Being Pro-Life with the Dobbs Supreme Court Case
Did you convert to being pro-life or have you always been pro-life? I was converted in college. I was converted by a pro-choice woman. A group of us were having a (not heated) discussion about the topic. One of the women in the group stood up (we were all seated) and screamed (all of us had been talking in normal tones) “What about the health and life of the mother!?!” A courageous person began to quietly with measured tones answer her. She interrupted and screamed again. As I was taking all of this in, I asked myself, “Why didn’t she stay seated and simply ask her question in the same tones we were talking in, “What about the health and life of the mother?” Could we have been smart and courageous enough to speak to this question? We absolutely would have taken this question into real consideration and dialogue. What she did was shut down the conversation and decided this conversation was over and needed to have a firm pro-choice unanimous decision from each of us. She converted me to pro-life.
From that day, I began to study and read up on the “abortion debate.” And, at the same time, the question — the way I wished it were asked — stayed with me. When I was in seminary, I was fortunate to take a class from a professional counselor about how to help people grieve and heal after making the decision to have (or pay for, or participate in) an abortion. In the beginning of the class she said, “If you want to help save the life of the child in the womb, care for the woman who is carrying the child.” Ah! The answer to the question posed in college began to dawn in seminary!
When I was a priest in my first assignment at St Peter in Jefferson City, the Youth Minister and I organized a bus trip to Washington DC primarily for our confirmation students. I believed a good number of our candidates would be undecided or ok with abortions. I believed this trip was not so much a political endeavor as a conversion to see the dignity and beauty of the child in the womb and the pregnant woman. Help the mother and save the life of the baby. This was my first of eleven pilgrimages I would lead to Washington DC all for the same reason: convert young people to see the beauty and dignity of the pregnant woman and the baby she carries within her. And, if he is around, to see the beauty and dignity of the father of this child. If he is not, to find him and reach out to him.
Allowing states to make their own laws about abortion is moving in the right direction, but for us, who keep our eyes on Heaven knowing we are pilgrims on a journey passing through this life to the next, we don’t rest just because laws are made – or unmade. Look at the horrors justified by law when Jesus was walking the earth. Did he abolish slavery or bring an end to capital punishment? He healed people; he changed hearts; he repaired brokenness within the people he was around. Don’t take this the wrong way. There is absolutely a necessity to advocate for just laws. I write my legislatures and I vote. However, I don’t abdicate my responsibilities to be pro-life (or live as an evangelizing Catholic) to lawmakers and Supreme Court appointees. I vote, I write and I continue doing my part in my circle of influence to help those around me see the dignity of pregnant women, the dignity of children in the womb and the dignity and goodness of men.
That Dobbs came about is good because laws can be (and in this case is) a powerful teacher in what is right and wrong. However, the work is far from over; as long as there are people who have their dignity trampled upon (from within themselves or from others) the misplaced desire for abortion will still be around. So, let’s raise the dignity of all those around us. The white baptismal garment is given at baptism so that the child who wears the garment sees and knows the dignity of all people and brings that dignity unstained into eternal life. Seeing the dignity in others is not a responsibility we can give to others to do for us; by our baptism, we are all called to do it together. Here’s to your God-given dignity! Now, let’s go out and help others see and believe in their God given dignity!