- Fr. Dwight Longenecker
November 11, 2016
There is a real risk that disillusionment will follow the expectations invested in Donald Trump by pro-lifers: if ever he can deliver — and he has promised little — it will be slow getting there. So here are 10 ways of nurturing a true pro-life culture in the meantime.
Donald Trump campaigned as the pro-life candidate while Hillary Clinton not only supported Planned Parenthood but was also unapologetic about allowing late-term abortions. While many Catholics considered Trump unqualified and undesirable, they thought Clinton’s pro-abortion position even worse.
Yet while Trump trumpeted his pro-life position, he never said he would try to outlaw abortion.
We should be realistic. It is unlikely that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that made it illegal for states to prevent abortions, will be overturned any time soon. Abortion is a terrible crime; but the pro-life cause is about more than outlawing abortion.
Of course, those engaged in attempts to overturn abortion laws should not give up the fight. But while the national battle against abortion is going on, there are ten positive things that ordinary people can do to advance the broader pro-life cause.
- Education. We must continue to share with the world not just an anti-abortion message, but the whole Catholic pro-life message. This includes positive and pro-active education about the Theology of the Body, the dignity of every human person from womb to tomb, and the deep and beautiful message of fully integrated, chaste and positive human sexuality. This education must be in our homes, our schools, our parishes and our world. Only as we understand the full meaning and dignity of the human person will we understand why abortion is so evil.
- Personal Chastity. Abortion ends an unwanted pregnancy and unwanted pregnancies are most often the result of sexual promiscuity. Each of us has a responsibility to pursue chastity in our own lives. We should be ruthless with ourselves when rooting out every trace of unchaste behavior. We must pray for the grace to embrace chastity in marriage, chastity in families. Chastity for single people. Chastity for married people. This chastity will not be weak and sterile, but full of an integrated and mature masculinity and femininity-abundant in life and combining purity and power. Pornography must not be tolerated. Adultery and co-habitation cannot be tolerated. Not out of negativity and condemnation, but because they are the enemies of the chastity and purity that conquered the world.
- Support Women. Pro-abortion people like to say, “You pro-lifers only care about the fetus. You don’t care about poor women in crisis pregnancies.” This is, of course, totally untrue. There is a wide range of women centers that offer help, but we must support them and expand their services. The pro-life movement must be even more visibly pro-women. We must be active in compassionate and positive support, rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty in service of those women who choose life
- Supporting Children. The pro-life cause does not end at the gates of the abortion clinic. We need to love children and put our money where our mouth is. We need to support good Catholic schools and day care. We need to fund youth workers and positive activities for children. We need to provide excellent care for children who are needy, sick, abandoned and abused. If we are pro-life, then we love children from the moment of conception through to adulthood. Children are expensive, but there is nothing better in which to invest than our children.
- The Adoption Option. I once met a Baptist couple who had just adopted a severely disabled child. They said, “Father, in South Carolina there are about ten thousand children who need adoption or fostering. There are about ten thousand Baptist churches in South Carolina. What if each church adopted or fostered just one child?” If we have courageous families in our parishes who have adopted or fostered we need to support them, helping others to step up and make the choice to adopt. Adoption is often financially prohibitive. We need to pressure politicians to provide funding to take care of the legal fees to make adoption easy, safe and affordable, and extra tax breaks should be offered to families who foster and adopt.
- Contraception and Sterilization?If you say you are pro-life, why do you continue to use artificial contraception? If you say you are pro-life, why do you consider sterilization? If you are pro-life be pro-life. Avoid the contraceptive culture of death. Children are a blessing. I know so many couples who, when times were difficult and they could see no way forward, chose sterilization. They regretted it afterward. The most common complaint is “We can’t afford another child.” Really?
- Lobby Locally. We may not be able to overturn Roe v. Wade anytime soon, but there are plenty of good efforts at the state and local level that seek to restrict and control abortion. We should lobby our local politicians about this and about legislation that supports women in crisis pregnancies, supports adoption, supports families who choose to adopt. Maybe we are called ourselves to enter the political arena and stand for public office. Why not?
- Campaign and Give. March for Life, Forty Days for Life, Life Chain-all these keep the abortion issue alive and in front of people. Make sure you take a stand in the protest movement against abortion, but also in favor of life in all its abundance. The pro-life movement requires funding. Give generously to the pro-life charity of your choice and stay involved, both financially and prayerfully.
- Be a Happy Warrior. The pro-life movement must continue to be joyful, confident, young and strong. Do not be discouraged, but continue to support life with joy and confidence. Sour faces, angry protests, gruesome videos and violence are never the way. Think of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She was not angry and violent in the face of evil. She reacted with confident joy and the power of purity.
- Have Faith. Sometimes we tend to despair and think the battle will never be won. Do not despair. Fear not. Truth will always triumph. Goodness will always prevail. Life will always win. Remember history. The battle has always been grim and the forces of evil do not sleep. Take heart. Have faith. Work hard. Pray more. Be joyful and be blessed.
Here is a link to the fairly new on-line Catholic magazine of which John Allen is the editor: