Today, March 14th is Pi Day. Pi Day was founded under the auspices of celebrating the number pi, which is 3.14159265359. My fellow nerds usually have celebrations of the magical number, while my fellow food-lovers use it as an excuse to create all sorts of sweet and savory magical concoctions with flour, fruit, caramel, and the like. Normally, I’d be in pi-e heaven. Pun intended.
However, the way that this world has turned has me in a more pensive mood today. Today is the National Walk-Out Day, which was developed by high school students as a way to protest our government’s lack of gun control. Now, as a Catholic who is proudly pro-life, I support this fully, and I’ll tell you why: when someone, whether they be a student, teacher, or otherwise, walks into a school of all places with a shoot-to-kill intention, that is as anti-pro-life as it gets. When parents send their children to school and then receive a phone call that their child has been shot to death, that is the opposite of pro-life. Schools are the cradles of the next generation. Children should not have to worry about their classmates or teachers pulling guns on them and ending all of their dreams in a round of bullets. They should not have to hide in closets that are locked in rooms, then barricaded with furniture by teachers who are praying that they make it to lunch period alive. Our teachers should be focusing on developing the minds of the next generation through art, science, literature, history, and many other subjects instead of learning how to shoot guns in self-defense and hoping that their students don’t suddenly rise up and kill them.
Clearly, this is a painful topic. What makes matters worse, however, are the people who claim to be pro-life saying “Why are these children protesting gun control but they’re allowing innocent babies to be murdered?” It’s at this moment I have to admit, that when I hear such statements, I’m furious. I tend to say a lot of prayers during those moments because those are the moments I want to go on social media rants, but the true reason that I get so angry is because of a lot of people who claim to be “pro-life” place a high premium on the life of the unborn without giving the already-living any further thought. It is most certainly true that a baby does not ask to be aborted. But it is also true that a child does not ask to be murdered in cold blood by a mentally ill person with a gun. We protest on the National Mall about the evils of Planned Parenthood, but we do not advocate for comprehensive medical care in the impoverished communities of America. We wax poetic about the advancements of Catholic-led ethically-based medicine especially in Catholic circles, but we only advertise them to mostly wealthy Caucasian Catholic circles. People of color…often are not invited to these conversations, and therefore, they have no access to the information about the existence of these developments. Let’s not even talk about racism. There are some Catholics who would have you believe that racism has never been a problem in the American Catholic Church, but if you ask many older Catholics of color about their experience with the Church in America, they will tell you stories about what it was like to be banned from parishes due to their skin color, denied Communion, and denied the right to serve as altar servers. If you ask many younger Catholics of color, they will tell of people refusing to acknowledge them and automatically making assumptions about their conversions, when in fact, the person in question has a family history in the Catholic church which dates all the way back to the eighteenth century.
So with this in mind, I’d like to suggest that you investigate these causes if you really want to claim that you are “pro-life.” Read on.
(1) Victims of gun-violence– Given what is happening today, I had to start this one. You cannot claim to be pro-life if you are not a staunch advocate for preserving life that already exists. If you claim to be pro-life, but you’re more concerned about your right to bear arms being infringed upon than burying too many of our nation’s people, then you are not pro-life. You cannot be pro-life and campaign for measures which would potentially put life in danger.
(2) Mothers of the Unborn-This goes without saying. The women who are privileged to conceive, carry, and birth children need to be protected as well as the mothers who mother via adoption. If you’re pro-life, then you need to be advocating for comprehensive pre-and post-natal care. The United States has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the developed world, and Black mothers have an even higher risk of death during or post-delivery. For adoptive mothers, these mothers need support to ensure successful bonding with their babies. Having access to well-trained physicians and mental health professionals ensures a successful adoption. If you’re pro-life, this is another issue that you should look into.
