Pope: All humans are ‘called to stand up for life’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 21, 2012

For the past 21 years, I have been a volunteer in an organization called Sav-A-Life, a non-profit Christian ministry reaching out to women experiencing a crisis pregnancy. Our pregnancy resource center offers free pregnancy testing, as well as maternity and baby clothes, with compassion and confidentiality.

The most important reason I wanted to be involved comes from my belief in the sanctity of human life from conception. At the time I began, women were ending one in three pregnancies, or about 1.5 million a year, in America by abortion.

When on Jan. 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling known as Roe v. Wade permitting abortion on demand during the entire nine months of pregnancy, I was a senior in high school. During the past 39 years, statistics show that more than 50 million unborn in our country have been aborted.

I have always believed abortion was wrong, but did not speak up for life until I learned some eye-opening facts. Charles Swindoll in his book, Sanctity of Life, wrote, “Medical authorities determine a person to be ‘alive’ if there is either a detectable heartbeat or brain-wave activity.”

He goes on to say, “With that in mind, it is eye-opening to realize that unborn children have detectable heartbeats at 18 days after conception and detectable brain-wave activity 40 days after conception. What is so shocking is that essentially 100 percent of all abortions occur after the seventh week of pregnancy.”

A Bible study pointed me to Scriptures such as Psalm 139:13-17 and Jeremiah 1:5 that say God knows us before we are born and humans are described as “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Working together with a group of Christians from various denominations to establish Sav-A-Life gave me a different perspective on abortion. I met a number of women with abortion in their past who struggled to forgive themselves. They told me their experiences at abortion clinics, where they felt they were in a medical assembly line and the surgical procedure was all about the money.

Several years ago, I had to opportunity to hear two speakers – actress Jennifer O’Neill, who helped launch an outreach called “Silent No More” to create awareness of emotional, physical and spiritual consequences experienced by post-abortion women. And, I heard Norma McCorvey (“Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade) speak about how she is now pro-life and how Christian faith influenced her belief, and also her regret for her name being linked to the ruling.

As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I recall that the Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Pope John Paul II once said, “You are called to stand up for life! To respect and defend the mystery of life always and everywhere, including the lives of unborn babies, giving real help and encouragement to mothers in difficult situations.”