If you haven't heard about Kermit Gosnell, I'd like to fill you in. After reading the entire grand jury report on his trial, it is undoubtedly something that needs to be discussed. When I first started following his story, I spent a lot of time in tears of rage and thinking this case is so terrible it had to be made up. I want to preface this post by warning that this story is graphic in nature, but I believe it's an ugly truth that we should not shy away from.
Kermit Gosnell is currently on trial for 8 counts of murder – one count for a poor immigrant woman and seven counts for newborn babies.
But what do you expect?
Killing babies was his job.
He ran an abortion clinic. He also sold controlled, prescription drugs out of his office. While women's complaints to the Department of Health were ignored, the rumors that Gosnell was selling drugs illegally were not. As a result, the FBI ordered a raid on his clinic, which is possibly the only reason his murders were brought to light.
When the FBI raided the clinic, they found terrible conditions – bloodstained chairs, the foul stench of urine, a padlocked emergency exit, and unsterilized medical equipment. There were remains of aborted children kept in biohazard bags in the refrigerator, right next to his staff's lunches. It was then that law enforcement realized he was performing illegal late-term abortions and that clinic regulations meant to keep women safe remained unenforced.
It's a Baby
He's most infamous for his gruesome abortion technique, which he called 'snipping.' He would give the women multiple doses of a drug which would force them to go into labor, and then, once the child was born, he would use scissors to cut into the spinal cord of the newborn baby to kill it.
These babies – if given proper medical attention – would have most likely survived and grown up to be healthy people.
Many people – even pro-choice people – are shocked and horrified at these killings. They believe that once outside the womb, that baby has a right to life. If that's the case, though, what change does a child undergo between being in-utero to outside of the woman?
In the case of these abortions, the child is no more developed or grown from the 'fetus' it was only moments before. If you know the methods of later-term abortions … they are quite graphic and you can look them up on your own … then Kermit Gosnell is really not very different from many other abortionists.
One of his staff members, Sherry West, used the term “baby” in reference to the abortions during her testimony, 'because that's what it is.' And she is absolutely right. When you get down to it, no matter how people try to dress it up, abortion is killing a baby.
The way Dr. Gosnell did it was terrible, but again – a change in location doesn't change the act itself. However, because these babies were delivered, legally, he can be charged with the crime he's been guilty of for years: murder.
How Loud is Your Voice?
A quote comes to mind: 'When evil is only imagined, you can live with it.' I think that applies in this case: we all know abortion is a grim reality in this world, but most of the time we take a sort of passive pro-life stance.
When a story like this breaks, it's easy to feel passionate and motivated to change things, but Twitter activism is lazy activism at best. Don't get me wrong, it's great to retweet or share the details in the digital world, especially in this case when the media has been so silent.
The seats reserved for the media at Gosnell’s trial were left empty.
The problem is when we shy away from the topic of abortion once the news blows over. We feel as though we have done enough.
I'm guilty of this myself. I'll think, 'I'm pro-life. I go to the March for Life, I sometimes remember to pray for the end of abortion, and I vote for pro-life politicians. That's all I can do, really.'
We have to remember to dialogue – something I myself have been scared of, because I have so many pro-choice friends … we have to remember to pray for hearts to change, and we have to remember that this is a real issue, with 4,000 more children dying every day.
It's not something we can put off until later, or wait every four years to try to change via voting. Remember, no matter what politicians may do in terms of abortion – the most important thing is to reach out to the women, support them, and change their hearts. Most times, they feel like they don't have any other options.
If you have the opportunity, I suggest getting involved with pro-life programs, like 40 Days for Life, or a crisis pregnancy center that offers pro-life alternatives to abortion. It is the combination of prayer and loving action that will help save the lives of these innocent children.
Pope Francis encourages us by saying, ' Defend the unborn against abortion even if they persecute you, calumniate you, set traps for you, take you to court or kill you.'
It is important to remember the root of the pro-life movement is love – love for the mother and love for the child.
This recent trial sheds light on the truth of abortion, and it is time to stop being passive in our convictions. We have to be active, especially in prayer, to end abortion. We need to be unafraid to speak for those who can't speak for themselves.
