The recent spate of women’s/pro-abortion marches have highlighted how abortion supporters have become bolder in pushing for their ‘rights’. Rights over ‘their bodies’, rights to choose when, where and how they have an abortion, rights to prevent people from discussing or debating the issue in their presence etc Rights are being pushed even where none exist and yet so often people fail to see the connection between rights and responsibilities. Some pro-lifers also speak of rights - rights of the unborn child and of the most basic human right of all; the right to life. This is the number one human rights issue of our time but sadly even many people who recognise this fail to recognise the responsibility that goes with it, a responsibility which they hold.
Frequently (not always) elderly people end up in homes because no one feels it is their responsibility to care for them, we would rather it was the responsibility of the state. So many young people who go off to university or move out of the family home (neither which are bad things of course) do so with a desire to prove independence although they may not yet want responsibilities. We promote ideas of independence (whether of the young or old) as though this is a virtue yet surely it is responsibility not independence which we should be fostering. An unborn baby’s complete dependence on his/her mother is often used against him/her as though it is a negative quality. To hold up independence as a goal for youth is unrealistic, we all need each other in different ways and so are never truly independent, but responsibility is something attainable.
Recently I was talking to a pregnant teenager outside Marie Stopes abortion centre. She told me that her religion taught it was wrong to have an abortion. I asked if this was what she believed and she told me that she believed it was right to have an abortion if being pregnant or being a new mum would make you dependant on others. It seemed that the most important thing in her life was independence. I pointed out to her that she wasn’t independent at the moment – she depended on her parents as she lived with them, the state was helping provide for her and even in little everyday things she depended on others if she wanted to live as she was used to eg shopkeepers to serve her groceries, her teachers to educate her, the dustmen to take away her rubbish, her doctor, dentist etc etc. As I explained this she nodded and said ‘I never thought of it like that before, maybe I just need some time to think’.
To some people who aren’t used to responsibility, when they become pregnant (or for a man, when he helps get someone else pregnant) they don’t want to accept even part responsibility for their situation (in cases of rape this of course requires an heroic sense of responsibility from the woman since she wasn’t responsible in any way for the pregnancy). The thought of being responsible for another human’s life is just too daunting for many but sadly the alternative – the responsibility of taking that human’s life away, is called ‘a responsible decision’ (maybe we should rephrase it to ‘a decision for which you are responsible’).
For those of us who have never been in a crisis pregnancy situation does this mean we can look smug and say “that’s not my responsibility”? Thankfully no! When a mother or father is so confused, desperate, stressed, or dare I say it in some cases selfish, that she or he wants to end their own child’s life then we have a responsibility to share the truth with them:
The truth of help that is available, the truth of the development of their baby, the truth of the loving plan God has for them and the truth of the hurt and damage that abortion causes. Those who have the gift of faith and/or those whose eyes have been opened to the truth about the value of every human life from conception have a responsibility to share what they know.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Abortion Act. To date approximately 8.7million unborn babies have legally been put to death in the UK since the law was passed. This is the foundation for the theme of this year’s March for Life UK: ’50 years too long, 8.7million lives too many’. This year we want to encourage you to take some responsibility for changing this country for the better and what better way to start than by attending March for Life.
If you’ve never attended a March for Life before then here’s what to expect: In the morning there are Masses/Christian services available for those who wish to attend them, then LifeFest17 starts in Victoria Square (Birmingham city centre). Here you will find live music, pro-life educational stalls, food vans, a ‘cross-of-life’ prayer cross, pro-life merchandise, face-painting for the children, a Mercy bus, a pro-life exhibit and other surprises to be unveiled on the day. An open air stage and big screens will help present our keynote speakers Lila Rose (founder and president of Live Action) and Catherine Adair (former abortion centre worker). We will have a joy filled ‘march’ through the city centre proclaiming our central message of ‘Life from conception – No exception’ before we come together for a time of reflection as one of the three bishops will lead us in prayer.
But why wait until May 20th before you start taking some responsibility for turning the tide? We need more people willing to organise a coach or minibus from their area, could this be you? We have coaches from all across the UK ready to head to Birmingham, check our website to see if one is coming from your town/city and if not then get in touch and we can provide flyers/posters to help you with this. We need more people attending from London – is this where you live? In a population of 8 million there should be no shortage of people willing to take some responsibility but sadly this is the case. Could you help motivate your friends, parish, prayer group etc? Or could you take some responsibility for the funding of this event? To organise/host March for Life UK/LifeFest17 it costs between £20,000 – 30,000, we desperately need more people willing to fundraise for us, hold a sponsored event/church collection etc Could you take on the responsibility of raising, say, £500? Don’t wait for someone else to take responsibility – get in contact today and be the one.
To be pro-life is to be pro-active about what we believe. Maybe you are not quite sure whether you are pro-life yet or have a few niggling questions . . . then come to March for Life as you will have your questions answered and your doubts put to flight. Maybe you have never done anything pro-life before . . . then come to March for Life as this is an easy way to start and once you get there you will find plenty of ideas of how to continue some pro-life activity. Maybe you used to do pro-life work but have had a break . . . then come to March for Life and let this be the year you take up the baton again - everyone is needed whatever your age or skills. Maybe you already participate in pro-life work . . . then March for Life is for you because all the pro-life groups from across the UK will be coming together as one voice.
I recently heard Dr Anthony Levatino, former abortionist, speak at the SPUC Youth conference. He told the story he heard from a colleague of a woman who decided to make it her responsibility to pray for her local abortionist every day. She found out his name so the prayer would be more personal, then she found out the names of his wife and children and prayed for them too, every day. She then decided to start giving pro-life presentations in schools. After one of these presentations a girl went home very moved by what she heard. Her parents asked her as they often did ‘What did you do today at school?’ She told them about the presentation before adding ‘How could anyone be an abortionist?’. This child didn’t realise that her dad was an abortionist himself, in fact this family was the one the woman had been praying for by name every day. The dad was so perturbed by what his daughter said that it made him give up his work. All this happened because one woman took some responsibility in her prayer life, because one woman took some responsibility for exposing abortion for what it is and ultimately because one woman decided to take some responsibility for building up a culture of life in her town.
If we look at the origin of the word responsibility, it comes from the Latin ‘respondere’ or ‘respons’ meaning ‘offered in return’. What do we offer in return for our faith or the ability to see the truth that we have been gifted with? If we are really pro-life then what is our response to today’s liberal abortion laws, to the 550 human beings whose lives are snuffed out each and every day? What is our responsibility as pro-lifers, what is our responsibility towards those whose lives are in danger? Anyone in this country under the age of 50 is a survivor of the 1967 Abortion Act. We have the gift of life. Are we grateful for the gift of life? - What do we offer in return?