Since the decision in Roe vs. Wade in 1973, more than 50 million babies have died before they had a chance to live outside the womb. This number is tragic beyond imagining. All the friendships we’ve missed out on, the possible spouses, the scientists and scholars, the priests and other religious, and, yes, even those who would have been poor or had special needs. Maybe even especially them.
I’d like to argue, however, that the biggest tragedy of abortion on demand isn’t the death of innocent babies. (Think that makes me cruel and heartless? Bear with me for a moment.) For those innocent babies, only their human life was lost. Our Church teaches that the souls of babies who die before baptism go into the hands of a loving and merciful God, and that we may hope for their salvation. (CCC 1261) While we don’t know exactly what will happen to them, being in the hands of a loving and merciful God certainly doesn’t sound like a terrible existence to me.
The martyrs, instead, show us that to lose a life of eternal happiness with God is a far greater travesty than to lose a mortal life. The eternal lives of all those who unrepentantly cooperate directly with abortion are in great peril. (CCC 2272) Our goals as a pro-life community, then, should not merely be limited to the saving of human lives, but rather that through the saving of human lives, we may hope to prevent the loss of eternal lives for all those who would otherwise cooperate in abortion.
Allow me to make a correlation with the daily life of a mom. I have four children. Each day I feed and clothe them, wash them and provide a (moderately) clean home for them. On my good days, I do all those little tasks with love and care, showing my children that they matter to me. Through love, I draw them closer to my heart and am better able to guide them in their growth as a result of this closeness. On my not-so-good days, I may just go through the motions, grumbling and complaining, or worse, actively berating them for their failure to live up to my expectations. I push them away and they turn away, hurt by my lack of love. Not surprisingly, guiding them on these days is a monumental task, one that borders on impossible. They act out, I lash out, and no one wins.
It doesn’t take a psychologist to understand that the days (or moments) when I show love to my children are the most fruitful moments of parenting. Sure, my kids stay alive on the bad days, but on the good days, they thrive
Likewise, our methods within the pro-life movement should be geared towards helping eternal souls thrive. It’s not enough merely to stand against abortion. We must do so with compassion and forgiveness, and unfailing love.
“But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” ~Jesus, Luke 6: 27-31
On our best days, our outreach ministries, marches, protests and prayers envision a future much more complete than “no more abortions.” That vision includes a profound conversion of souls towards the moral good, and thus towards eternal happiness. On our not-so-good days, we push our political adversaries further and further from the Love of Christ, and from eternal happiness in heaven.
I ask you to think about that this week, as you participate in the March for Life in your hometown or in Washington, D.C. Meditate on it as you engage in online discussion forums or social media. Pray about it in your daily prayer. How are my pro-life activities helping all souls achieve the eternal life they were created for? How can I be a voice not just for the voiceless, but a voice for the Father who longs for all of us within His heart? How can I be pro-life, for eternity?
CCC 1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,”64 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.
CCC 2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,”77 “by the very commission of the offense,”78 and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law.79 The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society. (1463)
image: Demonstrators at the 2010 March for Life, Washington, DC/ Wikimedia Commons