A Pro-Life Checklist
I am writing this on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade as a hundred thousand people gather in Washington, DC for the annual March for Life. They are marching for the thirty-second time, a generation of protest against evil. In their honor, let's think again about the basic steps each of us can take to sweep abortion under the carpet of history. Here is my own top ten list.
10. Vote Pro-Life
Perhaps it doesn’t need to be stressed, but this is the sine qua non of a public pro-life presence. We all have a serious moral obligation to vote for pro-life candidates whenever possible. Those who don’t follow politics can easily check candidates with a pro-lifer who does, or with a pro-life organization. Where applicable, don’t forget the primaries.
9. Bear Witness
Pro-lifers have the option of spending more time, energy and resources on other kinds of charitable work, but they don’t have the option of hiding their light under a bushel basket. It is vital that all pro-lifers find ways to make their position known as opportunities present themselves. Whether through private conversations, public meetings, selected activities, literature, signs or symbols, when the opportunity arises we must make it clear that we abhor abortion and support life.
8. Rally ‘Round
Some people don’t like formal public demonstrations or have no faith in them. Even if you are one of these, you should participate in a formal demonstration of support for the unborn at least once, if for no other reason than to prove to yourself that you aren’t hanging back out of cowardice. If you can participate occasionally in small demonstrations, you’ll diminish the impact of laziness and selfishness on your decisions, and you’ll encourage others. If you can participate in a very large demonstration, you might even find yourself getting recharged. You’ll also keep in better touch with the movement. In the end, though, if you’re just not a demonstrator, substitute another form of occasional concrete, public activity on behalf of life.
7. Contribute Monetarily
Many other causes are worthy of support, but everyone must give something for the defense of life. Here every preference can be met: crisis pregnancy centers deal one-on-one with mothers under stress; political action committees seek to change our laws; campaigns work to elect pro-life leaders; publicity and educational programs change people’s minds; medical support helps poor mothers; and cultural initiatives build a climate in support of life. All need our support.
6. Greet Newborns with Helpful Joy
Most of us have the opportunity to support and encourage those who are having children, whether relatives, friends, employees, parishioners or those we encounter in other pro-life work. We need to make it crystal clear to expectant moms and dads that we are delighted for them and have a profound respect for their commitment to family life. We also need to be mindful of their special financial and emotional needs. Let’s try to make the time surrounding childbirth as easy on young families as we can.
5. Control Casual Conversation
Have you thought about how hard it is to be consistently pro-life in your speech? Watch those barbs about people with large families. Suppress the rueful looks and sad comments when an older couple has a baby late in life. Bite your tongue when you’re annoyed by a swarm of little ones disrupting your concentration. (God knows that many parents don’t control their kids very well. But if you can’t be a real help, be content that He knows and keep quiet.) We all need to remind ourselves often that children are a great gift, despite the enormous sacrifices of raising them, and we need to speak accordingly.
4. Prize Modesty and Chastity
Widespread abortion stems directly from pagan attitudes toward modesty, chastity, and the purpose of sex. Pro-lifers need to promote modesty and help people understand the value of chastity whenever possible, especially in their own families. This starts with ourselves. One of the most effective ways to live these virtues while sending a strong message to our kids is to be very strict about the music we listen to and, above all, the television and movies we watch. Let’s control how our kids dress, too, especially our daughters.
3. Build Your Own Family Life
Our children need to be pro-life after they leave home. The best way to make this happen is to raise our families with generosity, joy and love. How hard this can be at times! Let’s resolve to make our pro-life stance another reason for loving our families each and every day. Starting points: Try not to treat your kids as nuisances. Look for opportunities to build happy family memories. Make this a focus of your prayer life.
2. Do Penance
Shouldn’t we try to offer some little deprivation each day for the conversion of those involved in the scourge of abortion? If we tie this act of penance to sorrow for our own sins and reparation for the sins of others against life, we will realize two enormous benefits. First, penance builds character, making all other difficulties easier to handle. More important, in the economy of salvation an act of penance is the most important step we can take on our own to increase efficacious grace in the world.
Prayer has a supreme importance in its own right as the primary personal means by which we strengthen our relationship with God. This growing union with God is essential not only to our own lives but to our effective intervention in the lives of others. Far from being a substitute for the other nine items on the list, prayer is the only way to ensure that we will do the other nine items—and do them well.
Moreover, we are dealing here with powers and principalities. Victory belongs only to the Lord of Life. We'd be wise to stick close.
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