When October rolls around, pro-life issues take a more prominent spot on center stage as advocates observe Respect Life Month.
The pro-life message is, of course, a central concern for the Church all year, as so many of its teachings center around the sanctity of all human life, from birth to death. During October, however, there are special opportunities to put these beliefs into action, such as Life Chains and prayer vigils outside abortion clinics. Respect Life Month also runs concurrently with the national 40 Days for Life Campaign, which started on Sept. 25 and runs through Nov. 3.
This year, pro-life activities in the fall will build on a recent report that shows that abortion in this country has declined dramatically.
According to a Sept. 18 report by the Associated Press, there were 862,000 abortions reported in the United States in 2017, which is the lowest level since the procedure became legal in 1973 after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. The number of abortions declined both in states that have passed legislation restricting abortion and those that have enacted new laws protecting and expanding abortion rights.
Pro-life advocates around the country hailed the news, attributing the result to increased awareness about abortion and the harm it can do to women, and a renewed focus on supporting programs such as crisis pregnancy centers.
Even though this is good news for the pro-life movement, Church leaders stress the importance of continuing the fight for life.
The theme for this year’s Respect Life Month is “Christ, Our Hope in Every Season of Life.”
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said the theme is appropriate for the current culture.
“The attacks against human life seem to grow more numerous and callous by the day,” Archbishop Naumann wrote. “Despite these challenges, we know that Christ has conquered sin and death once and for all.”
During October, one of the most effective ways to support pro-life efforts is by helping at the local level. People are encouraged to volunteer time or donate money and supplies to crisis pregnancy centers and programs such as Birthright, which offers support and help for women facing crisis pregnancies in Columbia and Georgetown.
Members of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Greenwood stepped up to support the cause recently by raising $22,250 in one weekend to help the Knights of Columbus purchase an ultrasound machine for CrossRoads, a pregnancy center in Greenwood, said Russ Kapperman, Grand Knight of Council 7129.
The Knights of Columbus have run an ongoing national campaign to purchase the machines for local centers.
Kapperman said the Crossroads center initially approached the Knights back in the spring and asked if they could provide $1,000 for the center to purchase a used ultrasound machine.
“We told them that’s not what we do — we’ll get you a brand new one,” he said. “We went to work and got approval from the diocese and then the Supreme Council of the Knights and then our pastor, Father Timothy Tebalt, and then we went to the people of the parish because they always have been so supportive of the pregnancy center.”
The Knights placed collection envelopes in the pews and made an announcement about the campaign at all Masses. They were overwhelmed that the parishioners raised the entire amount needed in just one weekend. Kapperman presented a check for the new ultrasound to Kerstin Hering, director of CrossRoads, on Sept. 15.
“This is a parish that has always been proudly pro-life, and I think this is one of the most impactful things we can do as Catholics,” Kapperman said.