(3) Survivors of Rape, Incest, and Abuse– This is a big issue that often goes unnoticed, and a lot of the male pro-life activists leave this issue out of a lot of discussions. One of the biggest issues that I hear from people who identify as pro-choice is that the pro-life movement does not address survivors of rape and incest, and if we do address it, we address it in a condescending way which dismisses the traumas that these victims have experienced. We have to LOUDLY advocate for comprehensive physical- and mental- health care for these women, especially if they have been impregnated. Many of these victims do suffer from PTSD, and not only is it traumatic for them to have been raped, but the trauma is compounded with the fact that they were impregnated, and every day of their pregnancy is a reminder of what they have gone through. We should not be shaming these women and telling them to leave children on doorsteps (trust me, I’ve seen this). We should not be telling them that God has a way of correcting “True rapes,” and we should not be telling them to keep their legs closed. We also should not be telling them that they asked to be raped with what they were wearing. Nuns have been raped in full habits. Children as young as newborns have been raped. I could go on and on, but I won’t. Rather, we need to provide these women with the best care and support possible. We, especially women, need to lead the way in working with these women to ease their pain and support them.
(4) Adequate Healthcare for all– You cannot be pro-life if you do not support the idea that every person is entitled to healthcare, and healthcare has more of a hold on our society that you would think. Many of our elderly citizens who have made valuable contributions to our society often find themselves choosing between food and medicine for the month because they do not qualify for assistance. That…is not pro-life. Other citizens are diagnosed with terrible diseases which their health insurance companies refuse to cover, and because they cannot always afford adequate treatments in time, they die. Is their fault? Absolutely not. Let’s not even talk about our military veterans, who fight on the behalf of the American people only to come home to the ineptitude of the VA. If a person has been fighting for our country abroad, then they should not have to beg for their medical treatments to which they are entitled upon their return. We pay the salaries of our elected officials through our taxes, and by extension, their healthcare. So why are we paying for them to have the best healthcare in the country FOR LIFE (yes, even after they retire or are unseated in an election, they still get pay and benefits) but we don’t think ourselves worthy? Nah…..true pro-lifers know….you can’t be pro-life if you’re not pro-health. Sorry!
(5) Racism in America– From my experience, a lot of Catholics don’t like to talk about racism, especially when it has to do with our own Church, and I get it. We are the first Christians. We’re the first people who spread forth Christ’s message of loving thy neighbor, turning the other cheek, and spreading the good news of hard as well as accountability for one’s actions. But we tend to fall short when it comes to racism in our Church. A lot of people have fortunately been exposed to racism in our Church or they have never perpetuated racism in our Church, which I am most appreciative of. However, there are many racists in this country who proudly identify themselves as Catholic, and they are the ones who perpetuate the idea that racism is nonexistent in the Catholic church. I’ve heard too many stories about people refusing to shake hands with people of color during the Sign of Peace but shaking hands with their Caucasian parishioners (happened to me too, by the way). I’ve heard too many stories about children being told “to go back to Mexico” by their classmates in Catholic schools, as well as Catholic schools discriminating against children for their hairstyles and clothing worn in honor of historic individuals who made a difference to this country. Some people even complain about the way that Catholic masses are celebrated in mostly POC neighborhoods. If you support the subjugation of another group of people based on their skin color, then you’re not pro-life. Period.
(6) Sexism- Now, in many ways, the Catholic Church is misunderstood when it comes to the roles of women and men in the Church, and I freely admit that. Those who do not understand our traditions would think that we are a backward-thinking and antiquated people who believe that women belong in the home taking care of the children. Never mind that there is a strong record of entrepreneurship and business success amongst Catholic work-at-home moms, we automatically believe that Catholicism automatically equals sexism. For the most part, the naysayers are wrong. However, there is a subset of Catholics who believe that sexism is non-existent. Some of these men believe that women ask to be raped when they wear revealing clothing (Yeah, no), that women are lying about not making as much as men in the same position (as if), and other drivel I won’t write here. Let it be said that I agree with the differentiation of roles between men and women in the Church, even though there are times when the lines must cross amongst the laity. However, I do not agree that women deserve to be treated as less than in our Church because we are women and if you believe that….. #youarenotprolife .
I’ve written a long list here, and I’m not trying to attack anyone personally. Obviously, I wrote this as an observation of my own immediate community, but these can relate to anyone who identifies as pro-life, regardless of religious affiliation. The point that I’m making here is that a society is judged by how we treat our least fortunate of citizens, and if we show that we have no regard for our least fortunate of citizens, then we have no right to call ourselves pro-life. We have no right to say that we are advocates of life if we do not support a fair and equal standard of living for the already-living as well as the right of the unborn child to live.