A challenging pro-life call to action

Written by Tracye McArdle

In the 1987 classic movie, “The Untouchables,” a crusty street-wise Chicago cop, Jimmy Malone (Sean Connery), lay fatally wounded, shot by one of Al Capone‘s notorious henchmen. Elliott Ness (Kevin Costner), the federal agent leading a small elite team including Malone, tasked with bringing down the powerful Capone enterprise, arrives just in time to hear his friend’s final words.

Drawing his last breath, Malone summons all of his strength, grabs Ness by the shirt, and in a gruff Irish brogue, challenges Ness, “What are you prepared to do?!“

Bishop Dennis Sullivan stands with pro-lifers during the March for Life in Washington on Jan. 19, 2018. Photo by John Kalitz

Jimmy Malone‘s message to Ness was clear. If you really want to dismantle the Capone empire and uproot the widespread graft in the Windy City, you can’t tinker around the edges of this battle; you can’t just pay lip service in fighting this kind of entrenched crime and corruption. You’ve got to go “all-in”.

There’s a similar message for those in the pro life arena these days. You say you are an advocate for babies in the womb, a believer in the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death? Then what are you prepared to do?

Are you willing to join hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers from around the country in the freezing temperatures of Washington D.C. at the March for Life in January each year? Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Yes, it commemorates the sad anniversary of Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion throughout our country. But, without a doubt, you will never find a more uplifting, exuberant, youthful witness to life than this annual event. Parishes throughout the Diocese sponsor buses. Walk the walk, up Constitution Avenue, at least once in your life. It will not disappoint.

Are you willing to help those women who bravely choose life rather than abortion for their unborn children despite incredibly challenging circumstances? There are several crisis pregnancy organizations in South Jersey that do heroic work to bring hope, stability, self-sufficiency and God’s love into the lives of hundreds of needy parents and children every year — Good Counsel Homes, Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, and Options for Women are three such groups, all worthy of your donations, volunteer time and talent. Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Camden coordinates periodic diaper drives. Knights of Columbus Councils sponsor baby bottle fundraiser campaigns. Opportunities abound.

Will you give witness on the sidewalks of abortion clinics, praying not just for abortion-minded women and their unborn children entering these facilities, but also for those who work there, that they will have a change of heart and use their medical skills for healing rather than destroying life? The Rosary is the most powerful weapon against abortion and the most perfect tool to reach hardened souls.

Do you speak to your children regularly at their earliest age about the value of every human life — no matter how small or weak, young or old? For older children the Internet is full of wondrous images and 4D ultrasound videos of babies in the womb — their hearts beating just 21 days after conception, their exquisitely formed fingers and toes at eight weeks, their smiling, yawning, thumbsucking at 27 weeks. These windows into the womb reveal the humanity of unborn life in a way that no words could ever match.

Pro-life activists gather to pray the rosary outside an abortion clinic in Cherry Hill during the 40 Days for Life campaign in October. Photo by Peter G. Sánchez

Will you hold the hand of a post-abortive woman who, even decades later, silently marks with grief and guilt what would have been her baby’s birthdays and other milestones, and wonders what her child could have become? Will you lovingly encourage her to contact Project Rachel, a nationwide network where post-abortive women (and men) find forgiveness, healing and peace through weekend retreats?

Will you call or write your elected officials about pending legislation involving life issues? Two such bills are currently under consideration in Trenton: a bill to legalize assisted suicide in the state, and a bill to ban late-term abortions. The New Jersey Catholic Conference of Bishops and many other pro life advocacy groups are working diligently to oppose the former and promote the latter. Add to their voices.

Be the voice for the voiceless. It takes less than ten minutes to let your elected officials know where you stand on these issues.

Will you build life-saving awareness to perhaps hundreds of people every day by placing a pro-life magnet on your car or obtaining a “Choose Life” specialized New Jersey license plate, the proceeds of which are used to facilitate and encourage adoption as a positive choice for women with unplanned pregnancies?

Will you speak up with charity and courage when a co-worker, family member or friend cavalierly asserts that it’s a woman’s right to do what she wants with her owsssn body? Hint: there’s a difference between being in a woman’s body and being a part of a woman’s body.

Defending life is not for the faint of heart! The culture of death has convinced many that children and old people are burdens, that the disabled are less deserving of life, that children conceived in rape must pay with their own lives for the sins of their fathers, that marriage and families are obsolete institutions.

Just as Jimmy Malone knew that you’ve got to go “all-in” if you hope to defeat the pervasive culture of bribes, intimidation and murder in Prohibition Era Chicago, pro-lifers too must be fully invested in defeating the culture of death in today’s society.

As Shawn Carney, CEO of the worldwide 40 Days for Life campaign, recently noted: “This is not the time in history to cower at the great trials of our time. Instead we must rise up. We must trust God, pray, fast and act. God calls the small, the weak, the ordinary to change the world.”

Tracye McArdle is the pro-life coordinator at Mater Ecclesiae Mission in Berlin. For more information about any of the events or programs found in this article, call her at 856-816-4907.