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Abortion Ink Slingers Michelle Pro-Life Issues Respect Life

The Sanctity of Life and Our Catholic Response

I can remember the day I found out I was pregnant with Leo as clearly as if it happened just yesterday and not 8 ½ years ago. I remember the joy, the pain, the fear, and the worry. I wrote about my journey through a high risk pregnancy here at the website and the outpouring of love and support that our readers showered on me helped to make each day a little easier and less scary to face, especially as many family and friends abandoned us in our time of need.

If you aren’t familiar with my story I will give you a short overview (unless you’d like to read it and then you can find it here, here, and here). During the birth of my 10th child we discovered my son was breech. The doctor, who had delivered more breech babies than any other doctor in our area, was confident in both my ability and his to safely deliver my son. However, try as I might, I simply could not deliver him. Worse yet, while trying I felt an incredible amount of pain (that was a different kind of pain) and my instincts jumped into overdrive. I began to plead with the doctor to take me to the OR to do a cesarean section. I couldn’t get them to understand how vital it was to get us there quickly. They wanted to simply numb my lower half, but I knew we didn’t have that much time. I begged them to put me under and to take the baby. I think they were pacifying me because I was so panicked, but I am forever thankful that they listened to my pleas.

I woke up 3 ½ hours later to find that my uterus and bladder had ruptured and that I had lost so much blood the doctor didn’t feel I would survived a hysterectomy and so he put the “puzzles pieces” of my uterus back together, tried to fix my bladder, and then closed me up. He would tell me that had we not followed my instincts both the baby and I would have died. He also told me that my uterus was so badly damaged it would never hold another pregnancy again; that if I got pregnant that both the baby and I would die.

Fast forward a mere 5 ½ months and after Herculean efforts to not get pregnant, I was sitting in my bathroom with a positive pregnancy test, tears spilling down my cheeks, fear and joy filling my heart simultaneously, and wondering how in the world I was going to tell my husband and children. Never in my thoughts, though, was what would I do about the pregnancy. I knew without a shadow of a doubt I would risk my life to give my child a chance to live.

The events that followed still hurt. We were discharged at my OB office because I refused an abortion, we lost friends as they turned their backs on us and judged us, we felt isolated and alone, and truly felt persecuted for living out our Catholic faith. My heart still reels from the injuries that friends and family inflicted on us during that time. Thankfully my story ended beautifully- a sweet, healthy little boy in my arms, doctors astounded that my uterus was perfectly and “miraculously” healed, and a new gift of life for my son, for myself, and for our family.

I write about my choice for life because today is a dark day in the history of our great United States of America. On this day in 1973 a ruling in the Roe v. Wade case legalized abortion across America. The case denied the rights of the unborn and instead gave women the “right” to decide to end a pregnancy for whatever reasons she may have. The case made it possible that today we have reached over 62.5 million abortions performed in the United States alone. It set a precedence that said a woman’s right to choose is more important than a child’s right to live. It demeaned life in the womb as unworthy in comparison to the mother and it set into motion the false ideology that one human is more important than another. It made a god out of “choice” and placed it on an unholy altar to be worshiped. It has directly affected the importance and sanctity of marriage and family life as well.

As much as I could write about the horrors of abortion and how it has torn at the fabric of our families and our faith, instead I want to touch on what our response is and what it should be towards those faced with the decision to choose life or to choose abortion.

In my own life I faced the condemnation of fellow Catholics who thought I was irresponsible for either “getting pregnant on purpose” or for allowing myself to “fall pregnant again”. Neither scenario was correct as we had done everything within our faith to avoid pregnancy, but that didn’t matter to those who condemned me. I was married, had many other children, and was a faithful church-goer and volunteer. If someone like me, who up to that point had “done it right”, was condemned in such a terrible way, I can only imagine what single young women, poor women, women who made “bad” life choices, drug addicted women, and others feel when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. It’s not hard to understand why they may choose to end a pregnancy instead of face the flames of condemnation.

