Today marks the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that ruled state laws against abortion were unconstitutional. As millions gather to march and mourn in Washington, D.C. and other places across the country, here are a handful of simple pro-life strategies that any of us can accomplish right where we are.
As with most things, prayer for the unborn is the first and the most powerful thing to be done. It is also can be done by anyone. My parish prays the Memorare for the unborn after daily Mass. There are Masses, novenas, and so many other special opportunities for prayer.
But no special resources are needed. Each of us is capable of pleading the cause of the unborn, if only in that “surge of the heart,” remembering them in our “simple look turned toward heaven.” The young and old, the homebound, the constantly on the run mom…we are all able to offer our prayers for the unborn.
Has anyone not heard the common misconception that pro-lifers only care about babies until they are born? Those who circulate this idea have no actual knowledge of the plethora of help that is available to mothers in need. Chances are that there is an organization in your area that helps mothers with a variety of services, including tangible help such as clothing (maternity clothes, baby clothes and children’s clothes), food for mother and baby, diapers, toys and all the other baby necessities. Assuaging the panic a woman feels at the sheer logistics of caring for a baby is an immense help.
Consider donating your gently used items to one of these centers. Parents who feel a touch of melancholy at detaching from these items when their baby days have come to an end will feel their hearts lighten when they know that another baby will be using them. Consider donating surplus baby gifts you receive rather than going through the hassle of exchanges. Mothers who are not so fortunate as to have a surplus will appreciate having something new and special for their little ones.
My parish has participated in an archdiocesan program in which we are assigned a particular mother-to-be who we pray for and then meet at the time of a shower given before the baby is born. This is a blessed opportunity for us to be reminded of the individuality of the mothers who are in need; rather than thinking of them as a large, faceless population. The collecting of baby items for the shower is not only a corporal work of mercy, but also a lot of fun. It is a good team building experience for a parish pro-life group. And I must mention the delight my daughters took in the planning, shopping, sorting, etc. while we worked on these projects.
3. Create a vividly pro-life home
Share the good news with your family. Share how happy you were with them before you even met them. Share stories you may have heard about yourself and others before they were born. (I was four when my sister was born. I remember feeling her kick and thrash as I felt my mother’s abdomen; my children know I could have foretold her future as a great trial attorney from that moment!) There may even be stories about unhappiness that you wish to share when your family is at an age to understand.
Get the family involved on whatever level they are able, whether it be through corporal or spiritual works of mercy. Looking back, the best pro-life work I did was that which involved the whole family. Mother’s Day rose sales, the showers and collections of items for crisis pregnancy centers, and the ‘baby bottle drive’ fundraisers which collected loose change get the family involved and make working to help the unborn something each family member can share in. Loving concern for all the unborn can easily become part of the fabric of family life. And make prayer for the unborn part of the family’s regular prayers.
4. Quit preaching to the choir
Surrounding ourselves with pro-life friends is a definite good. But I have learned through years of pro-life meetings that talking amongst ourselves only goes so far. We must be willing to spread the prolife message – using words if necessary – in all aspects of life.
I read and comment on various popular secular websites. Trolling is not my aim. I’ll read their opinions and gossip. But I’ll tell the truth in my comments. Truth should not be varnished but it helps to be subtle…really, really subtle. There is a huge demographic out there that is ready to shut down unless the truth sneaks up on them.
Subtle witness is something I had to learn about the hard way. My truth bombs are remembered for the ‘bomb’, not the truth. I have left a trail of unpleasant dinner conversations with friends and extended family members that point to my slow education in this process. Blurting out explicit and heavy-handed truth did nothing to help the unborn; hackles were raised, awareness was not.
Pray for the opportunity to share what you know with courage, tact and kindness.
It’s not all about sharing what we know. It is also so important to listen. Listen to those you least want to hear. Listen to those appalling comments you may read on websites. Listen for what motivates those who heckle you while praying at public pro-life prayer vigils. (We’ve been ‘mooned’ as well as jeered. There are some sad, deep issues that would have a parent slow down so her teen passenger could ‘moon’ a quiet group of people praying the rosary on the sidewalk near a community hospital.) You will hear a world of misinformation, hurt, and confusion. Then you may know best how to share what you know. Listen and pray for them.
Listen to your children. And listen to their friends. There may be times when you will be the one adult that they can confide in. Be there for them. And pray for them.
Pray for the unborn. Pray for opportunities to help the unborn and their families. Pray for guidance in building a pro-life family. Pray to be shown the ways and words to spread the message of life in the world. (And, if you are like me, pray for help with tact and weighing of words!) Pray to be given a heart that listens in a world filled with misinformation, hurt, and hate. Let prayer be the start of what you do for the unborn and let it guide you as an array of opportunities arise!