More on How You Can Help Make Abortion Unthinkable

Every Catholic church should be a pro-life oasis.

‘Newborn Hand’
‘Newborn Hand’ (photo: SC Designs / Shutterstock)

Last week, Michael Warsaw, publisher of the Register, asked how we make abortion “unthinkable.” His column mulls the recent loss of an Ohio referendum that would have made it harder to approve abortion-on-demand in November and rightly observes the law is a powerful teacher. He correctly notes that almost 50 years of Roe v. Wade sanitized abortion for many Americans, giving it a cultural respectability. He roots for further pro-life legislative victories, as do I.

I also think it’s helpful to remind my fellow Catholics that there’s so much our Church can do on its own, without any politician’s help.

Pick up your parish bulletin this weekend. Any parish in America. Scan it, cover to cover. See if you can find anywhere (much less prominently) a message that says: “Pregnant? Thinking about Abortion? We can help! 24/7, Call 1-732-999-9999, all calls confidential!” 

Find it? If you did, put a comment in the box below, because I’m going to bet parishes like yours are pretty rare. And if you didn’t find it, ask yourself: So how are we going to make abortion unthinkable?

Doesn’t have to be a parish number (though that would be great!) Maybe it’s the number of your nearest pregnancy resource center. 

Next test question: Do you know the location of the nearest local pregnancy resource center to your parish?

Amy Ford is a Protestant. She writes: “I grew up my entire life going to church and I never knew there was a pro-life movement.” More cradle Catholics likely know there is a pro-life movement, but probably not much more than that.

Amy was confronted with the decision of an abortion and noted her church wasn’t much help. That’s why she’s launched her own ministry, “Embrace Grace,” to change that.

Her vision is simple: every church should be a pro-life oasis. A woman with a difficult pregnancy should be able to walk into any church and receive support. 

Now, let’s be honest. Most of mainline American Protestantism is either pro-abortion or sorely divided. The pro-life churches are the Catholic and Orthodox, along with most of what we call “lower church Protestantism,” i.e., congregationally-based groups like the Evangelicals. Throw in the Mormons and the Adventists. 

But before we go there, let’s go back to our own bulletins: If Catholics don’t have a prominent telephone number on the cover of their parish bulletins where a distressed pre-birth mother can turn for help, where is that “church support?”

Let’s start with the vision that every Catholic parish should be able to be a pro-life oasis. A pro-life sanctuary, open 24 hours a day — not a storefront with a sign “closed.”  

In densely Catholic areas, like the Northeast or Midwest, perhaps that can be standalone. But, more practically, how about synergizing with other local religious groups to collaborate in that ministry? 

As we New York-types would put it, when it comes to the practical question of mothers and unborn babies in need, as regards theoretical ecumenism: fuhggedaboudit! Let’s do some practical, elbow-to-elbow ecumenism that expresses practical fraternity (and sorority) by working together to make abortion unthinkable for the concrete woman thinking about it.

Amy Ford wrote a beautiful little book, Help Her to Be Brave. It’s one of the best pro-life books I’ve read. It’s cheap and it belongs on every Catholic parish’s bookshelf. Ford doesn’t envision legislative triumphs. She’s very concrete. Is there a parishioner willing to drive mom to a pregnancy resource center or the doctor? If a pregnant mom already has kids, can a parishioner help babysit them so mom can study for her GED? Can somebody occasionally make them a nice, hot supper? Does your parish have a stockpile of used baby clothes a new mom could use? Could she get some diapers there? Has your parish ever thought of putting on a baby shower for single moms who chose not to have an abortion and are waiting to deliver their babies? Is there a lawyer in the parish who could help with the adoption process for those moms who feel they must surrender their child?

There is a reason why pregnancy alternative centers are under assault, legal and even physical (i.e., arson): they are effective. Abortionists know it. That’s why they either want to put them out of business or at least co-opt them by forcing them to make referrals to their bloodletting businesses.

Amy Ford’s vision builds on those centers. She wants to make every church in America a crisis pregnancy center. That doesn’t mean every church necessarily has to offer all the services a crisis pregnancy center does, but it at least means that churches become such a thick support network backing those centers that they work hand-in-glove to make abortion practically unthinkable, one mother at a time. 

And, if there were such a dynamic social safety net between crisis pregnancy centers and churches, demagogic politicians would think twice before going after them.

None of this is rocket science, and none of it will make abortion “unthinkable” on the macro level. But it will make one abortion unthinkable. And, as our Jewish elder brothers say, “He who saves one life saves the world entire.”

Does that mean we should give up the effort to pass pro-life legislation? Absolutely not! We Catholics are very capable people: we can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can and should do both. 

And, in that way, like William Wilberforce a century and a half ago, we will make a lucrative business that trafficks in flesh and blood unthinkable.