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A Father Looks At Mother’s Day

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

America is grappling with some fundamental disagreements this Mother’s Day. Powerful cultural forces are erasing basic concepts of maternity and femininity. If we cannot affirm a sentence like “Only women can be mothers,” then what exactly are we celebrating?


From states like California that are furnishing more support for abortion than for childbirth, to an incoming Supreme Court justice who dared not publicly define the word “woman,” some of our most basic human assumptions are more controverted than ever.

And, of course, whoever leaked the draft of the Dobbs decision has poured gasoline on all of those conflicts, as the prospect of the fall of Roe sparks fury and frustration among those less interested in celebrating motherhood than in ensuring the destruction of babies in the womb.

As a man who runs two pro-life organizations, I have the privilege to work with some incredible women who have done extraordinary work in service to families and children. This Mother’s Day, I want to acknowledge their lives and work as exemplifying what we should honor in motherhood and womanhood this holiday.

My friend Melissa found herself pregnant as a teenager, but she made a brave choice for life. She worked through school as a young mom to become a labor and delivery RN. Now a married mother of three, she co-manages the Obria Medical Clinics of Central California, a nonprofit prenatal healthcare clinic serving vulnerable and lower-income women throughout the San Joaquin Valley. I am so proud of Melissa and Obria’s all-female staff, whose work addresses one of the weightiest public health needs of the region.


Out of high school, Linda was offered a college track and field scholarship, but learned she was pregnant. She chose life for her daughter, who is now herself an adoptive mother of two. Today, Linda stands outside a local abortion clinic every week offering flowers, literature, and a friendly voice to women and couples entering and exiting the facility, in a peaceful and law-abiding fashion. Because of her presence, Linda’s phone is now filled with photos of the babies her ministry has saved.

Sissy learned that her unborn child had a rare form of spina bifida and complex hydrocephalus. Rejecting abortion as a possibility, Sissy and her family leapt into action to give her baby a chance. That baby, Francesca, is now a brilliant, successful 20-year-old sophomore at Boston College, with her sights set on medical school. Sissy continues to support life as a tireless volunteer and board member for pro-life, anti-poverty, and healthcare organizations throughout the San Joaquin Valley.

Emily had an abortion decades ago, a choice she deeply regretted. She resolved to help women suffering through the pain she felt, and she became a foundational member of our Rachel’s Vineyard ministry in Fresno. This program of healing retreats for those regretting an abortion has provided hope, renewal, and closure for hundreds of women and men in Central California over the last 20 years. A proud mom and grandma, Emily continues to be a confidential and supportive voice for persons seeking hope and healing.


My own mom, Dr. Sharon Gerardi, is a former United States Navy physician and a pediatric dermatologist. She homeschooled her four children to be loving, well-educated, faith-filled adults. For the last year, she has cared for my father, Dr. Joseph Gerardi, with astonishing devotion and fidelity, as he has battled with cancer. Her life has embodied an authentic feminism: one in which her love and sacrifice for her family did not detract from, but only heightened, the magnitude of her professional and intellectual achievements.

Finally, I think of my wife, Holly. This May, we celebrate our ninth anniversary of marriage, and this fall, we will welcome our fifth child.

Holly is a natural introvert, who would never dream of yapping on radio shows or speaking at political gatherings like I do. Nonetheless, she is as funny, sharp-witted, insightful, and generous as anyone I have ever known. She is a talented professional photographer, artist, seamstress, and a world-class baker. She reads voraciously, and she serves as the “shadow producer” of my two radio programs, feeding me my most interesting show topics. Most of all, I am in awe at the pervasive, gentle, powerful influence her habitual self-offering has on our children’s development, and the peace it brings to our home.


This self-giving, this love, is at the core of motherhood. If anything can give our culture a unified ideal of femininity to honor this Mother’s Day, it is the love these women exemplify.

John Gerardi is an attorney, the Executive Director of Right to Life of Central California, CEO of the Obria Medical Clinics of Central California, and a local radio host.

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