“Sister, are you pro-life?”

Last night, with my Rosary in hand, I watched the Dail live debate until the adjournment at 5am. With the five hour time zone difference, for me it didn’t entail an all-night session as it did for friends and fervent pro-life supporters who prayed throughout the night outside the Dail. Recently I have been posting links and coverage to the Protection of Life bill in Ireland on my social media but from some of the emails and messages received, not everyone is happy with my stance. ‘Free will’, ‘choice’ and ‘freedom’ are words that pop up quite regularly as people indicate that the posts are like ‘ramming religion down our necks’. Another broken record is the tune, ‘Look at the Church has done in the past, deal with that first before you lecture to people about morals’.
There is also the other extreme. I remember being asked last year if I was pro-life. It is sad that in this day and age one has even to ask a priest or a sister or a practicing Catholic if they are pro-life. It is an intrinsic part of being Christian. Often there is confusion in terminology. Sometimes sisters who work in a particular way in promoting the dignity of women will advocate themselves as being "pro-choice". This does not equate solely ‘pro-abortion’ however ‘pro-choice’ does include abortion as an option. It also implies that the alternative viewpoint is "anti-choice" just as "pro-life" implies the alternative viewpoint is "pro-death" or "anti-life”.

 As I watched the debate last night, I was also conscious of my ignorance in politics. For those of you who know me you know I am not really a fan of politics. However, I do know what is right and what is wrong. I lost count of how many times yesterday evening when the speakers presented their arguments, that the pro-choice deputies would slip and use the word ‘child’ or ‘baby’ instead of ‘foetus’. Apparently using the word ‘foetus’ detaches the personhood and thus the emotive response to termination of the life whilst speaking of a baby in itself identified personhood, potential and viable life.

I have to confess before I came to Canada, I was what one might call ‘passively pro-life’. Sure, abortion in all its actual and moral complexity horrified and saddened me but my activity in making a difference and standing up for life was within the parameters of my conventual prayer life and occasionally in the world of social media. When I was a teenager I went to some Youth Defence meetings and was a proud wearer of the Precious Feet pin. So when I was asked back in October if I would like to join the Students for Life groups on campus and go to pray outside the abortion clinic close to where we live on Fridays, I hesitated for a moment (me, being me, of course!) but after deciding to go, I haven’t looked back. I blogged about my first experience here.

Being Pro-Life is not about a slogan or a mantra, nor is it just about the issue of abortion, important as it is. Being Pro-Life is a call to be someone who searches for the foundations of the deepest meaning of life and the roots of hope. It is living the fullness of life which is promised in St. John’s Gospel. Remember the humble words of Pope Benedict at the Mass of his inauguration as Bishop of Rome: “We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary”. Yes, humanity needs to hear that each person is willed! Loved with all their faults, their sicknesses! They are necessary because they form part of the huge mosaic of humanity and without them the picture is incomplete! So, being Pro-Life means working for a culture in which every human person is recognised as willed, loved and necessary and where every human person feels assured that they are willed, loved and necessary.

A few weeks ago, I participated in the celebration of Mass in one of the local churches in Ottawa. After communion, at the invitation of the priest, a young mother with a tiny newborn baby approached the altar as the assembly was invited to pray for both of them and entrust them to the protection of Mary. The priest shared how the mother had been told during the pregnancy that her baby was seriously deformed and an abortion was recommended. Thankfully, she refused and the beautiful baby girl was born with a part of her arm missing. Needless to say, there was not a dry eye in the Church. As a premature baby myself, I often wonder how far will we go in determining that premature is too premature. Life continues to surprise us. Experts give judgements and make suggestions but we continue to see that God is the Creator. Daily miracles happen with babies who survive against all the odds. He and He alone determines when natural life begins and ends. To play God is a dangerous game. As Cardinal Brady said, “This Bill represents a legislative and political ‘Trojan Horse’ which heralds a much more liberal and aggressive abortion regime in Ireland. “ I don’t think we realise what we are opening the door to. Tragic as they are, throwing the X case and the death of Savita Halappanavar into the mix results in a continuous blurring of motions and potential of creating legislation that is dangerous and not protective of the life of neither the mother nor the unborn baby. This is only too clear when you see that there are 165 Amendments proposed for the Bill. The debate continues today and possibly even tomorrow. For anyone interested, you can watch online here. The Dail is suspended until 5pm Irish time but then you can follow the proceedings.

I continue to follow from across the ocean with my humble prayer and Adoration and invite you to do too for“more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” (Alfred Lord Tennyson).