Pray — and work — to end abortion

Pro-life advocate Louise Senesi of Infant Jesus Parish in Port Jefferson, N.Y., prays the rosary Sept. 2, 2015, as two women walk toward a Planned Parenthood clinic in Smithtown, N.Y. Photo: CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz Pro-life advocate Louise Senesi of Infant Jesus Parish in Port Jefferson, N.Y., prays the rosary Sept. 2, 2015, as two women walk toward a Planned Parenthood clinic in Smithtown, N.Y. Photo: CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz

The rosary is a staple of the Catholic pro-life movement. But it’s a strange experience praying the joyful mysteries outside an abortion clinic — especially the first mystery, the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary she would bear the Son of the Most High. It seems at once poignantly ironic and perfectly fitting.

Ironic because there is nothing joyful about what goes on in an abortion clinic; fitting because Mary found herself in much the same situation as so many women and girls who believe abortion is their only option.

Mary’s crisis pregnancy

Mary’s was most definitely what we would call a “crisis pregnancy.” It’s been remarked that if the Incarnation took place in modern-day America, the fetus Jesus would be considered a very good candidate for abortion. His poor, unwed, teenage mother’s unplanned pregnancy marked her out for public shame and a life of pain and sorrow, which might easily have been cut short by stoning.

Mary’s fiat to God’s plan was an act not just of faith and obedience, but of tremendous courage and strength.

In the U.S., half of all pregnancies are unintended; 21 percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion; and by age 45, three in 10 women will have had an abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Well over 50 million unborn babies have been aborted in the U.S. since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

These are staggering, heartbreaking numbers, and behind them lie millions of hurting women and men. Right now, untold thousands of women are dealing with crisis pregnancies, feeling at least as terrified as Mary must have felt and wondering if abortion might be the answer.

Prayer is not enough

As Catholics, we must pray for an end to abortion. But prayer, while necessary, is not sufficient. We also must do what we can to help women in crisis pregnancies and those who have had abortions.

We can do this by supporting programs like Prepares, a new statewide initiative by our bishops that aims to “walk the journey” with parents of young children, from conception to age 5 (see page 16); the Gabriel Project, a parish-based ministry to women facing crisis pregnancies; and Project Rachel, the Catholic Church’s healing ministry to those who have been involved in abortions.

With Pope Francis and our bishops, we also ought to advocate for laws and policies that both protect the unborn and address the economic and social circumstances that can lead women to choose abortion.

It is not enough to condemn abortion as the grave injustice and tragedy that it is. We must become for women in crisis pregnancies the strength they need to say yes to life.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!

Northwest Catholic - October 2015

Kevin Birnbaum

Kevin Birnbaum is the editor/associate publisher of Northwest Catholic and a member of Seattle’s Blessed Sacrament Parish. Contact him at Kevin.Birnbaum@seattlearch.org.
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Kevin Birnbaum es el editor de la revista Noroeste Católico/Northwest Catholic y miembro de la Parroquia del Sagrado Sacramento en Seattle. Pueden contactarle en: Kevin.Birnbaum@seattlearch.org.