Commentary

All for one life and one for all life

Originally Appeared in : 9912-6/6/19

We Catholics are pro-life people. Yet like many overused words, the word “pro-life” has been narrowed to refer only to our being against abortion. Yes, Catholics are against abortion.

 

But Catholics are for life. For life. For all.

 

Shortly after the Alabama legislature voted to ban abortion, the state of Alabama executed a man and has scheduled another execution May 30. Pro-life people cannot applaud the abortion ban and ignore the executions. Doing so is antithetical to our belief that all people — all — are created in the image of God.

 

When our lawmakers cut Medicaid benefits, many pregnant mothers and their babies are placed at risk for lack of adequate healthcare. More American women are dying of pregnancy-related complications than in any other developed country. And, only in the U.S. is the rate of women dying rising.

 

A country that values life should not be the most dangerous developed country for a woman to give birth. The poor and vulnerable suffer from cuts in Medicaid. Catholics believe that healthcare is a human right, not a privilege. Being pro-healthcare for all is a pro-life position.

 

A commitment to reduce gun violence and its trauma is a pro-life position. In March 2018, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development published “A Mercy and Peace Building Approach to Gun Violence.” This document lists measures to address gun violence. Among them are a ban on assault weapons and limits on civilian access to high capacity weapons and ammunition magazines. These measures are pro-life.

 

At this writing, our country is providing arms to Saudi Arabia to support the war in Yemen. Thousands of civilians have perished and countless others face a humanitarian crisis. Pro-life people must do all we can to end the bloodshed. Too often we choose ignorance, or we look the other way.

 

The same is true of all armed conflict. War is antithetical to life. Pro-life people should be universally advocating for peace. As the mother of a soldier, I am deeply disturbed that Congress has abdicated its role to oversee conflict. Since 2001, the United States has relied on the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to empower the president to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Since then, the AUMF has been expanded to include conflict against terrorists in seven countries. And most Americans (including many in Congress) have no idea what’s going on. In addition to costing lives, these conflicts have cost billions of dollars. Pro-life people seek to end war.

 

One of the most crucial pro-life issues we face is the very real threat of climate change. The well-being of our planet depends upon our taking action to reduce carbon emissions. Pope Francis, in his encyclical “Laudato Si,” writes: “[T]he ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion…Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.” Climate change first has its greatest impact on those in poverty, whom we are called to protect, yet its eventual effects will be felt by all. As a grandmother, I fear for my grandchildren’s future unless we take bold and immediate steps to address climate change. We will also see much more migration as a result of climate change. We know that migrants are not being treated with the compassion and care they deserve.

 

At our southern border, we daily see assaults against life. Desperate people are seeking refuge from violence and dire poverty, and, rather than address the humanitarian crisis created there, some demonize them. Children have been separated from their parents. In May, a sixth child died in U.S. custody. Families are being held in for-profit detention centers. Our collective conscience as a Church of immigrants must insist that these deadly assaults against asylum seekers be stopped.

 

Lest a reader doubt that these and more assaults against life are as important as protecting the unborn, I end with a description of the Last Judgment: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (Mt 25:31-32)

 

The Catholic Catechism for Adults provides this commentary on the Last Judgment. “The sheep will inherit the Kingdom of God. The goats will be sent to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. In this parable, the criteria for being saved are described whether one fed the hungry, gave water to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, cared for the sick, and visited the prisoners.” (Chapter 13, page 157)

 

According to our faith, our salvation depends upon protecting all human life in all ways.

 

References:
U.S. maternal mortality worst in developed world:
https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(16)31470-2.pdf
Child border deaths: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-48375144

 

Mary Hood Hart is a freelance writer and educator living in Pittsboro, NC. She can be reached at maryhoodhart@gmail.com

 

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