A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of addressing the Respect Life Chair Annual Assembly. It was a good evening of fellowship for pro-life leadership in our community, but also a time of reflection on the hard work that lies ahead.
In many ways, since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the pro-life community has been in the midst of pivoting into the next phase of our ministry. Roe is defeated; EMW Women’s Surgical Center, which provided abortions, is closed; and what’s left now is the very difficult calling to learn how to boldly “love them both” — babies and their mothers.
Firstly, it’s important to realize that although surgical abortions are now illegal in Kentucky, abortion is still happening.
Jason Hall, the executive director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, said in his keynote to our assembly that the abortion industry has pivoted to providing women with referrals and transportation to abortion facilities across our border.
More tragically, some young women have turned to mail-order abortion kits, without doctor consultation or supervision. Local pregnancy resource centers have been inundated with calls from frightened girls who are in great pain and distress from having taken the abortion chemicals improperly.
The abortion industry is not finished with Kentucky. As with any industry, they see a consumer base that represents a sizeable market opportunity. What they see as an investment, we must see as God’s children — frightened young women (and frightened fathers) who, for one reason or another, feel they cannot bring a child into this world.
It could be said that the mask of abortion has finally been lifted in Kentucky, and what is revealed are all the horrible dynamics that caused our culture to embrace abortion to begin with.
If we truly want to end the nightmare, we must address the fears of these young women. We must love and support them by any means necessary so they can feel confident enough to say yes to life.
Some pro-life legislation is being shaped that would make having children easier. For example, extensions to Medicaid would ease the financial burden of delivering babies and support women postpartum.
Then, for those concerned with the stigma of adoption, there is the proposed extension of the Safe Haven Baby Box program to more public places. This allows women to anonymously leave their babies in a safe environment, which is fitted with an alarm monitored by on-site personnel.
Another suggestion is the expansion of state budgeting for childcare assistance and family medical leave programs.
Each of these proposals is a necessary step towards making abortion unnecessary.
Legislation is one piece of the puzzle, but, as with all things related to ministry, we must be willing, as the Church, to stand in the gap — to become the hands and feet of Christ in the lives of these women so they are effectively evangelized with the Gospel of life.
A huge component in the Archdiocese of Louisville is the Walking with Moms in Need program. Partnering with local pregnancy resource centers, parishes have the opportunity to adopt a struggling mother to provide for her spiritually, emotionally and materially through one-on-one ministry. Many women who struggle with the decision to parent simply lack a support system in order to feel confident in their choice. The Church can be that support.
It is this human, personal connection that our pregnancy resource centers provide, which our parishes are providing and which every Christian must provide, spreading the “Gospel of Life” we speak so much about.
Evangelism has always been a long game of working one-on-one to give individuals experiences of genuine love that can open their eyes to the potential and value of every human life, including their own.
It is there — in the hearts and minds of these women — that the real work will be done, and this is the key to truly making abortion not simply illegal and unnecessary, but also unthinkable.
Stuart Hamilton is pro-life events coordinator for the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Family and Life Ministries.