A dear friend of mine chose differently than me. When faced with an unplanned pregnancy while still very young, her family encouraged her to have an abortion. It was just “what you did” she told me. There was never any thought that she would have the child; it was taken for granted that she would take care of the problem. And she did. We didn’t meet until I was in the middle of my pregnancy with Leo and as I told her my story about choosing life, she shared her story with me. My heart broke for her. The pain caused by her abortion long ago was still present. Her abortion was encouraged and supported and yet the pain she carried was heavy in her heart and on her soul. Even though we chose differently, the pain that lingers in both of us is evident.

The Catholic Response

If we want to convince others of the horrors of abortion, we have to be willing to live what we preach. I found that were many who claimed to be pro-life and yet could not understand that even though I had 10 other children to take care of, I had no other choice but to offer my life for my son so that he had a chance to live. I found that, to some, our Catholic teachings maybe meant one thing on paper and another thing in real life.

Which is it? Do we believe that life is sacred and worth protecting or do we think that there are ifs, ands, and buts that supersede the teachings of our Catholic faith? If we truly believe that every life is sacred and worth saving, how are we working to help those who find themselves in crisis or unplanned pregnancies to choose life and to endure the hardships they are facing? Are we simply quoting Catechism passages and Bible verses or are we truly living out our call to help others understand and respect the life that God has blessed them with and then support them as they bring life into the world, regardless of the circumstance?

So far, this year in the United States alone there have been nearly 50,000 abortions performed. Friends, we are only 22 days into the New Year and nearly 50,000 babies have died because abortion is considered a valuable commodity in our country. How can this be ok? More importantly, what can we do about it?

It seems as if for now, legally, we don’t have much recourse to reverse Roe v. Wade and to make abortions illegal in our country. But we do have the ability to help women choose life. We have the ability to not only teach about the sanctity of life, but to live out those teachings by supporting women who find themselves in unplanned or crisis pregnancies. In order to help others respect life, we must first respect life. Not just the life of the baby, but the life of the mother, the father, and the entire family. We can’t just talk the talk, we must walk the walk.

  • We must teach our children that all life is sacred from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. We have to begin teaching them at a young age. Our children innately know and understand the sacredness of life and are horrified at the thought of someone killing another person, especially a baby. We must encourage their understanding and foster their love of all people.
  •  When we encounter someone who is experiencing a crisis or unplanned pregnancy we should meet them with love and hope, not judgment and condemnation. We should encourage them in their choice for life and support them as they go through pregnancy, birth, and family life. It’s easy to tell someone they should choose life and then never show our faces again. It’s more difficult to be an active participant in their lives, willing to help at every turn when possible.
  • Volunteer at a pregnancy center, at your church, at a homeless shelter, at a women’s shelter, a low income day care, or a soup kitchen- anywhere that provides services that a pregnant woman may need. If we don’t have the time to volunteer, we should financially support those programs that help women and families. Don’t worry about why they are in the position they are in, but simply love them enough to help them to better the situation they are in.
  • Be vocal in your support for life. Don’t be obnoxious, but be genuinely loving and kind as you explain why life is so precious and worth saving. There will be those who want to fight you… be strong in your faith and convictions but also in your love for those who think differently from you. The love we extend wins over more hearts and souls than hate ever could.
  •  Pray. Pray for the mothers, pray for the fathers, pray for the babies, and pray for the extended families. Spiritually adopt women who are considering abortions and offer up your hardships, your worries, and your own trials for their well-being and for their choice for life.
  • Offer a healing hug for those who have experienced abortion. Listen to their story, offer prayers, and don’t judge them. Guide them to understand that they are still loved and that they can be forgiven. Point them to resources that will help them through the pain that accompanies abortion- not the just the physical pain but the mental, emotional, and spiritual pains.
  • Work within your legal system to encourage our leaders to make new laws that focus on ending abortion and the need for abortions. Abortion is big business that lines the pockets of many and so it will be difficult to eradicate. But we have to continue our work to bring about those changes.

