Life Matters —The Newsletter of the Respect Life Office of the Diocese of Rockford
By Patricia Pitkus Bainbridge
Associate Director, Respect Life Office
For years, most of us in the pro-life movement have worked diligently toward building a culture of life in our world—a culture where all life would be respected and cherished; a culture that would demonstrate respect for life at its earliest stages and at its final stages including its not-so-perfect conditions; a culture where we would mourn those whose lives are prematurely taken; and a culture whose members are willing to respond to the needs of others instead of concentrating on their self-interest.
After the tragic events of September 11, 2001 we were made aware of many instances of individuals sacrificing for others. One had to be impressed by the compassion and respect of those who would not leave their disabled co-workers behind and of those who risked their lives so that others might live. We will never know how many individuals lost their own lives in their attempt to save others.
These heroic individuals recognized that people with disabilities or those in precarious situations require an extra measure of protection and assistance—as do all vulnerable human beings. They did not evaluate which lives were more valuable—they instinctively knew that all life has value and dignity.
While sporting events, civic meetings, school events, casinos, theaters, theme parks, businesses and even the new fall lineup of TV shows were cancelled or postponed, it was “business as usual” at the local abortuaries. Planned Parenthood of New York City—an affiliate of the largest single committer of abortions in our country—used the tragedy to build its customer base by offering “complete reproductive health care from September 18th through September 22nd free of cost.” It was no surprise to learn (via a telephone call to the affiliate) that abortion was included in “complete reproductive health care.”
And while medical personnel were struggling to save the lives of victims of the terrorist attacks, and while abortuary workers were most likely grieving—as one would hope they would—over the tragic deaths in New York, Pennsylvania, and our nation’s capital, there was no such concern shown over the lives that were being taken by their own hands.
The tragedy of that fateful day has touched all our lives—as it should. Please understand, this is not in any way minimizing this horrible massacre. But, one must ask why the daily tragedy of abortion—where over 4,000 human beings are destroyed each day—and other assaults on human life go by day after day, year after year with so little notice.
There is such a disconnect here. On the one hand, people were risking their own lives to protect others—some who were co-workers and friends, some of whom were disabled, many others who were total strangers. On the other hand, people were deliberately choosing to end the lives of the sick and disabled as well pre-born children.
Of course, abortion apologists insist that one cannot compare the “potential” life of a fetus with that of a “real” person. These individuals refuse to admit what science has clearly demonstrated—that life begins at conception/fertilization. Science teaches us when life begins, religion teaches us to respect it.
All life is a continuum from this earliest beginning to its natural end and no one along this continuum is more or less a human being or person—all are persons just at different stages of development with different names: zygote, embryo, fetus, neonate, infant, child, pre-adolescent, adolescent, young adult, middle-age adult, or old-age adult.
The size, level of development, environment, or degree of dependency of any one human being has nothing to do with his or her value as a person. All have dignity and worth simply because they are made in God’s image and any attempt to de-humanize the most vulnerable and the most innocent among us is morally wrong.
Let us continue to work toward building a culture of life in our world—a culture where all life is respected, protected and cherished. A culture where all human beings—regardless of size, level of development, environment, or degree of dependency—are viewed as having equal moral worth.