The Dignity of Life, Part IV: Aboriri–Latin for ‘To Perish’

At this point, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Catholic teaching strictly prohibits abortion in any and all situations. Despite what you may hear from slanted news stories or dissenting groups like Catholics for Choice, the Church’s stance is unwavering.

Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law–The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2271

In our modern society, the Church often faces a mountain of criticism for Her stance against abortion. But believe me, our advocacy to protect the unborn doesn’t stem from malicious or prejudice intent (or the desire to control a woman’s body) but rather from a devout reverence to the miracle of life—something that we view as an expression of God’s perfect love and God’s perfect will.

So — naturally, of course — we believe that human life begins at conception and that we should do all we can do to protect and nurture that life. We further believe that any human interference to end that life is a very serious, very grave, mortal sin.

I understand this sounds harsh, and quite frankly, it is. It’s a deeply serious matter, and I feel the need to stress the gravity of the sin. But despite its grave nature, and despite any canonical penalty attached to it— abortion, like every other sin, can be forgiven. It’s important to understand that God loves us no matter what. Sometimes in the fervor of the abortion battle, I think we can forget to reflect on that message. It is not our place to condemn, but instead to mend, to open our hearts, and to love as Christ did.

So what should we, as Catholics, contribute in the fight to end abortion in our society– and I’m talking about something that doesn’t involve standing outside abortion clinics to harass and belittle women?

Like any other spiritual matter, prayer and evangelization are key. Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we’ll get nowhere. The light of Christ is our greatest ally, so let’s use it. We have to bear witness to the fact that life in the womb is a divine, miraculous event.

But we also have to be willing to get our hands dirty. We have to get involved socially. When I read over reasons that a woman gives for seeking an abortion, far and wide it is financial concerns, the inability to afford a baby, which tops the list. In fact, studies show that the majority of women who are having abortions are women who live at, near, or below the poverty level.  They feel they don’t have any options. This always reminds of an old saying regarding suicide: that it is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Can the same be said about abortion?

We need to build a community that not only realizes the sanctity of life in the womb, but is also willing to provide the support and guidance that so many women desperately need. One effective and spiritually rewarding way to contribute to the cause is to volunteer with charities and crisis pregnancy centers that offer health care, counseling, and economic support to single or poverty-stricken mothers.

We must also our utilize voice and our vote. Today, most of the abortion debate in the courtroom deals with issues of legality and access. While I don’t necessarily oppose pro-life legislation, I don’t believe it cuts to the root of the problem. We should be using our voice and our place in a democracy to persuade legislators to focus on the underlying causes of abortion (like poverty) and what can be done to fix them– increasing WIC funding for example. Personally, I like the idea of my tax dollars going to diapers and formula for a poor mother who chose life.

Ultimately, however, it all comes back to our witness. We have to be vehicles for the unfailing and unconditional love of the Father, because only through the grace of God can hearts and minds truly change. But they will.

Consider this quote from Norma McCorvey, whom you may or may not know, is the infamous “Jane Roe” from the landmark Roe v Wade Supreme Court case — and who today is a tireless campaigner for the pro-life movement:

I looked at a fetal development chart … and had a lot of emotions stirring up inside of me. That’s when I decided that it {abortion} was wrong in any stage of pregnancy.

As Catholics, we feel called by God to protect the unborn, but our responsibility cannot end there. Whenever someone chooses life, especially in the instance of a single mother, we have a duty to help care for and nourish that life through charity, welfare, community, love, and prayer. We can’t let something as spiritually meaningless as money be the motivating factor for a woman to end her baby’s life. If we are to fight so fervently to protect that life while it is in the womb, we must fight just as hard to protect it outside the womb as well. We cannot call ourselves pro-life when we are really only pro-birth.

All life is sacred from the moment we are conceived until the moment we meet our Creator. From conception to natural death.

Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.-The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2270

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