Pro-life activist Virginia Evers, who invented the “precious feet” pin that many pro-life Americans proudly wear, died Friday at the age of 99.
Father Frank Pavone, the national director of the pro-life group Priests for Life, announced Evers’ passing on social media Saturday. He noted that the pin “shows the size of an unborn baby’s feet at 10 weeks of age” and accompanied the announcement of her death with a picture of Evers placing a precious feet pin on him.
According to Live Action News, the precious feet pin “was inspired by a photograph that pro-life Dr. Russell Sacco took of the feet of a 10-week old aborted baby in the early 1970s when abortion was first legalized through Roe v. Wade.” Sacco’s photograph ended up being a full-page ad in a San Diego newspaper on Jan. 22, 1974, the first anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. After Evers and her husband, Ellis, saw the ad, she said, “these little feet would be the ideal pro-life symbol.”
Not long after Evers made that statement about the precious feet, she and her husband founded a ministry called Heritage House '76, based in Snowflake, Arizona. The ministry sells precious feet pins designed by Evers, which are “the exact size and shape of an unborn baby’s feet at 10 weeks after conception.” Heritage House ’76 also sells a variety of other pro-life apparel including baby bottles, shirts, books, banners and magnets.
In a fact sheet outlining the story of the precious feet, Evers said at the time: “In 1979, at a worldwide symposium in Dublin, Ireland, the ‘precious feet’ were named the ‘international pro-life symbol.’” At the time of the fact sheet’s publication, which was sometime around 1994, nearly 12 million precious feet pins had been distributed “in 30 countries and six continents.”
“The greatest reward for our labor is the fact that the precious feet save babies lives,” she added. “A birthright volunteer visited a pregnant teenager contemplating abortion in a juvenile facility. The volunteer gave her literature and the precious feet pin from her lapel, explaining their significance (the girl was exactly 10 weeks pregnant). In the course of their conversation she learned that the girl’s roommate was pregnant and definitely planning on an abortion. We were later informed by letter ‘the precious feet pin did its work—we were able to save not one but two babies.’”
Years after the couple retired from Heritage House ’76 in the early 1990s, their legacy lives on. Their daughter and son-in-law, Dinah and Mike Monahan, took over upon their parents’ retirement. Mike Monahan later died in an ATV accident in 2016, but by that time his son, Brandon, had taken on the leadership role at Heritage House ’76.
Over the years, national political figures have embraced the precious feet pin. In 2000, Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes adopted the precious feet as his campaign symbol. The Washington Post reported that a precious feet pin was one of many pins worn by then-Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, Sheriff David Clarke as he gave a speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention.