Tag Archives: pro-life

The Other Other Pro-Life

By Matt Keppel

Now, I’m not much for a soap-box… not big ones at least.  Nevertheless, some soap-boxes are worth speaking on, especially when the discussions come down to issues of life.  Yes, this is an article about being pro-life! (knowing nods and eye-rolls) Not abortion or death penalty, but the life of the family. When it comes to pro-life issues, family life is often lost or looped in with abortion, but the life of the family is by every right a major issue on its own (albeit intimately connected to the others).

The Church in the United States has, since its coming, always been one of the working class. Our fathers and grandfathers worked in factories and fields toiling for a better life and we got just that.  We were given power in this country. Many of us even made names for ourselves! We knew what we wanted; we fought for our rights as the working class and have thrived because of it. Even still, we may have fought so hard to get what we thought we wanted that we have strayed from our banners. Indeed, it is time to pick up our heads and see that in our fight for a better life we have left our families behind.

Last week, how many of us put in more than 40 hours of work for our jobs? (You look silly raising your hand, but that’s okay we don’t judge…yet) Now, how many of you have families? Young children? I’m sure that we have all heard how workers in the United States take the fewest vacation days in the West (Euro-based countries). This should not come as a surprise to anyone as we witness it year after year. Does this practice just happen? Every day I see students who derive their self-worth by the work that they produce, and it’s encouraged by their schools and families. It only follows that those same people would carry over those feelings when it comes to a job. Do we think that some magical change of heart takes place between childhood and adulthood? If so, let me be the first to tell you that you’ve been deceived.

It is time to begin that change of heart. As Catholics, we have fought the good fight and we’ve run the race. Many are tired of fighting, some believe that there is nothing more to fight for, yet I tell you that much is to be gained. Our families deserve it. Our children deserve parents who are present during their formative years. They deserve both mothers and fathers receiving time off to take care of newborn children. As the Church itself lays out in its Rights and Dignity of Workers, we deserve to take this time simply because we are created by God. It’s an issue of social justice just like abortion, poverty, and the death penalty, though it certainly does not have the sex appeal.

I believe in the value of a hard-day’s work. I know what it feels like to produce something beautiful (as a former brewer, right now it tastes like bitter-chocolate stout). However, at the end of the day, everything we do is for the good of those around us. Our jobs are good insofar as they help us to build the kingdom of God, which, in most cases, begins with our family. It is now time to take care of our families, not just by providing an earning, but by being present physically, spiritually, and emotionally.


A Parent’s Open Letter to Richard Dawkins


By Katie Morroni

My friend J.D. has composed a beautiful, open letter to Richard Dawkins — and it’s by far the best thing I’ve read in some time.

Before J.D. and his family moved to Nebraska, I babysat for their son Max a few times — so in a very small way, I have experienced the joy J.D. mentions, evident in playing games, reading stories, and rocking their sweet then-baby to sleep. I pray Richard Dawkins accepts this invitation, or otherwise encounters such joy.

I can’t very well put forward this letter that speaks so much to my heart without adding another part of the reason why: My husband and I are preparing to welcome our first child into the world later this year! Just yesterday, I felt an actual kick for the first time, and with that has come a whole new, different awareness of the baby. So know that that’s how I approached this letter, albeit subconsciously at first. And now I can’t help but shudder to think of how our society decides if a child is or is not “worthwhile.”

You’re invited to read this beautiful excerpt below, but I think you’ll want to follow this link to read the full letter.

I have two children with Down syndrome. They’re adopted. Their birth-parents faced the choice to abort them, and didn’t. Instead the children came to live with us. They’re delightful children. They’re beautiful. They’re happy. One is a cancer survivor, twice-over. I found that in the hospital, as she underwent chemotherapy and we suffered through agony and exhaustion, our daughter Pia was more focused on befriending nurses and stealing stethoscopes. They suffer, my children, but in the context of irrepressible joy.

I wonder, if you spent some time with them, whether you’d feel the same way about suffering, about happiness, about personal dignity. I wonder, if you danced with them in the kitchen, whether you’d think abortion was in their best interest. I wonder, if you played games with them, or shared a joke with them, whether you’d find some worth in their existence.

And so, Dr. Dawkins, I’d like to invite you to dinner. Come spend time with my children. Share a meal with them. Before you advocate their deaths, come find out what’s worthwhile in their lives. Find out if the suffering is worth the joy.

Guest Opinion: Pro-Life? Support Paid Maternity Leave


By Michael Lewis, Guest Contributor

President Obama made a splash on June 23 when he took four working families out to lunch at Chipotle after announcing his support for some kind of paid maternity leave in the United States. In his statement, the president said that the U.S. is the only developed country that does not offer working women any sort of paid leave to give birth or spend time with a newborn. In fact, President Obama said, “many women can’t even get a paid day off to give birth—that’s a pretty low bar.”

The President’s announcement of support received little media attention as he failed to back a concrete piece of legislation to back up his support for paid maternity leave. His political opponents—many of them champions of the pro-life movement—dismissed the idea as another unnecessary, expensive government program. Obama walks the walk on paid leave, however—White House employees receive six weeks paid leave to give birth, a policy instituted when the President took office in 2009. Perhaps the disinterested reaction is not a result of our lack of caring for new mothers, but a reflection of the low value American society places on having children.

It used to be men and women married at 20 or 21, the husband had a good job that paid well, and they bought a home and had babies. Such was the American dream when our parents were growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Dad worked to pay the bills and put food on the table, and Mom took care of the kids.

Now, however, many young people of prime childbearing age are pursuing advanced degrees and careers—and thereby delaying pregnancy—partly out of ambition and partly out of financial necessity. The widespread use of contraception makes it easy to remove the procreative aspect from sexual love, and many women are finding that when they get around to trying to conceive, their years (or decades) on the pill permanently altered their bodies, making conception difficult.

In addition, today’s economy makes it hard for families to survive on one income, and as the President said, taking time off to have a baby can be a financial burden for many middle class families. The Family Medical Leave Act provides employees with up to 12 weeks of medical leave, but for the vast majority of workers, this benefit is unpaid, and again, many cannot afford to lose three months of income. In contrast, countries such as Canada offer up to 17 weeks of leave, with compensation of 55% of wages up to 15 weeks. Sweden offers 480 days per child, at 80% of salary. Other nations such as Poland, Germany, France, Slovakia and other Eastern European countries offer varying levels of benefits for new parents, paid for by Social Security programs or national health funds.

Continue reading Guest Opinion: Pro-Life? Support Paid Maternity Leave

“We’re all the abnormal children of God.”

First Things just published a short essay from my friend J.D. Flynn, who comments on a disturbing NPR story and his experience raising “abnormal children.”

I’m not naïve about the challenges parents face when children have a disability. My children are significantly delayed. They undergo programs of extensive physical and occupational therapy. My daughter was born just a year ago, and is already facing her second bout with leukemia. Parenting disabled children is hard, and anyone who says otherwise is dishonest.

Yet children like mine spread a kind of joy that begins with their own unflappable optimism. I don’t know why children with Down syndrome, and other profound medical conditions, are this way. But I know that they are. And that we’re in danger of losing their joy because we’ve largely replaced moral reasoning with technocratic idealism.

… Abnormal people are not the exception to the rule, or the flaw in the system. Abnormal people are the norm. We’re all the abnormal children of God. If we can rejoice in our own abnormality, we might just save those who point the way to Paradise.

Follow this link to read his important reflection in full.

Related post: On Birth Defects & Loving Better

On Birth Defects & Loving Better


Last week, the Washington Post‘s political blog The Fix addressed Americans’ opinions about abortion and “how Republicans can win the abortion issue.” I’m happily retired from politics and not interested in discussing this political strategy described, but something did give me pause.

The Fix reports that 70 percent of Americans support abortion in the case of a possible birth defect. 70 percent! (Note: The blog post and accompanying chart label this differently all 3 times it is mentioned: “potential,” “likely,” “strong chance of.” To me, the meaning of those words vary and it’s not clear how the question appeared on the actual survey. But I digress.) Let me say this again: 7 out of 10 Americans support killing unborn babies who might have a birth defect. That’s not to mention the specific heartbreaking issue of our country aborting 92 percent of babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

As Catholics and Americans, how can we work to shift public opinion here? All people are created in the image and likeness of God, and have an intrinsic dignity and worth. The value of a person is not at all linked to what they accomplish or how they look. How can we help more people know this?

