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How Catholics can reframe the pro-life conversation

As a lifelong Catholic, being pro-life is part of the commitment to the faith.

The Catholic Church teaches that we should care for human life from conception until natural death.

And while that covers various life issues, anti-abortion has been the most vocal issue for years. So much so, that many Catholics have pushed aside other life issues such as healthcare, the death penalty and racism, arguing that we must fight for the lives of unborn children because abortion kills more lives than other issues.

For years, prayers, protests and Masses in the church have been dedicated to overturning Roe v. Wade. So when it finally happened on June 24, I was shocked at the amount of silence from my fellow Catholics.

Because this was their moment — the moment they had been praying for.

I’m sure their silence was for a variety of factors, as was mine. And that’s mainly because I know as a country, we do not have legislation and support in place to force families to have children.

According to data found by The New York Times, most women who receive abortions are already mothers and poor, among other characteristics. Some of this data was surprising to me, as many Christians have described pregnant women as promiscuous and irresponsible.

There are many reasons why women and families consider abortion. And many of those reasons are due to finances and health, issues that as a country we can support — especially if we’re going to force women to have children.

Thankfully, the Catholic Church has programs to support families facing unplanned pregnancies, such as Pregnancy Aid Clinic and Walking With Moms in Need. There are also Catholics helping pregnant mothers carry their children to term and connecting them with couples who want to adopt.

But as Catholics overall, we need to step it up.

Because the reality is, while we were praying for pregnant mothers not to abort their children, we could’ve been doing more to help and support these women.

So in this post-Roe v. Wade era, it is the time to show that “we are Christians by our love” and reframe the pro-life conversation.

And here are some ways we can do it:

Let go of judgment

Many Christians and anti-abortion activists created narratives of pregnant mothers who aborted their babies and their circumstances. They primarily listened to the stories that supported their thoughts and ideals.

But you need to let go of that judgment. In fact, everyone needs to let go of their judgment surrounding abortion.

Since the overturn of Roe v. Wade, more women are coming out and sharing their abortion stories. And I celebrate these women because it takes true bravery to share such a personal situation and decision with others.

And as you listen to their stories, it truly softens your heart about the difficult circumstances and why these women made their choices.

So let go of your preconceived notions about abortion and the women that have them. Listen to their stories. Open up your heart and have compassion for them.

Because that’s what we’re called to do as Catholics.

Don’t stop at the “low-hanging fruit”

Low-hanging fruit is tempting. It’s easy, simple and makes you feel like you’ve done something productive.

For Catholics and people of faith, this would be prayer.

As a Catholic myself, I know the power of prayer. Asking God for help can be a game-changer in any situation. But sometimes, we like to stop there. And that’s not good enough.

It even says in the Bible, “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26)

Now prayer is a great starting point. A prayer that says something like, “God, show me the best way I can support pregnant mothers and their families” is highly encouraged.

But we have to do more than pray because these families need more than prayer right now. They need quality healthcare and financial and community support to help them in this time of preparation and into the future as they raise their child.

This means that we need to support representatives and legislation that supports pregnant mothers and their families. Expecting mothers need closer parking spots for their cars. And we need to have more patience and compassion for children when they come to Sunday Mass and can’t sit still.

There are so many things we can do in addition to praying to support families. I hope you will do something rather than just pray about it.

Because that’s what we’re called to do as Catholics.

Discuss other life issues

For years, anti-abortion was THE pro-life topic and overturning Roe v. Wade was the goal. Now that it’s done, we have MANY MORE pro-life issues to talk about.

Thankfully, many of our Catholic brothers and sisters have been involved in organizations and groups that are discussing the death penalty, racism, sustainability and other social justice issues. All you have to do is join a ministry at your parish or diocese to get started.

Now is the time to listen. It’s time to find out what you’ve missed.

Because all of us were once unborn. All of us were a life in a mother’s womb. And over the years, you have been praying and fighting for us to be born. And now that we’re here, we have life issues that need your compassion and support.

Many are dying unnecessarily because of the color of their skin or inadequate access to food and clean water. Hundreds have left the only home they knew due to war. And hundreds of people, children included, are dying due to gun violence.

So pick a life issue or two if you want. Get involved and ask questions. Be open to learning more about what your brothers and sisters in Christ are experiencing in our country and world.

Because that’s what we’re called to do as Catholics.

Being Catholic/Christian isn’t easy. If it is, you’re not doing something right.

Having faith and living it are two different things. And while it’s easy to sit in a chair, look at others and decide if they’re “doing life right,” our faith calls us to be better than that.

So I challenge my fellow Catholics, and myself, to be better. To not always choose the easy route. To not accept the latest political catchphrase at face value. To have hard discussions — with others and yourself.

Because if we all do our part, I believe we can truly make our communities and country better. We can combat the hatred in our country with love that can rally us together, even if we have opposing views. We can be a living example for the generations to come what it truly means to love one another despite our differences.

Because that’s what we’re called to do as Catholics.

This blog post was originally posted on Medium.

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