Linda Rubey of the Women’s Choice Center (WCC) in Bettendorf shares the story of a pregnant woman in her early 20s who arrived at the center new to the area and rejected by her baby’s father. The reluctant mother-to-be, who Rubey calls “Shawna,” was also under the strain of commuting to work in her former community more than two hours away. She was “convinced this was just not a good time to bring a baby into the world,” Rubey says.
The compassion, guidance and relationship building Shawna experienced during visits to the WCC, along with viewing ultrasound images of her unborn child, convinced her to choose life for her child and not abortion. While touring Chloe’s Closet at the center, an emotional Shawna told her client advocate, “I have no one, but you are reminding me that I am not alone! I can do this!”
On Jan. 22, we mark the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that stated a woman’s right to an abortion was implicit in the right to privacy protected by the U.S. Constitution’s 14th amendment. As the pro-life movement prays fervently for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, we must also practice love in service to others rather than to ourselves to ensure life-affirming decisions by mothers-to-be and all of us. Abortion will not end until everyone, from the powerful to the vulnerable, feels loved.
“True love,” Pope Francis observes “is not an outward act, it is not giving something in a paternalistic way in order to assuage the conscience, but to accept those who are in need of our time, our friendship, our help. It means living to serve, overcoming the temptation to satisfy ourselves.”
One example of love in service to others happened on a bitterly cold morning in January, when Sheryl Schwager of Johnson County Right to Life and five others prayed outside the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City. Pro-life supporters pray at Emma Young (Thursdays) and at Planned Parenthood in Iowa City (Wednesdays). The people praying carry Blessing Bags to distribute outside the clinics. Each bag contains information about fetal development and the risks of abortion, community resources for life-affirming options to abortion, a coupon for a free pregnancy test and sonogram, and a personalized note from a person praying outside the clinic. The note reads, in part, “I am praying for you and your baby. Please know that Jesus loves you both so dearly! I understand what an overwhelming time this may be for you. If you would like to come back out to talk, I am here to listen. Or you may call me anytime (phone number listed)…” That is a commitment to love in service to others.
All who advocate for legislation and services that address affordable housing and childcare, adequate funding of education, health and nutrition, and foster healthy marriages and families, provide an example of love in service to others. “Human life should be protected from conception until natural death as a basic requirement of a just and moral society,” the Iowa Catholic Conference states on its website
(iowacatholicconference.org). That protection requires us to ensure that every human person has access to basic necessities such as food, housing, clean water, air, education, health care and productive work for fair wages. We must work to ensure that threats to human life from abortion, the death penalty or assisted suicide are never acceptable.
Among the life-affirming initiatives the ICC supports is a state constitutional amendment to clarify that the Iowa Constitution does not grant a right to an abortion. Read the full list of ICC legislative principles and concerns (https://tinyurl.com/55j9m8wf). Sign up for action alerts from the ICC to voice your opinion on Iowa issues to state legislators and national issues to our U.S. congressional delegation.
Finally, consider attending events in your community marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Events planned in our diocese include:
• Sanctity of Life Remembrance Jan. 22, organized by the WCC. Recitation of the rosary begins at 2:45 p.m. at the WCC prayer wall or in the children’s chapel. The remembrance continues from 3:30-4:30 p.m. at Heritage Church, 2700 Middle Road, Bettendorf.
• North Lee County Right to Life annual March for Life on Jan. 22 begins at 10:30 a.m. at 10th Street and Avenue F in Fort Madison. You may walk or drive in the march.
• Johnson County Right to Life March for Life events Jan. 22 at St. Wenceslaus Church in Iowa City. Mass begins at 7 a.m. followed by exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at 7:30 a.m., benediction at 9:30 a.m., a rally at the west parking lot and a march to Emma Goldman Clinic from 10-11:30 a.m. Hot chocolate and treats follow at the church youth center.
When we consistently practice love in service to others, we will convince the Shawnas in our midst to choose life, not abortion.
Barb Arland-Fye, Editor