My path to participating in the 40 Days for Life (40 DFL) Prayer Vigil was a winding one. I was a child of the 60’s and 70’s and was fully indoctrinated into the culture of socially progressive values. By the time I had graduated from University, I had embraced the feminist movement. I had grown up in a Catholic family, but we were not practicing our faith, so I did not have any foundation in the teachings of our Church. It was easy for me to accept the values of feminism. I believed strongly in the right of a woman to choose to abort if she wanted to.
I met my husband after graduating. He was a practicing Catholic and was strongly pro-life. My husband’s faith grew on me because he was so faithful to the teachings of the Church. By God’s grace, I came to believe in and practice the Catholic faith that I had never known as a young woman.
During each of my three pregnancies, I was in awe of my baby growing within me, and I was amazed at the birth of each of my children. So perfect and tiny and soft and beautiful. Each one a miracle. My heart awoke to the thought that abortion was the wrongful taking of another human’s life.
One day as I was leaving church, I saw a table with 40 DFL paraphernalia on it and sitting behind it was a bright, articulate woman that I knew through my work. I was surprised to see her, and she told me that she was on the Calgary organizing team for 40 DFL. She said that my parish did not have a 40 DFL representative and asked me if I would take on that position. Suddenly, I was forced to consider what I thought about abortion. I recalled the feminist slogan, “My body, my choice”. I knew that there was more than one body in a pregnant woman. Each of my babies had their own DNA separate from mine. That slogan no longer persuaded me. The baby had no choice.
I began to study the issue. I was convinced by embryology that a fetus is a human being from the moment of conception. Human beings deserve human rights including the right to life. We don’t kill toddlers because they are small, dependent, or less developed than older children, so why do we kill defenseless babies in the womb? The answer is because it’s legal and they’re inconvenient. I learned that in Canada over 100,000 babies are aborted each year; that a baby may be aborted at any age and for any reason. This shocked me.
Most women abort because the pregnancy is unplanned, and they feel like they have no other choice. Yet, in truth, a mother always has the choice to carry the baby to term and parent the baby or place the baby for adoption. There are many supports for women experiencing unplanned pregnancy, and women need to be shown that choosing life is possible and that there is assistance available to them.
I became our parish representative on 40DFL. We stand near the Kensington abortion facility during our twice yearly 40-day campaigns and pray and fast for an end to abortion, for mothers to choose life for their babies, for the abortion workers, and for the community’s heart to be open to the truth of the value of life.
Do we make a difference? Last fall, during the 40-day campaign, a young mother with her child alongside approached one of our volunteers, named Mary, who was standing in prayer near the abortion facility with her two teenage daughters. The young mother’s child had a coloured drawing in her hand and she handed it to Mary. The mother thanked Mary for being there and told her that before her child was born, she was considering abortion, but that the presence of people near the facility praying persuaded her not to abort her baby. Her baby was now about 6 years old and was the child who had handed Mary the drawing. It is anecdotes like this that assure us that our prayers and presence there are never wasted.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers