Alan Rabjohns on the importance of the pro-life movement and the many different ways in which we can support it
I am hated because I declare life. I’ve been hated since conception. But loved especially by God. I’m His girl; you don’t mess with God’s girl’.
These words were spoken by Gianna Jessen, an abortion survivor. In the Seventies a single mother in the USA booked in for a late abortion. This was to be done by injecting a saline solution into the amniotic fluid. It would burn the unborn baby inside and outside and it should emerge dead. But that didn’t happen on this occasion. A live girl was born and instead of being strangled, smothered or left to die she was transferred to hospital.
Respect for life
Gianna survived; survived the abortion procedure; survived the weeks of intensive care; survived foster homes where she was unloved and undervalued; survived disabilities caused by the botched abortion. She survived to tell the tale, and tell it she does with passion and conviction and with love.
Having found God she has no fear; she has met and forgiven her birth mother. She travels the world urging people to respect life and rejoices in the wonderful irony that the abortionist had to sign her birth certificate, stating that she was ‘born during saline abortion’.
We remind ourselves often that the Catholic faith is not a buffet menu where you can take and choose what you like and leave behind things less palatable. So we say, rightly, that you cannot have the beauty of Catholic worship and leave behind the assurance of the Apostolic Ministry; that you cannot have a religion founded on the Holy Scriptures and then dismiss them as relative and constrained by the mores of the times.
In the same way we need to grasp that the issues of life and death are not areas where we have choice. In all our talk of rights, the right to life is the first and overriding right, the one without which all others are useless.
It is possible to approach the issue of abortion from all sorts of angles. The thing that first convinced me in the Sixties that the path the western world was choosing was the wrong one was a paper called Abortion or Social Justice, which showed how abortion was being used to cover up failures in housing, child care and so on.
But the approach which Gianna uses unashamedly is the Christian one. When I was researching for a section in a book called Love Your Unborn Neighbour on the evidence of Scripture and the teaching of the Church it became clear to me that up to the beginning of the twentieth century there was virtually no debate about this. Evidence from the Bible, the teaching of the Church Fathers of both east and west, the theologians of the Middle Ages and Reformation figures such as Luther and Calvin give unanimous testimony to the fact that Christians do not and cannot support abortion.
Since the Sixties abortion has become more and more widespread in the world. Arguments about the rights of women to do what they want with their own bodies have ignored the fact that there is another person involved, the unborn child in her womb who is created in the image and likeness of God just as much as she herself. In the time you have taken read this article another unborn child will have died in Britain. If you place your hand on your wrist and feel your pulse, every time your heart beats another child will have been aborted!
When all this started those of us in the pro-life movement warned it would escalate. Our predictions were dismissed as scaremongering. But today the handicapped are at even greater risk; it is legal to abort if serious disability is suspected right up to the time of birth. And daily the clamour for ‘voluntary’ euthanasia grows.
There are all sorts of ways to be involved in the fight for life. We can get involved in caring, providing alternatives to abortion for those faced with the choice. We can be involved in the political process. There is an all party parliamentary pro-life committee which uses the pro-life organizations to alert the public and especially churches when there are issues before Parliament. Read such appeals and act on them. And we can educate. I am a trustee of the Right to Life Charitable Trust and we have over the past years produced a DVD and a pack for secondary schools that has won endorsement from one of the exam boards for its contribution to the curriculum and we are now trying to raise money to educate on life issues in primary schools.
If you teach or preach, do not be afraid to proclaim God’s word on this issue. Should you fear that you might offend, remember that you might also call to repentance and healing those other victims of abortion, grieving mothers and fathers, scarred for life until the healing touch of Christ in Word and Sacrament comes to them.
I want to let Gianna have the last word:
‘I didn’t survive so that I could make people comfortable. If you think I am a fool, that is just another jewel in my crown. My whole intent in living is to make God smile. I’ve got a sign on my forehead that says you’d better be nice to me because my Father runs the world.’
‘Learn by the weak: snuff them out and you suffer.’ ND