Today is the day people all over the country usually gather in Washington D.C. for the annual March For Life. This year due to COVID, it is being held online virtually.
I wanted to take this opportunity to present to you some pro-life thoughts from a variety of different people that express what I believe to be the church’s teaching on pro-life issues expressed in a very elegant and well written way.
May they be enlightening and encouraging to you.
Christians torment themselves by imagining that they are normal, and everyone else is screwed up. When we consider that the human race is fallen and that the world, we live in is filled with fallen people and evil spirits, the truth is that everyone else is normal and Christians are made different by the grace of God. It’s unreasonable to expect people to think, speak and act like Christians and doing so denies the reality of the Gospel.
–William C. Michael @ Catholic Homeschool Curriculum
Meaning of Pro-Life
There’s nothing wrong with the term “anti-abortion.” But there’s an important case for Catholics to continue to insist on the term “pro-life” — and for giving it a much broader scope than opposition to abortion.
Deacon Steven D. Greydanus What Does it REALLY Mean to be ‘Pro‑Life’? (July 15, 2018) National Catholic Register
“Interrupting a pregnancy is like eliminating someone. Getting rid of a human being is like resorting to a contract killer to solve a problem.
Is it just to resort to a contract killer to solve a problem? How can an act that suppresses innocent life be therapeutic, civil or even human? .
(Referring to abortion of unborn children with disabilities, Francis criticized advice given to parents who were told to terminate their pregnancies.)
Sick children are just like every other needy person on earth, just like an elderly person who needs help, or the poor who struggle to make both ends meet.” – Pope Francis
Now, as a man and a priest, and therefore someone who will never experience the joys and challenges of being a mother, someone who will never have to make a decision about an abortion and someone in a position of some power in the church, I recognize the limitations of my experience. And I recognize that many women consider it offensive to hear this from a man—because they have told me.
Many women whom I love, respect and admire support abortion rights and see these rights as a constitutive part of their authority over their own bodies. And who can doubt that over the centuries, women have been dominated and abused by men—even men responsible for providing them with legal, pastoral and medical care?
But acknowledging that women’s bodies are their own does not diminish my own reverence for the living body in a woman’s womb. Thus, I cannot deny that I see the child in the womb, from the moment of his or her conception, as a creation of God, deserving of our respect, protection and love. Mysterious, precious, unique, infinite, made in the image and likeness of God. Holy.
Fr. James Martin, S.J., Father James Martin: Why I Am Pro-Life January 10, 2019 America Magazine
Every human life is a gift to the world. Whether born or unborn, young or old, healthy or sick, every person is made in the holy image of God. The Almighty Creator gives unique talents, beautiful dreams, and a great purpose to every person. On National Sanctity of Human Life Day, we celebrate the wonder of human existence and renew our resolve to build a culture of life where every person of every age is protected, valued, and cherished.
The United States is a shining example of human rights for the world. However, some in Washington are fighting to keep the United States among a small handful of nations — including North Korea and China — that allow elective abortions after 20 weeks. I join with countless others who believe this is morally and fundamentally wrong, and today, I renew my call on the Congress to pass legislation prohibiting late-term abortion.
Donald Trump, National Sanctity of Human Life Day (January 18, 2021)
Showing Compassion to Mothers facing an unwanted pregnancy.
I spent years of my life in the pro-life movement, and met plenty of people who did indeed want women jailed and punished. I still meet them regularly, when moderating online debate. But I also know pro-lifers (who are) ethically consistent people who oppose racism and violence, who travel to the border to help immigrants. Some of them are LGBTQ. Not all are white. And they believe that unborn human life has value, and deserves protection. Many of these people have been pro-life activists for decades.
The important thing is, we do agree that a right to life is real, and we do agree that bodily autonomy is real. We do not want to see a world in which abortion rates are high. Nor do we want to see a world in which women are routinely shamed, punished, and imprisoned because of personal choices they have made in dire circumstances. We should be able to come together and have the conversations that need to happen without demonizing one another.
Rebecca Bratten Weiss Reducing Abortion Rates and Protecting Women’s Rights Are Goals That Can and Should Co-Exist (January 10, 2020) Suspended in Her Jar @ Patheos Catholic
The Pope borrowed a title for Christ employed by the Fathers of the Church: “Christus Medicus” (“Christ the Doctor”). He likened him to the Good Samaritan, mentioned in Luke 10, “who does not pass before the badly injured person by the wayside but, moved by compassion, he heals and serves.” He noted that “Christian medical tradition” has always been “inspired” by this parable.
