris Slattery.”
Priests for Life National Director Frank Pavone said of Slattery, “Whether it was fighting the legal fury of the pro-aborts or then, with his illness, fighting against that with such a determined spirit has really been an inspiration for people.
“He fought the pro-life battle with a New York spirit,” Pavone said.
“What he has done with his pregnancy help centers in New York was ahead of his time,” Citizens for a Pro-life Society’s Monica Miller said in an interview last year, reported by LifeSiteNews. “He foresaw that there’s a need to reach out and help the moms. It’s not only about the babies, it’s about the mothers.”
“He’s an absolute hero,” Miller said.
Brad Mattes, president of Life Issues Institute, shared the day of Slattery’s death, “Chris Slattery, friend and pro-life warrior went home to be with Jesus today. Well done good and faithful servant.”
“Chris Slattery, the founder and longtime head of Expectant Mother Care in New York, died early this morning after a long battle with cancer,” Catholic author and editor Philip Lawler said. “When he reaches the pearly gates, there are about 40,000 people who won't be there to greet Chris. They're still alive, thanks to his work. But if they have any influence with St. Peter ....”
Catholic University of America and Charlotte Lozier Institute Senior Associate Scholar Michael New shared the tribute to Slattery he penned for Live Action News with Pregnancy Help News.
In it, New, also an active sidewalk pro-life advocate, noted that because as a college professor with an interest in mentoring pro-life students, he always admired the internship program that Slattery ran.
From New’s tribute:
“He frequently encouraged students to intern with him in the “Abortion Capital of America.” I often described it as the toughest pro-life internship in the country. Shortly after their arrival, Chris would have his interns sidewalk counseling in front of New York City abortion facilities. However, in exchange for their hard work Chris arranged for his interns to attend pro-life conferences, New York Yankees baseball games, and Broadway plays. Literally hundreds of young people have developed skills in sidewalk counseling and pregnancy help because of Chris’ leadership.
Chris Slattery was a regular at pro-life conferences and at pro-life leadership meetings. He was a superb pro-life activist, friend, husband, and father. He will be missed. RIP.
“He would say it's God, not him"
Elio Forcina is an attorney in New York and assisted Slattery with a few of the attacks from government officials. Forcina also shuttled people from the airport whom Slattery brought in for the pro-life ministry and helped with fundraising.
Forcina underscores that he knew Slattery as a friend.
“This is how you describe Chris Slattery,” he told Pregnancy Help News, “a very mystical, an encounter with Christ, very close to God, but he didn't hide out in the monastery.”
“He loved the world,” Forcina said. “He would enter into the darkest parts of the world, the Bronx and Brooklyn, and he would carry the cross that way. And you'd never see it because he was just like an Irish guy who was very humble, but tough.”
“Chris was very, very humble, and he would not take any credit,” Forcina added. “He would say it's God, not him, but I think he's got more documented saves under his belt than anyone in America; that's scientifically documented. That's not counting. All the people he mentored or trained, and all the babies that were born as a result of the babies that he saved.”
Barry Allan Smith is a producer in Catholic and pro-life media and knew Slattery through pro-life work.
“Chris was always very direct in his approach, focused on his mission, and always available for a few words and encouraging conversation,” Smith told Pregnancy Help News. “He will certainly be part of my " Heroes of Life " museum.”
Pro-life sidewalk advocate and author David Dowd told Pregnancy Help News that Slattery looked to see a bigger picture, “what is our Lord teaching us from the Culture War defining our time.”
“People like Chris recognize and meet challenges with good will in many situations,” he said.
“Rest in Peace Chris Slattery,” Dowd said. “Can you imagine the inspiration, 40,000 children now living in NYC who were saved by this man, when they grow up and learn the story of Chris Slattery?”
Brian Caulfield, with the Knights of Columbus, knew Slattery from sidewalk counseling and pro-life advocacy. Caulfield met with Slattery last year upon learning of Slattery’s condition and wrote about Slattery in an article titled, Life in the Face of Death, for the Human Life Review.
Caulfield appropriately concluded his article on Slattery in the venerable pro-life advocate’s own words:
“It’s been a wonderful life,” he said. “I have been privileged to serve the most defenseless and vulnerable in America’s greatest city. I have had the privilege of getting to know and work side-by-side and go to prison with the great pro-lifers in history . . . I can’t say it’s been easy, in fact, it’s been very hard, with many challenges that have been tough to withstand. But it’s been very much worth it, and I pray for God to give me an extension. We have a lot more pro-life work to do.”
Slattery is survived by his wife, Eileen, and their four children, John Desmond, Mary Frances, Brigid, and Monica.
Editor's note: Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help News.