October is Respect Life Month. Life is a precious gift from God. Life must be cherished from the moment it begins at conception and continues until it ends naturally and at every point in between.
Today is October 31st, the last day of the month. As I reflected this weekend on possible ideas for this week’s blog article, I was mindful that I have not written on life issues this month. I remain committed to the dignity of life. So, I felt I should write something but what? Haven’t I said it all?
Last year I did a series of presentations, Treating Life With Dignity and Love, covering why we are called to treat all life with dignity and love. The series is done in four parts, ranging from 50 to 80 minutes. I know that might seem like a lot but I encourage anyone who wants to know what our Catholic Church teaches and why to give the time to watch this videos. They are the most comprehensive material I have done on our prolife teaching. You can also read the various articles I have written on this blog on being prolife at http://blog.renewaloffaith.org/blog/?cat=678 .
In June the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling on the Dobbs case regarding abortion laws (see my response “Where Do We Go From Here?”). After 50 years, Roe vs. Wade was overturned and the states were once again given the power to regulate abortions. Changing laws and judicial decisions regarding life is important. However, changing laws is not enough. We need to change people’s hearts to understand why we consider the baby in the womb (yes, I said baby, not fetuses or a clump of cells) alive and why it must be treated with dignity. Since the baby has life, it is wrong to end its life.
Changing people’s hearts is very difficult. This is true for any stage of life. It is difficult to dialogue when people look at it from very different perspectives. There are those who see allowing a terminally ill person to end their life when they want as compassionate mercy. I say how can it be compassionate to tell someone their life is not worth living. True compassion offers comfort care which includes being present to them in their suffering.
Those who support the death penalty see it as “justice.” It seems like revenge to me. If we want to say life should never be taken away, it must include life without parole instead of the death penalty. We must set the example.
I think abortion is probably the hardest life issue to dialogue about. The two sides have become so polarized, that they don’t seem to listen to one another. I can’t speak for the Pro-choice people but it seems to me that make the legal discussion all about the woman’s right to privacy. I’m not sure I get that. If it is only a matter of privacy, that the woman can do what she wants in private, that would seem to me to open the door to say you can do whatever you want as long as you do it in private. Does that mean I can commit any crime I want in private? Of course not. They also say the woman has the right to do what she wants with her body. I offer two responses to that. First, we would not allow a woman to cutoff a healthy arm or leg, why would we allow her to do choose to “eliminate” the baby in her womb. Secondly, yes the baby is inside her woman but it is not her body. It is the body of the baby. As to the idea of “choice”, we do have a right to choose what to do with our own lives but the decision about a baby in the womb was made when the woman chose to have sex. This would seem to open the door to allow abortion in cases of rape. Rape is a terrible thing. I pray for every victim of rape. While rape is a terrible thing, the baby is innocent and it is a life. We need to hold fast to the dignity of that life. One sin (rape) does not justify another (abortion).
What I don’t often hear the pro-choice people talk about is the question of life. Is the baby alive? Now, there are some who say it only becomes a “life” with independent rights when the baby emerges from the womb but it seems to me that most pro-choice people simply don’t talk about the life question.
In my article, “Biology Makes Me Pro-Life”, I offer the most succinct explanation of why life begins at conception I can. At the moment the egg and the sperm come together, they form a unique genetic makeup that makes it a human being. It begins to function as life processing nutrients receive from the mother and growing. Yes, it is dependent on its mother for those nutrients just as the newborn baby counts on their parents to feed them.
There are those who encourage abortion when prenatal testing shows a “defect” in the baby in the womb. They judge the future life of the baby as bad and encourage the mother to choose abortion. One example of this is Down syndrome babies. Yes, people with Down Syndrome face challenges. I offer another perspective. The Down Syndrome people I have met are some of the most loving people I have met. They can teach us a lot when it comes to love.
I will end with a brief discussion of the recent attack on Paul Pelosi, husband of Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House. As I write this, they are still determining a motive for the attack. One might wonder if the person who attacked him did it because of his wife’s pro-abortion stance. I hope not. Her pro-abortion stance does NOT justify the attack (see USCCB statement calling it terrible at https://www.usccb.org/news/2022/usccb-president-attack-mr-paul-pelosi .) We must treat each and every life with dignity.
We need civilized dialogue, not attacks on people. Lord, please us to find ways to let go of the polarization so that we may seek your Truth in all things.