A woman in the media affairs office of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland answered a call from The Catholic Messenger last week regarding the agency’s new abortion billboard campaign, #SayAbortion. She referred the Messenger to a news release on the agency’s website. But when asked to explain why Planned Parenthood views abortion as a “basic human right” and an “essential part of health care,” the Planned Parenthood representative did not respond. The phone connection ended.
That disconnect speaks volumes about Planned Parenthood’s lack of justification for describing abortion as a basic human right and an essential part of health care. At least two persons’ lives are impacted by abortion, the mother and the unborn child; the father — who is often forgotten — is also affected. Planned Parenthood discounts the unborn child (and the father).
“We have shifted our language in ways that hide the dignity of the vulnerable, in this instance and on issues far from the abortion debate as well. This is part of what Pope Francis calls ‘throwaway culture,’” Charles Camosy, a board member of Democrats for Life of America, says in an editorial published Jan. 9 in the New York Times.
Planned Parenthood’s abortion billboard campaign across Iowa aims to normalize abortion as an ordinary part of life and to encourage women who had abortions to share their positive stories about the experience. What’s positive about a procedure that is lethal to an unborn child in a mother’s womb?
We’ve got to be honest, though, about the fact that some Catholics choose abortion. “They are our relatives and friends, people who work with us or for us. Even if someone identifies as being pro-life, the shock of an unexpected pregnancy, the devastation of a difficult prenatal diagnosis, shame, pressures, or fears may influence her to consider abortion” (9 Days For Life, Day 9).
9 Days For Life is a multi-faceted novena now underway in the Catholic Church that focuses on respect and protection of every human life. This prayer campaign concludes Jan. 22, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade — the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal throughout the United States.
The novena began Jan. 14, but each day offers reflections, insights and activities that are worth participating in at any point. On the final day, for example, participants learn about the L.O.V.E. Approach (www.usccb.org/l-o-v-e), which helps us to respond to an abortion-minded woman in a loving, life-affirming way for her and her baby.
In his editorial on this page, Bishop Thomas Zinkula proposes an alternative campaign to Planned Parenthood’s, one that promotes a “life culture change:” #SayYes2Life. Here are some ways that we can #SayYes2Life:
• Participate in the 9 Days For Life campaign. Visit the website at www.9daysforlife.com for more information.
• Join a local pro-life group.
• Volunteer for a pro-life organization in your community. “We need volunteers, nurse practitioners and physicians,” said Rachel Owen, executive director of Obria Medical Clinics of Iowa, which provides Christ-centered, life-affirming health care, with an emphasis on women considering an abortion.
• Sign up for action alerts with the Iowa Catholic Conference (ICC) by visiting the website at iowacatholicconference.org.
• Consider supporting the ICC’s efforts to encourage the Iowa Legislature to pass a constitutional amendment stating that the Iowa Constitution does not contain a right to abortion. The proposed amendment is in response to last year’s Iowa Supreme Court ruling that abortion is a fundamental right, says Tom Chapman, executive director of the ICC.
• Pray for a change of heart so that no one considers abortion a basic human right or an essential part of health care.
• Stop the euphemisms. Call abortion what it is, Chapman says.
Barb Arland-Fye, Editor