Once again, Catholics in the archdiocese—on their own and with parish and school groups—turned out in impressive numbers for the annual rally and March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Monday.
The unwavering commitment of these New Yorkers, matched by that of hundreds of thousands of others from around the country, has made the march the success that it is: A peaceful and powerful expression of the pro-life movement’s strength.
We’re proud of those who make that journey year after year, sometimes in bitter cold temperatures and, at times, blizzard-like conditions, and we’re grateful to them too.
We’re saddened, though, that the March for Life—held on the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion—is still needed, that more than a million women abort their unborn babies each year, that too many of us fail to recognize the dignity and worth of every human life.
It’s been 39 years since Roe v. Wade was handed down. Since then, despite laws here and there restricting the practice of abortion, most notably the ban on partial-birth abortions, it remains an all-too-common “solution” for unplanned and unwanted pregnancies.
Unfortunately, for many women, especially young women and girls with few resources, abortion may be the only solution they see. They may not be aware of the many fine programs, residential and nonresidential, that will nurture them through a pregnancy and help them welcome their baby into their lives or lovingly place it for adoption. In the archdiocese, for instance, Good Counsel Homes operates a number of such programs; so do the New York Foundling and Rosalie Hall in the Bronx, among others.
These are programs that all of us who respect life can support, whether activists in the pro-life movement or not.
Just as important, however, and maybe more so, is that we need to encourage a society where women, especially young women, see a value in their own lives and have hope for the future. We also need to help them reject a negative path of impulsive and irresponsible sexual behaviors that could lead to an unplanned pregnancy and the tragedy of abortion. Then they can embrace a positive path that could lead to an education, a good job and a stable family and home.
Where to begin? With educational efforts that stress the achievements of women, with church and community programs that focus on life skills and healthy living, with sports, drama clubs, mentoring, scholarships, summer camps and excursions.
The main thing, however, is a positive message that starts early and stays strong—even if the message has to struggle to be heard.
Young women must understand that they’re an important part of God’s plan for the world, that they have an inherent dignity as human beings—as do their unborn babies—and that motherhood, when it comes, is a blessing, not a burden.
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