Hearts and Voices United: The ‘Culture of Life’ Marches On

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The vocation of love unites pro-life people to build a “civilization of truth and love.” Saint John Paul II urged the world to the ‘Gospel of Life’ in 1995 (Evangelium vitae). Since then, the pro-life generation has committed itself to a ‘culture of life.’

Therefore, every threat to human dignity and life must necessarily be felt in the Church’s very heart; it cannot but affect her at the core of her faith. . . and engage her in her mission of proclaiming the Gospel of life.” (EV, para. 3 in part)

Indeed, respect for human life opposes the threats to the dignity of the human person. Of these threats, an attack on human life itself, by procured or direct abortion, is a grave concern for all people. The injustice of abortion tells us that it cannot be legitimately claimed under “human rights.” Proponents of abortion cannot coherently defend human rights and, at the same time, claim “rights” to transgress human life.

Myth and Media

There is substantial partisan and ideological divide on the issue of abortion. Yet, the pro-abortion lobby issues statements that do not comport with the polls.

Mainstream media rarely explore the accuracy of these claims. Recently, one executive claimed erroneously that “access to safe, legal abortion is an American value.” On the contrary, a recent Marist poll found “a strong majority of Americans and even a narrow majority of Americans who identify as ‘pro-choice’ support substantial restrictions on abortion.

The March for Life 2017 in Washington D.C. challenged the myth and media, and the negative stereotype of pro-life people as anti-woman and anti-freedom. Instead, pro-life people are the voices of true liberty for all human beings.

A Pro-Life Generation

According to Pew Research Center, nearly one-half (44%) of Americans believe having an abortion is morally wrong. Additionally, a Gallup poll affirms that “generational differences have narrowed” with “support for making abortion broadly illegal growing fastest among young adults”.

In other words, Millennials are pro-life. They may not be politically homogeneous but their pro-life attitude is refreshing. It energizes the effort in the fight for authentic mercy, justice and peace. Of course, pro-life people know we can love both mother and baby.

Empowering Women: The Choice to Love

It is helpful to understand a few basics, articulate the facts and respectfully engage those who disagree. (Here is my story).

First, remember that real choice empowers us to love, always.

Second, a consistent pro-life ethic respects the dignity of all human beings. Every peaceful protest is a sign that American democracy endures. However, people of good will disagree. Still, it is important to dispel false claims and present facts.

Third, a disinterested media provides disparate coverage of pro-life issues. Thus, there was broad coverage of the Women’s March. The protest signs at the Women’s March, reveal a hidden preference for feminist ideology over human life itself. Here are a couple examples, ‘Grannies protect what they love’ and ‘You said it all in those Women’s March signs.’ Be prepared to speak to media bias, poor fact-checking and invalid arguments.

An Invitation to Love

The dogma of “choice” prefers loyalty above love of human life. In contrast, a ‘culture of life’ invites truth and nurtures love—honoring our humanity. For this reason, a ‘Gospel of Life’ people must protect what they love; human life itself. Contempt for human life does not end in justice or peace.

The solidarity of pro-life people is encouraging. They defy caricatures of pro-life activism as conventional and—well, stuffy. Knit twinsets and starched rhetoric never defined the pro-life movement, anyway. The imaging is misleading and intended by opponents to message that a ‘pro-life’ position is out of fashion. (I have nothing against twinsets or starch, just so you know.)

Fortunately, as Catholics, we are not fashionably ideological. We are a “people of life for life”. Therefore, a pro-abortion or “choice” mentality is incompatible with Catholic social doctrine. The language of the debate should be clear, words anchored to meaning serve the true democratic good:

As words become unmoored from their meaning (as in “choice” or “terminating a pregnancy”), and as the ideas and ideals which bind us together erode, democratic participation inevitably declines. So too does a healthy and appropriate patriotism.

 Living the Gospel of Life, A Challenge to American Catholics, para. 11 (USCCB)

The Consequences of the Pro-Choice Mentality

The pro-abortion posture of modern feminism was adopted by an ‘intelligent few’ at the Mayflower Hotel in 1967. According to Sue Ellen Browder, a political agenda was put forth that “hijacked” the women’s movement. Consequently, more traditional feminists, who opposed abortion, were conflicted by an implicit premise: pro-life is not pro-woman. Thus, the term “choice” offered a political “out”—even if it compromised an upright conscience and the moral will of a nation.

As one would rightly assume, the politics of the sexual revolution and false dichotomy are dominant features of a campaign for “choice”. Understandably, many women were morally and politically ambivalent about a pro-abortion political agenda. In reality, women feared the loss of the achievements of the early women’s movement.

