Our current culture is moving further and further from a pro-life outlook where every life is equal in dignity to one that considers that not all lives are created equal. For those of us who recognise the inherent dignity in every life, this is a sobering and distressing reality.
The once Catholic Ireland voted emphatically to reform its abortion laws and euthanasia laws of varying degrees have been legalised in several countries including, more recently Canada in 2016 and India in 2018.
But there is no reason to give up hope. There are still ways in which we can be actively pro-life despite the legal restrictions in place, or currently being reformed.
Perhaps you live in an area where praying outside an abortion clinic is now prohibited by exclusion or safe access zones but that does not mean that you cannot pray for the pro-life cause. Your prayer offering might be as simple as a decade of the Rosary once a week. Committing to prayer and fasting during campaigns like the 40 Days for Life or invoking the patronage of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Unborn are other prayerful initiatives you can undertake without leaving home.
Of course, you can always take this prayer outside of your house. The school my children attend have a weekly Rosary offered during lunchtime with the particular intention of ending abortion. Attend prayer vigils for life in your local area when they arise or perhaps even start one in your local parish. If you’re a member of a youth group why not invite speakers along to your meeting and combine prayer with their insights?
Refugee issues are consistently in the spotlight, holding a prayer vigil for this intention on a regular basis or, as my childhood parish did, prayer vigils for peace once a month are another option.
There are a number of pro-life activists groups all over the world. Joining up with organisations like Students for Life America or the National Right to Life Committee is one way to work in a practical and organised way towards changing opinions and laws surrounding pro-life issues.
The work of activism in the aged care sector and refugee arenas are also vitally important. Aligning yourself with organisations already involved in activism bolster their cause.
There are a myriad of organisations globally who support women experiencing unplanned pregnancies, or refugee resettlement. Generally speaking these organisations rely on volunteers, funding and donations in order to provide vital support services. Volunteering for one of these organisations need not be onerous – volunteer hours and tasks are often flexible and based upon particular strengths you possess. For instance, a local pregnancy support service might be in need of a social media manager, the perfect opportunity for anyone interested, or already involved in, graphic design or marketing.
Donating pre-loved goods, or making financial contributions are another way to help support these branches of pro-life outreach. If you can’t do either of these then perhaps you could offer to help wash or mend the pre-loved donations.
Another way to volunteer is to simply offer the hand of friendship to refugee families as they try to find their way in a new culture and country. A committee of volunteers formed within the parish of my childhood actively settles, rehomes and supports refugee families. They also help them navigate the tricky visa applications and campaign hard to reunite family members.
You could become involved with specific outreach organisations such as And Then There Were None which targets people working in the abortion industry and helps them navigate their way out.
I was disappointed by my own state representative recently when he voted in favour of “safe access zones” around abortion providers. Despite receiving correspondence from members of his electorate he was given leave by the leader of his party to give a ‘conscience’ vote. Needless to say, he was in the majority and the legislation is now law.
Sometimes, as evidenced above, petitioning or lobbying our elected representatives is not quite enough. I belong to a generation of the typically politically apathetic and this lack of involvement in the political machinations of our nation is not doing us any favours. So then, how do we turn this around?
One, by voting for people based on issues of morality. But, as some argue, we are in the minority in this way of voting, isn’t this redundant? It may feel that way, but do it anyway.
If you’re still keen to make changes in the political system why not consider joining a political party? Being part of the party gives you the right to vote for pre-selection (though in some cases you need to be a member of a political party for a certain period of time before you are granted such voting rights). If you can influence pre-selection of a more suitable candidate you can help change to face of your governing body and the party, from within. If you’re a member of the Republican Party one option would be to link up with the Republican National Coalition for Life.
And of course, you could always run for politics yourself. Ok, that doesn’t really appeal to me either, but we do need strong moral voices in politics, at all levels, and if we are underrepresented in politics because none of us are willing to enter into it, then we’re facing a less than appealing outcome.
Choosing an obstetrician is not an easy feat, but if you also take into consideration the mentality of your medical specialist you might find it easier to make that decision. I know personally that finding, after already delivering 3 babies, an obstetrician who didn’t turn up her nose at our openness to life and our decision not to use contraception, was a breath of fresh air. If anyone locally asks for an obstetric recommendation I have no reservations at all in sending them her way.
But obstetrics is not the only area of the medical profession where life issues are played out. Find and support good doctors, whether specialists or general practitioners, pharmacists as well as hospitals and nursing homes.
Part of the misunderstandings many have with regards to the pro-life movement is based on limited knowledge of the aims, or complete ignorance. Inviting speakers to your local area is one way to encourage more dialogue on the subject.
Screening movies such as Bella or October Baby is another way to generate discussion and help others come to understand what being pro-life actually is. A youth group meeting or retreat weekend can easily accommodate movies or visiting speakers.
Supporting current awareness initiatives is also crucial. Crossroads is one very unique outreach that helps raise awareness of pro-life issues. When they’re coming through your area make sure you engage with them!
Oftentimes people facing unplanned pregnancy will turn to their circle of friends and acquaintances for support. If you are already seen to be sympathetic to life issues it might just be you who friends approach when they find themselves in an unexpected situation.
Sometimes all they need to know is that they have support there if and when they need it. But sometimes they will need more practical support whether it’s accompanying them to appointments, helping them source second hand items to ease financial pressures, or helping them with babysitting post baby so they can finish their studies. Whatever need they have, if they ask for your help, especially if it’s inconvenient, show them by deed that you are there for them. Don’t offer what you don’t intend to provide.
Visiting nursing homes, a long standing tradition in Catholic circles is of course, a tremendous offset to the loneliness many experience there, but also gives witness to the dignity of the life of the aged and infirm. The same can be said for disability support providers.
Welcome new faces to your area, whether they be refugees or newborn babies. Show through your actions, not just your sharing of pro-life Facebook posts, that you respect the dignity of life in all its stages.
And in doing so, slowly by slowly, we might just be able to turn back the tide of the culture of death that surrounds us.
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