Today, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I ask that you pray with me for all those women who are facing crisis or unplanned pregnancies, for those who are facing medical emergencies in their pregnancies, for those who feel alone and abandoned in their time of need, and for all those who are facing a decision between life and death. Let God use us as His means to provide help and hope to those who need it most. I pray that God will wrap them in His arms and help them to see their worth, their child’s worth, and the joy that comes from choosing life.

If you or someone you know is facing a crisis pregnancy, please know that we are here for you. Reach out and we will do our best to put you in contact with those who can help you.

If you are in need of post abortion healing, please consider contacting Rachel’s Vineyard. They can help you find hope, healing, and peace.

Categories
Abortion Assisted Reproductive Technologies Current Events End of life Faith Formation Ink Slingers Michelle Pro-Life Issues Respect Life Respect Life Month Spiritual Growth

Whose Life Do We Fight For?

every life
October is Respect Life month. Often when we think about respecting life we first think of the fight to save babies and to end abortion. It is right that we think of this first, as without our basic right to life, we literally have nothing.

However, right to life and respecting life doesn’t end once we save all the babies. If we ended abortion today, our fight would still be far from over. The life movement starts with protecting the lives of the innocent in the womb, but it encompasses so much more.

Our faith teaches us that each person should be treated with love, respect, and dignity. It doesn’t matter where we come from, it doesn’t matter what our skin color is; it doesn’t matter our gender, our age, or our religion. Each and every person, because they are made in the image and likeness of God, deserves to live a dignified life. It is important to remember that each life we encounter is sacred and has value.

The fight for life begins in the womb, but it does not stop there. The fight for dignity and respect of life doesn’t end with end of life issues like assisted suicide or dignity in death. No, in between the two dots of conception and death on our timeline of life, are various other life issues that deeply affect a person’s ability to live a dignified life.

CorporalCatholic social teaching tells us that we have to defend more than just the unborn and the dying. We must fight for those who are suffering because they are poor, hungry, thirsty, homeless, or abused. We can look to the Corporal Works of Mercy to remind us of Christ’s social teachings about these groups of people. We must reach out to those who are suffering because they don’t have adequate means to sustain themselves. We must provide care for those who are unable to care for themselves.

Catholic social teaching does not end at feeding the poor and homeless. It extends much further into the depths of our society. If we are truly inspired to protect life and help all people to live dignified lives, then we must be willing to tackle issues like human trafficking, capital punishment, securing the rights of the disabled, making mental and physical health care available to all, insuring just wages, and supporting immigrants who come to our country to seek a life free from the fear of death or persecution.

Many of these issues are hot button topics that tend to instigate arguments and divide otherwise very compassionate, level-headed people. Even if we fear stepping out to defend life in these circumstances, we must do so. If we don’t, we not only disrespect the lives made in God’s likeness, we disrespect God Himself.

In Gaudium et Spes we read,

“Furthermore, whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or willful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are supreme dishonor to the Creator.” (27)

homelessEach person deserves life; but life is more than just being allowed to born. Yes, we must save babies! Not only is it honorable to do so, but it is vitally important! But after this we must continue the fight for life. We must fight for the rights of everyone to be able to eat, work, provide for their families, worship God in the manner of their choosing, and to live without the fear of being tortured, abused, or violated. We must fight for the disabled, the imprisoned, and the dying. We must defend the sick, the poor, the marginalized, the disabled and the immigrants seeking a better life. We have to acknowledge that if every person is made in the image and likeness of God, then every person deserves our love, our respect, and our protection.

As we continue to celebrate and defend life in October, we must ask ourselves if we are willing to stand up for all people. Are we only comfortable with defending helpless babies in the womb and those who are dying? Are we willing to defend the lives of those who cross our borders seeking to protect their children from the horrors that they are faced with in their native homeland? Are we willing to seek out a stay of execution for a convicted murder on death row or to make sure that those who are behind bars are able to live a dignified life? Are we willing to be the voice for the mentally ill, the disabled, and the poor?

To call ourselves pro-life we must acknowledge that life issues begin in the womb, but they extend far beyond the womb. We must be willing to fight for all life; anything less is not acceptable.

