Today is my mom’s 63rd birthday. It’s also the day many Catholics are celebrating the pro-life cause, commemorating with grief the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
I find that juxtaposition meaningful in that my mother, upon learning she was pregnant in 1976, had the choice to go forward or to terminate. As a single 27-year-old woman, she had friends recommending abortion. It was legal and it certainly would have made her life exponentially easier.
Mom, however, decided to make the leap into parenthood, albeit unplanned. I’ve never talked to her much about that time in her life; I have no idea how scared she must have been. I do know that when she told my grandparents, they were very accepting and in fact were delighted to be having their first grandchild.
Other family members were, uh, less enthusiastic. A single mother was not their idea of a proper Christian family.
Mom and I were fortunate to have my grandparents’ love and support, some of which was financial. We also were blessed that Mom’s former roommate, a single woman with whom she worked, welcomed us back into her home.
It boggles my mind to think of my “Aunt” Linda saying, “Sure, raise your crying, squawking, mess-creating baby here in my house!” But she did.
And the world needs more Aunt Lindas. If we as Catholic Christians want more women in my mom’s situation to choose against abortion, we have to make it more feasible for them — in a tangible, concrete way.
Prayer vigils, marches and Masses have their place. But frankly, what a pregnant, confused, frightened woman needs is help: money, a place to live, maternity clothes, baby items, access to social services and opportunities for education and counseling.
She needs to know she can make it, that she can provide for her child and that her life, though it never will be the same, will be better for it.
I’m aware there are numerous organizations that do help women in these untenable situations. My mom even works for one, Madonna House of Northern Kentucky.
But I’m also aware of many, many Catholics who pray at Mass for an end to abortion but offer little to the women who need assistance. Little, that is, beyond scorn, shame, pity and lip service.
Today as you pray for an end to abortion, pray for a new beginning, as well. Pray for the Holy Spirit to lead us all to act, in a concrete way, to help mothers and their children. Pray for your heart to be moved by love, compassion and kindness to give your time and money in outreach to women who very often have no one to support them.
I know I’ll be praying, particularly in thanksgiving for my mother, Cindy Scroggins.
Love you, Mommy.