Society

How to be pro-life without all the yelling

I realize now that all of my years of lecturing about life probably didn't convert a single mind, or soul

For as long as I remember, I’ve always been unapologetically pro-life. When I was in public high school I used to wear a shirt that said ABORTION and had a red X through it. (Yes, I really did that.) In my junior-year speech class, I began by imposing a 30-second moment of silence, and then proceeded to tell my uncomfortable audience how many babies had been slaughtered while we paused. And beyond the debates I participated in during my AP Government class, I was always willing to face whomever, whenever, however the issue was brought up.

Although the t-shirt is long gone, I am still as adamantly opposed to abortion as I ever was. And while I will still never shy away from someone who asks me my opinion on the topic, I now reflect that perhaps in all my years of confrontation on the issue, I never changed one person’s stance. In fact, all my efforts and enthusiasm seemed to yield the opposite effect: emotions charged, convictions challenged and strengthened, heels more securely dug into the ground.

We adults tend to believe what we believe and frequently, arguments for a contrary point, however practical or impassioned, do little to change our minds. This is especially true of a topic like abortion.

Truly, our hearts and mindsets in all things can only be transformed by God’s whispers, and sometimes his shouts, softening and molding our hearts. And oftentimes, through real relationships, he gently uses people.

With this realization, it has become exponentially more important for me to find other ways to demonstrate my passion and support for the pro-life cause, without simply talking (lecturing) about it. My desire now is to be authentically and purposefully pro-life, so much so that people who come in contact with me would know that I value life, all life and at all stages, without my saying a word.

I try to stay on the lookout for ways to put my pro-life convictions into action. For example, instead of donating my used clothes and other items to the Goodwill less than a mile away, I drive across town to a thrift store connected to a pregnancy distress center that uses all proceeds to support women facing unplanned pregnancies. Because, with four young children, it’s difficult to commit to praying at an abortion clinic on a weekly basis (and yes, I do worry about safety), I can say a rosary at home for all women who may enter our local abortion clinic that week. On my list of charities that I support, I always include a pro-life charity. I talk to my kids about abortion, they know what it is and understand why it’s always the wrong choice for both the mother and the baby. And, as hard as it is, and even though I find it a constant struggle, I have committed to practicing Natural Family Planning instead of using the pill.

There are so many things we can do to provide a pro-life example to others. Perhaps we don’t personally know anyone facing an unplanned pregnancy (obviously if we do, we need to become her number one advocate, and put money and time where our mouth is), but our more ordinary life might give plenty of occasions: always respond positively to pregnancy announcements; smile and speak words of understanding to mothers struggling with noisy, cranky, or disruptive children at the store (and at Mass!); take a meal to a new mother, even if you don’t know her personally; rock a “Choose Life” license plate; volunteer at a pregnancy distress center; attend fundraisers for pro-life causes; support pro-life initiatives such as And Then There Were None, and so many more possibilities.

According to statistics provided by the American Life League, two babies die as the result of abortion every minute. To put that into perspective, while reading this article alone, we lost six or eight American lives. There is no time to be complacent with the pro-life mission, but if we want to change hearts on the issue, our words and arguments — no matter how passionate — will never be enough.

Dave McIlrath

Maria Garabis Davis

Maria Garabis Davis holds a Juris Doctor degree and a BA in theology. A former youth minister and now practicing attorney, she resides in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and four children.