While the case of Kermit Gosnell is something that will unify pro-lifers and rekindle their desire for justice for the unborn, let's remember that being pro-life is not just a trending hashtag on Twitter.
Sitting in the college dorm my sophomore year, I heard the words I never thought I would hear: 'I'm Pregnant.' Tears started falling down Jessica's cheeks as she told me the news.
'What?' I replied. 'I'm pregnant,' she repeated while cupping her face in disbelief. I paused for a few moments to digest what she was telling me. I pulled Jessica to me, and said the only thing I could think of: 'It's going to be okay.'
But, honesty . . . I didn't know if it was going to be okay.
I was scared. Scared for her. Scared for the baby . . .
A Flood of Emotions
What were we going to do? Her parents were going to FLIP-OUT! Jason, her boyfriend, did he know? How were they going to support a baby? (Jessica worked for minimum wage at the Rec Plex, the campus gym!?) And what about her Sophomore year? Her life? Her plans for the future?
I never thought this moment would ever happen to someone in my life. This seemed to be something you see only in some 'After-School Special' or some reality tv show – not to my friend. Not to me! But here it was.
It seemed like in one moment, our sophomore year, (our whole life) was changed forever. Two minutes ago we were thinking about cute boys, classes, and our plans for spring break. Now I had to think about baby diapers, stretch marks, and helping Jessica face the possible ridicule and judgment of our peers.
How was I supposed to love and support her? The selfish part of me didn't want to face this. But the only thing I knew was that my Catholic faith asked me to take courage and stand beside my friend, to believe that God would work it out, and to hope in His promises . . . But sometimes things don't end as you think it should.
A Choice. A Life. A Moment.
The moment I heard that Jessica was on her way to an abortion clinic, my stomach sank. 'Hail Mary, full of Grace the Lord is with you . . .' My roommate and I sat on our bunk beds storming heaven in prayer – 'Please God don't let her go through with this. Please help her.” But it was too late. Jessica had terminated the pregnancy.
Conflicted by the whole event, Jessica asked us not to talk about it. Knowing our strong Christian beliefs, she didn't want us to judge her. It seemed easier for her to just not think about it, to act like it didn't happen. Being a good friend, I wanted to respect her wishes. But if I could go back to me at nineteen years old, this is what I wish I would have done for my friend:
How to Support a Friend Considering Abortion
Encourage them to seek help. Jessica was too ashamed and afraid to tell her parents. But even with the support of college friends, it wasn’t enough. We are not called to carry our crosses alone. Even Christ had Simon to carry the cross for Him when He couldn't. Encourage your friend to reach out to a parent, youth minister, or trusted adult. There are so many people who want to love and help them.
Shame and fear: Satan's powerful tools. Satan is known in scriptures as the liar and the accuser. He deceives us into believing that we have messed up so bad that their is no hope. For Jessica, terminating the pregnancy seemed like the only option. Remind your friend that 'Love covers a multitude of sins.' (1 Peter 4) In Christ, there is no fear . . . Love casts out all fear. Our Lord is waiting and wants to be with them through this. He loves them, and He wants nothing but their well-being.
Compassion and Truth. Pope Benedict XVI once said: 'Truth without love is blind. But love without truth is empty.' We must cling to both with our friends. Jessica needed a group of cheerleaders in her corner to love and support her. But she needed truth too. I knew in my gut that Jessica was thinking about an abortion, but I never had the courage to talk to her about it. I simply thought it was 'her life.' But as Catholics, we are called to love our friends enough to lead them to truth, to encourage them to choose life. Do not be afraid to tell your friend there are more options. Pray for courage in these times to speak truth with love.
Turn to prayer. The best way we can support our friends is to stand in the gap and pray. There is great power in prayer. Recently, I received a text from a youth minister who shared that one of her youth was thinking of an abortion. There were Catholic friends all around the U.S. praying for this girl without her knowing it . . . She ended up keeping the baby. Pray is powerful.
Hope. Cling to hope and remember your faith. No matter how bad things seem or how scared we are, we have a God who entered into sin, pain, fear, and death – and overcame them. Our Lord will always triumph. There is always hope. There is always new life even in the suffering. We as Catholics, have to be a witness to hope for our friends. I have two friends who had a child out of marriage and kept the baby. Neither say it was easy, but both see how God brought good out of that time.
