Any honest conversation on abortion includes two important issues, both of which have something to do with the Catholic celebration of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, which occurs New Year’s Day.
More than one life is at stake
Regarding abortion, our national dialogue has to acknowledge that more than one human life is involved in abortion. A young woman in an unplanned pregnancy has a young child in her womb from the instant of fertilization.
Two lives (or more) are at stake, not one. Scientists universally acknowledge that human life begins at fertilization, not viability or birth. Most theologians agree. About half of politicians don’t.
Pregnancy isn’t an accident
In addition, even if a pregnancy wasn’t planned, it wasn’t an accident. Pregnancy is always a possibility when a man and woman engage in sexual relations. Contraception that is 99% effective may fail the one-hundredth time a woman engages in intercourse.
Who should be responsible when it ‘fails’? The person who made the choice to engage in sex or the person who is the fruit of that union?
In this political and cultural climate, these are tough questions that need sincere conversations. Abortion rights advocates shouldn’t duck them, because the dignity of our human experience hinges on the answers.
Mary certainly didn’t duck them, as St. Luke indicates in the Gospel reading for January 1st (2:16-21):
“And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”
The official title of New Year’s Holy Day in the Catholic Church is: the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.
Mary lived chastely. When presented with the opportunity to bear God’s Son, she responded with the most important words ever spoken:
“May it be done.”
The gates of heaven opened
Dr. Peter Kreeft reflected on the profundity of Mary’s words in this excerpt from “Food for the Soul:”
“All three divine persons conspired together to save us. The Father saved us by giving up his son for us. The Son saved us by doing the Father’s will when he was sent — the work of his Passion and death. And the Spirit saved us by being the cause of his Incarnation.
All three persons depend on Mary’s cooperation with their work of redemption. When Mary said her fiat, her “may it be done” to God’s angel at the Annunciation (Luke 1:38), she said the single most important word any human being ever spoke in all of human history, for the word allowed Christ to come and open the gates of heaven to us.”
Mary had a choice. She said yes.
The Solemnity of Mary is an encouragement to modern couples to reflect on the dignity and beauty of God’s creation growing in the womb, a very small, vulnerable human life made possible by their collaboration, by their ‘choice.’
They are not alone. Millions of couples are on their knees praying for the health and safety of this child in the womb, a child they fervently want to adopt.
They are not alone. Mary and Joseph want them to ask for their prayers.
They are not alone. The most Holy Trinity, with whom Mary cooperated, loves them and loves their vulnerable child, planned or unplanned.
Thanks to Mary’s openness to unplanned life, the gates of heaven are open to us all.
On this Solemnity of Mary, let us learn from her witness:
“May it be done.”