Hostile faces glared at me from across the steel barricades and riot police. I was at the Women’s March for Reproductive Rights in Washington, D.C., attempting to puncture the violent shouts with the truth of human life. The atmosphere was enraged, but barely masked deeper wounds that lay beneath. That day, I came in contact with people who had experienced abortion, those who had been sexually assaulted, those who had been in one way or another forced into this issue that continues to plague our communities daily. Their shouts and signs all came down to the same thing: “How can you call yourself pro-life if you don’t respect others?”
I have been pro-life for as long as I can remember. But that question stuck with me long after the trip was over, because it was an examination of my conscience, and what I could be doing better.
Many of you are familiar with the fact that the Supreme Court is hearing multiple cases in regards to abortion, most prominently Dobbs v. Jackson. It has the ability to overturn the twin Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions that legalized abortion in the United States, and pave the way for more states to ban the act. We’re at a crossroads as a country, much like the reading in Deuteronomy where God declares, “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live” (Deut. 30:19).
But if our country is going to choose to shift towards a culture of life, we must be the ones to stand up for it. Now is the time to look at our own lives and see where we can strengthen our commitment to defending all life, especially the marginalized among us. Think about the following questions:
Are you honest in your beliefs about human dignity? Let’s be honest, it’s difficult to talk about abortion. When the subject arises, staying silent or feigning agreement with pro-choice opinions might be the more comfortable path, but it isn’t the one that’s going to save lives or point towards the truth. Are you willing to defend the dignity of parents and the pre-born in conversation?
What ways can you contribute to helping others in the way that suits you best? Advocacy is going to look different for everyone. Maybe you’re gifted in being a source of comfort for others, and you’d be best suited in sidewalk counseling. Your creative skills might place you sidewalk chalking pro-life messages, creating life-affirming songs, or designing visuals for social media. Perhaps your networking skills might suit gathering donations for your local federally qualified health center (FQHC) or pregnancy resource center (PRC). Consider your talents and gifts, find where there’s need, and help others!
Are you praying about what’s going on? We’re fighting a battle that is steeped in darkness, death, and destruction. We need to call upon the intercession of the Blessed Mother and the saints to help us in our cause. Incorporate praying for the cause of life into your daily prayer routine. Offer up intentions especially for politicians, activists, cultural leaders, and all those who are involved in the decision-making.
Is your parish involved in the defense of life? As Catholics, we share the call to defend against violence and dehumanization. If there are efforts for life in your parish, get involved as far as you are able. If not, ask your pastor and other faith leaders in your parish about starting! There’s so much that can be accomplished when people gather together to uplift each other.
These efforts are how we answer hate and violence with love. Examining ourselves in itself is an act of love, because in doing so we acknowledge that we have the capacity to grow in our service to others. We put that love into action by however we choose to stand up for life in our homes, parishes, and communities.
People are depending on our efforts to continue so they can choose life for themselves and their loved ones. We must answer them through our actions. In this way, when we look at ourselves and continue to improve out of love for God and others, then can we answer the question with resolve: “Yes, and here’s how we respect and uplift others!”