As Americans and as Catholics, we should all mourn the recent legislative bill known as the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) passed in New York State by Governor Andrew Cuomo which expands access to abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy and provides lenient exceptions for elective abortion up until birth. In a culture where the individual is praised and worshiped above all else, this bill embodies the ongoing cultural shift that the United States has been experiencing for decades.

In our country’s socially tumultuous climate which slowly yet steadily continues to stray from the Christian ideals upon which our country was founded, where science is both praised and ignored, where the human person attempts to become the master of the soul, the undertones of the RHA’s message resonate: “I care only about my own autonomy, my own rights, my own dignity. I am the master of my body, my soul, and my life – and that of future generations”. As a result, the United States continues to serve as a breeding ground for individualism and concern for only the self.

With the passing of the RHA, the gifts of new life and personhood take a backseat to the individual’s “right” to absolute autonomy with abortion-on-demand. Sadly, this absolute autonomy has already been enshrined in the United States legal system as seen in the case of Planned Parenthood of Southeast Pennsylvania v. Casey, when the Supreme Court decided that “at the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life” (505 US 851).  How such metaphysical obscurity and irrationality qualifies as constitutional law is a subject for another day, but what has become clear in these legislative decisions is how far our culture has strayed from the idea that each person is unique, loved, and deserving of dignity regardless of the circumstance.

Conversely, as Catholics when we celebrate the Paschal mystery of faith – the birth, death, and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ – Jesus teaches us that selflessness is the ultimate measure of love. On the night of His betrayal, He transformed ordinary bread and wine into his Body and Blood so that we might receive Him, remember Him, and live in Him. Jesus then offered his physical body as repentance for our sins – sacrificing his own life for ours, purely out of love. In doing so, Jesus teaches us that sometimes we must exercise our humanity for the betterment of others.

The thought of the number of lives that will be impacted or lost as a result of the RHA is overwhelming, and we may legitimately wonder how to even react to the RHA. Although it is difficult to articulate in a single blog post how a Catholic might respond to this attack on life, a few suggestions are offered for your consideration:

  1. Pray for our unborn brothers and sisters – and really mean it. As Catholics we can offer up a mass for their intentions, ask for the Lord to bless them as we kneel before the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration, or perform a suitable fast for their protection. We can never stop sacrificing for the unborn, because there will never be social justice so long as the womb is a place of death rather than life.

  2.  Protect our families from what is often a toxic culture by bringing God into our relationships. Rather than dismissing ourselves from the darkness that seems to be slowly enveloping our country, we must take it upon ourselves to teach our children to recognize the face of Jesus in every person and bring His light back into the world. We must also welcome God into our friendships, marriages, and families and recognize He is working through us and in others.
  3.  Speak out against injustice in our country. Now is the time for Catholics and non-Catholics alike to band together to speak up for the unborn, to fight for legislation that protects the vulnerable, and to fight against the obstruction of justice for women and children, the medical community, for religious autonomy, and for underserved communities. Events like the March for Life provide a non-violent means to come together to protest injustices and promote a culture of Life in our country.
  4.  Support and engage with organizations like the Christ Medicus Foundation and CMF CURO which promote a culture of life in health care and in governmental policy. The Christ Medicus Foundation advocates for “active engagement in education, public policy, and the marketplace empowering individual rights of conscience and religious liberty in daily life for all, in all we do” and has been fighting for this mission since its inception in 1998. CMF CURO, which was created as an active extension of the Christ Medicus Foundation, provides a Catholic health sharing community where members pray for one another, bear one another’s medical burdens, and receive exceptional health care without indirectly supporting procedures – like elective abortions – that go against Church teachings.

Unfortunately, the Catholic Church is no stranger to scandal and controversy, but if there’s ever been a time for the Church to reclaim its identity in Christ, that time is now. Let us fight together to establish a Culture of Life and hope in our personal lives, and share this life with the world!