In the Old Testament book of Jeremiah, God says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” (Jeremiah 1:5). To be pro-life is to respect life from conception to natural death. God knows every hair on our heads; therefore, we are all loved and made unique in God’s image and likeness. As Catholic students, we proclaim, we celebrate, and we serve God unconditionally from the moment we are conceived to the day we are called back to Him.
Science proves that human life begins at its inception, which is when the sperm from a male fuses with the egg from a female. Since 1973, when abortion was decriminalized in the United States, 60 million abortions have occurred (Christianliferesources.com, 2017). Sixty million souls have been taken. Catholics must guide those considering abortion to know that God is perfect and infallible. The woman contemplating aborting her baby must understand that the life within her has an inherent purpose and a right to fulfill his or her purpose. We also need to help her understand that there is a reason she is having that child. Today, medical advances can determine genetic disorders such as Down syndrome in utero, allowing parents to abort a baby with disabilities and differences. For example, Iceland has claimed to have no cases of Down syndrome because of abortion (independent.co.uk, 2017). Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by a third copy of chromosome 21 (ndss.org, 2017). One Sunday, my family and I were at Mass and watched a family with three young boys. One of the boys had Down syndrome. They met older relatives at Mass and the entire family was filled with joy when the son who had Down syndrome came into the pew. He hugged them and gave them fist bumps. He gave us fist bumps as well when it was time to give the sign of peace. God made him for a reason just like He made each and every one of us for His greater purpose. It is our job as pro-life advocates to protect those who are defenseless in our society.
Being unconditionally pro-life does not end when a baby is born. We must respect life until death. This includes helping those who struggle with substance abuse. It includes those with disabilities and mental challenges. But it begins at the personal level. Smiling and living life joyfully sets an example to others about how valuable life is. Avoiding drugs and alcohol abuse shows dignity and respect for God’s creation. By living a life of dignity and serving those in need, physically and spiritually, we set an example for those who may not accept or recognize God’s many gifts.
One of our society’s greatest conflicts is euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. In Oregon, California, Vermont, Washington, and Colorado, PAD is legal. My great-grandmother passed away a few years ago. She had dementia, which is a brain disease that affects memory. Both the doctors and my great-grandfather knew she was going to die soon. For days, my great-grandfather lovingly sat by her side in the hospital and told her stories of how they met and their life together. As a family, we too heard these stories, many we had never heard before. In those moments, we learned the importance of dignity of her life, and all life. We also learned the importance of love and marriage, specifically the vow to be together “until death do us part.” We would not have learned these things if doctors would have been able to decide that my great-grandmother was not worthy of care and life until God decided it was her time to leave. My great-grandfather cared for her and helped her even in her dying days. My dad’s father, my grandfather, has Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s is a long-term disorder that mainly affects the motor system. My grandmother cares for him and makes sure that his life has value. Though he will not be cured, my grandfather’s life is full and happy.
Through the example of my great-grandfather and now my grandmother, I have learned what it means to serve the gospel of life. It means that we, as humans, are not God; therefore, we have no rights to destroy life itself. Through my experiences and experiences of others, I have come to realize the importance of life and how I am able to live it as a Catholic and as a pro-life student. Being an unconditional proponent of life means that we must protect all human life from beginning to end, no matter who the person is, how they look, or how they act. We are all created in the image and likeness of God and we are all created for a greater purpose in this world.
© 2018 Eliza Ainsworth. Published with permission. Photo by Andreas Wohlfahrt from Pexels