By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published January 23, 2023
For women who live comfortable lives, pregnancy usually means a big shower, where folks arrive with festive boxes decked out with ribbons. It means laughter and games, punch and cake, as the mom-to-be exclaims over each gift.
For a poor woman, pregnancy can trigger the deep-seated fear that she might lose her job and her housing. She might not have a shred of support from the father or her family members. She usually isn’t showered with baby clothes and toys.
When it seems there’s nowhere else to turn, many frightened, desperate women have an abortion. Still, when people show women there is indeed someone to turn to, the notion of having a baby can lose its frightening aspects.
Mother Teresa said: “How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love, and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even his life to love us.”
Love can mean providing housing and childcare, paying off the looming bills and getting the woman prenatal care. Love means being a friend to the woman before her baby is born, and afterwards. It means staying the course with moms who choose life, which is the mission of organizations like Birthright of Atlanta.
In a newsletter, Lisa Olwine, the director of Birthright of Atlanta, described some of the pregnant women the organization serves. One woman suffered from an extreme form of morning sickness, which was interfering with her job. The sole support of two children, she was scared of being evicted and was reluctantly considering abortion.
Birthright helped pay her rent and encouraged her to work with her doctor to find a medication to decrease her morning sickness. “Eliminating the fear of eviction…gave her the confidence to continue her pregnancy,” writes Olwine.
Another woman had delivered a stillborn baby at 39 weeks the year before, and then discovered she was pregnant again. She was still grieving and was afraid of reliving that anguish.
On her own, she couldn’t afford professional counseling to help her through her grief, but Birthright paid for sessions with a therapist. As emotional healing took place, she gained the confidence to continue the pregnancy.
Walking with Moms in Need is a national Catholic program that many parishes throughout Georgia have put into place. The underlying principle is that violence never solves problems, but love and support do.
Parishioners join together to support pregnant women in the community by helping them find resources, including housing, medical care–and most of all, companionship.
Some parishes throw baby showers for the ladies and accompany them through pregnancy and motherhood. You can find resources for starting a parish program at www.walkingwithmoms.com.
One of the most compelling testimonies to life in the womb comes when the Virgin Mary visits Elizabeth, who is pregnant with a baby eventually to be called John the Baptist.
When Elizabeth sees Mary, the baby in her womb jumps for joy. This means an unborn child is the first person to recognize Jesus Christ as the savior of the world. I can’t imagine any scene that more strongly emphasizes the sacredness of life in the womb.
To understand more about the Christ-centered view of life, I recommend a wonderful online video created by the Sisters of Life. This religious order is dedicated to the protection and enhancement of the sacredness of every human being.
One sister in the video says, “We walk with women who are pregnant, struggling and vulnerable, and also with women who have suffered after an abortion.”
I started watching the video at home, and found it inspirational and informative. The 12-part series is called “Into Life: Love Changes Everything” at www.intolifeseries.com.
You can watch the short videos on your own and answer the questions, or in small discussion groups at church.
Mother Teresa said, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
You and I can’t save every child, but if we begin today, we can save many. The motto of Birthright, which is dedicated to helping mother and child, is the key: “We love them both.”