More Than an Issue
For many, the Pro-life and Pro-choice debate is limited to a political issue or social concern. But for those of us who know a person who has suffered an abortion, it is a personal trauma, a deep loss that will effect these women's lives forever.
My roommate and I named Jessica's baby for her, Kenneth Michael. We spent the whole year praying for Kenneth. Because regardless of what Jessica knows, she has a saint in heaven praying for her.
Let’s join Kenneth Michael to pray for the wisdom and courage to stand by our friends in their need, walking with them in compassion (even through fear and suffering), to choose life.
Planned Parenthood has been in the news a lot lately. They're supporting and upholding the rights and dignity of women! . . . So they say.
That sounds wonderful and trustworthy doesn't it? They'll even give you free birth control for your acne – harmless right?
It's recently become public knowledge that Planned Parenthood provides abortions based on the gender of the baby; a practice called sex-selective abortion. Most of these abortions are done to baby girls.
So Planned Parenthood says they're all about 'women's rights' and 'women's health' but are willing to abort baby girls just because they're female – because they're women.
Tell me, please, how that makes sense. I can't see how it does and it makes me very, very mad.
Does this sound like an organization you can trust?
It begs the question, if you herald women's rights, at what age do those rights begin? Is it even dependant on her age? Is it once she's born? What changes when she's born? That she's breathing on her own? Then if I stop breathing do I cease to have rights? When I die, doesn't my body still deserve to be treated with dignity? If rights are tied to the breaths you take then why honor the dead?
It only makes sense to say that a person's rights begin when they become a person – at conception.
That means Planned Parenthood is free to continue doing this, and President Obama said he won't condemn it.
We've done this before in history and it didn't go well. The tragedies of slavery and the Holocaust happened because one race decided they were better than another. It's something we look back upon with deep regret and shame as a human race. How could we have done those things to one another?
Yet here we are, deciding one gender is better than another and putting the deemed 'lesser' gender to death.
That makes my blood boil. Girls are being aborted just because they're girls! As mad as it makes me, it doesn't surprise me. Once I told a neighbor that my sister was expecting twins; the neighbor replied, 'Maybe she'll get her boy and girl and then she can be done all in one shot.'
Um . . . what? Heaven forbid if you can't buy a 'family 4-pack' pass to six flags because you have too many children. And it'd be tragic if you don't get to experience the blue and the pink baby shopping. In a world where you get your tubes tied after you obtain your 'perfect' family – anything goes.
Now I'm all for women's rights! I'll be the first to tell you that I am a capable, intelligent woman that deserves equality. However . . . Planned Parenthood's appeal for 'women's rights' has been reshaped into 'abortion rights.' This tragedy has left millions of babies dead – especially girls.
How would you feel if I told you just because you were a woman you were unwanted? We know it’s wrong to discriminate in schools or in the job market because of gender, sex, race, or religion. But if you first want to be born – you have better chances if you're a male.
Doesn't anyone realize that NO ONE WOULD BE HERE if it weren't for the woman that gave birth to you? I'm pretty sure that makes women . . . like . . . really important.
The Horror of China
Whatever the phrase 'war on women' originally meant, it takes on new meaning since the public has been made aware of what's going on not just in China, but in our own backyard.
Speaking of China, the U.S. recently sheltered Activist Chen GuangCheng and then welcomed him into our country. He stood up in China against the one-child policy and was then held in house arrest and tortured for months. Our country applauded him and criticized the China’s one-child policy which leads to sex-selective abortions. But our country is allowing a similar practice to happen on our own soil.
What is wrong with this picture?
It's Not My Business
I would take a bullet for any of the amazing women in my life: for my Grandma Mary Jane, my mom, my four sisters, my nieces, best friends, aunts . . . and I would feel such a deep pain if I lost any of them. I hope you feel the same way about some of the women in your life.
We have to do something for the girls who are losing their lives because they're not the 'right' gender. These are the women that could be in our lives but are missing.
It's not an easy problem to fix; but we can't be silent. At minimum, just be aware. You have to know what Planned Parenthood is really about. Every abortion is another paycheck for them. They want to make money no matter who the victim, or what the reason.
President Obama says it's not his business; let's make it ours.
