In the 2011 film Friends With Kids, two platonic friends decide to have a child together without the entanglements of marriage (which they saw as tearing their other friends’s relationships apart). A year or so after their child is born, Jason (the father) meets “The One” and at their initial meeting, he explains that yes, he has a kid, but no, he is not in a relationship. She, in turn, asks he knocked up a Catholic girl.
It’s possibly my favorite part of the movie, which is not saying much. Friends With Kids was a very bleak look at having kids, and the lack of proper communication between the adults was surely everyone’s downfall. But it was a strangely pro-life film. Even with the adults crying and getting their knickers into a twist, there were kids running around everywhere. I think they were supposed to seem annoying and unruly, but I enjoyed their vibrancy and the liveliness they offered to the film.
Moreover, all the parents had their kids on purpose. All the children were “wanted”. By the end of the film, the very character who had been criticizing kids being brought to fancy restaurants at the beginning was now staring at them with doe-eyes and compassion, and asking the parents how old they were. For the first time in the whole movie, a character showed real compassion toward the lives of children.
The main characters, who avidly hate organized religion (their words, not mine), would more than likely be contemptuous of the pro-life movement, and really, any one who did not wholly support their decision-making process. But would they really have been as rabid as what we saw in Texas? The yelling, the signs, and the insinuations that “my body, my decision” means that fellow women cannot plead and pray, men have no say in the decision-making process, and the child inside is not its own autonomy.
As Mary C. Tillotson wrote in “Disabled Babies, Moms, and Men: Can We Please Love Them All?”, ” If we really need to turn men into straw men and tear them down, we’re buying into the (false) idea that men really are superior and all we can do is mope about it and resent everything. If we honestly believe that men and women really are equal in worth and dignity, we won’t feel threatened when a man speaks with kindness or offers to help.”
As this is the end of NFP Awareness Week, I wanted to make suggestions for a more fruitful and successful pro-life attitude and movement. It starts small, with every person.
It is more than praying ceaselessly (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and adding “the unborn” to prayer intentions – we must earnestly pray for women (especially those in domestic violence situations, and victims of sexual assault and rape); pray for people’s hearts to be open to life, to understand its sanctity, and to uphold human dignity; for men; for all families affected. We must broaden our understanding of what it means to be “pro-life” to include the care and love of every single human being – especially those we disagree with, and who cause us frustration and anger.
2. Watch your thoughts, curb your words
Never, ever, ever say “baby killer” to a person who is pro-choice. First of all, they do not see their decision as killing a baby. They see it as preventing a baby from being born. The difference may seem “tomato/ tomatoe” but it is that sliver of mercy that justifies their actions.
Empathy is what these mothers need; it is called a “difficult decision” for a reason. They are not debating that. These women need healing too, and just as often, so do the men. It is too easy to look at people who use contraception, have abortions, are pro-choice and think, They are taking the easy way out. They are not taking responsibility for their actions. But you too are doing that if you allow yourself to think this way: you are guiding your thoughts to not be loving. You are not actively seeking their best interests if you so easily dismiss people. Do not let other people’s mistakes be your downfall.
3. No yelling, ever.
Who likes being yelled at? Does that make you listen better to other people’s arguments? I don’t think so. (This includes yelling over social media, peeps.)
4. No judging why a person is pregnant, no matter how old or the circumstances around it.
Can you imagine becoming pregnant when you were not trying, and not in a supportive environment? That sounds terrifying to me. I can’t imagine how I’d react if my husband did not want our child, or my family shunned me. These are realities many, many, many people face. If we truly believe every baby is a gift, then we must act respectful and supportive to all moms, and let them know they are “wanted” as well as their child. Many women and men are not blessed with having excellent chastity education (or any at all!) which teaches them to value their bodies (and others). Instead, many retaliate against any feelings of unjust shame or curiosity by “taking control of their sexuality” by being sexuality active. This is different than understanding one’s fertility, and both are important to learn.
Be merciful, then, as your Father is merciful. Judge nobody, and you will not be judged; condemn nobody, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and gifts will be yours; good measure, pressed down and shaken up and running over, will be poured into your lap; the measure you award to others is the measure that will be awarded to you. (Luke 6:36-38)
5. Helping and befriending the moms.
These moms are scared. Bringing a baby into the world is a huge responsibility, whether or not the mother chooses to raise it or offer it for adoption. Heck, I was scared when I first realized I was pregnant, and I was married and in a stable, loving relationship with a supportive family. My parish priest told me that it was okay to be scared – Mary was certainly frightened when the angel came to her with the message that she had been chosen to carry the Son of God. This is why he said, “Be not afraid!” This is why her “Yes!” to the Lord is so significant – she was taking on another human life to nourish and love and bring into this world. This is no small feat.
Helping and befriending these moms means supporting them emotionally and physically (hello diapers and wipes!), and hopefully, spiritually. If the mom decides to keep her child, she is making a life sacrifice. If a mom decides to give her baby up for adoption, she is making another sacrifice – after carrying her baby to term, she may never see that child again, but always wonder what he/she is up to in the world. This is an ache no water can quench.
Volunteering at crisis pregnancy centers is an excellent way to support mothers: and if counseling is not your strong suit, there is still plenty of work to do in sorting, office management, answering phones, and helping the other workers.
The most important thing we can do in this world is love our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ – this is not a suggestion either, but a command. We love and learn humility, learn meekness, learn sacrifice. Let us help each other get to Heaven, especially those who need God the most.
Any more suggestions, dear readers?