I am pro-life. That does not simply mean that I oppose the rampant use of abortion procedures as a means of family planning, but also capital punishment and “medical suicide”. And it also means that I believe all people should be well fed, adequately housed and clothed, and have access to employment that pays a living wage.
But we live in a world where people are commodities. We are labor, intellect, organs, consumers, but never human beings with immortal souls and very real needs. We are just the sum of our parts, worth whatever those parts can yield on the open market.
This week, I watched all of the Planned Parenthood/Stem Express undercover videos released so far by the Center For Medical Progress, and they have been haunting me. The very idea of unborn children as commodities to be torn apart and distributed to the highest bidders is sickening, but it’s the same one that allows a man in a business suit to walk into a Subway and verbally abuse the girl who made his sandwich. We have no humanity. We are just commodities to be used for personal gain and then discarded. That’s the prevailing worldview.
The beauty of the Catholic worldview is that it embraces the whole person, our needs for hope, love, justice, beauty, and even food, shelter, and a meaningful existence. Catholicism, as a friend neatly put it to me, is not a religion confined to Sunday morning worship; it is a lifestyle. It affects every aspect of our existence, from the way we interact with the world to what we cook for dinner. And it certainly affects our response to the practice of aborting the lives of our children before they are born. It is why we pray for the unborn and their mothers and offer alternatives to abortion, and it is why we ache for women who have made this terrible choice instead of condemning them. We even pray for the conversion of the doctors and nurses who commit these heinous crimes under the guise of providing women’s health care.
But I’ve been pondering, too, what my “boots on the ground” response to these videos is.
There is absolutely no doubt that when a woman gets pregnant unexpectedly, it is she who will bear the burden of that child. If she is married, both father and mother will hopefully embrace that child as a gift of married love, but that is not always the case. And if she is single, or young, or still pursuing an education, chances are high that she will entertain the thought of an abortion – or be pressured to consider it by an irresponsible boyfriend or devastated parents. She is the one who will have to sacrifice by choosing life.
So what am I doing, what could I be doing, to make it easier for a woman to choose to bring her baby into this world? I have some ideas, but I think it’s something we all need to be thinking about. The spiritual works of mercy walk hand in hand with the corporal. People are both body and soul, and we need to minister to both.
How are we doing that? How can we do that?