Dying to Be Heard: The Shifting Fight Against the Unborn and What They Need

You can put out all of the social media you want and protest, or you can put yourself out there and form a relationship with someone, even if you strongly disagree. That’s going to soften someone’s heart towards the unborn and women in these positions far more than anything else, other than prayer.

By Austin R., Marian postulant

Our Lord told St. Faustina, “Proclaim to the whole world My unfathomable mercy. Do not be discouraged by the difficulties you encounter in proclaiming My mercy” (Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1142). 

At the heart of the authentic pro-life message is the reality of God’s infinite love. To alleviate fear and despair in the hearts of expectant mothers and protect their unborn children is to be the hands and feet of Christ, carrying out His mission of mercy, no matter the obstacles. 

We thank God for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, but our proclamation of Christ’s mercy to the culture of death is far from over. 

Hearts are softening
After university, and before I joined the Marians as a seminarian, I worked in international pro-life and family policy in Washington, D.C., analyzing prospective legislation for threats to life and family, informing congressional offices and delegates in the United Nations. A single word is enough to give the pro-abortion lobby the interpretation they need to push abortion further and export it to other countries. I have participated in U.N. summits and experienced first-hand the rancor and hatred of those caught in the abortion movement against any voices speaking up for life and family. 

As abortion rhetoric advances, however, more hearts are softening to the unborn through the prayers and efforts of pro-life witnesses. 

This month, with the annual March for Life and the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children on Jan. 22, let’s take a closer look at the issue.

Abortion pills
Since lockdowns in 2020, the abortion industry is determined to increasingly isolate women who choose abortion through Telehealth and the promulgation of abortion pills. From the slim availability of communal spaces for health and wellness and in-person doctor visits, the phenomenon of “self-care” exploded across the media and health-care industries. The abortion lobby took advantage of the COVID shift toward self-administered health to advocate for abortion as an “essential” healthcare service, and Western countries during lockdowns increased access to abortion pills during that time.

The shift toward de-medicalized abortion did not falter after the easing of COVID lockdowns; abortion giants like Planned Parenthood continue to advertise abortion pills mifepristone and misoprostol as “much needed healthcare,” that is “safe, “effective, and in the comfort of your own home.”

With this concerning shift in the pro-abortion movement, the pro-life cause must continue to center its message of hope on the individual woman and her child.

Pro-life activist
I spoke recently with a dear friend of mine, Francie A., a devout Catholic and wife, with extensive experience in university activism and the pro-life nonprofit workplace. Devoted to Notre Dame Right to Life throughout the tenure of her university career, Francie became the president of the club — one of the largest on Notre Dame’s campus. She organized campus student debates, hosted pro-life speakers, promoted fundraisers for pregnancy centers, and devoted herself to charitable dialogue with opposing students. 

After graduation, Francie continued her pro-life work at a pregnancy center in Massachusetts, fundraising and advocating for the women who walked through their doors. 

Here’s my conversation with Francie.

Statistics show there is a troubling rise in at-home abortions. Why?
What is care? Is it pills? Or is there something more? In the pro-life movement, it all comes down to relationship — in a very radical way. With the abortion pill and Telehealth becoming more prominent, abortion providers always say, “We’re here for you, we’ve got your back” or “We’re Planned Parenthood, your cool, hip aunt, and we’ll get you what you need.” That is the talk.

The reality is much different, I imagine.
The “walk” of it is the complete opposite. They’re moving away from an in-person medical operation where there’s counseling, a procedure, and a follow up, to a completely impersonal experience: demedicalized. An impersonal experience where you go to the pharmacy, grab your pills like you would for any other medication, and suddenly you’re having a very graphic — or, at least, a very uncomfortable — experience in your home or in a public or dormitory bathroom. 

Since the narrative is, “We’re standing with women” and “We’re pro-woman,” you would think that there would be a personal aspect to abortion, but there has never before been less of an emphasis on the woman.”

What were some moments of learning for you in university activism and your shift to the professional pro-life workplace? 
In college, it was very, very easy to be ideological — and rightly so, in a lot of ways. As cliché as it is, it’s a culture war. The university is a place of ideas. It’s going to be ideological, but at the same time, there was a point in my activism on campus where I realized that the young women and men I was interacting with, who were very pro-abortion, are ultimately going to be getting married and starting a family. They’re going to graduate and be out in the world. So, they need to not just hear ideology but have an encounter, and college is one of the best places for encounter.

Were young women eager to get together and discuss the issue?
Starting in my junior year, I began hosting events called “Girl Talk.” Only women could sign up, and I marketed in a way that it looked like a pro-abortion event. It was about girls getting together, one-on-one, and having a conversation about abortion, starting from 10,000-feet up and working their way down to the heart of the issue. The times that I hosted the event, there were more than 100 young women participating. 

You can put out all of the social media you want and protest, or you can put yourself out there and form a relationship with someone, even if you strongly disagree. That’s going to soften someone’s heart towards the unborn and women in these positions far more than anything else, other than prayer.

