By Gordon Nary
Gordon: When did you join St. Patrick’s and do you and your wife participate in any of its ministries?
Ray: My wife and I joined St. Patrick’s in 1967 when we moved to Kent. She and I were Eucharistic Ministers until her knee and hip problems made it difficult for her to climb the altar steps. I am currently a Eucharistic Minister, lead the songs at the weekday Masses, prepare the altar/sanctuary on Wednesdays when the sacristan has a day off, designate who the Eucharistic Ministers will be for weekday Masses, and who will take up the gifts. I am also part of two parish teams. The first visits two nursing homes each Wednesday to conduct a Communion Service, and the second is responsible for making a presentation at the Bishops’ Fortnight of Freedom Program.
Gordon: You are a Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Kent State University where you taught courses in the family, statistics, research methods, and other topics for 36 years What courses did you enjoy teaching the most and why?
Ray:I enjoyed teaching The Family, since this was a major concentration of mine in graduate school, and (tongue in cheek), I had done a good deal of field work in this area, since my wife and I have 11 children. I also enjoyed teaching research methods, since I could tell the students how various research projects should be done, and bring in my own research experience to inform them what might go wrong with a particular design, and how one might deal with it
Gordon: What initially interested you in studying the abortion issue, public opinion, and its various challenges?
Ray: I grew up during WW II, being six years old when it started for the U.S., and 10 years old when it ended. Given war news every day, and having two uncles serving, it made quite an impression on me. I continued my interest in the war and had read several books on the Third Reich. I knew what mass killing does to the victims, the perpetrators, and the society(s) where it takes place. My wife and I had been active in the pro-life movement since 1972, and the Supreme Court decisions of 1973 (Roe v. Wade and its companion, Doe v. Bolton) came as quite a shock, and I wanted to oppose the abortion culture. I noticed that like many in the media, pollsters tended to come at the abortion issue from a pro-choice perspective, and almost seemed as interested in molding public opinion as they were in measuring public opinion. Therefore I thought an objective analysis of poll questions was in order.
Gordon: Could you summarize your testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution in December of 1981 .
Ray: After a brief statement about how to interpret polls, noting the wording of the questions asked, and noting what questions were not asked, I summarized the major polls that had been done on the abortion issue and the Supreme Court’s 1973 decisions over the previous decade. I pointed out that although a majority of the American public was not pro-life in the same sense that the National Right to Life Committee was pro-life, nor pro-choice in the same sense that NARAL was pro-choice, a careful reading of the polls indicated they were closer to the pro-life side. They certainly did not agree with the outcome of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, which essentially permitted abortion on demand throughout the nine months of pregnancy for virtually any reason.
Gordon: What changes have there been in the public’s perception of and opinion of abortion in the past 35 years, and what factors have contributed to these changes?
Ray: Public opinion on major issues such as what circumstances justify legal abortion, and what the public thinks about the Supreme Court’s decisions has not changed a great deal. However, it has changed somewhat. This is due, I believe, to developments in medical technology (ultrasound giving us a picture of human life in the womb), a better understanding of what goes on in abortion clinics as a result of the Gosnell case (although the mainstream media seldom covered the case), a willingness of women who have had abortions to speak out, and most recently, the Planned Parenthood videos scandal (again given minimum coverage in the main stream media). The result has been an increased willingness to fund pro-life pregnancy centers and to accept legislation meant to protect unborn human beings and women experiencing untimely pregnancies
Gordon: On what pro-life organizations do you currently serve and in what capacity?
Ray: I currently serve as Board Member, Secretary and Education Chair of Right to Life of Northeast Ohio In the latter capacity I have authored 26 information sheets/papers on the life issues that are available on its website, contribute two articles to each of our quarterly newsletters, coordinate the distribution of these newsletters to 25 churches in a neighboring county, serve as RTL’s representative at our church, and give an occasional talk on the life issues. I also contribute to the “letters to the editor” column of two local newspapers (at least when they are willing to publish my letters). I serve as the organizer of Life Chain for Portage County, serve as a sidewalk counselor at a local clinic, and help organize and set up RTL booth displays at two county fairs and one local event. Finally, I serve on the Advisory Committee of The Human Family Research Center.
Gordon: How has pro-life advocacy changed since you and Judy first became involved in these challenges in 1972?
Ray: More young people are involved. More savvy pro-life organizations have been organized at the national level, and the public is slowly becoming better educated. We still have much work to do getting a fair shake from the media, however.
Gordon: We hope to interview student pro-life leaders on upcoming issues of Profiles in Catholicism and hope that all of our readers will check out your review of The War Against Population: The Economics and Ideology of World Population Control.