Claire Dwyer blogs about motherhood, the sacramentality of everyday life, and all things Catholic at EvenTheSparrow.com; and contributes regularly the WomenofGrace.com and CatholicMom.com. She coordinates adult faith formation at her parish in Phoenix, where she lives with her husband and their six children.
There’s been a lot of attention on the pro-life movement lately, driven to the forefront of debates surrounding the presidential election. In its wake, pro-abortion advocates, seeing a battle ahead, put on a loud, bawdy, and much-covered Women’s March which may have had unintended consequences: the media, called out for its biased reporting, gave more attention to the usually glossed-over (or ignored completely) annual March for Life than ever before. Cameras captured the hope and determination in thousands of faces, buoyed by recent and resolute legislation and nominations which confirmed their hopes: the new United States administration is serious about restricting abortion and its funding.
Those hundreds of thousands of marchers, and all of those marching for life everywhere, represent a movement which has been around for decades. It began in the rumblings before the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision and it has grown despite setbacks, attack, dismissal, and scorn. It’s a movement which wishes it didn’t exist, wishes it wasn’t needed, but it’s conviction is rooted in unshakable faith and it swears it will remain until the scourge of abortion is gone completely.
And it’s a movement with many fronts and many faces.
It is good to remind to ourselves that a movement is not a mob, but made of countless individuals who have used individual gifts and stories to move forward a message that human life, all of it, is infinitely precious.
If you’ve prayed that abortion would end, you are part of that movement keeping this issue a pressing concern. Thank you. Thank you for always remembering the unborn in your hidden, middle-of-the night shift in the adoration chapel. Thank you for showing up, rosary in hand, in front of that clinic all those cold Saturday mornings, for pressing a pamphlet and a little hope into the hand of the hesitant woman walking in.
Thank you, adoptive and foster parents. You opened your lives and your homes and saved not only children, but their mothers from a lifetime of regret. You only wish there had been more. You would have welcomed every one.
Thank you mothers with the courage to carry life and then give it away. You are perhaps the bravest of all.
To those who’ve opened pregnancy centers, for the ultrasounds and counseling and friendship you’ve given anguished and afraid women in their most vulnerable hours, for the medical care you’ve given free of charge, the fundraising banquets you’ve organized and executed - thank you. Thank you to those that came and opened their hearts and checkbooks and paid the piles of bills.
When they criticized you for only focusing on one issue and not caring about what happens after birth, you shook your head and continued to collect diapers for the drive and spend your Saturdays doing yard work for the home for mothers in crisis. Thank you.
While they said you didn’t care about women, you didn’t even hear, because you were too busy using your education, skills, and passion to counsel broken women and heal them. You created retreats and programs to accompany them into wholeness. Thank you.
Thank you, mothers who have been wounded by lies and restored by Truth, and have vowed to be Silent No More.
Thank you students, for your pro-life clubs and meetings and rallies. You may have had to fight for the right to meet or searched far and wide for faculty support and advice. You already know this isn’t the popular place to be. But that was never what you wanted, anyway.
And to the pro-life speakers and who rally our spirits and bring a refreshing voice of hope and reason to the clamor and lies of the culture, thank you. Thank you writers for typing away, day after day, article after article, keeping us informed and on alert.
Thank you, priests, for speaking the truth when it was hard, for facing stony stares and insult. Thank you for blessing our efforts, for bringing forgiveness into the darkest places of the human heart with the words, “God, the Father of Mercies…” and being ready with your little purple stole whenever you are needed, wishing that everyone knew the healing power of the sacraments. Thank you for the pro-life intentions which you lift with every host and chalice.
Thank you, bishops and cardinals, for being leaders with servant’s hearts. Thank you for representing the ancient bulwark of the Church which will never crumble or fade and will proclaim Christ and the life he brings until the end, and in whose shade we rest when our knees buckle in the fight. Thank you, Holy Father, for never, ever waving on the evil of abortion and the reality of the pain it brings.
Thank you to the cloistered nuns who hold the world together with your constant prayers; we are sustained by your graces. Who knows how many lives have been saved and hearts moved because of your veiled but powerful prayers. Thank you, sisters in the world, habits flowing, faces glowing and radiating life - you witness to a mystery that life is precious and it’s meaning far beyond the ordinariness of the world.
Thank you, single mothers, fathers, and families who struggle and juggle and manage somehow. You do it with humor and joy and show us that it may be hard but it can be done, and it is all worth it.
Thanks also to those who love care for the elderly with dignity. You show us that life is a spectrum with brilliance on both sides.
And to those in politics, who write and propose and pass legislation protecting the unborn, you have our admiration and thanks. They may have said you were in it for power, but you knew taking the unpopular positions wouldn’t win you much but risk and ridicule. You weren’t doing it for yourself. You were thinking that you represented everyone, born and unborn.
Thank you lawyers and judges who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who defend the unborn and our right to protect them. We long for the day when you will no longer be the minority voice.
To those whose vision leads them out into the entire world, lobbying for life and family among wealthy, hostile nations and fragile, friendly ones, thank you. Thank you for befriending countries who are trying to feed their people and are being fed contraception and abortion instead. Thank you for reminding us that abortion is not a national problem but a human one.
Thank you, activists who lead the charge. Thank you for organizing protests and putting yourselves on the line, for going undercover, for court time and jail time and bringing the issue into the spotlight. Thank you for the dark nights you reverently pulled tiny bodies from alleys behind the clinics and buried them with dignity. Thank you for living in voluntary poverty so that you could devote yourself to the weakest among us.
To those who bravely left the abortion industry and vowed to reveal its shadowed secrets, your courage inspires us. You are a visible sign of the transforming power of Christ. Thank you.
Thank you, early warriors, for paving the way. You read the news in 1973 with incredulity and horror. You began to organize with little experience or money and not much of a plan - but you knew something had to be done and you did it. You made it an issue and kept it alive. Without you there would be no marches, no protests, no pickets, no presence. We owe you so much.
And to those little souls, now safe and loved forever, who hasten the coming of the Kingdom by the spilling of their blood, thank you for your prayers. You know that these friends of yours will have many to greet them with joy when they join you there.
Thank you, all of you, for making signs, making friends, marching, voting, praying, giving, loving. Thank you for fighting with urgency, but also with a true humility, grace and peace that can come only from the knowledge that you are warriors in a battle that is already won.
If we are truly Christ’s body, you are doubtlessly its heart. And from the bottom of ours, thank you.