What Can People Do to Help Defend Life?

Author: Mary Beth Bonacci


by Mary Beth Bonacci

We've been talking about how we're going to go about "defending life," especially unborn life. It seems like such an overwhelming problem that it's easy to feel like one person can't make much difference. But I'm here to tell you that one person can, especially if that one person is you. Last time we talked about two ways you can make a difference -- political action and education. Today we're going to look at a couple more ways.

Direct action: What would you do if you knew there was a house in your neighborhood where people were killed on a regular basis? Maybe you'd tell the police and try to get the house closed down. But what would you do in the mean time? If you saw someone walking in, would you warn them? Of course you would.

The thing is, there are lives being threatened today, in your very own neighborhood, at your local abortion facility. Someone needs to act now, to save the lives most immediately threatened by abortion. That's direct action.

There are a lot of ways you can make an impact on your friendly local abortion facility. One way is picketing and sidewalk counseling. It's not too tough to stand outside a clinic with a sign, or to walk up to the women going in and offer them help. Of course, all of these activities have gotten tougher since clinics have started using "deathscorts" to hustle their "clients" into the building before you can even talk to them. But, even in the presence of "deathscorts," your presence outside can be extremely effective.

Direct action is usually popular with pro-life students, because they often see direct results and really feel like they're doing something. But, in direct action, there are often results you don't see. Former abortionists report that when there was even one picket sign outside, only half as many abortions were performed inside. Women ask more questions, many drive away without even going in, many walk out before the abortion is performed.

There's a particular method of direct action called "The Chicago Method," perfected by Tim Murphy of the Pro-Life Action League. Abortion is a dirty business and a dangerous procedure, for the mother as well as the child. Carol Everett says that, in the average abortion facility, one woman dies every month as a result of abortion complications. Most abortion clinics have a long string of malpractice suits pending or settled against them. And most women, if they knew what had happened to others in the clinic, wouldn't be particularly interested in subjecting themselves to the same risks. So this method consists of doing a little legal research, finding out what lawsuits have been filed against the facility or its doctors (it's all public information), printing it up in an easy-to-read form and distributing it in front of the facility. If you want to learn more about this, call Tim Murphy at the Pro-Life Action League at 312/777-2900 and tell him I sent you.

Of course, in direct action, as in everything else, the guiding principle should be love. Don't carry vicious signs or yell obnoxiously at women going in. Would that change your mind? It probably won't change theirs, either. Show them that you're someone who really cares about them, and who has a better way. They'll see that and respond.

Crisis pregnancy aid: Direct action without direct aid is hypocrisy. Women who seek abortions are often in really desperate situations. The abortion doesn't solve their problems -- it just kills their children. But how much good are we doing them if we just say, "Go home. Don't have an abortion. It'll all be fine."?

People often accuse us of being "fetus-lovers," and not caring about women at all. Of course, that isn't true. I don't want women to have abortions because it hurts them and their children. Killing a woman's child can't be good for her. Anyone who knows someone who's been through an abortion can attest to that. That's why being pro-life means loving them both.

That's the idea behind crisis pregnancy centers (CPC). These centers do a lot more than just help a woman understand why she shouldn't have an abortion. A CPC is a place where she can get real help, help that she and her baby can both live with. CPC's services are free, no one's making any money off of her (unlike the abortion industry), and the people there really do care about her and want to help.

And they can help. Centers offer everything from baby clothes to parenting classes to welfare referrals. Some even offer prenatal care. And they offer something even more important -- emotional support. Sometimes a woman just needs someone to stand by her and be her friend when everyone else is pressuring her to abort. CPC's strive to be there for her, for whatever she needs.

There's a lot you could do for a CPC. They always need counselors as well as other help. And they usually have excellent training programs. And they'd love to see bright, eager young faces at their doors. So give them a call.

So with all of these ideas, I'm sure there is something you could be doing to help JPII "defend life." Whatever you do, do something, because some day you'll face God, and He'll probably point out to you that there was a huge slaughter going on in your day. Young innocents were killed, right in your own neighborhood. He'll be interested in hearing just what you did to stop it.

And I don't think "I was too busy" is going to be an adequate answer.

Bonacci is a frequent lecturer on chastity.

This article appeared in the October 27, 1994 issue of "The Arlington Catholic Herald."

Courtesy of the "Arlington Catholic Herald" diocesan newspaper of the Arlington (VA) diocese. For subscription information, call 1-800-377-0511 or write 200 North Glebe Road, Suite 607 Arlington, VA 22203.