Sunday, November 16, 2008

Being Pro-life Outside the Voting Booth

There are many conservative and faithful Catholic voters for whom the issue of abortion is paramount; I would consider myself to be among them. However, I would question how far many of these sincere pro-life friends extend their commitment to life. How far do they - how far do you - take this commitment into everyday decisions? What do you do to be pro-life? If it starts and stops with taking the pro-life voter’s guide into the voter’s booth, I would argue that you are doing very little to end the scourge of abortion in this country.

Unfortunately, I have spoken to many committed Catholic and Christian people over the last few months who do just that. There are a vast number of citizens who take their pro-life position very seriously, at least in the voting booth every four years. The truth is, abortion will end when the hearts and minds of the majority of Americans understand abortion for what it is, the killing of human life. It will not end just because we elected a pro-life president.

Abortion will not end from the top down. Think about it, twenty of the last twenty-eight years our country has had a pro-life president. That is twenty years of “conservative” court appointments, and “pro-life” presidential leadership. Yet, we still have abortion.

Look at it another way, the last two decades there has been a steady decline in the number of abortions. This decline continued, even accelerated, under the pro-abortion Clinton administration, and curiously, the decline stagnated under the "pro-life" Bush administration. For a good reference of a sociological study of abortion see here.

It certainly seems that the person who holds the office of president, and their views on abortion, are virtually irrelevant to either the continuance of abortion in this country or on the actual number of abortions. Perhaps there are other cultural developments that lead to this decline in the number of deaths due to abortion.

Abortion will end from the ground up, from the grass roots, when the American citizenry understands the evil that it is. The question is then, what are we who are pro-life doing to end abortion. What are we doing outside the voting booth? What are we doing to help the women in our own families, neighborhoods, parishes, and communities choose life? What are we doing to bring truth to our culture?

There are plenty of options. You can stand at the annual Life Chain and peacefully pray for an end to abortion. You can march in the National March for Life which is held every January on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade in Washington, DC, and in communities across the country. You can do personal penance to end abortion and pray fervently every day for its end. More materially, you can donate to your local Crisis Pregnancy Center or Birthright or Gabriel Project. Also, check out Feminists for Life for some fresh ideas about advocating for women and babies in our society. You can donate your time, money, clothing and possessions to allow these agencies and groups to offer real support to women in need who are trying to provide for their children. The thing is, to end abortion, we who care are going to need to do some real penance, some real prayer and fasting, some real hands on sacrifice.
Another way to assist women in crisis pregnancies is to support government programs that provide tangible help to women in need. When I worked as a counselor in a Crisis Pregnancy Center, it was the referrals to government services that enabled many women to see the option to carry their pregnancy to term as viable. Section eight housing, WIC, food stamps and access to health care is the ongoing help that these ladies need. Government leaders who vow to close the door on these programs are closing the door for many of these women and families in need.

You can see that your work starts when you walk out of the voting booth. A woman in a crisis pregnancy does not care who you voted for last November 4; they are just wondering how they are going to get a job, an education, medical care and the housing they need in order to choose life and be a mother. How can you help?