Padre Paul's Ponderings: Vigilance in the Fight to Protect the Unborn

Padre Paul's Ponderings: Vigilance in the Fight to Protect the Unborn

This Tuesday, January 22nd, marks a special day on the Liturgical Calendar: the Day of
Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. It is the day when the Supreme
Court permitted abortion in the United States in the Roe v. Wade ruling. And tragically,
millions of lives have been lost.

As the years pass since Roe v. Wade, while most people are still against abortion,
some are uncomfortable doing much about it, thinking about it, or talking about it.
Hence, you might come across the argument: “well, I would never condone that sort of
thing, but who am I to speak out against what others want to do.” Many people said the
same thing with regards to slavery and many people said the same thing with regards to
the Holocaust. Indeed, There is a story from the days of the Nazi atrocities that tells of a
church along a road where the trains passed, carrying Jews to execution. When they
passed the church on Sunday mornings, they would cry out in the hope that the
worshipers would hear their cries and rescue them. The noise of the wailing prompted
members of the congregation to ask the pastor, “What are we to do about this
disturbance to our worship?” The pastor paused and then said, “Tell the people to sing
a little louder.” We may not hear the voices of the unborn, but they cry out for us to act.
Ignoring this injustice will not make it go away. Indeed, the bishops of the United
States, in a 1997 statement, called the attitude of saying that it’s not the government’s
task to legislate morality, and that it’s a personal choice, “morally repugnant.”

What are we to do? There are numerous ways we can get involved.

One is by educating ourselves. Someone told me if you ask any parent who sees an
ultrasound of their unborn child, its hard to conceive how someone could then go on to
not have the child. While many in the world would call an unborn child not life but
potential life, consider how much development occurs in just the initial weeks and
months: blood flow by the fourth to fifth week; heart development between 18 and 25
days, and fingers and toes by the sixth week. Its understandable in that during the initial
weeks when one can’t see someone as being pregnant one might think that there is no
life present – but indeed, we have a human being, and so many just aren’t aware of all
that happens in the first moments of life. Our job as evangelists for Christ is to educate
ourselves and others about this truth, and also to be aware of the numerous resources
that are available help people chose life. Statistics do show that more people are not
choosing to end their pregnancy before birth, and some feel this may be in part to those
who are involved in the pro-life movement setting up centers near clinics that give
women resources and help. I truly believe they make a difference. You might not know
this, but the Knights of Columbus have been very active in paying for ultrasound
machines to be sent to life centers, places where women go for help who choose life
and I truly believe this equipment has saved many lives.

Secondly, forgiveness and compassion can never be emphasized enough. It’s what we
preach as a Church, and it’s what we must live out. The Church is there to help women
and those affected by abortion offering not just forgiveness through the sacraments, but
also to help people find the resources they need to heal. The sad thing is so many
woman feel the guilt set in. For instance, one woman I read about who shares her story,
Debbie, saw her life spiral downhill after she made the decision to not carry her child to
term. Initially, she handled it well she thought – she thought she could keep a secret
hidden in a deep part of her soul. But as the years went by, she began self-destructive
behaviors which led to drinking, drugs, two failed marriages and even an attempt on her
own life. But eventually, she met someone who told her there is help and hope. She
began to read the Bible, and the words of Isaiah 1:18-19 spoke to her: “Come now, let
us argue this out. No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make
you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can
make you as white as wool…let me help you.” Gradually she stepped out of her
darkness, and now she runs a recovery center for women who are looking for healing. It
took people for her to help see that light, and you and I have to be aware of the pain
that people may have. If we know someone who has had an abortion, or has lived with
pain or silence for years, we need to help them find healing by taking the time to talk
with them when they seek our help.

Third, we need to get involved. There’s a big danger that as time passes we might think
there is nothing we can do, or that abortion is somehow a matter for the courts. But
that’s hardly the case. We should consider life issues when we go to a caucus or vote
for someone, and while the Church of course doesn’t endorse candidates, the bishops
of the United States have given us a great document entitled “Faithful Citizenship” that
gives us an idea of what issues should be looked at, and speaks on abortion. Hopefully
we keep that issue in mind at the polls. Our legislators can greatly effect abortion. A
huge piece of legislation that just happened not too long ago was the Minnesota
Women’s Right to Know Law, a great bill. Twenty-three states now have such
legislation. It means that before a woman has an abortion, she be made aware of its
risks and alternatives. This bill was passed in 2003, but it didn’t happen overnight. It
took ten years of people working hard to put pressure on legislators for that bill to be
passed and signed into law. That’s just one example of how the people we vote for can
help to save lives, and when we speak up for life, they have to listen to us. Getting
involved can mean an op-ed letter to the editor, praying in front of an abortion clinic,
donating to MCCL or a pro-life group, praying for the unborn, talking about this issue
with people, having discussions online, and calling our elected officials.

And finally, we have to be vigilant and be on guard to avoid apathy. Abortion has been
legal my entire life in the United States. Many might be tempted to think nothing will
ever change. But by being active we can do so much. Unjust laws in our nation’s
history, from slavery to Jim Crow laws to laws preventing women from voting, have
changed only when people were dedicated to helping others see the truth of injustice.
So let’s not sit on the sidelines and think “nothing will ever change” or “who am I? I can’t
do anything about it.”

Here at Saint Joe’s, we have an amazing pro-life group. We have parishioners who pray
at Planned Parenthood, and are active in educating people on why it is so important to
choose life. Every human being is created in the image of God, and is worthy of life and
love. By being informed on this issue, speaking up for those who have no voice, and
reaching out with compassion to those who have been affected by its after-effects, we
can do so much to make that truth known, healing hearts and changing attitudes – but
only if we let the Holy Spirit work through us to be people of action, not silence.

God bless,

Fr. Paul

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