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mother and child

Today you’ll find many articles on the internet and other news sources about the infamous Roe v. Wade decision of January 22, 1973, which allowed a mother the legal right to abort a child growing in her womb. Likely you’ll see many examples today of people sharing how to promote the pro-life cause by doing great things- writing letters to or speaking before legislators, attending the March for Life, volunteering at pregnancy help centers, writing articles, jump-starting the pro-life group in their parish. These are good. Actually, they are great.

But they are not enough.

The culture of life will take hold in this country not just from what we do, but from who we are and become, individually, and eventually collectively. Becoming a country that values life from conception to natural death, which respects the dignity of every man woman and child,  starts with the state of being, not doing.

Most of us will not influences thousands, but we all can bring the message of love, hope, peace and life to those with whom we come into contact, our small circles. Like the man walking along the beach who was throwing starfish back into the ocean, one by one, noticed, “What I’m doing may not make a difference to them all, but to this one it certainly does.”  We influence others by who we are. Here’s how we can BE pro-life:

1-BE Compassionate

Some statistics tell us that one in three women will have had an abortion by age 45. Chances are you know many women who have had abortions. You may have even regrettably had one yourself. In the quest to eliminate abortion, to protect mothers and their children, we must be compassionate. We must be compassionate toward those who have had abortions under circumstances we do not know, and toward others who have different suggestions and ideas on how to promote the pro-life cause.  A good way to be compassionate is to mentally put ourselves in the other fellow’s shoes and sit there a spell.

Most women who have aborted have done so under great stress and pressure. Some had little to no support in consideration of raising the child. Many were ignorant of facts about what the abortion would do to their baby, or to them emotionally and physically. Many were frightened teenagers or had boyfriends or spouses who bullied or pressured them.

Abortion hurts three people and society. It eliminates the life of one- and all that one person could have accomplished, enjoyed, lived and offered the world, including an entire generational line. It hurts the mother and the father. Studies show a higher risk of suicide for a woman following an abortion. And after an abortion, society misses out on the unique gifts and talents of an individual that cannot and will not ever be replicated. Abortion wounds current family relationships and strains new ones. People touched by abortion are people touched by pain, past and present. So compassion is the right response when we venture into a discussion of an experience with abortion. When we judge the action (rightfully harshly) , but not the person, whose culpability we do not know, we are being the kind of person that will help turn the tide toward life.

2- BE firm

While we must be compassionate, we can’t mince words, folks. We can’t whitewash what abortion does. It kills a child. It wounds a family.  It is a heinous, evil, terrible thing that hardens hearts, increases selfishness, individually and collectively, and destroys humanity and a culture. We must speak plainly and factually about abortion. While we should exercise kindness and not ‘knife the wound’ by rambling on in front of those who will feel pain about abortion, we should not be delicate in our description or attitude in the fear of offending .”Truth in Charity” is a good motto.

3-BE in control

Wild, emotional rants do not help the culture or the cause for life. Impassioned speech can persuade some people, but there is fine line between that and hurling insults and doing more harm than good.

4-BE an authentic feminist

If we are to eliminate abortion in society, we must help women recognize authentic feminism (this is literally, “the state of being feminine/ a woman”, which of course includes the special ability to sustain life of another living being and to give birth to another person). An authentic feminist recognizes the uniqueness emotionally, psychologically and physically of being a woman. She does not fight her natural nurture tendency. She does not fight the urge to protect her child, and is not swayed by others to reject her feminine qualities. She knows that being feminine is being equal in value but different in purpose from a man. Individual women demonstrating this model in sweetness and joy cannot help but positively influence other women to do the same. 

(More reading on this topic: The Privilege of Being a Woman by Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand)

5-BE joyful

Practically speaking, this means we demonstrate the joy of life and of embracing life. We smile. We are open. We listen. We care.

Being joyful  might not be what we are thinking when we are trekking through the grocery store with three toddlers, a long list and little time, but people do watch how our choices affect us so we must be cognizant of it. When we not only CHOOSE LIFE but also CHOOSE JOY we show a demonstrable reason WHY others should do the same.

When my children were younger, I took great care in tidying them and my own appearance up whenever I ventured out into the world, whether it was the grocery store or doctor’s office. I made sure they were wearing neat clothes, had their hair brushed, and were well rested (this, I learned very early, was critical in encouraging everyone’s right mood). One of my earliest cultivated habits even during the busiest mothering days with many young children under 9, was to dress appropriate-to-my-task but as attractively as I could, styling my hair and freshening up with make up and pretty scented powder. This not only helped me feel good about myself and my family, but also projected the right image- that children are good, that family life is worth it, that I loved my life (which I did and do) , and that life is worth protecting.

We are living advertisements for the culture of life. We must demonstrate through our BEING the joy that that brings.

mom and meThis is my mom and me, circa 1963

Mom, who gave birth to twelve children, adopted one and fostered many, exemplified the pro-life lifestyle to me. Her warmth, love and compassion encouraged me to embrace and welcome life too.