As I am writing this column, I am in my fifth monthor
20th weekof 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.
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
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 www.birthright.org.
- 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 needphysically and spirituallyto care for
- 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
- 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
- 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 allthrough our lives and
actionsplay 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 email@example.com. The organization's Web
site is www.marchforlife.org.
Next Month: Understanding the Symbols of Lent
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 passedthe
deadline is usually in Octoberbut you can request
a copy of the winning entries by fax (202-543-8202) or by
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 www.marchforlife.org.
Kids: Writing for Life
In Januarythe heart of winterit'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 youbirds, 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.