Reflections on Human Life and Dignity

Matthew Brower
Executive Director of the Montana Catholic Conference

January 22nd marked the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade—a tragic and unjust decision which paved the way for a horrific practice that has claimed the lives of over 60 million unborn children.

 The scars of countless women and men testify to the truth about abortion—it is gruesome, violent and demeaning to women. Those who witness to this truth by sharing their stories remind us the “unthinkable” must never become acceptable.

 Clearly the efforts of pro-life advocates are bearing fruit as abortion numbers continue to decline.  Sadly, abortion remains all too common and as long as it is legal some will promote it as good and necessary. Consequently, we continue to pursue legal protection of unborn children.

 But, what ought pro-life “work” look like moving forward? Certainly it calls for prayer, outreach, legislative advocacy and “faithful citizenship” exercised in accord with our baptismal mission.  But are these alone sufficient?

 Ask yourself, “If I knew abortion would remain legal forever, how would I build a culture of life and ensure that no expectant mother think she has no “choice” but abortion?” The point is we must not become constrained by the weight of the laws we seek to change. We are never powerless to act on behalf of human life. But, to do so most effectively our witness must be credible.

Credibility requires consistency so it’s important we consider the degree to which we embrace a “consistent life ethic.” Of this ethic Saint John Paul II said, “Where life is involved, the service of charity must be profoundly consistent. It cannot tolerate bias and discrimination, for human life is sacred and inviolable at every stage and in every situation; it is an indivisible good. We need then to show care for all life and for the life of everyone” (Evangelium Vitae, 87).

Are we showing “care for all life and for the life of everyone?”

 This question isn’t intended to suggest a moral equivalency between abortion and every other moral issue. However, we should examine our own heart for it is the same heart called to love the unborn that is also called to love the poor, the incarcerated, the immigrant, and the marginalized.

 Our hearts weep for children killed in the womb and for those who have chosen abortion. But do our hearts weep for the poor? Do our hearts weep for refugees? Do our hearts weep for immigrants brought here as children now fearing deportation? Do our hearts weep for victims of war, racism and abuse? Do our hearts weep for the neglected, drug-addicted, abandoned and lonely?

 And if our hearts do weep for each of these would anyone looking at the lives we lead know this to be true?

 We cannot feign true love or fool “pro-choice” critics waiting to call out real or imagined hypocrisy. More importantly, we cannot fool God.

 A heart on fire for life shines in a selfless outpouring of loving deeds directed at life’s dark crevices and it effectuates change in the hearts of those unaccustomed to the joy, hope and love such light brings.

 So, let us never weary in our labors for life or allow setbacks to diminish our joy. Be not afraid! And let us ask God to transform our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh so that through us he may do the same for others.

Matt can be reached at