All hell seemed to break loose as S. B. 8 — the Texas Heartbeat Act — went into effect earlier this month. The news coincided almost perfectly with our celebration of Mother Teresa on the anniversary of her death, September 5. We remember well when she spoke in the presence of President Bill and First Lady Hillary Clinton about abortion being “the greatest destroyer of peace today.”
She went on to ask, “How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion?” “As always,” she answered, “we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts.” Reflecting on Mother Theresa’s words explains a lot of what we are seeing in our country today. Abortion dehumanizes a baby, her mother, and a nation.
While we don’t believe that Texas’s law is a perfect model, we welcome the opportunity for it to usher in a revolution of love. Love is our marching order, all of us who consider ourselves pro-lifers. The two of us have been in the pro-life movement for decades and, of course, want our nation’s laws to tell the truth about our most precious resource: human life. We want our laws to protect the vulnerable unborn. At the same time, changing the law is not enough. With abortion currently outlawed in Texas once a baby’s heartbeat has been detected, we must peacefully rally behind the rhetorical truth of the law — that when a baby has a heartbeat, it is most obviously a baby, and not an inconvenience or problem to be eradicated. And we must do so with a superabundance of mercy. We must love women back to life when they may feel as if their lives are ending. So much of our culture has worked against them being mothers, being able to face a pregnancy as a gift of life.
It’s hard to perceive gifts when you don’t how you’ll pay the bills. Many of us are suffering higher prices in the wake of last year’s pandemic shutdowns. If you are not one yourself, then put yourself in the mindset of a young woman in poverty, not quite making ends meet for herself. Supporting a baby may seem impossible to her. If you look at abortion-rights’ advocates own research, you’ll see women who’ve had abortions report “themes of responsibility to others and resource limitations, such as financial constraints and lack of partner support” as reasons for doing so.
For Mother Teresa, love compelled her to action. It was not enough for her to tell the truth. She lived it. Hers was not an easy life of simple solutions. She saw people’s hunger — for food and for love everywhere, because she kept her eyes open. And she took action.
Action is what the Texas law demands.
Thirty years ago, in New York, Cardinal John O’Connor said that if you are a woman who is pregnant and in need, come to the Catholic Church and the church will help. We need a similar clarion call right now from all people who describe themselves as pro-life. Every Christian needs to live this. We need to do so in a radical way — giving ourselves to those in need. That’s hard and will be messy — even heartbreaking at times — but it’s why we’re here. To love one another. And this, of course, is not just for those who have traditionally been part of the pro-life movement.
Yet for pro-lifers, this not a drill. And failure is not an option.
Now is the time to love life by supporting women, by getting them resources. That doesn’t just mean making sure a baby is born. It means walking with moms for a lifetime. It means wherever you live, supporting women’s care centers and maternity homes. Every church — especially, now, in Texas — should be challenging itself to be a safe haven for women who didn’t plan to be pregnant in need. Partner with your local pregnancy-care centers to make sure women have 24/7 confidential, judgment-free, expert care. We must be advocates of what pregnant women need — assuming roles and providing services for them, both in the public and private sectors. This is an opportunity for innovative public–private partnerships serving moms and kids. Ultrasounds and diapers are essential. So, too, are longer-term supports to help moms get on their feet with housing and jobs and transportation and child care.
Pro-life people with financial means ought to think big. Not tomorrow. Not next week, nor next month. Today. Discern what your role is. We all have one. And it is more than we are doing now, as much or as little as that is. We mustn’t be pro-life merely in our votes and on our social-media accounts; we need to be living love for real women and children and families.
Abortion-rights advocates often say that pro-life people only care about babies before they are born. Texas provides the opportunity to make this claim demonstrably false. Now is the time to act boldly in mercy and to celebrate life — in word and deed. We can’t squander the opportunity to love and serve.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at National Review Institute where she directs the Center for Religion, Culture, and Civil Society, and editor at large of National Review. She serves as chair for Cardinal Dolan’s Pro-Life Commission in New York. Kelly M. Rosati, J.D., is a child advocate and nonprofit consultant.