by Sarah Kopriva
“Pro-life is only pro-birth. After that baby is born, you don’t do anything to look after their needs, and you don’t support them until they have an unplanned pregnancy. Your highest priority is the fetus, and nothing else.”
In the wake of the March for Life in the states, I heard statements of this kind very frequently. While it frustrated me endlessly to have someone try to distill my pro-life convictions to one issue, could I really blame them when abortion (and more recently, euthanasia) is the only issue that has a recognizable “pro-life” sticker slapped on to it? It seems that the two don’t just go hand in hand, but that pro-life is synonymous with anti-abortion, and that is all. However, when one stops to consider the pro-life ideology, it can’t stop at issues of birth. Living is the longest, most involved process any of us go through, so to be truly pro-life is to support the entire span of humanity throughout this journey.
So what does it mean for me to be pro-life for me, a student with limited resources, who can’t adopt or foster children yet, besides doing what I can to spread the truth about abortion and show women the better options available to them?
For me, it means carrying my organ donor card all the time, in case I’m hit on my bike- a fact which I know makes my loved ones uncomfortable, as my body will neither be mine nor theirs when I die.
It means being kind to the refugee family down the hall, and giving what I can financially to support bringing a family to Canada, doing what I can to help them re-establish their lives in a new country.
It means being especially kind to the irritable elderly man who I see at work every week, because I don’t know whether he’s irritable because he’s lonely, or if I’m the only positive interaction he’s had today.
It means being open to adoption down the road, a conversation I’m already having in planning my future.
It means supporting mental health initiatives on my campus and being involved in their planning and implementation, so that no one feels isolated because of their mental health and everyone has access to resources that allow them to support themselves and live fulfilling lives.
It also means learning about suicide intervention so that if the time comes, I can help someone ease off that dangerous ledge.
It means reaching out to communities who feel unheard so that, even if I can’t do anything, they aren’t alone. I have been lucky enough to spend time in a First Nations community on several occasions, as a representative of the Catholic Church, to hear their stories and experiences. All I was there to do was listen, and the bravery shown in their sharing, and the trust shown in letting me spend time with their youth, has been heroic.
It means giving my time so that everyone knows that their life has inherent value, independent of their age, ability, health (both physical and mental), gender, race, beliefs, et cetera et cetera.
None of this is comfortable stuff. To quote Pope Benedict XVI, “the world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” All these uncomfortable actions may be small in the moment, but they shed light on the unfathomable greatness of human life. It demands greater respect, which extends to every human life.
I know sometimes the pro-life issue seems boiled down to a few issues- those which are heard most often because of their urgency. But the whole mindset is wrapped up in those two little words. To be for life. To be open the miracle that is life itself.