It’s exactly 50 years since the 1967 Abortion Act was passed in England, Scotland and Wales.
Abortion remains, for the most part, illegal in Ireland though attempts are being made to change the law on both sides of the border.
In the Republic of Ireland, there is currently a campaign to remove the pro-life article from the Constitution.
Prayer and Support
This anniversary year provides us with an opportunity to reflect, to pray and to offer practical and emotional support to those in need. We pray especially for those who have lost a child and for those who are concerned about their pregnancy.
The joy of a couple at the prospect of becoming parents gives way to despair if the mother suffers a miscarriage or their baby is stillborn.
Caroline miscarried her sixth baby, Raphael, in the 14th week of pregnancy in 2013. She and her husband asked their priest to conduct a funeral and a burial.“Actually doing something to mark our loss was so healing. It was a reminder that the baby was a real person. Naming the baby was important too. The way we see it we have a child ahead of us in heaven praying for us.”
Grief can also be associated with having an abortion. Laura, who had an abortion at eight weeks, describes the moment, years later, when she acknowledged she had ended a life. It happened when she saw a group of primary school children and realised that her baby would have been the same age. Her next step was to go to Confession. She says: “Understanding the truth of abortion is just the beginning. With absolution, the weight of shame and guilt is lifted forever.”
Pope Francis, reminding us of the consistent teaching of the Church, describes abortion as a grave sin. As a compassionate pastor, however, he reminds priests that they are called to be ministers of God’s mercy. He also points out that we have not done enough to support pregnant women in desperate situations who see abortion as a quick solution.
Jenny could see no future for herself and her baby when she found herself pregnant, homeless and in debt. But she sought help and was given a room in a house run by a local pro-life charity, Life Housing, where she now lives with her son, Oliver. The local Catholic parish provided baby clothes, toys and Christmas presents, and a local charity gave a pram and other equipment. She received help to clear her debts and soon mother and baby will move into their first home, a fully furnished two-bedroom house. When Jenny was at her most vulnerable, discovering she was not alone saved her life, and Oliver’s.
Prayer to Mary, Mother of the Life Within:
O Mary, Mother of the Life Within, all life we entrust to you;
The life of every expectant mother and the child within her womb:
The life of every human body, the life of every human soul;
The life of every newborn child and the life of all grown old.
You held the Lord to your own heart and drew Him so close in.
So draw us now in all our needs, O Mother of the Life Within.