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A recent "traffic light moment" reminded me of a few important truths about our efforts to end abortion.
I was sitting in my car at a red light early one Saturday morning, just after the Women's March and the March for Life both took place in Washington, D.C. I was pleased to see a man in the car ahead of me pass a Styrofoam cup of steaming coffee out his window to a man in the street asking for help. Then I was doubly pleased to see two "Hope After Abortion" magnets on his car—one in English, one in Spanish—featuring the national toll-free helpline to diocesan post-abortion healing ministries. This charitable man was pro-life and advertising Project Rachel Ministry!
I wished all the women at the Women's March who had shouted, "My body, my choice" could see this fellow. So often, abortion is seen as exclusively a women's issue. While it impacts women in an often deeply painful and unique way, it is important to remember that abortion is a human rights issue. Abortion causes the loss of a child who has both a mother and a father, grandparents, and perhaps siblings who may grieve for that child. And abortion may be chosen because a woman feels that she has no other choice due to lack of support from the father of the child or those around her.
Recall God's creation of each of us "in His image" (Gen 1:27). This doesn't mean we look like Jesus, or that God looks like Charlton Heston. The phrase refers to how every human being is made to be in loving relationship with others. Human love mirrors the Divine Trinity as a community of love.
At a recent bioethics workshop, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, encouraged an "alliance between the sexes" as "the most effective response to ideologies of separation or indifference. The alliance of masculine and feminine must again take hold of the tiller of history, of statecraft, of the economy."
He hit the nail on the head. Division and apathy should no longer dominate the conversation about abortion. Identifying ourselves first as members of the human family allows us to work together better as women and men, as friends, spouses, or members of communities to welcome children in danger of abortion. When we focus on mutual cooperation and support, we build healthier families and communities that welcome unborn children and help expectant mothers in need of assistance. These stronger communities are also better equipped to serve all those in need—as exemplified by the generous man I saw at the red light.
Where do we see this image of God working in our culture to increase respect for life? When men, women, and families participate in the March for Life together. When parishioners cooperate to assist an expectant single mother. When youth groups sponsor fundraising drives for pregnancy care centers—just to name a few!
God designed each of us, male and female, to do this thing called life together. Individualism and isolation weaken families and communities. When do we see a culture that cherishes each person, made in God's image? We see it when women and men work together as members of families and communities to end abortion, heal wounds, and welcome human life.
Mary McClusky is Assistant Director for Project Rachel Ministry Development at the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For confidential help after abortion, visit www.hopeafterabortion.com or www.esperanzaposaborto.com.
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