Where's This Going?
You know what, I agree with a newscaster I heard yesterday who said, it's not even about whether you're pro-life or pro-choice, this is about basic human decency.
This is a parent saying, 'I don't want you. You're not good enough because you're a girl and not a boy.'
If the abortion industry has no hesitation killing babies, then of course they have no hesitation about selecting which babies to kill and which babies deserve to live.
Planned Parenthood is targeting you, and especially you teen girls with the message that they're the ones you can trust. They say they're the ones you should go to for answers; they say they’re fighting for you. They're fighting for your trust and support.
Think about it. Can you trust a company that says they care about a woman's health and rights, but will kill her without blinking? You're lucky enough to be taking another breath right now, so you need to decide who you can trust.
I trust people whose actions match their words; what about you?
If you've had an abortion you know how much it hurts. It’s not over and done with when you walk out of the building.
I want you to know something. And I say this from the bottom of my heart. You are loved. You can be forgiven. And healing is possible.
I want to share a video that has a powerful message of hope for those who’ve suffered through an abortion.
Here is a link to a video of a woman named Lisa who dealt with abuse, divorce, and had three abortions. She has an incredible witness about the healing she received. The beauty of being Catholic is that besides counseling, we have the Sacrament of Confession where Christ Himself forgives us. Lisa experiences peace when she stopped hiding her abortions in the dark. Her shame was wiped away.
The most moving part of this video to me is when she says she can’t wait to get to heaven and have Jesus tell her, “you have three beautiful children here to meet you.”
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who said that a woman has a right to have an abortion because it's her body? This is one of the most common ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâèÏdefenses' of the pro-choice position; so more than likely, you've heard it.
It’s hard to respond to. Here are some ways you can talk about this argument.
A woman's body is one thing; a child's body is another.
This may seem obvious, but to some people it's not. Yes, a woman can do what she wants with her own body. If she really wants a mullet, or to rock that pink hair, by all means – she has a 'right' to that.
On the contrary though, a woman does not have the right to choose what is going to be done to another person. If you were forced into having pink hair, or forced to jump off a bridge – the person who made those decisions for you would have violated your rights. Everyone can agree with that.
When a woman makes a decision to kill her child by having an abortion, that decision doesn't affect only her body, but another person's. That choice infringes the rights of the child for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
No person's rights are more important than another person’s rights. Abortion says the exact opposite.
If a woman has a 'right' to do what she wants with her body, then that responsibility starts before she gets pregnant.
If someone doesn't want bad breath, they brush their teeth (or chew copious amounts of gum). If soccer players don't want broken shins, they wear shin guards. With our bodies, we can see something called cause and effect very clearly.
If someone doesn't care about having bad breath, then they're not going to brush their teeth. There is a natural order so that when you do something to your body (or don't do it) there is a direct result. That same person who doesn't brush their teeth cannot get angry for having bad breath – they made that decision.
A woman who is sexually active and gets pregnant can't really be surprised by the result of life in her womb. The reality is that sex, in it's proper context, is meant for a love that is free, total, faithful, and fruitful – resulting in a baby.
More than 93% of today's abortions are done for social reasons; the woman doesn't want a child to interfere with her plans, or money issues. Those women who knew they didn't want to have a child had the choice to have sex, or not to.
A woman does have a choice about what she can do with her body; it's the same choice you have when you wake up and decide whether or not you want to wear deodorant or not. If you don't, you'll have to deal with the consequences.
The best response is always love.
When talking with someone who uses any argument to defend the right to have an abortion, the best way to approach the conversation is always with care and love.
When a woman says 'this is my body' in talking about her decision, she’s usually speaking more out of fear rather than malice. She doesn't want to deliberately kill her child because she hates children.
Jesus also said “This is my body” (Luke 22:19) at the Last Supper the night before He died. He said this when He was giving Himself to us in the Eucharist. Those words were based on love and self-gift. A mother has the same opportunity to make a gift of her body, her very self, to her child.
Remind her that we have a God who loves us unconditionally, and there is nothing that can change that.
When you hear the word “abortion” you think of a woman. And rightly so. A woman is the one who carries the child, undergoes the procedure, and loses her motherhood. But men are not numb to what is happening. Just as many men are stripped of their fatherhood by this horror. Those who haven’t experienced an abortion, are still passionate about protecting women and children and are saddened by abortion.
