As the current ND March for Life Trip Coordinator and former President and Treasurer of ND Right to Life, these past years have been an eye-opening experience of the inner workings of the pro-life movement. From standing in the cold rain at a life chain with St.Joseph County Right to Life to leading the National March for Life inWashington D.C. to volunteering at the Women’s Care Center to lighting candle after candle at the Grotto for the end to abortion, being pro-life has come to permeate every aspect of my life. I did not set out to let being pro-life define me but as I learned more about what being pro-life truly means, I realized that I could not truthfully call myself pro-life and limit this ideal to one aspect of my life. Along my journey in the pro-life movement, I have discovered some important truths about being pro-life that I hope to share with you.
I have often found that there is a huge misperception of what being pro-life means in society today. I have sat in classroom debates, had conversations and often been accused of being a bad person for being pro-life. It is through these encounters where I have realized that the pro-life movement is much more than a legal battle, it is a battle for hearts. Most commonly the thought goes, “you’re pro-life, so you’re against abortion, right?” or “don’t women deserve the freedom to decide what should happen to their body?” While being pro-life means not supporting abortion, it means so much more than that. By its very definition, being “pro-life” means being “for life”. When I say I am pro-life I mean that I am constantly striving to love life, to love my life and to love and cherish the lives of those around me. It is as simple as saying, “I want to love”. Not in this romantic, Disney-esque fairy-tale way, but in a love that allows Christ to shine through in everyone. As pro-lifers we are called not to judge but to love. We do not seek to simply end abortion or euthanasia but to love our neighbors enough that they do not have to face these difficult decisions. It is not our place to look down on those who have chosen a decision we disagree with, it is our place to call them our brother or sister and regard them as a person whose dignity is irrevocable.
As a pro-lifer, I believe in the inherent dignity in all human life. I believe that this dignity deserves to be cherished and celebrated. As a member of the pro-life movement I cannot just oppose abortion, euthanasia and the death penalty. To only oppose abortion and not seek to understand the position of a woman in a crisis pregnancy or a family member hoping to ease the suffering of their elderly grandparent, would be a hypocritical stance. In order to truly promote a culture of life, the pro-life movement seeks to support women in crisis pregnancies, to assist those with mental or physical handicaps and to treat the elderly as beloved members of the human community. Service is just as much a pro-life act as protesting the Roe v. Wade court decision in Washington D.C. The goal of the pro-life movement is not to create legislative change but to create cultural change. To change a culture of death into a culture of life.
This week (Oct. 6th- 12th), the Notre Dame Right to Life Club celebrates Respect Life Week. This week includes a series of events to advocate and promote what it means to be pro-life. We, as a club, seek to challenge the Notre Dame student body. This week we challenge those who consider themselves to be pro-life to consider what that truly means in their lives. We challenge those who consider themselves pro-choice to consider why they hold these beliefs, and most importantly, for those on both ends of the spectrum to enter into discussion with those of opposing beliefs.
I'd like to invite all those in South Bend to attend the various events surrounding Respect Life Week. On Tuesday, Oct. 8th, join the ND Community in a Rosary for Life with Fr. Jenkins at 6:30 pm in the Basilica. Tuesday night at 8pm we will be setting up a pro-life display on South Quad, all are welcome to come out and help! On Wednesday, Oct. 9th, the National Director of the March for Life, Jeanne Monahan, will give a lecture on "What Does it Mean to be Pro-Life?" at 8pm in Mendoza Auditorium. On Thursday, all are invited to share the gift of life through donating blood on Bond Quad from 10am - 3pm and join us for a candlelight vigil at 11pm on South Quad. We will conclude the week on Friday with a LifeFest on South Quad from 5pm-7pm, come celebrate the gift of life with us!
Along my journey toward understanding what it means to be pro-life, I have heard many outstanding speeches, witnessed martyrs to the cause and come to know some of the most loving people. One of the most powerful questions I’ve been asked is this: as U.S. citizens we’ve grown up in the era following the end of slavery and racial discrimination. It is easy, in hindsight, to question our grandparents and great-grandparents, where were you when these atrocities were committed? What did you do to end this terrible evil? It is clear that we are not all called to dedicate our lives to the pro-life cause, but we are all called to witness to the dignity in each and every life. And so I challenge you to ask yourself this, when your children or grandchildren realize that we lived in a time when it was legal to kill a person based off of their stage of development or their health, what will your response be to the question of what did you do to help change our culture into a beloved culture of life?
If you or someone you know has personally been affected by an abortion and would like to talk to someone about it, please contact Project Rachel at: (888) 456-HOPE
If you or someone you know finds themselves in a crisis pregnancy, please contact: 1(800) 848- LOVE and remember that Notre Dame’s policy is that it is committed to life and to providing resources that support the choice of life.