Be that as it may, the euphemism of “choice” concealed the deadly truth about abortion. The investigation by the Center for Medical Progress and the accounts of Kermit Gosnell’s crimes offer graphic evidence of the reality of the pro-choice mentality—human life as commodity and the economy of abortion. “Choice” was never so deadly or so costly for so many. 

As Browder writes, it is “a war between women” not a “a war on women”. Fortunately, some women have decided to break-ranks.

Healing from Abortion, Silent No More

A post-abortive woman spoke to the parishioners at my Church, recently. Her words were haunting. During her procedure, crying in pain, a nurse said to her, “Be quiet!”. She was quiet for nearly 25 years after the ordeal and spoke of her healing because of Project Rachel. She and many others are a profound witness to hope and mercy. 

I suspect the architects who crafted pro-choice messaging might have imagined it would be politically advantageous to dismiss pro-life people as prudish prigs and yes, un-American.

Let us ask our fellow patriots: What could be more American than loving human life?

Self-Gift, the Vocation to Love

Political answers may fail where the heart needs to speak.

In Breaking Through, Catholic Women Speak for Themselves, Helen M. Alvaré offers the stories of nine women, writing on women’s issues and their Catholic faith. She wrote of her thoughts on parenting, loving and self-gift:

I now understand my prior thinking about children as my giving in to the temptation to refuse the basic vocation to love. Bam. I’ve said it. I was resisting that whole finding-oneself-in-losing-oneself way of life that the last two popes in particular are always talking about. I didn’t want to experience the trials associated with the Christian way of life: self-gift, for as long a time as parenting takes. Have children made me truly ‘good’? Only God can say, but I am sure that I am thereby at least better than I would otherwise have been. (30)

A pro-life parade doesn’t necessarily make us a better person, either. After the parade is over, we must live what we profess:

An authentic dialogue between cultures cannot fail to nourish, in addition to sentiments of mutual respect, a lively sense of the value of life itself. Human life cannot be seen as an object to do with as we please, but as the most sacred and inviolable earthly reality. There can be no peace when this most basic good is not protected. It is not possible to invoke peace and despise life.

 Message on the World Day of Peace, Pope John Paul II, January 1, 2001

Foster Peace

Most importantly, the ‘culture of life’ honors the vocation of love. Love supports a choice that fosters peace in the world, by denouncing violence in the womb. A true patriot loves life. Bam. I said it. But I am only restating what Saint Teresa of Calcutta said,

“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion” (National Prayer Breakfast, 1994).

Pro-abortion proponents decry pro-life folks as anti-woman. Women, however, recognize the twisted logic of political rhetoric that creates suspicion and gives rise to the language of  a “war”; conquer and divide, dehumanize and marginalize. 

Pope Francis spoke against an anti-life and anti-love mentality at “war” with human hearts:

All too often, as we know from experience, people do not choose life, they do not accept the ‘Gospel of Life’ but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways of thinking that block life, that do not respect life, because they are dictated by selfishness, self-interest, profit, power and pleasure, and not by love, by concern for the good of others.

. . . the living God is replaced by fleeting human idols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom, but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death.”

— homily of Pope Francis, Holy Mass on ‘Evangelium Vitae Day’, June 16, 2013

Oppose the ‘Throwaway Culture’

Equally important, Pope Francis also emphasized the importance of dialogue and collaboration. 

The victims of this [throwaway] culture are precisely the weakest and most fragile human beings — the unborn, the poorest, the sick and elderly, the seriously handicapped, etc. — who are in danger of being ‘thrown away,’ expelled from a system that must be efficient at all costs.

. . .It is necessary to raise awareness and form the lay faithful, in whatever state, especially those engaged in the field of politics, so that they may think in accord with the Gospel and the social doctrine of the church and act consistently by dialoguing and collaborating with those who, in sincerity and intellectual honesty, share — if not the faith — at least a similar vision of mankind and society and its ethical consequences.

—  Address to a Delegation from the Dignitatis humanae Institute, December 7, 2013

Moreover, pro-life people should stand in solidarity with courage and compassion. Thus, pro-life advocacy articulates an understanding based on shared principles, unified by virtue of our humanity. In this regard, we are truly global humanitarians.

Proclaim the ‘Gospel of Life’

Finally, it takes courageous witness to denounce anti-life feminism, the sexual revolution hegemony and pronouncements by its royalty. Despite their political hubris, the pro-abortion cadre cannot categorize pro-life people as religiously or politically extreme, out of touch or unpatriotic.

Pro-life women and men are religiously, politically, culturally and economically diverse citizens who dissent from the culture of death. Some are also post-abortive women. Still, there are many who reject a “feminist” label all together. These are the people who refuse to ‘be quiet’ on the greatest moral concern—the fundamental right to life.

Our inmost being was “knit” in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). We are children of God. Perhaps, a pink cat hat is a poor substitute for a crown.

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