My archbishop here in Denver, Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, has written about this, and suggests that a lack of understanding dignity is not the issue at all:

In truth, the disabled are aborted not because their lives have no dignity, or because they will suffer unbearably. They are aborted because we find disability disruptive and disturbing. The vulnerability of the disabled exposes our humanity. The disabled pose the threat of forcing us to change, to be compassionate, and to love.

Jesus Christ was killed for the same reason. Christ, beaten and broken, was crucified because the Gospel is disruptive and disturbing. It exposes our humanity. It challenges us to love. But Pilate forced his crucifiers to gaze upon the man they would kill — to stare into the face of love, and injustice, before they called for his blood. … Can we continue to call abortion “compassion?”

This is not a simple issue, and there are no short answers here. These stats are just a small piece of a plague that infects many aspects of our culture. But where do we start? What can we do today? What little ways or big changes can we pursue?

Perhaps what I’m really asking is: How can we love better?

Join the conversation by posting a comment below or connecting with us on Twitter or Facebook.

An Excerpt from +Sean O’Malley’s Pro-Life Homily

Students at March for Life Vigil

Students at March for Life Vigil

I just returned from a 4-day trip to Washington, DC with a group of 50 high school students.  While my body is exhausted, my spirit is galvanized. I’ll post more detailed reflections on the experience later. For now, I’d like to share a small piece of what was, for me, the most powerful part of the whole experience: +Sean O’Malley’s homily at the Pro-Life Vigil Mass at the National Basilica.

Continue reading An Excerpt from +Sean O’Malley’s Pro-Life Homily

The Life and the Heart (of Jesus): A Pro-Life Homily



This homily was preached at Gate of Heaven Church, South Boston, MA on the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, June 7, 2013.

In reflecting upon the Sacred Heart of Jesus and also considering our purposes for gathering here this evening, to pray for an end to abortion, a conversion of those who support it and forgiveness for those who have participated in it, we must ask ourselves: Just how merciful is God?

The answer comes back loudly and clearly: God is more merciful than we could have ever imagined.

Continue reading The Life and the Heart (of Jesus): A Pro-Life Homily

My Friends Who Never Were


Very often an argument in favor of legalized abortion is that since the fetus (at a certain stage) is not viable, it is not actually a human person and is thus not worthy of the legal protections given any other person.  It’s not my point to argue this point (which I believe to be categorically, philosophically, and ethically flawed) that is another post.

My point here is, quite plainly, to mourn the entire series of friends that I have may had if the radical potentiality of millions of human lives of my generation had not been snuffed out through abortion.  I cannot help but consider how much better those of my age (and many years north and south of me) would be, if we had gotten to know the fifty-something million aborted children of the last forty years.  Think about the scientists, the spouses, the peacemakers, the doctors, the friends that would have made our country intellectually, spiritually, and materially richer.
There’s often an analysis made of religious life that a certain generation in the post-Conciliar years “never arrived,” that is to say, an entire generation of men and women never entered religious life.  As a result, religious life now faces a personnel gap.  As I sit here now, I make the same staggering point about our own country: there are swaths of generations that never arrived.  And even more maddeningly, it is not because of the changing mores that brothers, sisters, and priests decided the Lord had called them elsewhere.  Rather, it is due to the fact that society writ-large decided that the potentiality of human life is legally subservient to, well, just about everything.
And so today, perhaps more than any other, is not just a day of prayer for conversion, but also a day to mourn: to mourn the friends my generation never had.
I trust in the mercy of the Lord for those who were never born; I, however, beg for the Lord’s mercy upon those of us here, who wallow in the poverty of those who never were.

This post originally appeared on Matthew Janeczko’s personal blog newsandals.blogspot.com on January 22, 2013 and is reprinted with permission of the author.