But God set me apart from the time I was born. He showed me his grace by appointing me. - Galatians 1:15
The term “pro-life” can elicit so many emotional responses. The few words carry so much weight and connotation. Some associate “pro-life” with just pro-birth, abandoning families once a child is born. Others associate “pro-life” in line with the “all lives matter” cause. And some still align the pro-life movement with the pro-red, pro-death penalty and pro-second amendment Republican sentiments. So what is really necessary to create a truly successful pro-life for the whole-life movement?
The first priority of the whole life belief system is to acknowledge that yes, all lives matter. But it’s not that simple–all lives matter, but some lives are more vulnerable than others. Those are the lives that we need to fight for and protect. We need to care for those in the womb and their struggling single mothers. We need to care for the sick and their caregivers. We need to care for the elderly and offer better health care options. When we look at society as a whole, rather than just pieces of the puzzle, it is easier to agree that we are meant to work together. We can fall into the trap of “us vs. them” and forget the larger cause–to love and save the preborn.
Pope Francis has spoken about unity in the church, stating “The devil divides and God always unites the community, the people.” Chaos loves division. In the most important whole-life cause we simply cannot let division win. We must remain united. We cannot allow the pro-aborition community instill fear and lies. Even we within the whole life movement have to ignore attacks and accusations and remember our mission.
During his homily at the Mass for the March for Life, Archbishop Cardinal O’Malley shared his thoughts about changing the culture. We must not only overturn Roe v. Wade, but promote a culture of life: “The pandemic has unmasked terrible inequalities that exist in our society and in our world,” among them less access to health care, education, housing, and “even justice in our courts.”
“Minorities account for two-third of abortions each year” as “whatever meager assistance comes (is) far too late,” O’Malley continued. “We are failing them and their children in their time of need. We can and must do better.”
Indeed, “Dismantling unjust laws is only the beginning. We still have the arduous task of creating a pro-life culture, of changing heart and minds,” he said, but if pro-lifers “come across as judgmental and self-righteous we’re never going to get a hearing in America.” Rather, O’Malley said, “Our task is not to judge others, but to try to bring healing . . . to build a society that takes care of everybody, where every person counts, where every life is important.” Otherwise, he warned, “poverty, racism and economic injustice will continue to fuel abortion in post-Roe v. Wade world.” The antidote to abortion, he said, “ultimately, will be solidarity and community” to counter “so much isolation and alienation and individualism.”
“Changing the laws is important, but building a civilization of love is what will ultimately overcome abortion in our culture,” he concluded. Promoting the social gospel, human rights and economic justice are needed, he added, “to build a civilization of love — or there will be no civilization at all.”
I, myself, admit that I’ve struggled to identify myself with the pro-life community. I’ve fought fear and shame of how people may perceive my intentions and beliefs. I’ve seen some articles written from pro-abortion perspectives identifying the March for Life with white nationalists and ultra conservative racists. This is scary for someone like me – yet I can’t give into that fear. So where is our place? How can we make our voices heard? How can we share our love for life in a way that others will listen?
The first place to begin is by supporting whole life ministries, whatever that may be. For instance, we have a great single mother home and childcare center here. Mothers can live in the home and attend college and work with free childcare.
We can also find the courage to speak the truth – of supporting all life, but of lovingly condemning sentiments that distract from the whole life mission. We can condemn racist and political nuances that continue to divide.
And lastly, we share our stories. We share why we are devoted to the whole-life cause. Those of us who were adopted, or who have adopted children – adoption is beautiful. For those who regret their abortions, share how destructive that choice can be. We need to find love and compassion for mothers in all scenarios. We need to show the world that we care for and support each individual who is struggling. United, we can change our nation.
Emily Clary has worked in Catholic education since 2005. She has worked in parish Faith Formation for the Diocese of Providence and the Diocese of Charlotte. She has taught middle school Religion and worked in Catholic School Campus Ministry in Woonsocket, RI and in Raleigh NC.