I have taken pictures of countless babies that the world will never see. I prayed for them and for their mothers as my heart shattered into pieces. I listened to stories of brokenness that most of us can only imagine. And sometimes I saw light pierce the darkness, experienced God’s grace do big things, and held babies whose lives were saved. I am a nurse sonographer and my heart was forever changed by doing ultrasounds at a crisis pregnancy center.
Before I got into this work, as a Catholic I certainly considered myself pro-life and often prayed for an end to abortion. I voted for pro-life politicians and donated to pro-life organizations. But until I sat down with a woman who was considering aborting her child, abortion was more of a sad faraway issue than a heart-shattering reality. Because of this, I’d like to share with you five things I learned from my time working at a crisis pregnancy center.
1. There is no stereotype of woman who is considering — or has chosen — abortion. I saw married, single, young, older, poor, wealthy, uneducated, and degree-holding women. I saw women who did not know Jesus … and I saw women involved in their church. I saw women who were raped and I saw women who simply didn’t want another child due to inconvenience. I want to say this as gently as possible because I think it’s so important for us to remember in our parishes, our small groups, our ministries — someone you know has had an abortion … and some of you reading this have had an abortion. (If you or someone you know is struggling from a past abortion, HopeAfterAbortion.com is a good place to start. You are loved, and I’m praying for you.)
2. Because of #1, I invite you to always speak truth with love and mercy when it comes to the issue of abortion. In a culture of euphemisms (fetus, termination of pregnancy, reproductive care) we need to speak the truth clearly. We need to educate ourselves and those in our lives about the reality of abortion — that a child is killed and a woman is harmed (emotionally, spiritually, and even physically). We need to be unafraid to say that this is wrong and it is sin. We don’t do any favors by skirting around the issue or being afraid to talk about it. Children are dying and women are hurting — and the healing begins with acknowledging the loss of a real human life. Yet we need to do this with love and mercy. Many women considering abortion feel coerced, pressured, or trapped when it comes to their decision. They need to know of God’s love and that there are people around who will love and care for both them and their babies if they choose life. Many post-abortive women are carrying around immense shame and regret. They need to hear of the great mercy of God, who is ready to forgive through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and to pour out His unending mercy and heal their deep wounds. They need to know they are loved … and we are the hands, feet, and voice Jesus wants to use to love them.
3. We are fighting a spiritual battle. We need to fight this battle for life in politics, philosophy, education, and culture … but never forget that at its very core, this is a spiritual battle. The evil is thick and Satan is strong when it comes to abortion. He attacks motherhood and fatherhood and he fights hard. Only the Evil One could persuade a woman to see the beating heart of her child on an ultrasound and to choose to end its life. That’s not normal; it’s evil. But we do not lose hope because God will have the victory in the end. And we are on His side as we pray, fast, and work for life and souls.
4. There was one woman in particular that I will never forget. She was adamant that abortion was her only option, yet I have held her sweet child in my arms. Part of what makes her story unforgettable is that I saw God raise a village to help save her child. It showed me that everything we do, no matter how small, can make a difference. We listened to her for weeks and loved on her at the crisis pregnancy center. Many people were praying for her, even though they didn’t know her name or situation. A pro-life OB saw her at no cost (and later delivered her baby). A local church held a baby shower for her. A few Catholic women organized a meal train for her. Someone invited her to a mom’s group. Simple things that made a big difference. She later told me that all of these people showing her, a stranger, such love made her look at God and faith in a new way and consider coming back to the Catholic Church. You, my sweet fellow mama, can make a difference. Never underestimate the power of prayer, sacrifice, and small acts of kindness.
5. Love saves lives. Love your families, love your neighbors, love the Lord. Many of the young women we saw were from broken families, often without fathers, and just looking for love. If you want to create a more pro-life culture, follow Mother Teresa’s advice and go home and love your family. Raise your children with deep, abiding, unconditional love. Love your neighbors. You never know what woman in your life is considering an abortion or suffering from a past abortion. And finally, love the Lord. Cultivate your prayer life and ask the God ways He might be calling you to become more actively pro-life (financial donations, prayer support, involvement in the 40 Days for Life campaign going on right now). May He, who is Love itself, be our guide and our example to love and value every human life we encounter.
Which one of these resonates with you the most? How do you think God might be calling you this month of October (Respect Life month) to pray, fast, or work for the greater respect of every human life?
Copyright 2018 Laura Range