January 12, 2018
offer reflections as we approach the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision
that legalized abortion throughout pregnancy. It's a good time to consider past
efforts and how to continue to build a culture of life. Early on, we focused on
the child destroyed by abortion. Then we learned how best to encourage and
support the mothers experiencing an unexpected pregnancy. As we look to the
future, we need to also consider another person who needs more attention and
assistance: the father.
Fathers of unborn children have no recognized legal
rights. In some cases, a father doesn't know of his child's existence or is not
given an opportunity to weigh in when a mother is considering abortion. As it
is for all those touched by an abortion experience, healing after abortion
is complicated for fathers as well. The U.S. bishops' "9 Days for Life" novena
intention on January 22nd asks that "each person suffering from the
loss of a child through abortion find hope and healing in Christ." (To
participate, visit www.9daysforlife.com.) This prayer effort
recognizes that when a child dies because of an abortion, many feel the loss
and pain, including the father.
pornography, no-fault divorce, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and many other
societal evils also contribute to the fatherhood crisis in society and have a connection
to abortion. Our society often conditions men to view
women as objects and to think that sex is little more than a pleasure-seeking
adventure. When a child is conceived from this mindset, rather than within an
exclusive, permanent relationship between husband and wife, both the mother and
her child often suffer. In many cases, the mother is abandoned and the child
recognizing the unique role of fathers, we more effectively highlight the
humanity of the unborn child. We also affirm marriage—what St. John Paul II called the "sanctuary of
life" —that more effectively welcomes children into
the world. And we bear witness to the crucial role of a father in raising
children. Consideration of the father's role is
important to pro-life efforts.
might argue that encouraging masculinity and fatherhood
harms women's empowerment and personal autonomy; however, these false
dichotomies can distract us from the truth that men and women were designed to
"cling" to each other (Genesis 2:24) in marriage and depend upon each other for
support in family life. Authentic masculinity and fatherhood are pro-woman and
we consider future pro-life efforts, collaboration on fatherhood initiatives between
chastity, family life, and social justice
key. Programs that develop authentic
masculinity and support men's growth in holiness are popular in many dioceses.
The Knights of Columbus offers the "Fathers for Good" initiative for men, a key
part of their larger "Building the Domestic Church" program.
St. Joseph's example. He embraced the role of husband and father in very
difficult and challenging circumstances. Let us pray for his intercession in
our efforts to advance fatherhood and promote a culture of life, both during "9
Days for Life" and throughout the year.
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.org or