Pro-Life Office

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Transforming the Culture of Life

Segment Five. Transforming the Culture of Life

Overview: John Paul II challenges the Church to begin an urgent “mobilization  of consciences and a united ethical effort to activate a great campaign in support of life” (95) based on the need to re-establish the link between life and freedom/freedom and truth (96). One of the challenges he sets forth is the creation of “centers of assistance” where unmarried women and couples can find the help and support they need to overcome the fear of new life (88). One such example of helping women in crisis pregnancies is the work of Pregnancy Help.

The Gospel of Life requires no less than a complete transformation of con-temporary culture. We need to change hearts and minds as well as court decisions and laws. John Paul II challenged us in very urgent terms. He called for “a general mobilization of consciences” and  “ a united ethical effort” “to activate a great campaign in support of life”(95). That’s quite a staggering job description.

So, where do we begin? For John Paul, the starting point is not the political process, or the media. He says “the first and fundamental step…consists in forming consciences with regard to the incomparable and inviolable worth of every human life”. We must first “re-establish the essential connection between life and freedom”. There is no true freedom, he writes, “where life is not welcomed and loved” (96).

Once this necessary link between freedom and truth is re-established, we will be better able to discern the truly necessary cultural values and begin the courageous cultural dialogue needed to build a culture of life. One of the practical areas where the values of the Gospel of Life need to present are in what John Paul II calls “centers of assistance” to pregnant women. Here in the Archdiocese of Boston, the Church has supported one such center for many years. It is called Pregnancy Help. Pregnancy Help is an outreach ministry of the Pro Life Office that assists women in crisis pregnancies choose life over abortion.   Services include:

  • Pregnancy testing
  • Friendship counseling and support
  • Abortion information and alternatives
  • Material assistance
  • Adoption information and referrals
  • Parenting support, health insurance, education, career and housing information
  • Prenatal care referrals

All services are free and confidential and are offered in English, Spanish and Portuguese. There is a toll-free helpline and offices in Boston and MetroWest.

Pregnancy Help serves women of various ages, religions, and economic backgrounds. Most are under tremendous stress and pressure. Without crisis pregnancy centers like Pregnancy Help, many pregnant women see abortion as their only choice. It is crucial that the needs of women facing unplanned pregnancies are met by centers like Pregnancy Help and not by abortion providers. Here’s a typical comment by one of our clients, “I was desperate when I called Pregnancy Help. All I knew was that if I did what everyone in my life wanted me to do, which was have the abortion, I would not be able to live with myself”.  

What are the pressures facing women in crisis pregnancies? Let’s look at the reasons cited by women about why they have abortions. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute of Planned Parenthood, of the more than one million abortions performed every year in the United States, approximately 1% are done in cases of rape and incest , 1% for genetic reasons and approximately 3% for a wide range of maternal physical and health reasons. The other 95% are done for a combination of personal,  economic, family and relationship issues (like, “I’m not ready to have a baby now”, “I can’t afford another child”, or “I want to finish my education.”)With abortion so socially accepted, it’s difficult for many women to withstand the pressure unless there are caring people available to help her sort through the emotions she is feeling, find solutions to the practical issues she faces, and help her acknowledge the bonding she has already developed with the tiny new human life within her. Many women feel they have no choice except abortion. In a true culture of life, there are alternatives to abortion. It’s our job as a Church to make those alternatives known and available.

In the Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul uses the words from Ephesians to call us to “walk as children of light” (Eph 5:8). The life-affirming work of Pregnancy Help would not be possible without an extensive network of volunteers who give of their talents in many ways – friendship counseling, office work, computer and website expertise, public speaking, organizing and delivering layettes. Each year, more than 80 parishes and Catholic organizations participate in Parish Baby Showers to support the work of Pregnancy Help and directly assist women facing crisis pregnancies.

The support of Catholics across the Archdiocese in support of the work of Pregnancy Help is certainly an example of being that light to the world. If you would like to assist the work of Pregnancy Help, call the Pro Life Office at 508-651-1900 for more information and specific ways that you can help out.

Resources:
www.pregnancyhelpboston.org - website of Pregnancy Help
Finer, Frohwirth et al, Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortion: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives by, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, vol. 37, n. 3 (Sept 2005) http:/www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3711005.html

Questions to Consider:

  1. In the Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul cites the need for “courageous cultural dialogue” in building a culture of life. What you think he means by that term?
  2. Why do you think so many women feel pressured into having abortions?
  3. If you could immediately implement one pro-life initiative in your parish as part of a “mobilization of consciences…in support of life,” what would it be?