“We are called to reach out to those who find themselves in the existential peripheries of our societies and to show particular solidarity with the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters: the poor, the disabled, the unborn and the sick, migrants and refugees, the elderly and the young who lack employment.” ~Pope Francis

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Abortion Current Events Ink Slingers Molly G Pro-Life Issues Respect Life Spiritual Growth

The Culture of Death Under the Guise of Medical Jargon

There has been a lot of talk as of late regarding the abortion industry, and many fruitful discussions  have come forth. There have been legislative moves to reduce late term abortions, as happened recently in Texas, there have been more campaigns to educate the public on the truth of the industry, and there has been a very vocal shift in the voice for life in our country. All of these things are amazing happenings in the fight for life, but another more ‘hidden’ aspect of the industry comes to mind that hits close to home.

What came to mind was my own pregnancy.   Upon learning we were pregnant again, of course we were excited, happy and very much looking forward to meeting our new little one. When our mid-term ultrasound confirmed our daughter had a very serious brain problem, of course other emotions set in. Fear. Anxiety. Even a twinge of sadness or disappointment. But that is to be expected. The happiness and love surrounding our daughter were still there – just now with a few extra things attached we hadn’t anticipated. This is when I first encountered the hidden abortion agenda.

Looking at Meagan’s scan – and seeing all black (fluid) instead of brain tissue.

Thankfully, due in large part to communication with other families, I pretty much knew termination (the code word for abortion) would be brought up at our specialists’ appointment. So I was prepared for it (so I thought). But what I wasn’t prepared for was the persistence. The persuasiveness. The emphasis on how terrible life would be for her. When we told the specialist we were keeping our daughter, we were sent to a “meeting” with the genetic counselor.  Ask me what I learned about my genetic background or that of my husband’s… and your guess would be as good as mine. Because I learned nothing. I like to refer to this meeting as the “termination meeting.” Where, once again, I got to hear from some woman who thought she knew better than I how terrible “poor little Meagan’s” life would be. For us. For our older girls.

Even though we knew our decision on life before we even found out about our daughter’s condition, it was amazing (in a disbelieving sort of way) at the way in which our daughter was suddenly reduced to a list of medical terminology. Fluid in the brain. Hydrocephalus. Developmentally delayed. Probable seizures. Possible in utero death. And I could go on. Why when we walked in to the doctor office was our baby, well, a “baby” with anticipation to find out whether that baby was a boy or girl? Even further personalizing the pregnancy and our child? But when something was found ‘wrong’ with her, why did it turn from personalizing her life to listing it on a medical chart and downplaying her humanity?

I don’t really have the full answer, as I can only speak from my experience. But I truly believe after going through this with our daughter, and hearing countless other stories of mothers in a similar situation as I found myself in, that this is the true hidden corner of the abortion industry. We know about the early abortions. We know about the convenience abortions. We know about the forced or coerced abortions. We know all of these aspects of abortion have so tactfully been painted with flowery language and new age feminism….but abortion for medical reasons has taken this guise to a whole new level.

Once a child is found to have a problem, or a condition, or a disease or deformity, it becomes very easy to disguise the talk of abortion with devastating medical lingo. Finding out about a child with needs is a highly emotional time for most parents, and for some these emotions unfortunately play into their decision to terminate their child’s life. They are sold lies of despair, discouragement, and often confusion.  I remember distinctly going home and Googling every term I had heard in my appointment. Even though I knew our daughter was ours no matter what, I spent hours upon hours reading, worrying and obsessing over every medical term the doctor had thrown at us. Even in my steadfastness for life, my mind was still distracted by the multitude of new terminology I had heard in one sitting. The more I look back now, the more I realize that her personhood was slowly stripped away in that one appointment. My daughter was reduced to a rambling of medical jargon. Her life was disregarded, categorized, and put on trial all within the constraints of an hour.

