By Patricia Pitkus Bainbridge
Director, Respect Life Office
Various organizations have selected particular days, weeks, or months to promote awareness and garner support for their particular issues. A simple Google search finds more than seventy different observances for the month of October.
A few of these October observances are frivolous: National Toilet Tank Repair Month, Spinach Lovers Month, Celebrate Sun Dried Tomatoes Month, and National Popcorn Poppin’ Month. Others are of a more serious nature with October being National Lupus Awareness Month, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, National Spina Bifida Awareness Month, National Down Syndrome Month, National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Sponsoring groups or individuals will use the month of October to organize activities to generate awareness of their particular concern and to raise funds for their groups. Sadly, some of these organizations will use donations to support morally objectionable activities. Some make no attempt to raise funds directly, but will use the observance to spread their immoral doctrines.
Gravely immoral observance
One of the organizations that uses an October observance to indoctrinate the unsuspecting is Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) which initiated National Family Sexuality Education Month a number of years ago. The observance is now a program of the National Coalition to Support Sexuality Education (NCSSE) which describes itself as follows:
The SIECUS-led National Coalition to Support Sexuality Education consists of 118 [other self descriptions report 140] national nonprofit organizations, many of which are role models and initiators in promoting health, education, and social justice for our nations youth. These organizations represent a broad constituency of social workers, religious officials and lay people, educators, advocates, physicians, health care professionals, and child development specialists, whose combined work reaches more than 30 million young people. The goal of National Coalition to Support Sexuality Education is to assure that all children and youth receive comprehensive sexuality education.There does not appear to be anything gravely immoral about that description—unless, of course, you clearly understand the definition of “comprehensive sexuality education.” Their view of human sexuality is in direct opposition to traditional Judeo-Christian morality.
The organizations belonging to this coalition are opposed to any program that teaches chastity or “abstinence-only” sexuality education. They do not believe that sex is a gift from God reserved for marriage. They believe that pre-teens are fully capable of deciding whether or not they want to engage in sexual activity and as long as they use hormonal contraception and condoms, it is perfectly acceptable.
SIECUS/NCSSE promotes contraception, non-marital sex, and abortion. The coalition’s fact sheet states, “comprehensive contraceptive information, education, and services should be readily accessible to adolescents, irrespective of gender or income” and “every woman, regardless of age or income, should have the right to obtain an abortion.”
The October surprise
Which organizations belong to this Coalition that advocates for non-marital sex, contraception, and abortion? Some—Planned Parenthood Federation of America, “Catholics” for a Free Choice, Feminist Majority Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Abortion Federation, National Council of Churches (Committee on Family Ministries and Human Sexuality), National Coalition of Abortion Providers, People for the American Way, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice—are probably not surprising to most people.
Other member organizations, however, might come as a surprise to some people. The following are just a few examples of additional Coalition member organizations who hold positions on human sexuality and abortion that are at odds with traditional morality: Advocates for Youth, American Association of University Women, American Federation of Teachers, American Library Association, Child Welfare League of America, Children’s Defense Fund, Girls Incorporated, National Council of Jewish Women, National Information Center for Children & Youth with Disabilities, National Latina Health Organization, National Resource Center for Youth Services, National School Boards Association, Network for Family Life Education, United States Conference of Mayors, and the YWCA of the U.S.A.
National Family Sexuality Education Month is one October observance that should be challenged! Do not be fooled. The organizations promoting this observance do not want what is best for your children. They do not believe —as we do—that young people are capable of modesty, chastity, and self-mastery. They believe that pre-born babies are expendable. They oppose parental consent or parental notification. They see nothing wrong with a 12 year-old girl procuring an abortion.
They do not believe in the inherent value and dignity of all human life. They do not believe that all human life is precious
The worthy October observance
Fortunately, there is an observance that promotes the dignity of all human persons. Each year, since 1972, on the first Sunday in October, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sets into motion a new Respect Life Program. Published by the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, this program includes a packet of information designed “to call attention to numerous human life issues.” The theme for this year’s Respect Life Program is “help build a world where human life is always loved and defended and every form of violence is banished.”
While October is designated by some as Respect Life Month, for Catholics it really marks the beginning of another Respect Life year. With the multitude and magnitude of attacks against the dignity of the human person in our world today, our awareness of the vital need for the respect of all human life from fertilization to natural death cannot be limited to 31 days in October.
Be not afraid
We must never be afraid to demonstrate our support for chastity, modesty, Natural Family Planning, adult stem cell research, cord blood stem cell research, adoption, and for those suffering the aftermath of abortion. We must also assist the elderly, the infirmed and those with disabilities.
We must never be afraid to demonstrate our opposition to comprehensive sex education, embryonic stem cell research, cloning, reproductive technologies that separate the unitive or procreative dimensions of the marital act, eugenics, assisted suicide, euthanasia, pornography, and population control initiatives.
We must never be afraid to demonstrate our opposition to those organizations or medical charities that support morally objectionable ideas or actions. We must never be afraid to say “no” to National Family Sexuality Education Month.
We must never be afraid to stand up for life. We must speak out whenever and wherever vulnerable human life is threatened. While the Church does not and cannot force anyone to believe her moral teachings, she must promote and teach the truth.
The laity also has a responsibility to transmit the truth by word and/or deed in our own sphere of influence. Of course, in order to accomplish this, we must know the truth. (The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the best source for all that is Catholic!)
If you have not already done so, I pray that during this October you will make a commitment to defend and promote the inherent value and dignity of all human life from fertilization until natural death.