By Katie Heusser
I have always appreciated the term “unconditional.” It means without limits, without expectations of anything in return. Unconditional love, the kind that Jesus has for all humans, is the most pure and perfect kind of love. Unconditional beliefs are the strongest principles, often teachings of the Church, that will not fail; even the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
The teachings of the Church, precepts which we as Catholics must uphold even if it costs us our lives, clearly show that each person is a person—a human made in the image of God with an immortal soul “from the moment of conception until natural death.” This teaching should be unconditionally supported by all believers, meaning three things. First, we must raise awareness: Many people, including those who are currently being pressured to allow an abortion of their child, don’t understand the physical process or the fact that the “little lump of flesh” is truly a person they are murdering. Also, the joy of human life is often forgotten in this vale of tears: If a child seems at a disadvantage (genetically prone to Down syndrome, conceived when the parents are financially deficient, et cetera), they are often aborted “to spare them” or to avoid inconveniencing the parent(s). Finally, we must not set limits on how far we are willing to go to save innocent lives. In the words of an anonymous country pastor, “Don’t vote for people who encourage abortion!”
In any high school health textbook, the issue of birth control will be broached. In public schools especially, “the pill” is often rated as essential healthcare for women. The ways that the brutal procedure of abortion is carried out—whether through vacuuming a baby from the uterus until he can’t breathe, shooting a staple through his neck during birth, tearing him out of the mother limb by limb, or any of the new ways of “making sure a woman has control of her own body”—is lightly glossed over by the terms “doctors perform a surgical procedure” or “the cells are extracted.” If many women understood exactly what was happening to their babies, surely they could not go through with their abortions; and surely their partners, who might be more than equally “guilty” of the conception of the child, could not encourage them to do so. The dehumanizing effects of birth control pills on both babies and mothers are also taught to virtually no one, but well-informed Christians can help.
Children conceived black, poor, with genetic disorders, with mutations, or missing limbs are often the first to be aborted. Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, advocated for America to pursue eugenics: the purification of the race (yes, the white race) by selective breeding. If the world went according to her plan, all those amazing poets or artists who go about in wheelchairs, the man who taught himself to play guitar with his feet because he was handless, and most pro basketball players would have been murdered before they had the chance to develop their talents. Beautiful things can come out of even the most difficult beginnings; even if parents do not feel equipped to deal with their soon-to-be-born disabled child, they can set him up for adoption by a couple who has been longing for a child and who might possess more skills, patience, or financial assets. I personally would rather be born with a genetic disease, in a minority group, as a dwarf, or even without legs (and coming from a dancer, that means a lot!) than never be born at all. All types of human life are beautiful and must be allowed to continue, no matter what the cost of convenience.
Jesus has especially called Christians to serve Him with regard to life. To serve unconditionally, teenagers need to stop shrinking from telling their friend not to get an abortion because “I don’t want to hurt her feelings” or being scared to speak out when a Planned Parenthood rep comes to their school because “I don’t want to be different.” On Facebook, I’ve seen students gloss over posts that blatantly encourage government coverage of birth control costs. I have friends who have testified in catechism class: “I try not to talk about religion-y stuff because that often ends in arguments.” Well, as I’m sure St. Paul would counter, sometimes serving Jesus means we have to argue. It’s not like it’s illegal, especially in the country of free speech, to argue for life. If a sexually active friend is taking the pill, she needs to understand what she’s doing. If someone you follow on Instagram keeps posting stuff about how “it’s my body,” you can’t let her lead others astray. Jesus’ servants must counter the anti-life messages; it doesn’t matter how “uncool” it is. If you become a social pariah, but in the process save a child’s life, Jesus says it’s worth it: “Blessed are you who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for yours is the kingdom of heaven.”
In conclusion, as St. John Paul II wrote, we must “proclaim [raise awareness], celebrate [show joy in those who are ‘flawed’], and serve [even if it leads to arguments] the gospel of life.” Catholics, and others who believe as we do, must unconditionally, without limits of any kind, and sometimes without any discernible results, continue to fight for the rights of the preborn. We must act soon and well, placing ourselves unconditionally in the pro-life camp, before another few million babies have been murdered while we looked on in silence.
Katie Heusser won an honorable mention in Category 2 of CLSP and IEW’s Pro-Life Essay Contest.