Saturday, January 23, 2010

Marching for Life: Some Reflections and Photos

Yesterday I attended the annual March for Life. I didn't see anybody I knew and the closest I came to "Consistent Life" was the student from Notre Dame who sat next to me on the subway and who, in response to some intense grilling from a GWU student, gave a perfect, "seamless garment" response.

One of the pluses of this year's march was that there were relatively few gory fetus signs like this:

On the other hand, I was not comfortable with the mass-produced "Women DO Regret Abortion" and "Men Regret Lost Fatherhood" signs, courtesy of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign (brought to you by Priests for Life and Anglicans For Life). A small group of women who really have had abortions carrying signs that say "I Regret My Abortion" is a powerful witness. Gross -- and therefore inaccurate -- generalizations carried and mouthed by teenagers who have never been pregnant, let alone experienced abortion, is just offensive and creepy.

In a spiritual sense, abortion is experienced as a loss of freedom and control over our bodies. With these signs, we can't even own our grieving process, which is different for each woman. Some women do not regret their abortions or they may regret them for reasons that are different than those that underlie this campaign. Many men do not equate the loss of one unintended pregnancy with loss of fatherhood. To Fr. Frank Pavone and his fellow priests: Keep your slogans off our bodies, stop manipulating and exploiting our grief, and focus your energies on what you can do best as priests of the Roman Catholic Church -- educate your fellow priests and hierarchy on how to make the Church a more welcoming place for post-abortion women.

I prefer simple personal signs like this one:

And then there's the equation of the fetus with Christ which begs the theological question: Isn't the mother also made in the image of God/Christ?

But there were also immediate opportunities to give life: helping a Hispanic family from New Jersey who had lost their cellphone and become separated from their group, giving directions to our visitors, and buying a plastic bracelet from some parochial school students from Wilmington, Delaware who were selling them to benefit Haiti. Their teacher explained that many were from the Dominican Republic and so chose their neighbor country for their annual service project.

Perhaps next year I will find friends like Fr. Hoyos (who says he was there) but I did have one "friend": Nuestra Madre y Señora María de Guadalupe que siempre camina con sus hijos cuando andan buscando vida y justicia. Our Lady was everywhere!

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