Archdiocese Local

Bishops call for prayer in abortion pill case

A box of medication known generically as mifepristone and by its brand name Mifeprex, is seen in an undated handout photo. The pills are used to induce early abortion, but in more recent years have also been prescribed as part of a protocol for early miscarriage care. Ahead of an upcoming Supreme Court hearing on access to mifepristone pills, the U.S. bishops have announced a March-June prayer initiative to end abortion. OSV NEWS PHOTO/COURTESY DANCO LABORATORIES

by Marc and Julie Anderson

In 2023, approximately 63% of all abortions in the nation were chemical abortions.

That’s what the Guttmacher Institute, a leading abortion rights organization, recently reported on its website in a post titled “Medication abortion use increases as U.S. Supreme Court arguments loom.”

The percentage represents a three-year increase of 10 percentage points from 2020.

Knowing that reality, said Debra Niesen, consultant for the archdiocese’s respect life office, is critical to understanding the prayer campaign launched March 25 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

The campaign continues through June of this year and calls upon Catholics to pray for “the end of abortion and the protection of women and preborn children,” encouraging Catholics to seek the intercession of St. Joseph, Defender of Life (see below).

The campaign, Niesen explained, is in response to two cases currently before the Supreme Court of the United States: “Food and Drug Administration v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine” and “Danco Laboratories v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine.” Oral arguments began March 26.

While the cases are not about ending chemical abortion, Niesen said they focus on the widespread accessibility of the abortion pill through the mail and neighborhood pharmacies, plus the elimination of safeguards originally in place in 2000 when the abortion pill was first introduced in the country.

Noting March 25 is the feast of the annunciation, the day when the archangel Gabriel first announced the news of Jesus’ birth to Mary, Niesen said the date also honors the 29th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s landmark encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”).

“It’s a very appropriate date to begin this prayer and then having it continue all the way through June,” she said, the time by which the Supreme Court will have released its decision.

Chemical abortions, Niesen said, are problematic for many reasons. In addition to the life of a preborn child being ended, a woman’s health and safety is at risk. Additionally, she explained, women are more likely to become abused and exploited by abusers and human traffickers.

“For an industry that tries to tout itself as being health care,” she said, “this just proves once again that [the abortion industry] does not care about the health, safety and protection of women because this just puts women at such great risk.”

Niesen also spoke to the trauma, psychological and spiritual, that women undergo when they take an abortion pill at home.

She particularly loves the timing of the prayer campaign and “very much likes that we are calling for the intercession of St. Joseph. St. Joseph is such an incredible example to us on how we care and protect pregnant women and unborn children. He is the perfect example for us.”

For a full history of the abortion pill in the United States, see “The story of the controversial approval of the abortion pill” in the Jan. 14-20 issue of Our Sunday Visitor.

Dearest St. Joseph, at the word of an angel, you lovingly took Mary into your home. As God’s humble servant, you guided the Holy Family on the road to Bethlehem, welcomed Jesus as your own son in the shelter of a manger, and fled far from your homeland for the safety of both Mother and Child. We praise God that as their faithful protector, you never hesitated to sacrifice for those entrusted to you. May your example inspire us also to welcome, cherish and safeguard God’s most precious gift of life. Help us to faithfully commit ourselves to the service and defense of human life — especially where it is vulnerable or threatened. Obtain for us the grace to do the will of God in all things. Amen.

About the author

Marc & Julie Anderson

Freelancers Marc and Julie Anderson are long-time contributors to the Leaven. Married in 1996, for several years the high school sweethearts edited The Crown, the former newspaper of Christ the King Parish in Topeka which Julie has attended since its founding in 1977. In 2000, the Leaven offered the couple their first assignment. Since then, the Andersons’ work has also been featured in a variety of other Catholic and prolife media outlets. The couple has received numerous journalism awards from the Knights of Columbus, National Right to Life and the Catholic Press Association including three for their work on “Think It’s Not Happening Near You? Think Again,” a piece about human trafficking. A lifelong Catholic, Julie graduated from Most Pure Heart of Mary Grade School and Hayden Catholic High School in Topeka. Marc was received into the Catholic Church in 1993 at St. Paul Parish – Newman Center at Wichita State University. The two hold degrees from Washburn University in Topeka. Their only son, William James, was stillborn in 1997.

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