March for Life 2018: Marching for one day, but serving for a lifetime

March for Life 2018: Marching for one day, but serving for a lifetime
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I will be marching this Friday along with hundreds of thousands of pro-life Americans at the annual March for Life in Washington D.C., to demand that our laws acknowledge and respect the obvious humanity of unborn children and protect their lives. That is my small way of making a political contribution. But like many, if not most, of the marchers, I back up my passion for the life of the unborn with practical, compassionate help for them and their parents.

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I’m a private practice radiologist and I have just spent hours reading a large stack of prenatal ultrasounds. I’ll only be paid for about half of this work. The other half is work I regularly donate to our local Pregnancy Resource Center. This center and the many thousands like it across the country are places that provide, free of charge, compassionate alternatives to abortion for women facing an unplanned pregnancy. I am motivated by my faith to do this work, and because it would be wrong to let my commitment stop at politics and ideology.

Over the past decades, the pro-life movement has developed a vast and effective outreach to mothers (and fathers) challenged by the reality of a baby on the way. This outreach is channeled through the Pregnancy Resource Centers, which number in the many thousands. The idea of each center is to create a loving space that is the exact opposite of the abortion clinic, which offers only one “solution” for the crisis pregnancy, one that invariably sacrifices the newly conceived life for the putative benefit of the woman bearing it.

Our centers, in contrast, provide love for both the unborn child and the parents of that child. To love is to desire the good of the other, and for newly conceived children, it is self-evidently good to have a chance at a full life. For the parents, the Pregnancy Resource Centers offer a myriad of goods, from help in accessing financial assistance for the medical costs of pregnancy and delivery, to parenting and spousal classes for the mother and father. Diapers, strollers, car seats, and formula are dispensed liberally when the baby arrives, and for the parents who wish for the child to live but can’t care for him or her, adoption is proposed and facilitated as a wonderful solution. Pregnancy Resource Centers are cornucopias of “goods” that put the dismal abortion clinics and their stirrups, sedatives, and suction apparatus to shame.  

The ultrasounds that I provide often confirm the existence of a pregnancy, with a reassuringly rapid thump-thump-thump that is the fetal heartbeat, so distinct from the slower rhythm of the mother’s arteries. Many times, I’ve been privileged to witness the moment when the sight of the little fetus, limbs waving, turns a scared, pregnant woman into a brave, protective mother. Mother-love, perhaps the strongest natural love on earth, suddenly swells and fills the room. Loving the baby, she is pleased and grateful for the support that surrounds her and her child at the Pregnancy Resource Center.

Sometimes the ultrasounds are performed on women who can’t afford to pay for prenatal care, and the study confirms the healthy development of the baby and determines the age and due date. It’s sad when the pregnancy is confirmed and dated, and the mother decides on abortion, leaving us to make her way to the opposite-care clinic. We are saddened for the child, whose life was cut short, and for the parents, who we know often deeply regret their choice. We know because at these Pregnancy Resource Centers we also offer care for post-abortive women and men who struggle with remorse and feelings of irreparable loss. Trained counselors, all of them volunteers, help them find peace, often after years of suffering.

At the March for Life this year, the theme is “Love Saves Lives,” and it perfectly captures not only the mood of the demonstration but also the compassionate outreach of the pro-life movement. It is love for justice and human rights that motivates us to march, and love for human beings that drives us to volunteer. It is a love that holds all the players in the pregnancy drama in its warmth, even the little stranger so callously disregarded at the single-option abortion clinic down the street.

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie is a policy advisor for The Catholic Association, which is dedicated to being a faithful Catholic voice in the public square.