Understanding Our Church

A Treasury of Arkansas Writers Discussing the Catholic Faith

Trusting pro-life message means trusting God’s gift of human dignity

Published: January 18, 2020

By Father Erik Pohlmeier
Director of Faith Formation

As we mark another anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision we take our annual look at the moral, legal, cultural and controversial question of abortion. Forty-seven years later, there is no shortage of passionate commentary. When it comes to the question of abortion I have long asked myself — How is it not obvious? How could anyone not see the child in the womb as a child? How could the instinct to protect children not dominate our response?

Until the saving work of Jesus becomes a guiding principle for life in general, controversial issues will remain too difficult to face. Until someone hurt by abortion in the past experiences the healing of Jesus they are not likely to see God’s perspective.

And yet, the obvious assessment in our time is that many people are conflicted. For whatever inner thoughts people have about abortion, the majority do not raise their voice. There are certainly heroic voices who spend a great deal of energy to protect the vulnerable unborn among us. There are many who work to repair the damage caused in our society by the failure to protect human life. But the question remains — Why is the effort of the Church and of so many pro-life people not more effective?

No doubt there are many aspects to answering this question, but I would like to consider one that seems like part of the basic foundation. In college I remember a class on logic when the teacher made it clear that any disagreement on conclusions stems from premises that are not shared. Progress in any argument must consider the premises and build from there.

So, consider Catholic reasoning about abortion. God is creator of life and gives human life every dignity, which must be protected. As much as this truth is foundational, another premise is whether I accept God as a guiding principle in my personal life. The issue of abortion seems obvious to me because what God wants matters to me. What if that doesn’t matter to someone else? Then my struggle to connect with another person about abortion might be more about God than about the specific issue.

This makes evangelization part of the question of abortion, as well as every other controversial issue of our day. If we are to lead others to appreciate and defend God’s gift of human life we might need to lead them to God. If we are trying to influence other Catholics about abortion, the first question might be about discipleship.

Until the saving work of Jesus becomes a guiding principle for life in general, controversial issues will remain too difficult to face. Until someone hurt by abortion in the past experiences the healing of Jesus they are not likely to see God’s perspective. Anyone giving voice to the dignity of human life, and trying to reshape our culture, should take time to consider your premises. If you want someone else to accept what it means to be human in God’s sight, take time to reflect on your own life as a son or daughter of God.

Identify the ways you have been set free by the saving work of Jesus, how you have been healed. Learn to be a witness for God’s truth in the most personal of ways and invite others to experience the freedom of God’s children. Only when we are close to God can we see from God’s perspective and only then will the full dignity of every person make sense.