Dr. Barbara Fredericks and her husband, Jan, were slated to receive the 10th annual Leo Holmsten Human Life Award, which recognizes people for their pro-life work, during a Sept. 22 banquet at the Hyatt Regency in Rochester.
The Fredericks have volunteered with an area respite organization that takes care of children with handicaps so their caregivers can have a break. Barbara and her daughter, Frances, have volunteered at Mount Carmel House, a home for the dying in Rochester, and Barbara has volunteered as a phone counselor at Women’s Care Center of Rochester, which assists women with crisis pregnancies. Barbara also has served as the education director for Rochester Area Right to Life, a pro-life group that opposes abortion, infanticide and euthanasia.
Jan Fredericks is the organist at St. Jude the Apostle Church in Gates, and also teaches music at St. Andrew School, Rochester. The Fredericks have eight children, four of whom they adopted, and are well-known for their activism against abortion and their service to others, according to Judy Michael, who directs the Women’s Care Center.
“They’re people that I think just live what they say,” Michael said. “They’re people that show to everyone you don’t have to have a lot of money, you just have to live what you believe in.”
Anne LeBlanc, president of Rochester Area Right to Life, also praised the Fredericks for their pro-life work. In particular, she said, Barbara was instrumental in helping the right-to-life group form its position against partial-birth abortion by bringing her medical expertise into the fray.
Dorothy Hayes, a parishioner of St. Thomas the Apostle in Irondequoit and president of the Leo Holmsten Human Life Committee, called the Fredericks “a remarkable family.”
“They remind us that we are called to move beyond what is comfortable and sacrifice more than we think possible,” she said.
Barbara noted that her opposition to abortion grew out of her experiences in medicine. For example, she said, back in 1971, she witnessed in a New York City hospital the death of a woman who suffered complications related to a legal abortion.
“I said to myself, ‘How have we helped that mother? We’ve killed both her and her baby.'”
She added that her faith plays a role in her opposition to abortion.
“Life is sacred,” she said. “It’s made in God’s image, and we are not the arbitrators of life and death.”
She also noted that any effort to “bring back a culture of life” — from writing a short letter to the local paper about a life issue to volunteering at a home for the dying — is worth it.
“Anybody can do it,” she said. “I don’t care who you are — old, young or in between.”
Jan stated that sometimes people consider him and his wife to be too passionate about abortion, but he likened his feelings about it to the way people reacted to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Abortion is ending the lives of children every day, he said.
“(Sept. 11) happened once,” he said. “This is happening all the time.”
The Leo Holmsten Human Life Committee is an independent pro-life group named for Dr. Leo Holmsten, who was once affiliated with Planned Parenthood in Rochester but left his position and eventually became a pro-life advocate. The award given in his name is cosponsored by 24 area groups, including various pro-life organizations as well as schools and the Diocese of Rochester.