February 08, 2013
The Diversity, Dynamism, and Wide Open Heart of the Pro-Life Movement
Pro-Lifers can chew gum and walk at the same time. Honestly!The wonderful men, women, and increasing numbers of teenagers involved in the Pro-Life movement witness to the sanctity of human life at all its stages in an amazing diversity of ways.
They rally together to provide a public witness of solidarity with the unborn.
They provide educational opportunities to draw attention to the scandal of hundreds of thousands of unborn children being snuffed out before birth.
They create, support, and volunteer with crisis pregnancy centers to provide services to women in difficult situations to bring their unborn child into the world and then to carry mother and child forward to thrive in our society.
And, yes, some participate in political campaigns of pro-life candidates (of both political parties) at the national and state level. Or they may work with organizations to endorse and support pro-life candidates for elective office. Those who have been in the “political trenches” of this battle well know the challenges, the difficult calls, and the nuances involved when anyone, especially people of faith, turn to the democratic process to promote a particular cause.
Still others focus on the legislative process, at both the national and the state level. They draft, debate, and lobby for legislative initiatives —
* to ensure that those faced with a difficult situation are informed about the options for bringing an unborn child to birth and about the development of the child in the womb,
* to reverse the exclusion of parents from interactions between their pregnant daughters and those affiliated with abortion clinics and the abortion industry,
* to prevent late-term abortions (the modern American form of infanticide), or
* to carve out adequate space in our society for individuals and mediating institutions to uphold their values without being required to follow conflicting government mandates.
And some Pro-Lifers advocate in the courts to uphold legislation that protects unborn life and upholds informed consent. Or they defend the rights of citizens, churches, and organizations to stand up on behalf of life and not be forced to subsidize abortion.
From time to time, someone may lose heart and advise that Pro-Lifers involved with the electoral process, with legislative bodies across the nation, or with the judicial process should surrender that calling and withdraw from the political or the legislative or the legal arena. But, thank God, that’s not going to happen.
Those directly involved in the Pro-Life movement well understand that they cannot in good conscience abandon the field the political and legal field to those who advocate —
* public funding of abortions,
* removal of all restrictions on even late-term abortions,
* requiring even Catholic medical schools to provide instruction in performing abortions as a condition of accreditation,
* demanding that even Catholic hospitals open facilities to performing abortions as a condition of state or local approval, and
* demanding that religious-based institutions offer abortion pills through their insurance coverage of employees.
Some of these frightening proposals are being pursued aggressively right now by "Reproductive Rights" advocates, although Pro-Life lawyers, officials, and activists through tireless efforts hold back the tide (to a greater or lesser extent). Some of these options may seem unlikely, but the abortion industry and its supporters are pressing hard at every turn, laying the foundation for these initiatives, and would gladly fill the policy vacuum if Pro-Lifers deserted their posts.
Importantly, these legal, legislative, or political efforts hardly come at the expense of the Pro-Life movement’s consistent witness to the culture, educational efforts to respect human life, and volunteer work with pro-life charitable organizations could have displayed a rich tapestry of changing hearts and transformed lives. Pro-Lifers can multi-task.
In our own St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese, the “Respect Life Outreach works to promote respect for human life from conception to natural death, to bring about a conversion of heart and mind to be open to God’s special gift of life.” Through this and related programs in the Catholic community in the Twin Cities, there is a vibrant Pro-Life effort, reaching out to and involving young people, especially in the Catholic high schools, who in turn are spending time working with those in need in crisis pregnancy centers and elsewhere. Public policy advocacy is but a small part of that overall effort — and none of it involves political election campaigning.
In sum, our colleagues in law schools and the legal profession, our students, our families, and our friends who give sacrificially of their time, energy, talents, and money to advance the cause of human life have wonderful and inspiring stories to tell us of legal obstacles to protection of life being brought down, both hearts and minds being changed, people served with compassion, and unborn lives saved — through the work of every sector of a multi-dimensional movement.
Those who have given their hearts to the Pro-Life movement reflect the great strength and diversity — both in political perspectives and operational mission — within that movement. Take the time today to thank someone you know who is working tirelessly in this mission for life.
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