Persistence, determination needed in making abortion unthinkable

Guest Column
March for Life president Jeanne Mancini calls abortion “the greatest human rights abuse of our time.”
She’s right. More than 60 million human lives snuffed out by abortion since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision – broken down, that’s one child killed every 23 seconds. No other mass killing is as large as this.
Mancini asked the crowd attending the 46th annual March for Life Jan. 18 if they will keep marching to fight abortion, to march for the “poorest of the poor” and those who cannot march for themselves until “we no longer need to march” and abortion “is unthinkable.” She received a resounding “yes” to each question.
Speaking to more than 2,400 teens from St. Louis attending the Generation Life pilgrimage, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson stressed importance of remaining determined and persistent in our efforts to make abortion unthinkable.
“Each abortion is more than just a number,” he said. “It’s a tiny baby whose life was snuffed out and a mother injured in the process. … There are always alternatives, right? Always alternatives.”
He’s also right. Just days before the March for Life, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson in his State of the State address told the Missouri Legislature that his administration will be “promoting a culture of life.” He also recommended almost $6.5 million for Missouri’s Alternatives to Abortion program in the next fiscal budget. Funding goes toward resources, including food, clothing and supplies related to pregnancy and parenting, housing, prenatal care, transportation and utilities and more.
That’s just one piece of the support. Pregnancy centers across Missouri are introducing mothers to their babies through ultrasounds made possible by the Knights of Columbus Meet Life campaign. But the help doesn’t stop there. These same centers are connecting their clients to resources that will support them as they raise their children.
That conveys a message that pregnancy centers support both the parent and child – not just at the moment of pregnancy and birth, but well beyond, said Karen Ludwig, executive director of My Life Medical and Resource Center in High Ridge.
“You can’t say ‘choose life,’ and then – ‘oh, good luck,’” Ludwig said. “It’s wonderful to be able to walk alongside them.”
The pilgrims who traveled to Washington have been charged with the call to bring back a pro-life message to their local communities. This cannot be a simple message of saying that we’re pro-life. It must become a way of life – in our everyday actions and attitudes toward others.
Forty-six years after Roe v. Wade, we still have a lot of work in front of us. But it’s important to trust in God’s timing, and to keep a steady hand in the work of helping women to choose life over abortion.
“It’s all in God’s hands, and we have to trust that,” said Respect Life Apostolate executive director Karen Nolkemper. “We have to realize that prayer united to sacrifice is the most powerful force on earth. We have to stay focused on the truth. We don’t always see the fruits of our prayers, but stories of hope keep us going.”

(This unsigned editorial was published online Jan. 24 on the website of the St. Louis Review, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. It is reprinted courtesy of Catholic News Service)

What we owe America’s farmworkers

GUEST column
(Catholic News Service provides a regular sampling of current commentary from around the Catholic press. Following is an unsigned editorial from the Dec. 25 issue of America magazine, a national Catholic weekly magazine published by the Jesuits.)
U.S. agriculture is facing a silent crisis. The Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants has sown fear among farmworker communities, making workers harder to find than ever. Farm owners across the country are anxious about meeting their labor needs. Millions of dollars’ worth of crops are at the risk of rotting.
The present labor shortage reveals U.S. society’s dependence on farmworkers. The hands that pick what Americans eat are hands the country relies on. And with almost no native-born Americans willing to do the job, Latino immigrants have become indispensable. Even in the midst of the severe fires in California, farmworkers could not stop working lest harvests be lost.
Yet the nation’s collective reliance on farmworkers is not reflected in the way they are treated. In California, which produces two-thirds of the nation’s fruits, rates of food insecurity for farmworkers and their families range from 40 percent to 70 percent. Farmworkers’ low wages directly contribute to growers’ profit, but farmworkers regularly cannot afford to buy the food they pick.
Working conditions for farmworkers can be harsh. Even under the best conditions, a day of work is one of hard manual labor, with long hours and often high temperatures. The Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency has approved the use of a pesticide known to be harmful to human beings. Farmworkers have already gotten sick on the job as a result.
Society’s failures toward farmworkers extend beyond poor working conditions. The children of migrant farmworkers endure seasonal displacement that can make staying in school difficult. Social mobility is weak for those born into farmworker communities, creating a generational cycle of poverty. State and local governments resist attempts by farmworkers to organize for greater protections. And despite being dependent on farmworker labor, many local communities are openly hostile to migrant workers.
It does not have to be this way. In 2016, California recognized the right of farmworkers to equal overtime pay. In Florida, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers secured commitments from fast-food chains to buy only from agricultural sources that meet improved standards on pay and work conditions. That model of direct pressure on major companies is spreading. In Vermont, immigrant dairy workers just claimed victory in an agreement with the ice cream maker Ben and Jerry’s.
It is curious that so many Americans care about eating ethically (vegan, vegetarian, organic or free range) but do not think as much about the poverty and exploitation among the largely Latino farmworkers who are making their meals possible. Labeling programs, including the Equitable Food Initiative label, the Food Justice Certified label and the United Farm Workers Union label, support the fair treatment of farmworkers, but there is little indication that products carrying those labels are sought out by consumers.
The United States must do more to treat farmworkers with justice. A huge step would be to lift the threat of deportation that looms over many farmworkers by passing comprehensive immigration reform that recognizes both the need for labor in the United States and those laborers’ right to dignity and opportunity. Rectifying the injustice of the 1930s – when farmworkers were excluded from new federal labor standards – and finally offering farmworkers the same labor protections as other workers is also necessary. Farm work, like all work, carries an inherent dignity and should be a viable path for immigrant families into the American middle class.
The common thread in all the challenges farmworkers face is a lack of urgency. Perhaps every time Americans say grace before a meal, they could spare a moment to remember those who make that meal possible.