November 16, 2018
I was praying the rosary recently on the sidewalk outside of a very busy abortion center in the Washington, D.C., area, where I live. The building, a seedy-looking structure that used to be a convenience store, is located on a busy, divided thoroughfare. Three lanes of traffic head in one direction, and three lanes run the opposite direction. With a major intersection a half block away, heavy traffic often backs up at the red light. Some drivers pretend not to notice the peaceful folks praying or offering pro-life assistance to the mothers, fathers and family members heading into the abortion facility. Some drivers give encouragement, and some will occasionally shout a profanity or give a “thumbs-down.”
The sidewalk is in such a busy location, one really must tune out much of the noise to pray with any concentration for the mothers heading into the abortion facility.
During one of the green light cycles when the cars began to move again, a driver yelled out “Black lives matter!” as he sped off. As his comment sunk in, I realized that his words were both prophetic and challenging. Most of the mothers heading into the abortion facility were black. Most of the children who would die there that day were also black. Their lives have incredible significance to all of us outside the abortion facility who were offering prayers and life-affirming alternatives. To those doing business inside the abortion center, little mattered other than the money.
The abortion industry itself admits that, in the United States, the abortion rate for black women is almost five times that for white women. While every abortion is a tragedy, we should ask ourselves why black children are dying so disproportionately. Why are so many black women abandoned to, and victimized by, abortion? Why has the disproportionate rate of abortion among black women been so ignored by the media, policy makers and abortion advocates?
From the child in the womb to her strong and courageous mother, every life matters. But do I really act accordingly, as the driver proposed? Am I supporting or volunteering at my local pro-life pregnancy care center, maternity home or prenatal care program? Do I work to alleviate poverty, as many women cite lack of financial support as a reason for seeking an abortion? Am I regularly praying for those in great need? Am I working to address racial disparity in its many forms? Now, every time that I return to pray outside that abortion center, I am reminded anew that all black lives matter, and I recommit myself to ensuring their right to life.
Tom Grenchik is the Executive Director of the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities. For more information, visit www.usccb.org/prolife.