Busted Halo

Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft tries to balance her traditional Mexican-American cultural heritage and Catholic identity, personified by her grandmother La Lupe, with her roles as a young wife and mother.

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August 24th, 2011

Pro-Life Priorities


The other day I read one of the most horrific, truly mind-boggling statistics I’ve ever read. But I will get to that in a second. First I want to establish a few points. I am pro-life. Obviously. Hopefully that is clear from my writing. But sometimes I am so embarrassed by the 1% of pro-life people that believe they are furthering the cause when really they are just giving others ammunition against us.

A few months ago I read this post on pro-life euphemisms. The author very articulately scolds pro-life advocates that put their energy into not-so-important hair-splitting instead of something useful. She talks about people who correct mothers that use the phrase “welcome into the world” at their child’s moment of birth. They argue that we “welcome the baby into the world” at conception and “meet for the first time face-to-face” at birth. I read that and said, “Ok, I get your point. Technically this is correct. Nit-picky, but ok, I get it.”

Then a few weeks ago I read this from a pro-life advocate, “A baby should be named as soon as the mother knows she is pregnant, giving that baby a girl and boy name. Deciding to name the child until after they are born only reinforces the thought process that they are not a person until birth. From the moment of conception, they are a child of God, and individual deserving of love and care, by name.”

Ok, now it’s time for that horrible statistic: In New York City, 41% of pregnancies ended in abortion in 2009. Among the black community, the rate of abortions was 60%. Sixty percent. Really, I cannot wrap my head around this.

When pro-choice people rip on pro-life people, their main arguments are that pro-life people are out-of-touch with reality and do not understand the burden that comes with an unplanned pregnancy.

When some pro-life people tell me that my Facebook status of, “We welcomed Maria Catalina into the world Feb 10,” actually degrades our sweet baby’s humanity or when they tell me that we obviously don’t value her personhood because we didn’t name her until six hours after she was born, I believe they give this “out of touch with reality” accusation some credence.

Forty-one percent of babies are killed in New York City and you are wasting your time and energy on this? There is SO much work to be done.

Just off the top of my head, here is a list of more important things we need to do:

  • Provide more widespread crisis counseling.
  • Talk to girls at a younger age to help them develop a healthy positive sense of self. Too many girls grow up with the goal of being sexy. Too many girls grow up thinking their self-worth is based on how much men desire them, thus, making them want to be sex objects rather than teachers, lawyers, doctors.
  • Change the explicit nature of media and marketing.
  • Change the way people think and talk about sex.
  • Pray fervently for women that find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy.
  • Expand employment opportunities so that people have ways to support their families.
  • Work for a just wage, because even if someone has a job that doesn’t mean it pays the bills.
  • Reform the health insurance industry to better support pregnant women.
  • Offer widespread parenting classes.
  • Show compassion.
  • Share more stories of women who were supported and helped, and told they could make great mothers if given the chance.
  • Educate people on financial literacy and financial stability.
  • Help people feed their families.
  • Provide better and safer communities and neighborhoods in which to raise children.
  • Improve the schools we send kids to.
  • Help parents teach their kids about sex.

So much needs to be done. There are so many factors that affect a woman in a crisis pregnancy. Why, why would pro-life advocates waste their time on such trivial semantics? I know that language is powerful and changing language can be a powerful tool, but, please, there are such bigger battles to fight. Let’s focus, people. After all the big stuff is figured out, fine, I’ll be willing to engage you in a lively debate on wording, but until then, quit yapping and start working.

Here are some examples of true progress toward decreasing the amount of abortions that I have heard of recently. A chapel opened in Fargo, North Dakota, that is located across the street from the only place in North Dakota that performs abortions. This clinic only performs abortions on Wednesdays, so the chapel is open on Wednesdays with Adoration celebrated until the clinic closes. This is what I like to see. Creative thinking. If we opened an Adoration chapel next to every abortion clinic, I am positive that it would effect great change. Or there is a new order of Sisters that take a vow to “protect and enhance the dignity of life” and daily counsel women in crisis, women with past abortions, and single mothers. Here in Austin the diocese offers regular training for anyone interested in staffing the Gabriel Project hotline or the Project Rachel hotline. These are great, concrete steps toward fighting abortion.

