Thursday, January 23, 2014

Right to Life

With yesterday's anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Catholic and pro-life communities mourn the death of so many as a consequence of the decision 41 years ago. The fact that thousands attended the March for Life in DC yesterday, despite the bitter cold, shows that opposition to the ruling isn't going away.

Many write and speak on their views, leaning one way or the other. My favorite from yesterday is this blog by Brandon Vogt. He clearly outlines the inconsistencies in President Obama's statement in an objective way, from the view of one who gives consideration to one side while firmly aligning with the other.

It's that listening and trying to understand the other side that we forget. We get so wrapped up in shouting louder to make ourselves heard that we don't stop to consider why there is another side opposing us.

I try to understand that many people consider abortion to be an end to a woman's problem and the freedom to choose what to do with her body and her life. I've read Unplanned (and you should too!) and discovered that those employed by Planned Parenthood truly believe they are working in the best interest of their clients. They see the uncertainty of these women who regret their condition and don't know how they will live their life caring for a child. The workers want to take the problem away - to help the women get back on their feet and end their fears and anxiety.

I get that.

And if that were all there was to it, I may agree.

But all my thoughts, prayers, and yes, Catholic upbringing, have led me to believe that we're talking about two people. And once these decisions concern another person, it's not just about a woman's right to her own body. It's about her support or destruction of someone else's life. At that point, we need to defend a baby's right to life above a woman's freedom to choose.

Is there a scientific way to prove that life, by definition, beginning at conception? I don't know.

I know that all the genetic material needed for a new life to grow is present at conception. I know that at conception, a continuous string of development begins that doesn't stop at a defined point in time. I know that medical advances have allowed us to support the life of a preemie born earlier and earlier in this development. I know studies have been done that show a baby feels pain in the womb.

Precious Feet

I believe from my Catholic studies that God fuses the soul with the body at conception. I believe that John the Baptist recognized Jesus when they were both in the womb during the Visitation. I believe that children are a gift and that they have dignity and value, even though they cannot yet contribute to society, even if they never contribute to society through productive work.

Women who find themselves in this tough situation need compassion and support. They find themselves in a difficult situation and don't know where to turn. They need prayers, yes, but they also need emotional and financial help. They need to understand their options besides resorting to the destruction of life. They may need assistance covering medical bills and, if they decide to keep the baby, living expenses.

I've been exposed to multiple groups who provide this support, ready to welcome these women with open hearts to arm them with information and resources. The Sisters of Life's Co-Workers for Life network is a beautiful display of this outpouring of love. There are women's centers popping up across the street from Planned Parenthood facilities. I spent Tuesday evening at a diocesan center, stocking shelves with diapers and sorting heaps of baby clothes donated by the community for mothers who need assistance.

The support is there.

I'm always amazed at the success of the 40 Days for Life (which I wrote about here). This peaceful vigil has so far seen more than 8,000 babies' lives spared, 88 abortion workers quit, and 44 abortion clinics closed during or following a campaign. Beautiful!

Let's continue the fight, but with love and understanding. Let's listen to what the other side has to say, because without listening there will be no dialogue. Others do not see things the same way, so shouting louder will only lead to anger and cause us to be further divided. Our love of all includes the unborn, but it also includes those who disagree.

how can there be too many children or flowers

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