He further noted the example of Christ, who spent much time healing others. Paraphrasing Christ in Matthew 25, he recalled, “Every time you did it to one of these, my brethren, you did it to me.”
“[T]he sacred value of the life of the patient does not disappear, neither is it ever darkened, but it shines with more splendor precisely in the person’s suffering and helplessness,” he continued.
“Fragility, pain and disease are a tough test for everyone, including medical staff,” said the Holy Father. But he exhorted all not to surrender to “the temptation to apply quick, merely functional and drastic solutions driven by false compassion” driven by “efficiency and cost savings.”
To give in to the practice of so-called “mercy killing,” Pope Francis warned, would jeopardize not only “the dignity of human life” but also the “dignity of the medical vocation.”
Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th Pope Francis: Mercy Killing Isn’t Merciful (June 14, 2016) ChurchMilitant.com
Pope Francis has always strongly condemned embryonic stem cell research, particularly in his encyclical, Laudato Si. He wrote that there is “a tendency to justify transgressing all boundaries when experimentation is carried out on living human embryos.” (136) Certainly, the creation of chimeras and SHEEFs are examples of science not only transgressing boundaries, but essentially erasing them altogether. It doesn’t stop there, either, as more questionable developments are on the horizon, such as using skin cells to create babies.
The dangerous desire of mankind to free itself from the constraints of male vs female, the necessity of the procreative act to conceive children, as well as any form of imperfection or disability, will, in turn, give scientists greater freedom “to [disregard] the great ethical principles, and [consider] any practice whatsoever as licit.” As Pope Francis warns, “a technology severed from ethics will not easily be able to limit its own power.” (136)
Mary Pesarchick Of Mice and Men, SHEEFs and Chimeras, (July 1, 2017) Catholic Stand
The problem, one could almost say, is not what cloning does to the embryo, but what it does to us . . . Creating a human embryo just so it can be used and then destroyed undermines the very foundation of the moral prudence that informs the entire enterprise of genetic research: the idea that, while a human embryo may not be a person, it is not nothing. Because if it is nothing, then everything is permitted. And if everything is permitted, then there are no fences, no safeguards, no bottom.”
Outlawing human cloning would provide salutatory benefits. First, it would deprive cloning researchers of the funds to further perfect human cloning techniques. Outlawing human cloning would also be a clarion call to our scientists demanding that they stay within proper moral parameters as they serve society through the pursuit of knowledge. And it would protect women. Recall that human eggs are the essential ingredients in the cloning recipe. The need for human eggs in cloning threatens a great “human egg rush.”
But retrieving human eggs can be very dangerous to women’s health and fecundity. Banning cloning can thus prevent the further objectification of the female biological function.
Wesley J. Smith The Time Has Come to Outlaw Human Cloning (May 31, 2015) First Things
The Sex Scandal
It has been a diabolical masterpiece. I am talking about the scandal that has gripped the Catholic Church for the past thirty years and that continues to wreak havoc even today. When I was going through the seminary, it was fashionable to conceive of the devil as a symbol for the evil in the world, a sort of colorful literary device. But the storm of wickedness that has compromised the work of the Church in every way and that has left countless lives in ruins is just too ingenious to have been the result of impersonal forces alone or merely human contrivance. It seems so thoroughly thought through, so comprehensively intentional.
Certainly, in the ordinary run of history, bad things happen, but this scandal is just too exquisitely designed. It has corroded Catholic credibility so completely that the Church’s work in evangelization, catechesis, preaching, outreach to the poor, recruitment of vocations, and education has been crippled. And most terribly, members of the Church, especially its most vulnerable, have been forced to live through a nightmare from which it seems impossible to wake.
If the Church had a personal enemy—and indeed the devil is known as the enemy of the human race—it is hard to imagine that he could have come up with a better plan. In saying this, I am by no means implying that human beings bear no responsibility; just the contrary. The devil works typically through suggestion, insinuation, temptation, and seduction. He is essentially powerless until he finds men and women who will cooperate with him.
