by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
The campaign to pass the “Value Them Both” amendment is over, but the debate over abortion in Kansas and American society is not.
I wish to reiterate my profound gratitude to the many who labored heroically in support of “Value Them Both.” I also wish to clarify why it was important for the archdiocese to be a part of the “Value Them Both” coalition, as well as to propose how we best go forward in building a culture of life.
The Catholic Church has a long history of providing health care. In fact, hospitals originated in Western civilization because of the church’s efforts to continue the healing ministry of Jesus for the sick.
Science, not theology, makes clear that every pregnancy involves two distinct human lives. Authentic health care has a responsibility to care for both patients, mother and child. In some cases, e.g., ectopic pregnancies, despite the best efforts of medical professionals, only the mother’s life can be preserved.
Elective abortion, however, is quite different. It is the intentional destruction of the unborn child. True medical care never seeks to destroy a human life. Elective abortion is not medical care, no matter what euphemisms are employed.
I was asked recently by an opponent of “Value Them Both” if I had ever sat down and had a conversation with a poor woman of color about abortion. Actually, I was fortunate to spend 10 years of immensely gratifying priestly ministry in economically poor, but spiritually rich, predominantly African-American communities in St. Louis.
In my years of priestly ministry, I have not encountered any more painful suffering than parents mourning the death of their child. Even more pastorally difficult is the consolation of grieving parents carrying the additional burden that they chose death for their children.
In the vast majority of these cases, mothers shared that they felt enormous pressure, often from the child’s father, to choose abortion, and felt they had no other option. The greatest obstacle to these postabortive mothers’ healing was their inability to forgive themselves. It was only through the incredible, merciful love of Jesus that these mothers were able to find healing and hope.
It saddens me that poor women of color are targeted by the abortion industry. Margaret Sanger, the foundress of Planned Parenthood, was both a eugenicist and a racist who wanted to reduce the number of poor Black children.
I regret, despite the heroic efforts of so many, the “Value Them Both” coalition was unable to restore to citizens of Kansans the ability to protect women and children from a predatory abortion industry. We were unable to overcome the confusion created by the secular media, which echoed the misinformation (lies) in the ads funded by those who profit from abortion and out-of-state celebrities.
The money that the archdiocese contributed to “Value Them Both” was from generous donor- designated gifts to a special Respect Life Fund. Donors gave to this fund for the expressed purposes of assisting with “Value Them Both” educational efforts as well as to support: 1) assistance to mothers experiencing an untimely pregnancy through pregnancy resource centers, Walking with Moms in Need and the Gabriel Project; 2) our postabortion healing ministries; and 3) efforts to help children in foster care.
The archdiocese has already spent nearly $400,000 on ads attempting to connect Kansas women overwhelmed by challenges related to pregnancy to ministries that are eager to assist them as well as grants to pregnancy resource centers. I encourage any woman needing assistance, regardless of religious belief, to contact our archdiocesan pro-life office or any Catholic parish. You can also find additional information at the website of Helping Kansas Women (helpingkansaswomen.org). The archdiocese is committed to accompanying and assisting any pregnant mother in need for as long as is necessary for both mother and child to thrive.
I have great admiration for Dorothy Day, the foundress of the Catholic Worker movement, that continues to provide accompaniment and amazing practical service to the poor. Before her conversion to Catholicism, Dorothy Day, pressured by the father of their child, had an abortion. It was the great regret of her life.
Dorothy Day’s cause for canonization as a saint is progressing. She is a beautiful example of what God’s grace can do when we surrender our burdens to the Lord. If you or someone you know is grieving and suffering because of abortion, please contact Project Rachel for women or Project Joseph for men. Jesus does not desire for anyone to be stuck in grief and guilt, but desires to provide help and healing.
Thanks to the generosity of donors to our Respect Life Fund, the Archdiocese has an additional $2 million to help those experiencing a difficult pregnancy, those suffering from their experience or involvement with abortion, and children in foster care. All additional donations to the Respect Life Fund will support these crucial pastoral programs. Through loving service to those in need, we can build a culture of life where abortion becomes unthinkable.