“But I’m Only One Person ― What Can I Do?”
Every January, hundreds of thousands of Americans converge in Washington, D.C. for the National March for Life, the largest annual protest in the world. We continue to commemorate and mourn an incredible 55 million abortions, which have destroyed one-sixth of the population of the United States and which have caused irreparable harm to society, human relationships, and respect for the value of human life.
For decades, pro-life activists have been laboring in this most difficult vineyard, struggling to save not only lives but souls. President Ronald Reagan called us the conscience of this nation. As we all know, even our own consciences have a very hard job to do. Certainly, fighting for life in a post-Christian society is a crucible for the activist, but he or she will almost always reap huge spiritual benefits from fighting for life.
Public opinion polls show that about half of Americans now refer to themselves as “pro-life.” Sadly, the great majority of these people do little or nothing for the Culture of Life. They erroneously believe that saying “I’m against abortion and would never have one myself” is enough. Or they think, “I’m personally against abortion, but would never force my morality on someone else.”
It is not enough to be against abortion and other evils―we must act against them as well. As the Book of James says, “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?…So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (2:24,17). We must take these words of the Apostle very seriously. How strong can our Christian faith be if we are too comfortable or too timid to put it into action? What will we say if Our Lord asks us, “For I was being aborted and you did not come to My aid?” (see Matthew 25:31-46).
Most stories about abortion or the pro-life movement in the United States quote spokespersons from the big national pro-life groups. Most of us are certainly familiar with some of the leaders of these big groups, but we have to remember that almost all of the work is done not by the handful of full-time employees of the pro-life and pro-family movements, but by people who work locally to save lives. To paraphrase Tip O’Neill, “all pro-life activities are local,” and this is where the great majority of people get involved.
What Can I Do About Abortion?
Once you decide to take action, you should educate yourself on the topic. Not only will this allow you to be a more effective advocate for life, but your knowledge will be invaluable when the topic of abortion comes up in conversations with friends, family members, and co-workers. It also is essential when you attempt to recruit others into the pro-life movement, which is the most important thing we can do after prayer.
There are several excellent sources of information on life issues:
- Among the most in-depth guide to the life issues is HLI’s The Facts of Life. This resource offers 25 comprehensive chapters on all of the life issues, from contraception to chemical and surgical abortion, assisted reproduction, cloning, sex education and school-based clinics, natural family planning, euthanasia and eugenics.
- John C. Willke, MD & Barbara H. Willke, RN have posted their excellent book Why Can’t We Love Them Both? online. Though slightly out of date, it still contains much valuable information in a shorter form.
- The most compact guide to all of the life issues is HLI’s Pro-Life Pastoral Handbook, which covers in 95 pages the 39 questions on all of the life issues that pro-lifers, priests and others are most likely to encounter.
- For the person more oriented towards street activism, Joe Scheidler’s definitive CLOSED: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion is the way to go. As the book’s name implies, it covers 99 very specific (and legal) ways to target the weaknesses of the abortion industry in ways that get the most results. This book is out of print but available on Amazon.
Most of the active pro-lifers in the United States volunteer at one of the 3,200 crisis pregnancy centers that are located in almost every city and town of any size across the nation. Some CPC workers counsel women in crisis situations, some give talks, and some do clerical work and sort baby clothes and other material goods for clients. You can look under “Abortion Alternatives” in your Yellow Pages to see if your town has a CPC, or contact the two main umbrella organizations for CPCs, Heartbeat International at (888) 550‑7577 or CareNet at (703) 554‑8734. These CPCs usually offer complete training for whatever job you desire to do. Other CPC and adoption support groups are Birthright International, Bethany Christian Services, and the Nurturing Network.
Another fruitful effort involves establishing a parish pro-life group. It is estimated that only about 10% of the 18,400 Catholic parishes in the United States have such a group. A pro-life group can educate fellow parishioners on all of the life issues, help priests research and deliver homilies, and organize events for the parish. A pro-life group greatly multiplies the effectiveness of your efforts, because you are helping to promote the Culture of Life to hundreds of other people. Human Life International offers a complete training course on how to establish a parish pro-life group.
One very effective way to attack the roots of the Culture of Death is to learn and teach natural family planning (NFP) to other couples. Couple to Couple League International (CCLI) offers complete education and certification in NFP teaching.
If you have a specialized skill or talent, there are more than one hundred national pro-life and pro-family groups that could use your help, and their areas of expertise cover the complete range of activities. All of them have interesting and informative websites.
- Pro-life legal groups include the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), American Catholic Lawyers Association (ACLA), the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), Americans United for Life (AUL) and the Rutherford Institute.
- Some of the pro-life medical groups are the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), the Catholic Medical Association, the National Association of Pro‑Life Nurses (NAPN), and Pharmacists for Life International (PFLI).
- Among the most effective pro-life educational groups include the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, Collegians Activated to Liberate Life (CALL), Life Dynamics Inc., the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC), Priests for Life, and Joe Scheidler’s Pro-Life Action League, which specializes in education through street activism.
- There are dozens of major pro-family organizations, including the American Conservative Union (ACU), the American Family Association (which specializes in fighting pornography), the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights (an aggressive fighter for the rights of Catholics in the public square), Concerned Women for America (CWA), Eagle Forum, the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC).
- Human Life International does international pro-life work in more than 100 countries, primarily in Africa, Latin America and Asia. The Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C‑FAM) monitors and exposes the anti-life activities of the United Nations, and the Population Research Institute (PRI) monitors and reports on activities in China and Russia.
There is a pro-life group for every person, including atheists and agnostics, women who have had abortions, those who wish to fight euthanasia, and high school and college students. There are also groups for every major faith, including those that have taken a pro-abortion position.
In a movement a million strong, there is room for everyone, from artists to zoologists.
God condemned the Israelites to wander in the desert for forty years before they reached the Promised Land. We pro-lifers have now been wandering in the desert for just as long. But if enough people join us, we can finally make our nation a “promised land” where every preborn child is safe.
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