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Victory, mourning and the road ahead in post-Roe Colorado

With the U.S. Supreme Court sending the issue of abortion back to the states with the Dobbs decision, we celebrate a new era nationwide. But we must also mourn the 63 million lives lost — and tens of millions of more wounded — in the 49 years since the dreadful decision of Roe v. Wade and related rulings. And we must also face up to a culture of death in Colorado that is more deeply entrenched than ever before.

With the passage of the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA), signed into law by Colorado Governor Jared Polis in April, the reality of abortion-on-demand for any reason — and for all 40 weeks of pregnancy — will continue in our state. This means that any woman, at any point of her pregnancy (including up to the moment of delivery) could demand and receive an abortion of her child, including a child who could easily survive outside the womb. Colorado law denies rights for those children in the womb with cruel specificity.

And, along with other radically pro-abortion states like California, Illinois and New York, we are to become a destination for so-called “Abortion Tourism.” Cobalt, an organization dedicated to “advancing abortion access and reproductive rights” sent a direct mail appeal, which stated on the outside of the envelope, “Anyone who needs an abortion is welcome here in Colorado!”

For many years, Gallup polling indicates that the majority of Americans polled do not support unlimited access to abortion and do not agree with late-term abortions. Some advocates try to justify late-term abortions by citing serious birth defects. Yet, when you talk to former abortionists, they acknowledge that is simply not true. Late-term abortions are done on perfectly healthy children because they were “unwanted” or “inconvenient.” Our response must always be, “Please, no child is unwanted. Someone, somewhere would love to care for this child.”

Let’s work to persuade the people of Colorado that we can do better than RHEA, which is an abortion-on-demand policy akin to China and North Korea. That isn’t what we want for our beautiful state. Ignoring the basic right to life is denying the foundation upon which all other rights are built. May our Lord of Life raise up holy people and bring forth a new recognition of civil rights for everyone.

To do that, we need to strategize how we’re going to move forward as the Church in Colorado. There are at least two areas of focus: preventing abortion and also ministering to those who are post-abortive.

Recognize first that this is a spiritual battle. We can pray specific prayers and we know that God honors fasting; novenas have proven power. We need to support local life-affirming efforts and education, learn basic apologetics on life issues (which the Respect Life Denver office provides) while encouraging our priests and deacons to preach on life issues.

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We must create wise and winsome ways to reach out to the desperate “abortion tourists” who will be entering our state, thinking they are alone and have no other choice. Abortion is traumatic for women — physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. We need to be there for them and help empower them to make wiser choices that have positive life-long consequences.

Catholic Charities of Denver is at the ready with a myriad of services that offer the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. That includes providing food, shelter, counseling, medical services, affordable housing, immigration services, early childhood education, diapers and much more. 

Try calling any abortion provider and ask if they offer ANY of these services. The answer will be “no.” 

For a woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, we want her to view the Church and its merciful outreach as the first place — not the last — that she turns. We must be the steadfast place of hope and peace that she so desperately needs.  

Another area of focus is on post-abortive women and men.

It has been estimated that one in four women have had an abortion by their mid-40s — and just as many men may have experienced that loss, as well. These wounded adults might be in our pews. They may have never stepped foot in a church since the abortion. We need to understand the profoundly negative effect of abortion on women, men and their families.

If Catholic, these walking wounded may have never confessed an abortion in the sacrament of Confession. Or, they may have done so several times. They may be faced with a fear that God will never forgive them. They may fear rejection from friends and family. They may struggle with situations and reminders that trigger guilt, or may experience anniversary reactions and nightmares. They may not realize the correlation between their current relationship struggles and a past abortion. It can be the source of profound emotional and spiritual suffering. Women are nurturers by nature — and seeing other newborn children can remind them of their loss through abortion.

It’s incredibly painful to acknowledge that abortion is an experience involving death. Those who promote abortion “rights” have tried to convince our culture that unwanted pregnancies are not “human” and that what is aborted is “just tissue.” They also mistakenly claim a woman’s right to abortion is moral and justifiable. Good counseling can help break through this denial with compassion.

These dear souls need to know that there is healing, forgiveness, reconciliation and hope. They need to know that God will — and does — forgive this sin, and that the Church offers healing ministries such as Project Rachel, which is offered through Catholic Charities’ St. Raphael Counseling. They can be helped through a healing process defined in “Pastoral assistance, Project Rachel’s priest manual.” This includes: self-honesty; acknowledging and reconnecting with their deceased child(ren); surrendering this child(ren) to God; giving and accepting forgiveness; and reconciliation and commitment to a new life.

Women and men who are post-abortive may hear an inner voice whispering, “You are a terrible person.” This is not God’s voice — but a temptation to despair. With proper guidance, they can be encouraged to repeat a simple prayer or a verse of Holy Scripture to keep them in God’s presence. It is spiritual weaponry against the enemy of our souls. It was effective for Jesus Christ; it can be effective for us. Again, with proper guidance, men and women who are post-abortive may be encouraged to place their child in the arms of Jesus or Our Blessed Mother and ask them to care for the child. They may be reminded that they are forever this child’s parents; abortion did not end that relationship. It is also a beautiful and holy thing to memorialize this child or children. One example: The Memorial Wall for the Unborn at Sacred Heart of Mary Cemetery in Boulder provides the opportunity to order and place “Small plaques with words of remembrance honoring a baby lost by abortion, miscarriage or stillbirth…” In that way, these children may be honored, remembered and loved. 

Learn more at respectlifedenver.org.

Lynn Grandon
Lynn Grandon
Lynn Grandon is program director of Respect Life Denver.
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