The release of Gosnell, The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer, is increasing public awareness of the evils of abortion. The media will attempt to separate the events depicted in the documentary from the so called, “humane” procedures that occur within other abortion clinics. Therefore, it is essential that the pro-life community continue to educate the public of the contrary nature of abortion, regardless of where it is performed.
During a recent Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis addressed this issue, equating it to “hiring a hitman.” In addition, he posed some very provocative questions including, “How can an act that suppresses innocent and helpless life in its blossoming be therapeutic, civil or simply human?”
My Journey into the Pro-Life Movement
I have always been pro-life. This does not mean that I neglected attempts to listen and consider the opposing views of others. On the contrary. However, those experiences always left me more convinced of the truth that abortion is wrong.
Although my pro-life values were present in high school, my true passion for the movement came during my college years. During the fall of my first year, a friend of mine mentioned she was going to a pro-life meeting. A small group of us decided to join her. Soon, I began attending regularly. The knowledge gained regarding the reality of abortion (and other attacks on human life) increased my awareness for the need to protect and defend.
Staying the Course Amidst the Storm
The group I attended that first meeting with soon dwindled down to me. Yet, this made no difference. I had committed myself to this cause. I did not choose this out of guilt or religious obligation. Rather, I chose this due to the goodness and beauty of life, which I firmly believed all had a right to enjoy. I still do.
Sadly, however, I found that standing up for the unborn was not always met with encouragement by both my peers and others on campus. There were moments of conflict. At times, our group even felt that our efforts were undermined by administrators within the university. Thankfully, these moments never swayed my opinion. They just emboldened me to remain steadfast in my defense of the unborn.
Stepping Up and Speaking Out
The issue of abortion is extremely controversial and often one side gets most of the attention. For this reason, it is reassuring to witness those taking a risk to address the other. We need more pro-lifers to step up and speak out and properly inform society of the atrocities abortion wreaks on our world. This is not about antagonism. This is about creating opportunities for awakening, where the facts of this depravity become revealed and acknowledged. People are free to come to their own conclusion. However, one cannot make a “good” decision if they are ignorant of the truth.
Abortion is not a men’s issue or a women’s issue. Abortion is not about reproductive freedom or even choice for that matter. In fact, the large majority of women who have undergone an abortion express that this was their only option; one they sincerely regret. The truth is that abortion marginalizes, oppresses, silences, and destroys the autonomy and dignity of both the mother and her child.
Responding To the Negative
Pro-life warriors are not immune to the harsh realities of standing up for God’s precious ones. Most have experienced some type of negative reaction on account of their efforts. Some experience worse. Even churches are now becoming targets. These acts of violence are signs of desperation and serve as proof that the pro-life message is being heard and embraced by those who want to build a culture of life.
This issue can (and should) be discussed in a manner that demonstrates mutual respect for all. Pro-lifers, who respond with hatred and violence, only contradict the nature of what it means to be pro-life in the first place. I am reminded of the time I attended a prayer service outside of an abortion clinic. There were individuals who did not approve of our presence there. Nevertheless, we peacefully co-existed in the same environment, and some even entered into civil dialogue. This becomes even more apparent when one realizes it is pro-life organizations that support, comfort, and counsel women seeking healing from their abortions.
Relying on the Spirit of Life
Pope St. John Paul II, in Evangelium Vitae (EV), wrote of the hope that exists for women who have had abortions. (I believe his words also apply to men who have been affected by this tragedy.) This provides good reason as to why one should always be mindful of those with opposing views.
I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life. (EV 99)
Our purpose is not to know another’s personal experiences with regard to abortion. Our purpose is to simply rely on the Holy Spirit for prudence and guidance. This permits the Spirit of Life to work within us as we strive to open minds, change hearts, and win souls.