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10 Pro-life Resolutions for 2003


Where to Begin
Set Realistic Goals


Resolving to be a pro-life advocate today seems much more complex than it was 30 years ago when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion on January 22, 1973. At that time, many of us thought that abortion was the only issue.

But our Church leaders keep reminding us that being a Catholic pro-lifer requires protecting human life and human dignity at all stages, “womb to tomb.” In addition to abortion, today’s headlines also cover topics ranging from embryonic stem-cell research to assisted suicide.

Where to Begin

Last November, the U.S. bishops passed a statement regarding the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade titled “A Matter of the Heart.” It focuses on the good news: “Today fewer abortions are being done each year, and fewer doctors are willing to be involved in abortion. More Americans identify themselves as pro-life.” In addition, “many young people have taken up the cause for life” and “most state legislatures have enacted measures to restrict or regulate” abortion.

In 2001, the bishops explained in depth the Church’s commitment to a “consistent ethic of life” in the revised Pastoral Plan for Pro-life Activities: A Campaign in Support of Life. (The bishops' Web site also contains additional pro-life information.)

This plan calls upon all of us to “be advocates for the weak and the marginalized,” telling us to begin “with a commitment never to intentionally kill or collude in the killing of any innocent human life....”

Set Realistic Goals

Not all of us are able to attend the annual march in Washington, D.C., this January, but there are things we can do then and all year long. The following list includes suggestions that fall into once-a-day/week/month/year categories, depending on your ability and commitment.

1) Pray throughout the year but especially on January 22, when all U.S. dioceses for the first time will observe “a day of penance for violations...committed through abortion and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life.”

2) Read about a variety of pro-life issues in magazines, books and on the Internet. Research and reflect upon at least one topic you don’t understand completely or one on which you don’t agree with the Church’s position. For example, you can read the booklet What’s Wrong With the Death Penalty? on the Illinois Coalition Against the Death Penalty’s Web site.

3) Write letters and e-mail to lawmakers, publications, corporations and friends about pending legislation, research and other activities. Send cards and notes to pregnant women, victims of crimes, people who are dying and others who need support.

4) Listen respectfully, especially when the opposite point of view is being expressed. Process what you hear to help you comprehend the speaker’s position.

5) Speak effectively by being factual. Pastoral Plan for Pro-life Activities asks us to help educate the Catholic community and the public, advising us “to explain and persuade while showing respect to all who disagree.” If you know a woman or man hurting from abortion’s aftermath, encourage them to contact Project Rachel (800-5WE-CARE) or other post-abortion programs.

6) Donate your time, talent and finances. Fund-raisers, organizations and protests need volunteers and participants. The Ultimate Pro-life Resource List includes six pages of links to Right to Life chapters and many other groups (national, state, Canadian, campus, political, religious, euthanasia, etc.).

7) Support victims of abuse and pregnant women, especially those who feel pressured to abort. Feminists for Life’s College Outreach Program helps reduce abortions by urging campuses to provide pregnant and parenting students with on-site day care and other resources to help them complete their education. This nonsectarian organization opposes all forms of violence including abortion, domestic violence, euthanasia and capital punishment.

8) Organize a program or event in your parish or community. That could be as simple as arranging for a speaker at a meeting or as complex as establishing Elizabeth Ministry, which supports women and their families during childbearing years.

9) Vote for candidates and issues that best support a consistent ethic of life. In The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II explains that it’s O.K. to support imperfect pro-abortion legislation when its aim is to limit the harm and lessen the “negative consequences” (#73). The Susan B. Anthony List, which is named after the anti-abortion suffragette, advocates the passage of pro-life legislation and works to increase the number of pro-life women in Congress.

10) Celebrate the good news. Some states have announced moratoriums on executions as wrongful convictions are proven. And unborn children are now eligible for health insurance within the federal government’s State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

When we live up to our pro-life resolutions, we support the bishops’ call to “peaceful activism, education, prayer and service” in building a culture of life.  —M.J.D.

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