As the nation celebrates nearly 50 years of legalized abortion, local life advocates say they are committed to supporting human dignity “globally”, from conception to natural death.
“What you say at the beginning of life, you say it at the end of life,” said Steven Bozza, bioethicist and director of the Archdiocesan Office for Life and Family. “The question is, ‘How are we pro-life with all stages of life? “”
The response involves a wide range of public testimony, legislative changes, social awareness, scientific advancements and education – all inspired by faith, love and courage, he said.
“Catholic social teaching reveals a beautifully cohesive ethic of life,” said Bozza.
To defend this ethic, one must first recognize that abortion ultimately devalues human life at any age, said Bozza.
“Think about the social issues we see in the news every day – the violence, people killing each other,” he said. “It amounts to a lack of respect for human life. You don’t respect human life in the womb. What makes you think you will respect him on the street? “
Since the 1973 United States Supreme Court decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, more than 61 million abortions have taken place in the United States, an average of 2,000 per day.
Globally, there are a total of some 73.3 million abortions each year, according to the Guttmacher Institute – a number at least five million more than the UK’s current population, and nearly 15 million. more than the United Nations crude death rate in 2019, or the total number of deaths worldwide in any given year.
Abortion particularly has an impact on communities of color: Black, Hispanic and other non-white patients accounted for 62% of all abortions in the United States in 2014, according to Guttmacher.
Walk for life
On January 22, Bozza will join the thousands expected for the 49th Annual March for Life in Washington, DC. Bolton Decisions – will resume its format in person.
Walking trips are organized by some two dozen Philadelphia-area parishes, Catholic schools, and Knights of Columbus chapters, with Bozza’s office coordinating bus parking permits for groups heading to Mass. before the march to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. .
A number of local teens will remain in Washington to attend the Jan. 22 National Pro-Life Summit, hosted by Students for Life of America (SFLA). The one-day session, which will take place at the Omni Shoreham hotel in the capital, will provide training to grassroots pro-life activists.
“We have students enrolled in private, public, and parish schools,” said Maria Parker, chair of the theology department at Cardinal O’Hara High School.
The SFLA provided Parker with some 80 free tickets to the conference, while support from the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia (PLU) and Pennsylvanians for Human Life covers his group’s transportation costs. The participation fee of $ 250 includes overnight hotel accommodation and all meals. Interested students from the ninth grade onwards can contact Parker by email for information and to register.
Ahead of the DC rallies, the Chester County Pro-Life Coalition will be holding its own March for Life on Sunday January 16 at 3:00 pm at St. Agnes Parish in West Chester. Speakers will include Patrick Stanton, PLU board member; Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister J. Sheila Galligan of the Theology Department of Immaculata University; and Wendy Burpee of the Genesis Women’s Clinic, which has offices in Pottstown and Phoenixville. Weather permitting, the indoor program will be followed by a walk to the old county courthouse.
Prayers for the unborn child
Along with public protests, prayer remains vital to ending abortion, say life advocates.
The PLU will be holding a prayer vigil on January 22 at 10 a.m. outside of downtown Planned Parenthood, at 12th and Locust Streets. The SFLA vigil and summit will be held on the day of prayer for the legal protection of unborn children, celebrated in all Catholic dioceses in the United States.
As in recent years, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is also inviting faithful across the country to participate in the 9 Days for Life Novena (January 19-27) for the Protection of Human Life.
With materials available in English and Spanish, the intention for each day’s novena includes a short reflection, suggestions for acts of reparation, and additional resources to understand church teaching and pastoral awareness regarding the ‘abortion.
Throughout January, a Zoom-based rosary campaign to end abortion is recited each evening at 9 p.m., led by Mickey Kelly, a local pro-life advocate and chairman of the board of directors of the St. Raymond Nonnatus Foundation. Those wishing to join the Rosary can email Kelly for the Zoom link.
Head winds and hope
Amid ongoing efforts to end abortion, several challenges remain, according to pro-life leaders in the region.
The pending Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – a move expected by July – could overturn Roe v. Wade and redirect the abortion issue to the state level for legislation.
But that’s where the work begins again, said Father Christopher Walsh, president of the PLU and pastor of Saint-Raymond de Peñafort parish in Philadelphia.
States like New Jersey have already decided “to include a ‘right to abortion’ in their law,” said Father Walsh, noting that “there are plans to do the same in Pennsylvania.”
For this reason, “it is essential that people who believe in the civil rights of the unborn child are united,” he said.
In the process of “(fighting) this legal battle”, he said, “the most difficult battle for hearts and minds must continue”.
Father Walsh urged compassion by “listening to those who believe abortion is permissible,” and advised life advocates to “share the truth with (abortion supporters) little by little, with patience. but also with conviction “.
And men need to be a part of that abortion conversation, Bozza said.
“I am placing much of this issue in the hands of the men involved,” he said, quoting Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical. Humanae Vitae(Humanae Vitae, 17).
PLU President and CEO Tom Stevens agreed, describing abortion as “the easy way out for men.”
At the same time, many men are simply excluded “when there is an unexpected pregnancy,” and the decision to seek an abortion “can cause great grief for a man,” Stevens said.
He and Bozza said chemical abortions, the pills of which are now widely available in several states through telemedicine and online delivery services, exacerbate this marginalization – while putting the health of women and adolescent girls at risk.
“A doctor or nurse practitioner could talk to a 14-year-old girl in her room, and there’s no ultrasound, so you don’t really know how bad she is or if she has an extra pregnancy. uterine, ”Stevens said. “It’s really dangerous.”
“What happens when things go wrong and she ends up in the hospital?” Bozza asked, noting that advances in medical science themselves pave the way for an end to abortion.
“When women watch ultrasound videos, there is no doubt that they are children in the womb,” he said. “And modern genetics (shows) that what a person is genetically at the time of conception, he always will be; there is nothing to change.
Thanks to entities like SFLA and Live Action, younger generations have “the scientific information” to “debunk social myths” surrounding abortion, Parker said.
“I think most of our students are definitely pro-life, and they just need knowledge and information to be able to connect what they’re feeling in their hearts with their heads,” she said.
The wide range of pregnancy and parenting supports provided by the Catholic social services of the Archdiocese and the many outreach activities of PLU members offer tangible help and hope to women in pregnancy crisis, offering them alternatives to abortion, life advocates said.
“The Greater Philadelphia pro-life community is doing incredible things,” said Father Walsh. “I hope others will join in these efforts for the good of the human family.”