What can young people do to improve their commitment to the cause?
It’s more attractive to be the activist, and that’s where the energy is. Going into the non-profit world, I realized that there is a lot of young energy coming out of the universities going to Washington, D.C., or across the country in groups like Students for Life on campus. But there is no energy going into the non-profits that are directly, every single day, stopping abortion. There are no young professionals in pregnancy center organizations. 

I knew that everything I did was because of the elderly women who would pray the pro-life Rosary before Mass, or the couple that committed to standing outside the abortion clinic once a week. It was because of those people — generally the elderly — that Roe v. Wade was overturned. 

That seems discouraging about the involvement of young people.
It was largely religious, elderly women who were committing many hours a week, for months on end, to walking with women through their pregnancy, and accompanying them a year or more afterwards. 

I don’t question the commitment young people have to this cause, but I realized that, to serve this movement, you have to be humble. You’re not going to get an Instagram post or recognition for what you’ve done. There’s no glory in it, except for the glory of God in the end. I hope that more young people will be inspired to assist the pregnancy-help movement.

How did you get your start in the pro-life movement?
When I was about six years old, my mom began taking me to the abortion clinic to pray with her. She would let me skip school, so I was motivated from the beginning to go and pray. I started as this six-year-old kid who knew that something bad and sad was happening inside the clinic. I would say my memorized prayers, and when I would see a young woman go in, I knew that the baby was going to die. I would pray the St. Michael prayer and the Hail Mary with all my might — that’s all I knew how to do! 

In middle school I would get into arguments with other students about abortion, and I even had a debate with my choir teacher! But by the time I was ready to graduate from high school, I had more intense encounters. When I would go to the clinic to pray, the escorts would start walking towards me, thinking that I was a client. It was a very strange experience to have someone think that you want to choose death for your child. I felt very grateful that I wasn’t in that position. 

My convictions are strong; not grounded in ideology, but in these lived experiences.

What positive developments do you see, from your professional experience, in the fight for the unborn?
Something really beautiful that I experienced with my role in Church outreach was seeing Christians of all denominations coming together, not just around the pro-life cause, but coming together as Christians. 

I took a course with my husband about inter-religious dialogue, and we discussed ecumenism extensively. As a Church, we pray for unity all the time! It’s something we as Catholics and other Christians forget about. Conversion is crucial to evangelize, but having authentic dialogue and unity in what unites us is essential. 

My experience in the pro-life space where Christians can gather and pray, to lean on the Lord to protect the weakest and empower women, was amazing to see. The devil hates it! It’s a place of real goodness in the Church, in Christianity broadly, and in the pro-life movement. It continues to grow stronger as the culture becomes progressively more anti-Christian. People will fall away, but others will band around these causes that we agree on.

This unity is crucial, especially for Catholics. 
I had the opportunity to attend the Heartbeat International Conference, for more than a thousand people who work in pregnancy help. Ninety-five percent are Christian women, with half of them being Catholics. To see women of the Catholic Church standing up for something so noble, and having the conference be authentically infused with the Holy Spirit and the richness of our Catholic tradition, was amazing. 

When working on a college campus or in D.C., you’re working a step removed from actually having a relationship with a woman who is pregnant, and there are a lot of statements you make. But when you’re living out the works of mercy and the beatitudes, you’re not just making statements, but living faith in action.

Works of mercy
Serving the Church where the need is greatest, as our Marian “Renovator,” Bl. George Matulaitis, taught us, means serving women in crisis, especially if they have unplanned pregnancies. We must support these works of mercy however we can — helping clinics for women financially, for example, or lending a hand with their work in person.

Let’s also not forget the power of fasting and prayer, especially with the holy season of Lent nearly upon us. We may not know how our prayers and works of love will save a mother and her child in this life, but with great trust in Our Lord’s mercy, we are at peace knowing no action or prayer for the unborn is ever wasted. 

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Unborn and of the Americas, pray for us!

Looking to become more involved in pro-life activities? A good place to start is with your state affiliate of the National Right to Life organization. Visit www.nrlc.org for more information.
{shopmercy-ad}

MPOW

You might also like...

A weekly web series by Fr. Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC, introduces us to the meditations for this Sunday's Mass by the Marian Founder. The goal is to allow Jesus to gaze into your heart and teach you self-examination, leading you to a more fruitful reception of Holy Communion at Sunday Mass, where there is a true encounter of our hearts with His Sacred Heart – especially fitting during this period of National Eucharistic Revival.

A weekly web series by Fr. Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC, introduces us to the meditations for this Sunday's Mass by the Marian Founder. The goal is to allow Jesus to gaze into your heart and teach you self-examination, leading you to a more fruitful reception of Holy Communion at Sunday Mass, where there is a true encounter of our hearts with His Sacred Heart – especially fitting during this period of National Eucharistic Revival.

When you’re at Mass and you receive Jesus in Holy Communion, guess what? You may also hope to be in holy communion with your departed loved ones, a closer communion and a deeper love than you ever had on earth.