In this post–Roe v. Wade era, much discussion continues regarding what it means to be pro-life. On one side of the debate, proponents of abortion are pushing for unrestricted abortion, up to the moment of birth, and in some cases, would allow for infanticide, the killing of the child after birth. On the other side of the “debate,” we have many differing arguments regarding how and when to restrict abortion. Following the Dobbs ruling, the responsibility for regulating abortion returns to the states, so we find a wide range of laws regarding the protection of the unborn child. Man-made laws determine how and when the life of a child can be ended. Some people who proclaim to be pro-life still allow for abortion in the cases of rape, incest and to “save the life of the mother.” The child in the womb is a child of God. From the moment of conception when God created him or her, He created in that child an eternal soul. The circumstances of conception do not change this fact. As human beings and as Christians, we are called to acknowledge the relationship between God and the creative power of human sexuality. We are called to cherish the fruit of the marital relationship as designed by God.
When we talk of being pro-life, most often the first thought that comes to mind is abortion. As I have matured, I realize there are many more issues that play into a proper understanding of being pro-life. Some children are born with birth defects. Many can be diagnosed while still in the womb. The prevailing culture tells us it is better for the child and the parents to end the life since there is no hope for a “meaningful” future. Have we not all seen a family where there is a child with Down syndrome? This child is loved and returns that love with endless smiles and hugs. I know of a particular case where a child’s autism resulted from a very difficult birth. The doctors told the parents their son had zero percent chance of living a “normal” life. With much love and the special schooling the child needed, that young boy is now flourishing, spreading love to all who meet him.
Christ calls us to minister to all in need.
More than 40 years ago, one of my cousins and his wife adopted two young children who had significant physical handicaps. These children needed care around the clock in the beginning. Now they are grown, with families of their own. Did this couple waste their time by being dedicated to children whose lives seemed worthless in the eyes of the world? I think not.
Christ calls us to minister to all in need, be they immigrants on our border, those in prison, homeless people living in our communities or a woman who is experiencing an unplanned pregnancy.
Thinking about all the needs that surround us can become overwhelming, so what can we do? First and foremost, we can pray. God hears our prayers, and His Holy Spirit will guide us, helping us to understand where we may be called to respond.
I grew up in a large Catholic family. I have many, many cousins, so I was surrounded by a culture that embraced life, even if I did not fully understand what that meant at the time. My wife and I married young, and together we raised 5 children and are now blessed with 10 grandchildren, with our first great-grandchild due in February. We have also suffered the loss of a child to miscarriage and the death of our youngest son in 2021 due to COVID. We witnessed the love and care he received from doctors and nurses, at great risk to themselves. This also is pro-life. All life is to be cherished, whether we share that for many years together or only briefly.
During my years of formation for the diaconate, I continued to feel the call to minister in the area of promoting life, especially as it pertains to the unborn. Following ordination, I was invited to accept a position on the Board of Directors at Hope Life in Wausau. This organization dedicates itself to offering support to women and their partners who experience an unplanned pregnancy. Their services are designed to promote life, as well as to offer help to new mothers and their children. Their services also include post abortion recovery, where women and men can find forgiveness and healing from past decisions.
I have been called to offer some of my ministry to help protect unborn children. Others minister to people who are aged, handicapped, infirmed in hospitals or nursing homes. You may be called to visit people in prison or work with people who are homeless. All are examples of being pro-life. All life is sacred. God is the creator of all life, and God alone rightly decides the length of our days.
Deacon Gordy Ruplinger
Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Marathon
Published in the Jan./Feb. 2023 issue of Catholic Life Magazine