Last week marked the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the legalization of abortion in the United States. If you’re reading this blog, you shouldn't be surprised to find out I’m a social conservative. Hello, I’m Catholic. If you’re up for it, give me ten minutes. I’m not one to get in screaming fits or start throwing bibles, but I’m sure not one to stay silent, either.
Of those 40 years, I’ve participated in the Nation’s March for Life for the past 9. It’s the least I can do, for the other third of my generation that didn’t make it out of the womb; and it’s an honor as an American, to embrace the rights of the first amendment, hard earned and protected with worthy deaths. Each year I march I’m blown away by people’s determination. It’s not a piece of cake. The day is truly a pilgrimage. People don’t travel twenty hours or more on buses to march for nothing; we don’t wake up at 4 am to stay up 24 hours, or march in 18 degree snow and ice for nothing; and we certainly don’t march for media coverage. HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of people show up every year- and it’s barely covered on the news. This year was 500,000 plus.
So why do we march? Better yet, why are we pro-life at all? Being Pro-Life is often likened to being racist or sexist- it’s judgmental, some people think. Being openly pro-life has earned me many labels over the years: prude, holy roller, religious freak, oppressed zombie, crazy b****, to name a few. I’ll admit it- the constant belittlement makes the counter arguments sound tempting.
It’s easier to mind our own business; women’s bodies shouldn't be on political agendas. “I don’t agree with abortion, but I wouldn't tell a woman she couldn't get one”… “Women should have the right to choose.” Fear invites us to believe it’s not our place to speak, that each person does have a “right to choose”. Well, I’m all about supporting choices- but why is choosing to believe life begins at conception the only choice allowed to be discounted?
Sometimes the truth is not easy to believe. But after years of skepticism, serious questioning and deliberation, I have found the Catholic Church’s teachings on sex, contraception and abortion to be true. I would still believe them even if I did not believe in God at all. They’re not popular; they’re not easy to live out; but they are logical, and most importantly, they demand the truest form of love, which is sacrifice.
We Are Not Pro-Life if We’re Not First Pro-Love
“We are the Pro-Life Generation.” I’ve heard that a lot lately. It’s beautiful- and I try to live up to that standard in my own life- but this year, particularly, I’ve been asking myself what that means exactly. I am a dedicated member of the Pro-Life movement- yet, as a young woman in the modern world, I recognize some misdirection the movement continues to make. In frank terms, I understand why some people hate us. I’ve been thinking lately about how much it’s necessary to first be pro-love before we can be authentically pro-life.
“Keep your rosaries off my ovaries,” is a phrase I’ve never forgotten from a few pro-choice protests I’ve witnessed. Pretty sacrilegious, maybe hurtful to some, but you have to admit it’s a rather clever pun. The first young woman I remember holding that sign was a classmate of mine in college; she had worn a pin all week that said, “I stand with Planned Parenthood.” She was bright, kind, eager to help women. I wondered what she would do if I wore a pin that said, “I stand with the American Catholic Church. Keep your birth control off the Constitution.” I didn’t want to start a fist fight in the middle of Shakespeare, however poetic.
That girl was just like me. Friendly, ambitious, a little sassy- and I bet she really believed she was helping women. It killed me there was such a disconnect. How could we be so similar and believe such fundamentally different things? She believed abortion on demand, free contraception, and discrediting the religious liberty of a nation was the definition of freedom for modern women. I ached for a solution- a way to reach people like her- convinced that religious fanatics or enslaved patriarchal masses are somehow threatening her way of life; when all we’re trying to do is stand up for love. A love that, in fact, has her personal best interests in mind.
I do know how we DON’T reach them: by failing to love. And we fail to love each time we don’t consider the situation holistically. I get it. You’re pissed- the massive, unbearable loss weighs on my heart every day. It’s mind numbing to live in a society where the value of life is measured with usefulness. How far will the line get pushed? Only children who are wanted are born. We have lawmakers pushing third trimester abortions. What’s next? Will we execute the elderly when they cease to function? The disabled and handicapped, too? And us? Our generation where so many don't have jobs? There would be more room without us, too.
You should be infuriated. Every day I feel insane when what is crystal clear to me is denied by so many. But we can’t let these rants control our actions. Our religious liberty, the very nature of our humanity is under attack, yes, but we are kind people. We are people of patience, logic, and generous love. Manipulation, ignorance, shaming others? There is no place for these things among us. There is no time to lose hearts with negligence.
We must remember what it means to be pro-life. That each abortion begins with a woman- and man- neglected real love. It is easy to condemn her; to call her a murderer, a sinner. Judgment only passes along fear and hatred- obviously- turning the rosary into a weapon, a threat. Love smiles at those women, and says, “I can help you,” without question. The wrath of God is real indeed, but so is His mercy. Read a newspaper- our feeble mirrors of His wrath are not working. Why don’t we try mirrors of compassion instead?
Love thinks before it speaks. “We love babies, yes we do, we love babies, how ‘bout you?” is often chanted at the march. I hate this. It’s utterly disrespectful. Do you think those women backed into the corner of abortion hate children? They’re human beings, like you and me. Do not rob them of their maternal love in their darkness; it will push them farther from the light.
Love respects the dead. Those graphic pictures with the gruesome reality of abortion have their place. In medical books, in court cases, in discretion. The remnants of the dead do not belong on billboards. Murder photographs are not put into slideshows. It is counter-productive to our cause.
Love, above all is sacrifice. To be pro-life is to embrace a lifestyle of sacrifice, in all things. We sacrifice our pride, our talents, even our own bodies, because we recognize the very sanctity of life, as we are made in the image of God. This starts with valuing our own lives and that reverence ripples out like waves in a pond.
Sacrifice waste and carelessness. Trade in the world found in pop songs where young people think themselves invincible. We are not. Instead, invest in your health, your mind, your future. Don’t text and drive or speed- that crap kills people. Friends make friends wear seatbelts; you’re laughing now, until your friends are dead. Don’t kill your livers; don’t ruin your lungs with smoke; in fact, avoid all addictions except the high of gratitude. Break cycles of violence and abuse by sacrificing your pride. Life is far too short.
Sacrifice your time and energy. Call your grandparents and care for the elderly. Treat the poor, homeless, disabled and different like human beings. Be proud of young women or couples that choose life, no matter their circumstance; be ready to console the ones who don’t. They don’t need forgiveness from you- only themselves and from God. Help them.
The greatest and most effective sacrifice is that of our own desires. It seems impossible to save sex for marriage. My friends, it’s difficult, but not impossible. I dare you to completely sell out for love. A love so strong, it can’t be bound with any limits. It needs no contraception, no abortion. A love that has no mistakes, because it’s total self gift. Give your lives to God and He will show you how inconsequential sex is without love; how incomplete love is without sacrifice; and how that’s only found in the cross.
So to my fellow Pro-Life generation, I beg you. Stand up for love while we stand up for life. Those who stand against us were once in the womb, too. Give them no reason to discredit us. Educate yourselves. Research what you believe in. Only then can we patiently and firmly sacrifice our lives to show them love.