It's no accident that I'm posting this on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade (1973) overturned by Dobbs v. Jackson (2022). However, I will be focusing on my pro-life journey in this post not pontificating about my abortion stance per se. A Pro-life Worldview covers more than just abortion. I will say though my story of why I am pro-life does begin with my faith.
Catholicism believes life deserves the upmost dignity. It teaches that life begins at conception (a fact today which 96% of health institutions agree with (NIH)) and ends at natural death (at the time God decides). As this is the case, actions such as abortion and euthanasia are against the Church's teaching. As I was baptized Catholic, and I am still devoutly Catholic, I was pro-life because I was taught to be so. But things radically changed in my teenage years. My sophomore year of high school, my theology teacher read aloud to the class what happens to the fetus (baby) in an abortion. This horrified me. No living thing, no human should be subjected to such violence. I took on the label pro-life that day. I have grown in my opinions around abortion and other pro-life issues.
So while it would be easy to make this post mostly an abortion post I will move on for that topic of pro-life concern. To be pro-life, I truly believe it is vitally important to be anti-contraception. This may sound radical to many. Contraception can do many things to prevent pregnancy. However, it also impedes the marital act. For Catholics, it is believed that one end of marriage is to have children, so preventing it through contraception is frowned upon. Now, many women are on it for other reasons than avoiding pregnancy. Unfortunately, many times contraception is merely a bandaid covering a deeper issue, and this can be seen through many stories of women who were prescribed it for things like acne or heavy periods and still had these problems once they stopped the birth control. In the 1960s, Pope Paul VI addressed contraception in his Encyclical Humanae Vitae. He encouraged doctors to study the human body, particular the female body. From this would come Natural reproductive technology and the Creighton method (of Natural family Planning) created by Dr. Thomas Hilgers. These methods give information to women (and men) more information about the body, especially the female body. So why is contraception a life issue? I would argue beyond the fact that contraception, in some forms, can be an abortifacient, it is a life issue because it is does not address the underlying cause of the issue which is plaguing the woman taking it while circumventing the natural indicator of her fertility. It gives women more agency in their lives when they understand their bodies. Now while both contraception and abortion deal with the beginning of life (the latter is largely the beginning of life) what other life issues can be encountered during or at the end of life?
One vitally important life issue that has received much attention in recent years is suicide. This particular life issue interweaves with mental health as I would wager to guess a majority of those whom consider taking the lives struggle with some mental health ailment. I unfortunately, have seen the direct aftermath of suicide. This fall will be ten years since I saw Cathedral deal with the aftermath of not one, but two suicides with in a month of one another. This changed me radically. The memory of the pain which these suicides gave me the strength to go on, when I myself dealt with suicidal ideation during my freshman year of college. I also know that the Church's teaching on suicide has developed throughout the years. My great-grandfather committed suicide and around that time the understanding of the connection of suicide and conditions such as depression were only. beginning to be understood. However, the Church inculcating the recent developments in this understanding, began to recognize that it is possible for such a soul to reach heaven, as the mental state in which the person experiences may affect the culpability of the person while still maintaining it as contrary to human nature and to love of God (see CCC 2280-2283 for the full teaching of the Church on the subject). I want suicide to be rare and preferably non-existent. I think it is vitally important to check in on friends, family, and neighbors. I myself need to be better at being a good neighbor to all those around me. Now, on to the last issue that this post will discuss: Euthanasia.
Euthanasia is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as "the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (such as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy". Now, the definition highlights that those euthanized may be animals; this is perfectly ok. It is the euthanizing of persons which I speak of here. Like suicide, euthanasia takes the power to determine time of death out of God's hands, where it rightly belongs. Euthanasia is promoted as merciful. Yet, I think it encourages the world to look at pain and people dealing with it as something to be avoided. I fundamentally see the suffering experienced as one reaches close to death as redemptive. It can provide time for reflection and for the workings of grace. Euthanasia is not abstract to me. I realize that many would have suggested it for my grandmother who passed away in July. Yet, this act would have robbed her of the chance for many things and for myself, it would have robbed me of the suffering of seeing someone I love suffer. I was able to gain more appreciation for health and also a greater appreciation for the life she lived because I saw my grandmother's suffering. It taught me how to face suffering with humility and trust, even if I still struggle with that even to this day. Implicitly, euthanasia says that because your pain is of no benefit to you or others you are disposable. What a terrible message, for any person to receive, especially one who is dying. All people have a purpose no matter if they continue to live or they die.
While not all may agree with what I have said, I hope at least you have gained some insight to the issues surrounding life. These issues are far from light and deserve the upmost dignity. I am pro-life because life has meaning and purpose no matter what point of life someone is at.