I asked a handful of men some questions about abortion and I was deeply moved by their answers. It convinced me that it’s not just women who are hurt by abortion. Men have strong feelings about it and want to stand up for life. They are affected too.
To me abortion is one of the saddest things that happens in our world. It breaks my heart that we live in a society and in a world where we feel like we can take life away. I think I've gained a new appreciation for what it means to have life beginning at conception now that I have a child on the way. – Eric Porteous
I was a public school student and I can remember in 5th grade in 'sex ed' I was taught that abortion was one of three equally appropriate actions to take when a child was conceived. Since that's what I was taught, I thought it was right. Praise God for the gift of my faith and the grace to learn what is true. Especially as an adopted child, I value the gift of life. It would have been easy for my birth mother to 'terminate her pregnancy' but she chose to give me life. – Scott Williams
Are men affected by this issue? How?
Absolutely, and I speak from personal experience. 11 years ago my girlfriend at the time told me she was pregnant, but because she already had one fatherless child and I was a drunk and an addict she told me she was going to abort the baby. I was not practicing my faith back then but I knew it was wrong. I fought for her to keep the baby but in the end I gave up.
Eventually we split up, I went to rehab and straightened out my life and found myself working in youth ministry, all by God's grace. I thought my life was pretty good. But there was something missing. Although I had a lot of joy in my life I felt like there was an emptiness in me that I couldn't fill.
A few years ago I was driving home, listening to our local Catholic radio station and there was a man talking about abortion. I can't remember his name or much of what he said, but the one thing I can remember was that he spoke about how men suffer from abortion too. At that moment I realized what the emptiness in my own life had been, it was the loss of my child, the child I gave up on years before.
I had to stop the car and pull into a parking lot. I sat there and thought about all the times certain T.V. commercials brought me to tears unexplainably, how I was never able to talk about that incident and I could go on and on about all the other bad choices I had made. I tried to forget the part I played in the abortion of my child and it was tearing me up inside.
A few months later I heard about a Rachel’s Way retreat for women and men suffering from the loss of their children. It was there that I learned more about how and why women and men suffer from abortion and how to deal with it. I was also given a special grace from God. As we watched a video of men and women sharing their stories, I heard a small voice. It was the voice of little boy. I heard it clear as a bell, he said 'Joshua, Joshua, my name is Joshua.' I knew it was my son and that God had allowed me to hear him so that I could grieve his death and begin the process of healing.
Today I still regret my lost fatherhood, but I'm able to share that with others. I still cry when I think about Joshua, but I pray for him and ask that he prays for me. The hurt is still there, but the emptiness is gone. – Bert Hernandez
When one hurts, we all hurt. If a woman is hurt, that is our mother, sister, daughter, or friend that is hurt. God has a plan for us all. We can’t pretend that if one life is gone, the world will be the same. – Michael Grothem
As a man, I want to be able to support the woman I love as much as I can. That means that when a woman becomes pregnant, the father needs to be there just as God is there for his bride, the Church. Just as Joseph was there for Mary. Men are affected by this issue because having children means accepting responsibility. Agreeing for a woman to have an abortion is saying no to the responsibility that has been given to the man. … Andrew Jones
Absolutely. We've lost a whole generation of children. That affects us whether we're men or women. It breaks my heart personally because life is something that should be treasured and sacred. We've lost millions of people that could be doing amazing things in this world and we'll never know. Suppose one of those babies could've come up with a cure for cancer, suppose they could've been a great priest, or the next pope, we'll never know. And that has an impact on all of us.ÌâåÊ- Eric Porteous
Men are certainly affected by abortion. Some men don't outwardly show their emotions, making it hard to spot or it is often quickly dismissed because it's 'not their body' and shouldn't concern them. While walking across the country, promoting the pro-life movement a man came up after we did a speech at mass with tears rolling down his face telling us a woman he conceived a child with had an abortion without him knowing. He pleaded with us never to let someone go through the same misery he has. He still suffers the loss of his child to this day. – Scott Williams
What would you say to a woman who’s about to have an abortion?