Close your eyes. Picture a child in your head. She is about 2 years old..brown hair…hazel eyes.  But also know she has congential hydrocephalus, angenesis of the corpus collosum, absent septum pellucidum, partial seizures, absence seizures, Chiari malformation, inguinal hernia, craniosynostosis, vision issues, failure to thrive, has a g-tube, cannot walk, cannot crawl, and is just learning to sit on her own. She has had 10 hospital stays and 5 surgeries, 3 of which were brain surgeries. What does your picture look like?  Now open your eyes and see her for yourself.

 

I hope my story can touch at least one person – and help them through that trying time of finding out the child they expect isn’t exactly what situation they expect. It’s ok to take in the medical knowledge. It is important for us – so we know all we can and learn everything possible to become their greatest advocates. But – be careful to not get lost in those terms.  The winding path of medical diagnoses is only a path that will lead us to confusion and despair.  If we focus on that, there is no hope, but our children are the hope of the world.  God gives us children to look to the future. We have to hold on to that hope for these special children.  No matter what labels are attached to them, they are still God’s gifts to us. We can’t let a list of words form a false picture that clouds the beauty of the true portrait.  We need to not let them get lost in the new culture of death that is presented to us in the guise of medical jargon. We need to not let our labels define our children – but let our children instead show us who they are meant to be. We need to remember more than any label, the most important one is that they are made in the image of God – and with Him, no trial is impossible.

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Evangelization Faith Formation Ink Slingers Michelle Respect Life Uncategorized

Remembering the Innocents

 

This past week our Right to Life group held a candlelight memorial service in remembrance of all the babies and mothers lost to abortion.  It was such a moving experience.  When I was putting together all that we were going to do I tried my hardest to determine what kinds of things were “too much” to introduce and what kinds of statistics and/or pictures would make the greatest impact.  It was a hard task to do.  I knew that besides those who would come from the parish we also would have the entire middle and high school youth groups there as well as representatives from our local pregnancy resource center, the West Georgia Right to Life representative and someone from the paper.  It was a daunting task.  How do you bring such a sensitive, yet important, topic to those who may not have any knowledge about abortion?

The first thing we decided to do was to tell people how many babies have died since the legalization of abortion.  We put up a sign at the front entrance of the church parking lot that said, “50,000,000 abortions since 1973”.  The actual number now is about 52,000,000 (we borrowed this sign from the West Georgia Right to Life group).  We also included crosses as well as “choose life” signs and “vote pro-life”.  After putting up the signs right before the Saturday Mass the first car into the parking lot rolled down his window and asked me if the number was right.  Could there possibly be that many babies aborted since abortion became legal.  I assured him it was.  He shook his head in disbelief and said he just had no idea.  He knew abortion took lives but that many?  He just couldn’t wrap his mind around that number.  I realized right then that we had already touch a life.  Hopefully we made a difference for him.  I think we did.  Most importantly we educated him and hopefully he’ll go out and educate others as well.

We left the signs up all weekend for the Masses.  I had several people tell me thank you for taking on the task of getting the word out how prevalent abortion is in our society.  I hoped and prayed that our memorial service would be a success later in the week.  If I had a hunger before to open eyes, now it was insatiable!

I decided that the best way to go with the prayer service would be to first introduce what the Bible says about the child growing in the womb.   I read the following passages:

In Jeremiah 1:4-5 we hear the words, “The word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as the prophet to the nations.”

In Psalm 139:13-16 we read the words, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.  I was woven together in the depths of the earth; your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Of course there are other passages that pertain to life but these are the ones that spoke to me.  I then asked the people present to think about those passages as I described life in the womb, month by month.  As we talked about each month we lit candles in front of a picture of the child in the womb at that stage. 

