“You are irreplaceable.” That’s the first thing you will see when you go to the website of the Sisters of Life, sistersoflife.org. If you know the Sisters of Life, you might associate the with abortion — they are a group of religious women whose mission is to help mothers — but their fourth vow is “to protect and enhance the sacredness of every human life.” That means they will help any and every pregnant woman they encounter who needs assistance. They are not just pro-birth, often a criticism lobbed at pro-lifers.
The children who are born because there was someone to walk with a pregnant woman in a moment of crisis become family to the Sisters. Their vows make them available for this kind of love and time. They are free to love in a unique way.
In 2012, Pope Benedict handed me a message to all the women of the world. It read: “Women of the entire universe, whether Christian or non-believing, you to whom life is entrusted at this grave moment in history, it is for you to save the peace of the world.”
That’s far from what the critics say are the Catholic Church’s views of women!
Not every woman gives birth, but every woman has the ability to love in a life-giving way. We need this in the world today.
One woman whose example might be able to bridge the false divides between the pro-life camp and their opponents is the late Dorothy Day. She is probably best known as a social activist — a pacifist who was vocal on all the issues of her day in the last century. I’m very aware of her because she was a fellow Catholic New Yorker. She had a key moment of conversion in the church where I spent my undergraduate days, at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She also had an abortion before she converted to Catholicism. And she went to confession once she became Catholic and asked God for his mercy. Even near the end of her life, she wrote about that abortion. That lost life was still on her mind.
As anyone who has had a brush with mortality or lost a loved one knows, life is painfully precious. It’s clearly a gift. We must protect it. We must cherish it.
In the days since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the decision that made abortion the law of the land, there has been a lot of focus on distractions. But women who are pregnant and have cancer can still get the health care they need. When there is a 10-year-old girl who is pregnant, there are bigger questions to ask than how quickly she can get an abortion. Abortion is such a painful issue. That’s why we have to get more fundamental to confront the more foundational issues it involves. What can we do to support families so that children are actually loved and supported and able to flourish?
Abortion isn’t a political issue. It is about so much more. And when we acknowledge that and are willing to work together, we will make progress.
The good news is the Sisters of Life are praying and working to make that happen.
(Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review magazine and author of the new book “A Year With the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living.” She is also chair of Cardinal Dolan’s pro-life commission in New York. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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