Bishop Robert Barron, (2019) Letter to a Suffering Church: A Bishop Speaks on the Sexual Abuse Crisis
Kids locked in cages is a pro-life issue
I get it– you’re “pro-life”, and nothing could be more important to you.
But here’s the funny thing: kids locked in cages who have been forcibly & illegally separated from their parents, kids who have no mattresses to sleep on or soap to clean with, kids who have no one to tend to them– no one to give them hope or even explain why they were taken from their parents and locked in cages where lice & flu spread like wildfire, where thousands of children and adults have been sexually abused or raped, and where they live in fear of retaliation if they report what’s happening to them, won’t be easy to convince.
I mean, how would you even be able to show them a sonogram image and explain why an unborn, pea-sized heart, represents a life so precious and valuable to God that you feel it must be stood up for and protected at all cost?
How would you be able to explain to them that your commitment to “protecting children” has been your highest professed political belief your entire adult life?
How would you explain the modern concept of what it means to be “pro-life” to a child who is locked in a cage, crying for their parents, and hasn’t had their diaper changed in God-knows-how-long?
I’m betting if you tried to explain this whole “pro-life” thing you believe in to them, they’d probably just sit in silence and bewilderment.
Benjamin L. Corey, Kids Locked In Cages Aren’t So Sure You’re Actually “Pro-Life”- Formally Fundie
Immigration is a Pro-Life Issue
I think having open borders is extremely reckless and allows for dangerous people to live in our country. While police and social workers have enough trouble keeping up with drug trafficking, domestic violence, theft and murder within our own neighborhoods, I don’t believe having an absence of border security would do these already-overworked public servants any good service. But on the flip side, having stricter borders seems to show apathy to the rest of the world – especially towards foreigners who are fleeing hardship and persecution. From what I understand, the majority of those who immigrate into Canada and the United States are doing so to seek better opportunities for a better quality of life. While some countries like Canada have been more open to allowing asylum-seekers in faster, there seems to have been an equal amount of animosity towards letting in too many people – especially among citizens in the United States.
René Albert , My Thoughts on Immigration Control (December 22, 2018) Coffee and Crucifix @ Patheos Catholic
Gun Violence is definitely a pro-life issue
Why are we not doing more to reduce gun violence? It’s a question that I have been asking myself lately, as a Catholic and as a moral theologian, but especially as a Catholic high school teacher.
I do not call for Catholics to reject absolutely every form of gun ownership, but to follow the clear, practical direction offered by Catholic teaching. While I think there is a strong case to be made that Catholics should always abstain from taking up arms, I only want to point out that we have a clear path to follow. America has a gun problem. Whatever the underlying causes of gun violence in this country, the overabundance of guns only exacerbates it.
We can summarize America’s problem simply. America has more guns per person than any other country in the world. Generally speaking, the more guns in a country, the more injuries and deaths that occur in that country. America has more firearm homicides than any other developed nation, though most gun-related deaths in the U.S. are suicides.
Andrew Kuzma, The Children of God: The Catholic Response to Gun Violence (May 1, 2018) Catholic Moral Theology.com
Suicide Prevention is a pro-life issue
In the Catholic moral tradition, our culpability for what we do is measured in large part by our freedom in choosing it. And so it is crucially important to talk about freedom and mental illness when we talk about suicide. The traditional language related to mortal sin is helpful here. For a sin to be “mortal” it needs not only to involve serious matter, but both the will and the intellect must be seriously and freely engaged in the act. This is what freedom is, and moral responsibility goes hand in hand with freedom. In other words, the agent must have a clear understanding of what s/he is doing and must freely choose to do it anyway.
And so, we can say with real legitimacy that, when someone who is living with severe mental illness chooses suicide, the act is likely not undertaken in full freedom, with full engagement of the intellect and will. And so, we have great reason to trust in God’s love and mercy for those who take their own lives, especially when this happens at the end of a battle with mental illness. The Catechism of the Catholic Church expresses the idea this way: “Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide” (CCC #2282).
If you or someone you know needs immediate help with suicidal thoughts, call the suicide prevention lifeline at 800-273-8255 (800-273-TALK) or visit their website to chat online or seek information. If you are looking for ongoing support for someone with a mental illness or for family and friends of those with a mental illness, check out NAMI. They probably have an education program or a support group (or both!) near you that could help.