Month 5

 

 Month 5:  The baby is very active now and can be felt by his mother.  She may be able to hear now.  Fingerprints and footprints are complete.  She can suck her thumb.  She is approximately 8-12 inches long.  At this stage in pregnancy it is still legal to take her life through abortion.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Month 9
 
At Month 9 Baby has very specific active and sleep periods.  She is preparing for birth by putting on weight and settling head down.  She is practicing her breathing.  Her weight and height vary greatly now during this last month.  An average full term baby weighs between 7-8 pounds and is between 19-21 inches long.  As unreal as it seems, it is still legal to take this baby’s life through abortion.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I invited the congregation to reflect on the development of the baby while also thinking about the fact that at all stages of pregnancy a woman can obtain an abortion.  I think that it was a fact that many just didn’t know and couldn’t fathom.  After all, didn’t they just hear that at 3 months he can grasp an object placed in the palm of his hand?  And that at 4 months there is rapid eye movement signalling that the baby is dreaming?  What about the fact that at 7 months he is able to cry and his bones are fully developed?  How can it be then that it is legal to kill this child?   As we reflected on these ideas I played Ave Maria.  I reminded them of Mary saying yes to life.  She was willing to endure ridicule, judgment and possibly being alone.  Still, she brought our Savior into the world.  What better testament and role model can we have?
 
Following our reflection I introduced what our Catholic faith tells us about abortion and about what our duties are for protecting life.  In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we find the Church talking about abortion at line 2270 and continuing 2275.   We read these words:

2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person — among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.

2274 Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.

After hearing these lines I then presented some abortion facts to them to think about…

  • Abortion is the #1 outpatient surgery performed in the United States.
  • In the United States there are approximately 1.21 million abortion performed per year.
  • This breaks down to approximately 4000 per day.
  • At these current rates about 1/3 of all American women will one day have an abortion.
  • 84% of all those who have abortions are unmarried.
  • 1% are done as a result of rape.
  • 6% are done for the health of the mother or child.
  • 93% are done for social reasons… inconvenience,  fear of judgment, lack of money, etc.
  • 37% of all abortions done are by Protestant women.
  • 28% of all abortions done are by Catholic women.

I repeated the statistics on the number of Catholic women who have abortions.  It’s a shocking number.  Our faith teaches us to respect life and defend life and yet 1120 babies each day are killed by women who profess the Catholic faith.  What is wrong here?  How did we get to this point where even those who profess the Catholic faith kill innocent babies?

We prayed intercessory prayers and then I invited everyone present to come forward and light a candle in remembrance of all those who have died, all those who are struggling with the decision whether or not to abort their child and all those affected by the sin of abortion.   With quiet music playing in the background people came forward and lit a candle.  It was such a wonderful remembrance of so many innocent souls. 

 I would hear later from others that so many people’s lives were touched by what they saw and heard that night.  I also was disappointed to hear that there were some that were not affected at all.  Still, our goal was to spread the word and if we even touched one life then we did our job.  I’m positive we touched more lives than just one!

As Catholics sometimes we don’t do as well as our Protestant brothers and sisters regarding evangelization.  This is an area where we can not fail.  We are required by Christ to save the lives of the innocents.  We are required by God to protect those who can not protect themselves.  I realize that not everyone can organize a memorial service or that they even have access to banners or crosses or signs.  So how can you bring the issue of the sanctity of life to those around you?

Pray.  Always pray for life.  Pray for those considering abortions, those who have had abortions, those who have been aborted, those who perform abortions, those who fight abortion.  Pray.

Don’t be afraid to tell people that you are prolife.  I realize sometimes this is hard!  People will judge you, call you intolerant, they will persecute for your beliefs… speak up anyway! 

If you can’t organize a prayer service or a stand for life, find where one is taking place and join in!  Show that you are prolife through your actions. 

Volunteer at your local pregnancy resource center.   If there isn’t one around you find another establishment that is doing the good work of the pro life movement and ask what you can do to help.  If you can’t volunteer your time, make a donation.

Teach your children our faith and our values.  Tell them that all life is sacred and then show them you respect life.  The younger they are when they learn just how precious life is the greater the chance that they will grow up always respecting life. 

It is so important that we, as Catholics, live our faith as Christ established it.  God loved us so much that he became one of us.  He didn’t come as an adult, he came as an innocent baby, helpless in every way, depending on his mother to protect and nurture him.  Because he made us in his image he asks no less of us than he did of his very own mother.   What are we doing to answer his call?