In the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in June of 2022, much of the focus of the American pro-life movement has shifted from advocating for policy changes at the national level to the state level. While the Dobbs decision did not outlaw abortion across the country, it has given states the right to legislate their own abortion laws.
To reflect this change in priority, the national March for Life has recalibrated to encourage citizens of each state to appeal to their respective state legislature to further the legal protection of the unborn. To support this end, the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend will send a delegation, composed primarily of high school students and young adults, to Indianapolis on Monday, January 22, 2024, to demonstrate with fellow Hoosiers and Bishop Rhoades at the state Capitol.
John Pratt, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the diocese, said there is a growing need for local advocacy and support for the pro-life cause, as well as “encouragement for good laws to be passed and kept in place here in our home state.”
“We have an opportunity to collaborate with the dioceses throughout Indiana to share support for good laws on abortion in our state, to be inspired to be more involved in the pro- life movement, even beyond marching,” Pratt said.
“Even the national March for Life organization is growing their state march program. The organization that organizes the national march is moving more and more in the direction of state marches, because that’s where the greatest impact can be made.”
Pratt said that while Indiana has “very good” laws on abortion relative to the rest of the United States, it remains important to continue spreading a message of life because the status quo can change quickly. He also mentioned that there has been a growing awareness within the pro-life movement that more resources should be provided for mothers facing an unexpected or crisis pregnancy.
“There’s a need to continually support what is good in our communities, what is good in our laws, and to show support for legislation for mothers in crisis – and children. And additionally, marching serves as a public witness that we believe in the dignity and sacredness of life – all human life. And when you get to witness that, as a young person, or any person, it can be deeply moving and life-changing to get to witness the broad support for the dignity of the human person within our communities.”
Pratt elaborated that, as the pro-life movement narrows its focuses to smaller parts of American society, communities
will benefit, especially with outreach to pregnant mothers.
“I think with marching locally, there will be better opportunities for continued growth and being involved in your local community and the pro-life movement that’s not just marching, or not just being involved politically, but goes to offering resources for women in need, supporting crisis pregnancy centers, and things of that nature.”
Beyond marching, Pratt said continued prayer for a culture of life is critical to the success of the pro-life cause.
“It wasn’t too long ago that the thought of Roe v. Wade being overturned seemed unimaginable,” Pratt said. “And yet here we are, where states can now pass laws to protect unborn children, and then, additionally, in conjunction with that, laws to support mothers in crisis pregnancies.”
Learning more about how to defend life through words and deeds, Pratt said, as well as becoming more aware of the needs of people who are seeking abortion are also initiatives that should be pursued by the movement.
“I also think, in today’s culture and climate, that a holistic sense of the dignity of the human person that goes beyond the issue of abortion [enables us] to see the holistic defense of human dignity and all of Catholic social teaching as a beautiful witness – and not always an easy one.”
Pratt cited numerous resources for mothers in difficult pregnancies, saying that a focus on the needs of expectant mothers is something communities need to “lean into.”
Mothers facing unexpected or difficult pregnancies can take advantage of resources at a number of organizations in the diocese, including A Mother’s Hope, Women’s Care Center, and Catholic Charities. For a full list of resources in the diocese, visit walkingwithmomsfwsb.com/resources.
Registration for the diocesan pilgrimage to the Indiana March for Life in Indianapolis closes on December 15, 2023. For more information, and to register, visit diocesefwsb.org/march.
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