by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
Sadly, this coming Tuesday we will observe the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court decisions that struck down the laws in the vast majority of states protecting the lives of unborn children from abortion.
More than 50 million American children have died by abortion since that fateful day. On average, more than 3,000 children die every day in the United States because of abortion.
On Tuesday, I will be in Topeka celebrating an 11 a.m. Mass for Kansans who will have assembled in the Capitol to advocate for our state to do everything possible to protect unborn children, as well as to assist women experiencing an untimely pregnancy. Later in the week, I will go to Washington, D.C., to join hundreds of Kansans and a couple hundred thousand Americans marching for life.
With the media bias, you will probably hear or read very little about these significant gatherings of Kansans and Americans advocating for the protection of innocent human life. The March for Life in Washington is by far the largest annual public demonstration in our nation’s capital and it is the most under-reported event.
If you depend on the mainstream media for your information, you have heard for most of the past 40 years how the pro-life movement is dead and the abortion issue has long been settled in our nation. If you are able to be in Washington on Jan. 24-25, you will be able to see this is clearly not true.
The reality is, even as President Obama pushes a radical pro-abortion agenda, according to the most reliable public opinion polls over the past 20 years, Americans have become increasingly pro-life. While the current administration takes its marching orders from Planned Parenthood, they are actually becoming more and more out of step with the beliefs of a majority of Americans.
We cannot permit ourselves to indulge in discouragement over the current political power of legalized abortion advocates. We need to continue our efforts to educate the minds of Americans with the truth about the humanity of the unborn, something that ultrasound technology makes it impossible to deny.
Legalized abortion and contraception have been promoted as the great emancipators for women. Yet, if you examine the social science data since abortion was legalized and the government has promoted and funded the distribution of free contraceptives to adolescents and the poor, next to the unborn children, women have suffered the most. Access to abortion and contraception has not eliminated unplanned pregnancies. Many more women are single parenting today than 40 years ago, which translates into more children and women living in poverty.
The emotional, psychological and spiritual scars from abortion torture millions of women, who are forced to suffer in silence because a pro-abortion media does not want to hear about their pain. The detaching of sexual intimacy from committed love, made possible by contraception and abortion, has disproportionately victimized women, who much more frequently live with the consequences of single parenting and experience much more personally and powerfully the aftermath of abortion.
I am encouraged by the increasing number of women, and specifically Catholic women, who are challenging Planned Parenthood and other self-appointed spokespersons for American women. An illustration of this reality is a recently released book edited by Helen Alvare entitled, “Breaking Through — Catholic Women Speak for Themselves.” I encourage everyone to read this collection of essays by diverse and intelligent women, who have discovered the foundation for an authentic feminism in Catholic teaching.
One of the authors is a consecrated religious woman, Sister Mary Gabriel, a member of the Sisters of Life — a community founded by the late Cardinal John O’Connor to proclaim and promote the Gospel of life. Among other ministries, the Sisters of Life provide shelter and support for women facing a difficult pregnancy.
Most of Sister Mary Gabriel’s article is devoted to sharing the challenges she faced in discerning her vocation and the joy she now experiences in religious life. Sister Mary Gabriel tells the story of Tiffany (a pseudonym) who lived in a residence for pregnant women operated by the Sisters of Life. When Tiffany first came to live at the group home, she made it clear “that while she was choosing to have her baby, she could never tell another woman what to do with a pregnancy.”
After several months of living with the Sisters of Life, Tiffany “came home from a doctor’s appointment unusually excited to tell the Sisters about her day. She had been at a New York hospital that delivers babies on one floor and has an abortion clinic on another. She got on the elevator and was joined by another woman. When Tiffany said hello, this woman burst into tears and said, ‘I’m pregnant.’ Tiffany’s response? ‘Congratulations! I’m pregnant, too.’ The woman shook her head and said she just couldn’t have this baby. Right then, Tiffany felt her own baby moving in her womb, and she placed the woman’s hand on her own belly just in time for a power kick. The woman said, ‘Wow!’ ‘Yeah, my baby is going to be a linebacker,’ Tiffany laughed. ‘He’s going to be strong, and he’s going to be blessed.’ ‘Why will he be blessed?’ the woman asked. ‘Because he’s here,’ Tiffany responded. ‘Whether you cry, or you laugh, if you’re here, you’re blessed. You’re put here for a reason.’
“The woman said, ‘I’m going to have an abortion.’ Without missing a beat, Tiffany said, ‘No you’re not. You are going to have a girl. I know that already because I wanted to have a girl, but I’m having a boy, but that’s OK — you have your girl and dress her up in pink. Put ponytails in her hair and call her Tiffany, and by the way, my middle name is Rose. And if she asks you how she got her name, tell her you met a fabulous lady on the elevator one day who was pregnant, and she told you that you were going to have a beautiful little girl.’
“They got out of the elevator together, and Tiffany walked with the woman to make an appointment with her own obstetrician.”
Sister Mary Gabriel wrote that the two women did not stay in contact after this chance encounter. However, two years later while Tiffany was making a routine visit to her doctor, “a woman pushing a stroller ran up to her and hugged her. She had twins — two girls. Their names: Tiffany and Rose, and both were dressed in pink.”
The pro-life battle is being won by changing one mind and one heart at a time. It is being won by saving the life of one baby (sometime twins), and by saving one woman from post-abortion trauma at a time. When we win enough of these individual battles, our elections will reflect what a majority of Americans already believe.