You will hardly ever win anyone over by being condescending and uncompassionate. It’s not that we have to be PC when it comes to talking about abortion but we do need to convey a sense of understanding. If a woman is truly dealing with a crisis pregnancy, the last thing she needs to feel guilty about is that she hasn’t decided between Kate with a K or with a C.

The Author : Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft
Vanessa, a Notre Dame grad, loves the Catholic Worker Movement, Catholic education, and overbearing Mexican mothers, which she may or may not be. She lives in Austin with her husband and five daughters and is a freelance writer. You can find Vanessa at v.kraft.im or follow Vanessa on Twitter @laluped.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Doroti

    So what ur saying is aynone that has medicaid shouldn’t have children because they are poor ? Even though that same “low income” family can be the best parents and rich parent can often be some of the worst parent out there. However because they have Money…. that makes them such a great parent. Money can’t buy love or time with a child. And with the statement above what your saying is unborn children shouldn’t get a chance at “Life” because their parent has a low income. Sounds a bit unfair to that poor unborn child.

  • philly

    “When some pro-life people tell me that my Facebook status of, “We welcomed Maria Catalina into the world Feb 10,” actually degrades our sweet baby’s humanity or when they tell me that we obviously don’t value her personhood because we didn’t name her until six hours after she was born, I believe they give this “out of touch with reality” accusation some credence.”
    Why do you take a single incident from a nutcase on FB and write about it as if this is a widespread problem–are you really suggesting people are condeming other people for naming their babies after they are born? You should address the problem with the lone nutcase who wrote on your FB page. No serious pro-lifer is going to condemn someone for naming after the birth. This is nonsense. This is a non-issue. Why are you trying to make it one?

  • Albus


    Healthcare is not a right. That’s like saying having a home is a right. So we should create a tax to build a home for every homeless person. Healthcare is not an inalienable right like freedom of speech or freedom of religion. The problem with creating all these taxes to offer entitlements is eventually you will run out of other people’s money. Then what?

  • Dorothy

    Me again. About the suggestion to help parents teach their children about sex. Unfortunately, they probably already know. To counteract modern cultural attitudes, teach them counter-cultural virtues such as purity, modesty, chastity, prudence. Use positive role models to reinforce, including lives of saints such as Maria Goretti, Dominic Savio; The Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. Include heros such as Damien of Molokai and Mother Teresa. Teach them to associate the marriage act with marriage, family, and lifelong commitment. Sts. Rita and Monica make good role models for marriage.

  • Dorothy

    As a long time pro life supporter I find some of your attacks on pro lifers to be nit picking and antagonistic–but, of course realize we’re fallible humans and the right words don’t always come to mind until it’s too late–and then, of course spend time regretting that5 I didn’t say this other thing instead. That said, I appreciate your good words in the second last paragraph about the pro life adoration and the Sisters for Life.
    As for the comments by Gwen on the letter writing campaigns to Congress to end poverty–I’m not sure why we would try to pass the care for the poor on to the government. I thought that was OUR duty. Looking to the Bible on this one, Christ praised even the smallest donation by the poor widow. Why did He not instead look at her with pity and say something like “Why doesn’t Caesar take care of them?” If you look at a lot of the government programs, it seems they do more to eliminate the poor through birth control and abortion, the they do to actually help them. If those same parishes would, instead, take up a collection, and encourage their congregations to donate on a regular basis they’d do a lot more to help the poor. There’s some really worthy organizations out there–Oblate Missions, Sacred Heart Southern Missions, Missionaries of Charity, to name a few. Look them up online and lets give of ourselves, not pass the buck to government.

  • Ken Maher


  • DHFabian

    The problem with the anti-abortion people is that they are “pro-life” only until the baby is born.We are one of the few industrialized nations that no longer has an entitlement to basic humanitarian aid in spite of our significant economic problems.

    Of course people should have access to birth control, regardless of economic status. This is in the best interests of individuals and society. Few women can be full-time mothers anymore, and it is very important to enable families to plan out their children.

    As for the comment by Albus, how can you rail against ensuring health care for all citizens, not just the wealthiest and healthiest? In the more advanced nations, where a person’s human worth is not determined solely by his bank account, health care is regarded as a fundamental human right. “Obama-care” is taxpayer-funded, just like highways, schools, parks, police and fire departments, the military, etc.

  • Albus

    How about we add Repeal ObamaCare” and other legislation that supports FREE birth control and abortion services!

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