Dana Dillon Suicide Prevention and the Catholic Moral Tradition (Sep 12, 2016) Catholic Moral Theology
Death Penalty is a pro-life issue
I rejoice in Pope Francis’s ringing proclamation of the inviolable dignity of all human life, even the life of murderers, and I am heartened by the church’s unequivocal opposition to governments’ use of the death penalty in all instances. In killing chambers, I’ve seen close-up the torture and suffering of human beings, rendered defenseless and killed by the state, their lives stripped of all dignity. I rejoice that now this clarity of church teaching will help end this unspeakable suffering and spark the Gospel of Jesus to be lived in its fullness: restoration of human life, not humiliation, torture and execution.
–Helen Prejean, C.S.J
It’s always the poor who get the death penalty, the people with the worst legal representation. It’s a constitutional right to have defense but there is no provision for resources to make sure, if you are poor, that you can get a decent lawyer. We’ve had 172 wrongfully convicted people since the death penalty was restored in 1976. For every nine of the 1,500 plus executions, one person has had to be set free because of a trial error.
That’s how broken this thing is. Who would book a flight on an airline that had a one in nine chance of going down in flames?
Kevin Clarke, Sister Helen Prejean on Trump and Barr’s cruel spree of executions (January 11, 2021) America Magazine
Having Clean Water is pro-life issue
Fresh drinking water is an issue of primary importance, since it is indispensable for human life and for supporting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Sources of fresh water are necessary for health care, agriculture and industry. Water supplies used to be relatively constant, but now in many places demand exceeds the sustainable supply, with dramatic consequences in the short and long term. Large cities dependent on significant supplies of water have experienced periods of shortage, and at critical moments these have not always been administered with sufficient oversight and impartiality. (LS 28) ― Pope Francis, Laudato Si (223)’: On the Care of Our Common Home
The Pandemic is a Pro-life issue
With some exceptions, governments have made great efforts to put the well-being of their people first, acting decisively to protect health and to save lives. The exceptions have been some governments that shrugged off the painful evidence of mounting deaths, with inevitable, grievous consequences. But most governments acted responsibly, imposing strict measures to contain the outbreak.
Yet some groups protested, refusing to keep their distance, marching against travel restrictions — as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom! Looking to the common good is much more than the sum of what is good for individuals. It means having a regard for all citizens and seeking to respond effectively to the needs of the least fortunate.
It is all too easy for some to take an idea — in this case, for example, personal freedom — and turn it into an ideology, creating a prism through which they judge everything.- Pope Francis, New York Times Op Ed
I believe that The Seamless Garment is the Catholic and pro-life Position
“Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection”
– Pope Francis Gaudete et Exsultate, #101
Put simply, the Seamless Garment postulates that being pro-life involves not only fighting against abortion, but also against euthanasia, the death penalty, war, social injustice, anti-immigrant sentiment, and a host of other social issues that can also result in the death of human beings, whether directly or indirectly
Pedro Gabriel The Seamless Garment is the Catholic position, (February 1, 2020) Where Peter Is
Now, some Catholics will complain that this is unfair and that there are not enough hours in the day to oppose abortion and euthanasia *and* run around doing stuff about unjust war, gun violence, torture, poverty, the death penalty, desperate refugees, the environment, and the many other things the Church teaches are part of a fully prolife ethic. I have no problem with that objection. We can’t all be everywhere doing everything. So if your anti-abortion commitments are where you put your limited time, talent, and treasure I have no objection to that at all. Do what you can with what you have and the Lord be with you.
Where I object is when anti-abortion Catholics manage to find lots of time and energy to sink into directly opposing and fighting *against* the obvious and clear teaching of the Church and who insinuate or say that concern about the rest of the Church’s teaching is somehow an act of support for abortion.
I refuse to let such people characterize those who accept the Church’s whole teaching as “liberal” or to buy the lie that accepting the whole of the Church’s teaching is somehow “watering down” opposition to abortion or euthanasia. The Church’s teaching is a whole weave and it is long past time that we treated it as such. If you don’t have the time or energy to address everything in the Church’s teaching, that’s fine. But don’t spend your limited energy opposing things in the Church’s teaching you don’t happen to like. Spend it on that bit of the Church’s teaching you can help advance.
I believe the New Prolife Movement tries to live the Catholic position out
First and foremost, we believe in a fundamental right to life. The mission of the New Pro Life Movement is to work towards creating a culture that values and protects the dignity of all life, especially human life from conception to natural death.
