“I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, He can work through anyone.” -St Francis of Assisi
I likely cannot speak in any detail about why I grew up pro-choice without engaging in detraction, so I will leave it at this: I was pro-choice as an adolescent and into college. I was angry, hurting, and hated my life, so I argued in favor of killing other people because of my pain. Obviously, I would not have characterized it that way at the time, but my excuses and deliberate ignorance do not change the facts.
But the seeds of my conversion had been sown when I was in 5th grade in 1974-75. Mr. Salvatore Paolucci regularly spoke to my class about issues of the day. This day was different. He was clearly upset, but also righteously angry. He told us that the U.S. Supreme Court had made the unjust decision to allow people to kill babies. He left a beacon in my head that would continue to shine a light during the years I would spend in darkness.
Another seed was sown in college that reminded me of Mr. Paolucci. In college my sister was involved with Campus Crusade for Christ. The student director, Bret, was friendly toward me, and we once had a conversation about abortion. I was arguing that women shouldn’t be forced to have a child if they are in abuse, poverty, etc., and he said, “if the best advice you can give to a woman in those situations is to kill her child, you probably shouldn’t say anything to her.”
I was speechless, which was correct. I should have spent more of my life in that state. I would have learned more sooner. I wrote that in my journal. I then wrote what I remembered of Mr. Paolucci’s speech about Roe v. Wade next to it. As I kept thinking about the issue, I could not deny that all humans begin the same way. And if we are truly made in the image of God then we must be so from the very first moment. At that point I generally stopped talking about abortion with my liberal friends, but even with that greater understanding I was an escort to help women past protestors at an abortion clinic for almost a year post-college. How could I be so evil? How could I revert back to pre-clarity? The truth is that I was weak. I wanted the affection of a particular person, and I participated in that “ministry” as she called it to try to gain it. I had convinced myself that what we were doing had no real effect on the decisions the women made on that day. I will spend my life atoning for that sin.
My family’s work at The Apostolate of Divine Mercy in Service of Life, Marriage, and the Family in South Bend, Indiana, has been part of that. The Life Center, as it’s called, set up Eucharistic Adoration next to the abortuary and had a sidewalk ministry to turn women from the clutches of the abortionist. Through the amazing men and women who did that work and mainly the work of Our Lord, over 100 babies were saved and the abortionist closed down. Many hours of prayer were answered.
Now our countrymen have voted to kill children up to the moment of birth and deny them medical care when they miraculously survive the murderer’s knife. Not a small part of me feels rage at their stupidity and evil. Then I remember how lost I was. After all, my willingness to say that I was a member of the pro-life movement hadn’t started until I had my first child in 1989. It was no longer possible to believe the fiction that she was just a clump of cells. I’m a clump of cells. She was a baby from the first day. Anyone who is even mildly interested at this point in history could discover the science that proves the humanity of the unborn, the natural law that insists on the right affection between a mother and her child from conception, and the evidence of ongoing health and emotional problems that result from such an act of violence. My husband, a cradle Catholic, had always believed that the science would one day be good enough to overturn Roe. He has had to admit that once the science was definitive, they just changed their arguments.
Most of all I have been shaking and crying for those precious babies. What mortifications could I possibly take on that could assist them? What could turn their mothers away from such evil? And how can we ever be co-citizens with people who would vote in favor of this? Would I, in my most angry, resentful time, have ever voted such a way? I seriously doubt it.
When we look around at the Christians in America, what do we see? It has been a challenge to get a groundswell of support for life issues. Nearly all of my protestant friends see no reason for Roe to have been overturned. A woman’s life is a human life, you know. Too many Christians believe that there can be wiggle room in protections for the unborn. Rape? Health of the mother?
Seriously. The circumstances of conception could never negate the humanity of a person. Back when out-of-wedlock births were anathema people never argued in favor of killing the child. And rape is not a capital crime in America. We do not kill the perpetrators, why would we kill their children? Too often health of the mother includes convenience rather than mortal issues.
We cannot hear their screams as they are ripped apart or left to die. So we must scream for them.
“We’ve had enough of exhortation to be silent! Cry out with a hundred thousand tongues. I see that the world is rotten because of silence.” – St. Catherine of Siena
In speaking with my family about this issue I have come to believe that this is, at this point, a supernatural problem that can only be healed by supernatural means. I believe we need big acts of courage and small acts of daily mortification to turn this tide. Both, not one or the other, seems to be the order of the day.
This does not mean we should not engage in political action, apologetics, and evangelization, especially of our loved ones. We should do all of that, and make sure our families know what we believe and why.
But what would happen if we got rid of all abortion in this country? Would people suddenly remain chaste until marriage, welcome all children God ordained to send them during their marriage, and otherwise live in accord with the laws of nature and God?
The underlying sinful pathologies that led to the legalization of abortion must also be corrected. According to some moral theologians the use of artificial contraception is a greater sin than abortion. A child who dies in the womb lives happily with his compatriots forever, though outside the beatific vision. A child denied conception denies His creative right. We must speak this truth boldly and without compromise. To deny God His rights is to thrust ourselves and our country to perdition.
It is humiliating to admit that I have been such a sinful idiot in my life. But the humiliation is good; it reminds me that I have made progress. The antidote to sin is Christ and His Church. To be in full communion with the Church is to be transformed. One cannot receive the Body and Blood of Christ at Mass and continue in one’s former wishy-washy ways. That is why we have so many saints and martyrs. That is why so many people around the globe are still willing to suffer and die to receive the Eucharist. And that reception of the Body of Christ within us makes us hunger to sacrifice for love of God and for others as Christ sacrificed for us. We must be willing to forgo the affection of those who would lead us down the wrong path.
Let’s keep the beacons in our heads lit, and light them for others.
Requiescet in pace, Salvatore.