Love saves lives. A definitive statement, but is it true?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, among married women, 4 percent of pregnancies end in abortion. Among unmarried women, 27 percent of pregnancies end in abortion. Women living with a partner to whom they are not married account for 25 percent of U.S. abortions. Of those married women having an abortion, 9.4 percent are in the midst of seeking a divorce.
Not only does marriage between one man and one woman lower the rate of abortion, it provides a loving, stable environment for a child to be raised. It safeguards the social, economic, educational and religious practice of the child.
Longitudinal studies on families in the poverty level find that single mothers with dependent children have the highest rate of poverty across all demographic groups. According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2016, approximately 60 percent of U.S. children living in mother-only families are impoverished, compared with only 11 percent of two-parent families. Single-parent homes have higher incidents of children who drop out of school, are incarcerated and are less likely to attend church services or religious education.
These are dim social realities. While many single-parent homes courageously and successfully raised well-educated and religious children, there is evidence that this is very difficult. The support and love from extended family, parishes and communities can help by assisting single-parent families, but this needs to be an intentional outreach to make a difference. Too many families suffer in silence, isolation and despair.
Love saves lives of those experiencing a difficult situation with a pregnancy. Fourteen crisis pregnancy centers exist in the Diocese of St. Cloud to serve the needs of women and girls who are experiencing a crisis pregnancy. Crisis pregnancy centers offer free, confidential help to the mother so that she can make informed decisions regarding her own future and that of her child. Assistance with educational resources for pregnancy and caring for a child, clothing, diapers, formula and emotional support are available at these wonderful centers. The compassionate care they offer saves not only the babies’ lives, but helps provide stability and support that the mother and family need.
So, what if a woman and man participate in an abortion? What does that mean for them?
God’s love is infinite and so is his mercy. God’s desire is for us to find peace through his healing compassion. The church understands the feelings of grief, anxiety, guilt and anger are common not only for the woman who underwent the abortion, but also for the man involved, family, friends and even medical personnel. And this pain of loss is often buried initially but may be manifested by relationship difficulties, depression or other emotional and spiritual problems.
Love saves those lives suffering from the aftermath of abortion. Our diocese participates in an outreach for healing, called Project Rachel, providing confidential support from people specially trained to help sort through unresolved feelings and conflicts. Pastoral counseling is private and sensitive to the particular person’s needs. To contact Project Rachel, please call 320-529-4616.
What all this data paints is how God’s plan for humanity, his love for his human family is the best way to raise and foster the next generations. Yet, we, as the hands, heart and voices of Christ in the world, can help those in difficult situations. So, our love, too, can save lives.
We can start by sharing how God’s plan for family begins with marriage with our teenage children and grandchildren. We can instill in our youth a profound dignity for all persons, born and unborn, by our witness.
We can hang this year’s poster in our front window or door which says to our neighbors and friends that we care. Our prayer, fasting and participation in initiatives that show our visible support for life at all stages can make a difference. Whether it is in offering an hour in front of the Planned Parenthood Clinic in St. Cloud or Alexandria through 40 Days for Life, volunteering time at a crisis pregnancy center in your area, making baby blankets or layettes for the poor and offering them to your local food pantry — these are all ways our love can save lives.
Love saves lives. This is true.
Chris Codden is director of the Office of Marriage and Family of the Diocese of St. Cloud. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.