Taking a ‘both/and’ approach to life


Letter writers Mary Rourke of Davenport and Mary Lu Callahan of Iowa City each care deeply about unborn children and the children’s mothers. However, like so many Catholic Americans, the two letter writers share opposite opinions on how to end the tragedy of abortion. We can and need to unite in our efforts to affirm life.

In her Jan. 16 letter to the editor in The Catholic Messenger, Callahan called for increased access to such things as “affordable healthcare, including expanded Medicaid for the most needy women; access to affordable or free daycare for those who must work; a living wage for those working in service jobs, including in Catholic agencies.…”

“Poverty is only one factor in the abortion decision,” Rourke writes in a letter that appears in this week’s Jan. 30 issue. “Programs that address only economic needs are grossly inadequate. Crisis pregnancy centers are holistic in meeting the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of women.”

Callahan says, “We could transform our society with more love, and less punishment.” Rourke responds, “Fighting abortion is all about love, not punishment.”
Let’s mend the division and join forces to eliminate abortion by letting go of the “either/or stance and embracing the “both/and” approach as the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops encourages.


An article titled “Poverty and Abortion: A Vicious Cycle,” on the respectlife.org website addresses the two-fold challenges of economic pressure and government abortion policy that can make things worse for women contemplating abortion.

“For many years policymakers have debated whether we should reduce abortions by fighting poverty or by passing pro-life laws. The question is misplaced. It is not a matter of either/or, but of both/and. We need to address both poverty and bad abortion policies,” the article states. (www.respectlife.org/poverty-and-abortion.)
We have opportunities now to address both poverty and bad abortion policies:

• Go to the Iowa Catholic Conference website (votervoice.net/ICC/home) or contact your state senator to support a constitutional amendment, Senate Joint Resolution 21, to clarify that the Iowa Constitution does not guarantee a right to abortion. This resolution comes in response to the June 2018 Iowa Supreme Court decision that identified a fundamental right to abortion in the state constitution. Enactment of the amendment requires passage in both chambers of the Iowa Legislature in the same form in two different sessions. The amendment then goes to a vote of the people of Iowa for approval. The Iowa Catholic Conference states, “This is a question of the common good. We can help pregnant women in need, the men who fathered those children, and families in distress without recourse to the violence of abortion.”

• Host a discussion in your parish or small faith group. Open with prayer seeking guidance, and then brainstorm about ways all of us can impact poverty, such as volunteering at pro-life pregnancy centers to assist mothers to be or volunteering in homeless shelters or meal sites for people in need. Offer assistance with job-training skills at a high school or community college. Study and report on a section of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel) and his encyclical “Laudato Si” (Praise Be to You, with the subtitle, “on care for our common home”). Both of these readable documents have much to say about poverty.

• Sign up for action alerts on the Iowa Catholic Conference website (iowacatholicconference.org) so that you can respond quickly to your state legislators on life-affirming issues.

• Visit the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website for action alerts on federal legislation regarding life-affirming issues (www.votervoice.net/USCCB/home).

• Finally, pray daily for the guidance of the Holy Spirit so that we overcome our differences to support both the value of life from womb to tomb and work to end abortion.

Barb Arland-Fye, Editor

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