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By Susan Hines-Brigger

Living the Pro-life Message


Marching for Life
Promoting a Culture of Life
For Teens: Writing for Life
For Kids: Finding Signs of Life

As I am writing this column, I am in my fifth month—or 20th week—of pregnancy with my second child. I have heard my baby's heartbeat at every appointment since I was seven weeks pregnant. I have seen his or her fingers and toes wiggling on the ultrasound. But, according to current U.S. abortion laws, I could decide at this point in my pregnancy that I no longer wanted this baby.

Don't get me wrong. I am thrilled with this pregnancy and I want this baby. But the reality is, since 1995, an estimated 1.3 million mothers have chosen to end their pregnancies.

Marching for Life

This month, thousands of people will gather in Washington, D.C., on January 22 to mark the 29th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States. This annual March for Life has been taking place since 1974, a year after the Court's decision.

The March for Life was begun by Nellie Gray, who still serves as its president, as a grassroots campaign to ensure that the Court's decision would not be forgotten or taken for granted as unchangeable. That first year, an estimated 20,000 people gathered at the nation's capital.

Since that first gathering, issues such as partial-birth abortion and stem-cell research have also become part of the focus of the pro-life movement. The theme of this year's March is "Truth Uncovers Abortion Evils." According to organizers of the March, the theme was chosen in response to the question, "Why does America, the land of the free, permit the intentional killing of an estimated 4,000 preborn human children each day?"

Promoting a Culture of Life

As Christians and parents, we have a vital role in instilling the sanctity of life in our children. How we do that is ultimately up to each of us.

In their 1998 document Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics, the U.S. bishops said, "Every Catholic, without exception, should remember that he or she is called by our Lord to proclaim his message. Some proclaim it by word, some by action and all by example. But every believer shares responsibility for the Gospel. Every Catholic is a missionary of the Good News of human dignity redeemed through the cross."

The key, however, is that we must do something. As parents and grandparents, we know the many blessings children bring to our lives. Let's celebrate that by protecting them from the very beginning of their lives.

Here are some suggestions for ways to proclaim the pro-life message through word, action or example:

  • Collect baby clothes and necessities such as bottles, blankets, etc., and donate them to Birthright, an organization which provides women distressed by unplanned pregnancies with loving alternatives to abortion. For more information on how to help this organization or to locate a Birthright chapter near you, visit
  • Include expectant and new moms in your prayers. Pregnancy and caring for a young child can be difficult times in a woman's life. Pray that mothers will be blessed with what they need—physically and spiritually—to care for their babies.
  • Be a pro-life example for your children/grandchildren. One of the strongest pro-life examples I ever saw was when my mother helped out a family friend whose young daughter became pregnant while still in high school. At a time when many others sat in judgment of the girl and her family, my mom offered reassurance, baby clothes and whatever else was needed.
  • Celebrate any pregnancy for the miracle that it is. While the pregnancy may be unplanned or unexpected, or the circumstances surrounding it may be challenging, every child conceived is a miracle. Celebrate that miracle through prayer and/or actions.
  • Write your senator and representative in Congress, urging them to support a ban on partial-birth abortions and letting them know of your pro-life position.

In his 1995 encyclical The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II wrote of his hope "that our time, marked by all too many signs of death, may at last witness the establishment of a new culture of life, the fruit of the culture of truth and of love" (#77). May we all—through our lives and actions—play our part in the establishment of that culture.

For more information on the March for Life organization, contact P.O. Box 90300, Washington, DC 20090, telephone: 202-LIFE-377 or e-mail at The organization's Web site is

Next Month: Understanding the Symbols of Lent

For Teens: Writing for Life

Each year the March for Life sponsors an essay contest for junior high and high school students in conjunction with the annual March for Life activities in Washington, D.C. The deadline for this year's contest has passed—the deadline is usually in October—but you can request a copy of the winning entries by fax (202-543-8202) or by e-mail at

Six awards were presented this year in poetry, essay and poster categories. Three high school winners, three junior high winners and their parents were invited to participate in the January 22 March for Life in Washington, D.C. For further information on next year's contest, continue to check out March for Life's Web site at

For Kids: Writing for Life

In January—the heart of winter—it's often hard to think about celebrating life while we're surrounded by such a stark and barren landscape. But despite first appearances, winter is full of life to be celebrated. Take a walk in the woods and observe just how much life is around you—birds, animals, even plants. As a matter of fact, the early months of the year are when the sap from maple trees is extracted to make syrup.




Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics or ideas you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at

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