You are beautiful and loved. You matter. God has chosen you to be a mother, to bring a life into this world. You can do this. God has trusted you with this child. He gave you this child for a reason. You can change the world. – Michael Grothem
Clearly, this is a decision that weighs heavily on any person. When people are faced with such dire decisions, meeting these with anger and legalism doesn't change hearts or minds. Explaining that there are options like adoption, and programs, both Church supported and secular to support mothers who need help can create an environment of love where fear is trying to take hold. Replace fear and doubt with love and support. – Adam Eichelberger
I'd talk to her about the life inside her and the beauty of parenthood, but more than anything else I would try to convince her that she's not alone. I believe a large percentage of women who get abortions have been convinced by the industry that they can't do it; that they can't give their child a good life. I think many just need to be told that they can do it. That there are people who can and will help them be great parents. … Rey Guevara
Why do you care what a woman does with her body?
The claim of pro-choice goes beyond a woman's right to do what she wants with her body. When the leading atrocity being executed in our country and across the world is played out from our very own hands it's not a claim of rights or choice for the mother. It's a claim of liberty for the beating heart in the depths of her womb that is being silenced beyond it's already limited stature. Our voices must rise in resounding shouts of love in defense of the very breath we take for granted each second. – Cristopher Matthews
Blessed JPII said that every man has the duty to uphold the dignity of every woman. Unfortunately too many men think more about what a woman can give him than what he should be providing for them. Men are built to protect, it part of our nature. – Bert Hernandez
I care because she is a daughter of God and deserves the truth when all she's been hearing are lies. I care because she is my sister in Christ and I care a great deal about my sisters and want only the best for them, and the best is God's will. – Bryan Kujawa
Because she is a child of God. As a servant of God, I have the right to stand up for God's creation. This stands for both the child in the womb and the woman who carries that child. – Andrew Jones
What can men do to stand up and fight against abortion?
Men can do a lot to fight against abortion and stand up for women and unborn children. They can start by living lives of holiness and virtue. They can start by truly seeking to honor women in all of their interactions with them. They can show women that they genuinely care about them. They can realize that their actions have consequences and think about these consequences before doing anything. They can seek the truth and educate themselves so they may be better informed when asked about tough topics. They can live holy and chaste lives. … Bryan Kujawa
First, understand what being a man really is. Realize that the gift of creating life is set aside for the bond of marriage between a wife and husband. When we choose to pursue selfish pleasure rather than the true embodiment of love, we become the problem. So much of the problem that we have made when it comes to women feeling cornered into ending life, if we respected life as men and honored women with true, selfless love, there would be no need for abortion.
Second, stand for life. Be unafraid to lovingly stand for life. Don't engage those who are facing such a hard choice with anger or frustration. Remind them of the power of love by being an example of love. Show love not only in how you speak, but how you act. Invest time, be kind, realize how vulnerable and conflicted women who face abortion are. … Adam Eichelberger
Why do you think men sometimes pressure women to have an abortion?
Fear and misunderstanding. There is a generation of men who grew up without someone to tach them what a it means to be a man, so men have misunderstandings about the role of the man. Society has portrayed men as either womanizing playboys or incompetent dolts. So naturally, thats what most men have become. When a man find out he is going to be a father they fear the responsibility that comes with a child. They are afraid of their inability to provide for the child or afraid of change of lifestyle that happens when you have a child. … Bert Hernandez
Because it’s so easy. It’s not our body. It’s not our choice. It’s not our life on the line. And yet this is the argument the pro-choice people use as well. It’s not our body, it’s not our choice. We, as men, have to act like the men God wanted us to be. Protectors. Redeemers. Counselors. And yet so many of us panic. We freeze, like Adam froze in the Garden. We blame it on Eve. When ultimately it is our fear that outweighs our responsibility to protect the new life that God has breathed into the wombs of our women. … Steve Gonzales
Men don't pressure women to have an abortion. If a male pressures a woman to have an abortion, he doesn't deserve the right to be called a man. A man's role is to love, protect, provide, and grow chest hair. When males pressure women to have an abortion, it is because unfortunately, they lack what it takes to be a man, to be a father. … Scott Williams
When faced with fear people tend to act courageously or cowardly. That's not to say there isn't a time for the fight or flight instinct, but it would seem in the case of a man faced with an unplanned pregnancy he's reaction is either one of courageous nobility or cowardly fear. Thus, the latter results in seeking to eliminate the inconvenience in order to remove the internal angst. – Cristopher Matthews
I'm not sure if it was the steady rainfall rushing our pace or finally perfecting back-pack chains, but this year our group approached the steps of the Supreme Court earlier and closer than we had in years past. For the first time we saw the many men and women who courageously line 2nd Street, the final steps to the Supreme Court Building, holding signs that say, 'I regret my abortion' and 'Men regret lost fatherhood'.
