Three women who had taken the first dose of an abortion pill turned to the Women’s Choice Center in Bettendorf because, by the grace of God, they regretted their decision and wanted to save their unborn babies. The women were given medications that reversed their abortion procedure. “We have met all three (the babies),” Pam Galanius, the center’s clinical director, said in a pre-recorded video shared with guests at a fundraising banquet last week.
As we contemplate that awesome miracle times three, we should also think about the profound transformation each woman underwent. They moved from abortion-minded anguish to courage in choosing life over death for their children. They didn’t do it alone; they were accompanied by Christians at a pro-life center committed to sharing God’s love with others beyond their circle of family, friends and acquaintances. Perhaps this story of self-giving could inspire us to begin our own journey to transform whatever is not life-affirming in our own lives and in our culture during October, which is Respect Life Month.
This year’s theme is “Christ Our Hope: In Every Season of Life.” If we truly believe that Christ is our hope in every season of life, we have a lot of work to do. Our society has drawn sides based on who deserves human dignity and human rights and who should be included or excluded from our generosity.
We find some Iowans advocating for assisted suicide, others for the reinstatement of the death penalty for persons convicted of heinous crimes involving the slaying of young people or law enforcement officers. Still others believe that immigrants without documents, children and adults, no matter what dire situations brought them here, should be locked up in detention centers and deported as soon as possible. None of these responses reflect Christ, our hope.
Gun violence has taken too many lives across all 50 states; we are ignoring climate change and the impact it is having on our communities. A widening disparity in income, a shortage of affordable housing, stressed-out caregivers and blatant bigotry persist. We’ve chosen to drop the number of refugees allowed into the country. These actions don’t reflect Christ, our hope.
Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In a letter, Archbishop Naumann writes that the bishops have launched the Respect Life Program cycle for 2019-2020, “A year-round, nationwide effort to help Catholics understand, value, and help cultivate respect for life” (www.respectlife.org/october). The website offers helpful resources for parishes and individuals.
The archbishop also references the upcoming 25th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s 1995 papal encyclical, “Evangelium vitae” (The Gospel of Life). The archbishop quotes from the encyclical: “together we may offer this world of ours new signs of hope, and work to ensure that justice and solidarity will increase and that a new culture of human life will be affirmed, for the building of an authentic civilization of truth and love.”
St. John Paul II also quotes the Vatican II document, “Guadium et spes,” which describes the “infamies” that insult human dignity, “such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere instruments of gain ….”
Our church teaches that respect for life must be applied from womb to tomb, no exceptions. It is a challenging teaching, which we can learn to embrace through the following steps:
• Read “Evangelium Vitae” (https://tinyurl.com/q8zx77k) as one of the ways to cultivate a culture of life. Read Scripture. Start with Matthew 25, the Judgment of the Nations.
• Pray. On Oct. 10, Iowans for LIFE will sponsor an event at the Iowa Capitol from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the first-floor rotunda followed by prayer at the Iowa Supreme Court. The Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe will be present.
• 40 Days for Life campaigns have also begun nationwide through Nov. 3. In Iowa City, for example, Johnson County Right to Life is organizing prayer vigils on the public sidewalk near the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City.
• Advocate. In the 2020 Iowa legislative session, the Iowa Catholic Conference will work on passage of an amendment to the state’s constitution to reverse the Iowa Supreme Court’s 2018 decision finding a fundamental right to abortion. Sign up for the ICC’s newsletter at (www.iowacatholicconference.org) to keep up with this and other life issues, such as immigration, care for God’s creation, affordable housing and more.
• Request Senators Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst and your representatives in the U.S. House to move forward with immigration law that is fair, just and non-discriminatory. Remind them that money allocated for a border wall would be better spent on educating children and creating desperately needed affordable housing.
Three mothers bravely chose life for their babies under the most difficult circumstances. We can follow their example by transforming our lives to bring Christ our hope to others, no exceptions.
Barb Arland-Fye, Editor