This month we remember the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade (1/22/73) that gave women in America the legal right to terminate the life that grows within. “Women have the right to choose” is the battle cry. But choose what? The right to choose is never an end in itself. The right to choose is about being able to choose that which is good. “Women have a right to do what they want with their own body”. Do they really? If a pregnant woman is found to be abusing drugs (whether illicit or even prescription drugs) or alcohol, she can be arrested and held in custody until the birth of the child – and subsequently charged with endangering the life of an unborn child. Somehow, the Supreme Court came to the determination that it is perfectly legal for women to use abortifacient drugs and other means to kill unborn babies but that engaging in substance abuse while pregnant with a “wanted” child is “endangering the life within”. And why is it that when the child is wanted it is called a baby, but when it is not wanted it is merely referred to as a fetus?
But what of babies conceived in rape or incest? All persons have the inherent right to life and love. Father Frank Pavone’s website, http://www.priestsforlife.org, has many testimonials of women who had become pregnant as a result of rape and brought the child to birth. One of these young women, “Liz” shared her story on a recent episode of his show (on EWTN). Raped at a party by her boyfriend at age 17, she badly wanted an abortion to “get rid of the problem”. Her best friend was able to convince her that she was carrying a real baby and not just a mass of tissue. “Liz” stated that it was “really hard” to come to the decision to have the child. Once she did choose life, she opted to put the child up for adoption – an open adoption. “Liz” repeatedly insisted that once the child was born “all the pain was so worth it” and that he is a source of joy for her. She added that she “never sees her rapist in him”. Her closing remark was very poignant: “Every woman is strong enough to bring her unborn child to life”.
What if a young woman is pregnant and, as happens far too often, is kicked out of the family home? The Diocese of Worcester helps to support Visitation House (visit http://www.visitationhouse.org and give generously), a shelter for homeless pregnant women. Now in its sixth year, the program has helped many women bring their babies to life. Great marvels are done at Visitation House. Classes are held for those wishing to earn their GED, to learn English and to assist with making a resumé and job searches; nutritious meal planning and preparing (and sticking to) budgets are also part of the program.
Another option for assistance is Worcester’s Problem Pregnancy on Pleasant Street: http://problempregnancy.org/.
Can a person be both Catholic and “pro-choice”? No, the two are incompatible – an oxymoron. God declared everything He created to be “very good”; thus every time a woman gives birth she brings another image and likeness of God into the world (Gen 1:26).
For Catholics, being “Pro-Life” does not stop with the issue of abortion – it encompasses life in all its forms: from conception to the end of natural life. We are not simply “anti-abortion”. It’s why Catholic bishops speak out for just wages and work conditions and against euthanasia, assisted suicide and the death penalty; it’s why they insist on health insurance for all, the right to a clean environment and why they condemn war. Bishop (Emeritus) Daniel P. Reilly says it this way, “we are R.C. (Roman Catholic) and not P.C.” (Politically Correct). Jesus clearly showed a preferential love of the poor and the marginalized: “He (the Holy Spirit) has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed (Lk 4:18).