Human life is sacred from conception to death Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Oct. 03, 2013 -- 12:00 AM

Seeing with Jesus' Eyes, a column by Fr. Donald Lange

Once when I visited a hospital, an urgent call came over the public address system: “If a Catholic priest is present, please come to the main desk immediately.” I hurried to the main desk. The receptionist asked me to talk to a lady who had just given birth to a still-born baby. She and her husband were grieving. I tried to console them.

The next day I did a follow up visit. I remember two things about the visit. First, the father with a determined twinkle in his eyes said, “Father we’ll be back next year.” They really wanted a baby.

The law versus the Church

There were probably tears in the eyes of many committed pro-lifers when the Supreme Court in the Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion on January 22, 1973. We who are pro-life remember this decision with pain.

However, it does motivate us to continue to work for a constitutional amendment that overturns it.

The Supreme Court’s ruling made it legal for the mother, sometimes encouraged by the father, to abort their unborn baby. The Catholic Church opposes abortion.

In no. 2270 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it says, “From the first moment of existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person . . . among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.” The Church’s position that recognizes the individual as human from conception until death is supported by natural law.

In no. 2271 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it says, “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.”

In Beloit, a Congregational minister who was pro-choice became pro-life. He couldn’t understand how after almost 2000 years during which Christians opposed abortion, some of them could suddenly change their position. Consequently he decided to become pro-life and became a popular pro-life speaker.

Human life begins as a tiny fertilized egg within our mother’s womb. In no. 382 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it is stated that the spiritual and immortal soul of humans is created immediately by God. The human person, though consisting of body and soul, is a unity.

At conception our life, complete with our own unique set of DNA, began. Our sex, the color of our eyes and hair, and other characteristics were determined. There were other signs of human life, too numerous to mention here.

Technology enables the pregnant couple to see pictures of their unborn baby. The couple and others can listen to the unborn’s heartbeat. When doctors treat the unborn, they recognize him or her as a human being.

Morality battle

In our culture there is often a battle between objective and subjective morality. This clash doesn’t occur on battlefields, but in legislatures, court rooms, schools, churches, work places, neighborhoods, and consciences.

Each person — especially the unborn — is important in this struggle.

We Catholics should know and follow the Church’s teaching regarding abortion. I heard a girl in a restaurant tell a friend that she opposed abortion because she was Catholic, and Catholics don’t believe in abortion.

Such person-to-person witness is one of the best ways to defend the unborn’s rights.

We can also urge our elected representatives to support legislation that protects the unborn and to support a human life amendment. We can tell others about ministries that work with expectant mothers considering abortion and encourage them to choose life. Abortion alternatives are also available through pre-natal care, child raising assistance, and adoption placement services.

We can tell women who grieve because of an abortion about Project Rachel, which helps them to heal through counseling, prayer, and forgiveness. We can pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron saint of the unborn.

We can participate in the 40-day pro-life vigil or spiritually adopt unborn babies. Some parishes erect monuments for the unborn on their cemetery grounds or church property. The Knights of Columbus and others who are pro-life support this project. Our parish, diocese, Catholic newspaper, and the Holy Spirit show us other ways to support the unborn.

According to The Banner, a pro-life Wisconsin Newsletter, the number of reported abortions performed in 2011 in Wisconsin was 7,249, a decrease of more than 500 from 2010. This is the lowest number since Roe v. Wade.

However, it’s still too many!

Pope John Paul II stressed that children are the hope of the future. However, if their lives are snuffed out in the womb, unborn infants have no earthly future. Since they cannot speak for themselves, we must defend their God-given right to be born.

The battle for their rights will be long and hard. But the unborn are so precious that Christ would have died for even one of them or one of us.

Fr. Don Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.