We believe abortion is a grave evil and a horrible attack on human dignity that should be completely eradicated from our society. That said, we believe that a true pro-life ideology focuses on more than just abortion. Our movement supports any action that protects and sustains life at every stage.
Currently, our main objectives consist of education, outreach, and fundraising for organizations that we believe are working to create a truly pro-life society.-New Prolife Movement Website
It’s not enough just to be born – we also need to support the babies, the kids, the youth. And that means making sure everyone has the things they need to thrive – education, food, health care, housing, and all such things.
And Mother Teresa knew that abortion was not the only life issue. She was just as passionately against the death penalty and made some personal phone calls to governors in the U.S. to stop executions. She told them, “Do what Jesus would do.” She even wrote a letter to John Dear who was in a North Carolina jail for protesting war and asked him “to proclaim the love of Jesus even to the poor in prison.”
Mother Teresa consistently spoke out courageously for life. She’s a great model for us today, as we seek to be pro-life – and not just in word, but in deed.
So let us reimagine the pro-life movement today as a movement that stands consistently for life, and against death. And let us move beyond stale rhetoric and ideologies to action. What’s just as important as whether we are pro-life or pro-choice is how we are pro-active.
All of us who seek to be pro-life should continue to care about abortion – but we should just as passionately care about the death penalty, gun violence, the movement for black lives, the crisis of refugees and immigrants, the environment, healthcare, mass incarceration And all the other issues that are destroying the lives and squashing the dignity of children whom God created and loves so deeply.
Shane Claiborne, A New Pro-Life Movement (February 14, 2017)
If Christians want to lead the way in promulgating a politics of life in the United States, their vision of life can’t be a limited one. Every door that opens onto some kind of qualification of or limitation on the sanctity of life should be shut and barred. Progressive Christians largely accept all of this as far as the death penalty goes, and conservatives are fine applying it to life in the womb. But the pro-life movement would find itself in a much stronger position if believers on the left and the right could only come together in full voice behind both causes.
Cameron Hilditch, Why Pro-Life Christians Should Oppose the Death Penalty (January 21, 2021) National Review
The New Administration
Abortion is a direct attack on life that also wounds the woman and undermines the family. It is not only a private matter, it raises troubling and fundamental questions of fraternity, solidarity, and inclusion in the human community. It is also a matter of social justice. We cannot ignore the reality that abortion rates are much higher among the poor and minorities, and that the procedure is regularly used to eliminate children who would be born with disabilities.
Rather than impose further expansions of abortion and contraception, as he has promised, I am hopeful that the new President and his administration will work with the Church and others of good will. My hope is that we can begin a dialogue to address the complicated cultural and economic factors that are driving abortion and discouraging families. My hope, too, is that we can work together to finally put in place a coherent family policy in this country, one that acknowledges the crucial importance of strong marriages and parenting to the well-being of children and the stability of communities. If the President, with full respect for the Church’s religious freedom, were to engage in this conversation, it would go a long way toward restoring the civil balance and healing our country’s needs.
Statement on the Inauguration of Joseph R. Biden, Jr., as 46th President of the United States of America from Most Reverend José H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles, President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
American Catholics have a golden opportunity not only to reduce our abortion rates, but to enact some important advances in Catholic social policy if we can only get over the reflexive notion that Catholics like Biden are enemies and see how much of the Church’s teaching he favours—including teaching that will help reduce abortion rates.- Mark Shea
We pray for a peaceful presidential inauguration of Joe Biden today. Those of us who are older have seen many inaugurations. Presidents and government leaders come and go. We agree with some of what they propose, and we disagree with some. Big government and higher taxes and prices, and lower. Pro life and pro abortion of babies. Secure borders and a legal way to compassionately welcome immigrants. Policies have real consequences, but they come and go. They rise and fall. Only Jesus remains forever. Violence has escalated since last summer’s BLM riots, and the recent ultra right wing DC riots. Of course this violence is the culmination of heated and angry polarization in our culture. Extremists on both sides are to blame. Stay calm in the fray. Love your opponent and humbly pray for your own repentance and for the repentance of all. Love and respect everyone. Stay focused on Jesus. He is the King of kings, and He is the Victor.
–John Michael Talbot