I watched as teens began to weep at the sight of these men and women. Some murmured, 'That is so sad.' And many marchers stopped to shake their hands and hug them, thanking them for their presence.
Hours earlier, Msgr. Charles Pope addressed the 20,000 Catholic youth gathered at the Verizon Center for Mass, explaining that choosing to 'respect the dignity and sacredness' of human life is the fundamental decision, but 'like any fundamental choice, it has to be supported by many smaller and daily choices. We can't just shout ‘Pro-life’ we have to live it daily.'
When we attend the March for Life, we stand in the streets of our Nation's capital to protest a law that is unjust. To take a day to gather and give a very public witness – to 'shout' that we are pro-life, and that the law of our land is unjust. But as Catholics – as humans – we know that at the heart of the pro-life movement it is not a question of laws but of souls. The souls of babies, the souls of mothers and fathers, and the souls of those with whom we disagree.
We want the laws changed. But even more, we want souls healed.
Every year, teens that attend the March for Life ask me if I think that the laws will change. They stare at the sea of people and ask, 'If this happens every year, how is there still abortion?'
And each year, I respond that I don't know about the laws. But the testimony of 2nd street – of both men and women declaring their regret, and of youth and adults offering their support – shows that while laws may be slow to change, God works faster than Congress to change souls.
Msgr. Pope challenged those attending the March for Life, 'Don't just shout today, be pro-life in your decisions tomorrow and six months from now. Chastity, charity to the poor and those in crisis, courage and care for the disabled, constancy in our witness and practice.'
The March for Life lets us shout that we are pro-life, to give an important public witness. Our Catholic faith, however, gives us the grace to be pro-life daily – in our families, relationships, and communities. It is through each one of us receiving grace through the Sacraments, practicing social outreach, and clearly articulating the teachings of the Church that souls are changed.
And when souls are changed, we can be hopeful that the laws of our nation will eventually change as well.
I've been thinking about life a lot lately. Mostly my own, really. This past weekend I celebrated my birthday.
It was an awesome day. How could it not be great? There was a Boston Cream Pie cake, calls from all my favorite people, and Facebook notifications endlessly popping up on my phone from wall posts.
I can't help but thank God over and over again for the gift of my life, especially at this time of year with so much talk about abortion. A lot of our generation never made it out of the womb, let alone into their 20's. Why me?
I'll never forget one of my professors in college telling my class that for each of us, our chance of being alive is less than the chance of us winning every single lottery in the whole world.
It's crazy to think about.
I am so unique and I wouldn't exist if my Dad didn't marry my Mom, and if my Grandparents didn't marry each other, and if my Great Grandparents didn't meet . . . and on and on for thousands of years.
If I'm so unique there must be a reason I'm here, right? God wouldn't line up all of my genealogy to lead to me just by chance. I can almost feel the weight being laid on my shoulders when I think about that responsibility. It means a lot.
The 'reason' I was born probably isn't so that I can waste hours on Hulu. Or sit around judging people. Or any of the other negative attitudes and actions that take me away from God. Some day I won’t have any more birthday’s. Time runs out for every single one of us. We all want to do something tremendously different and extraordinary with our lives . . . but what is it?
This year, I just want to live with more passion, joy, hope, and selfless love.
Not many people know the exact 'reason' God put them here. And I'm not sure either. There’s one thing I’m sure of though: Jesus said, 'I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.' (John 13:34) I need to write that on my hand in a permanent marker.
After more than 20 years of being alive, I'm pretty sure the reason I’m here isn’t to be the astronaut I thought I was going to be at age 5. But if I could just live out God's love day after day, that's all I really want. Is that “extraordinary” enough?