It has been a significant year for the pro-life movement in New York state and within the Diocese of Rochester.
Many people throughout the Diocese of Rochester share responsibility for this and we should rejoice in the progress we are making in advocacy and service that help to ensure that we, as a people, hold fast to values that support respect for the dignity of each human life.
Almost everyone who even glances at the national news knew about the Texas state legislator with pink sneakers who filibustered against commonsense rules that protect the lives of unborn children and the mothers who carry them. Those rules were subsequently passed in Texas and signed into law by the governor. In contrast, almost no one outside of the communities that were involved in resisting the expansion of abortion in New York state knows of that victory.
For the first time since 1971, the year New York legalized abortion prior to the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision, abortion expansion was stopped in the state. This is significant not only as a testament to the ability of pro-life people in New York to organize and give voice to the judgment of a majority of the residents of the state who favor limitations, regulations or outright restriction of abortion, it also may signal the turning of the tide in New York. New Yorkers are growing increasingly aware the damage done to the individuals, families and culture when respect for human life is deemed a choice and disposed of easily with the support of the state.
Much of the energy for the resistance to abortion expansion emanated from our diocese. Deacon Claude Lester and his committee gave endless hours of time and talent to organizing prayer and the bus trips to Albany to protest at the capital. Rochester Area Right to Life, the Frederick Douglas Foundation, Feminists Choosing Life and generous individual funders made our voices heard. The Knights of Columbus through past contributions and current activities helped to make sure that state legislators’ e-mail boxes were full of pro-life messages. The prayer support of prayer groups and individuals was wonderful. All of this activity undergirded the efforts of the New York State Catholic Conference and Citizens for Constitutional Freedom who represented us in the media and, officially, in Albany. Perhaps God graced us with the victory because we acted as one, the Body of Christ, as we are called to be. Sadly pro-abortion forces are again mobilizing, so make sure that you are on the advocacy e-mail network, available at http://www.nyscatholic.org/, for updates on pro-life issues.
Women throughout the diocese have access to pregnancy resource centers that provide spiritual, emotional and material support to women who are pregnant and experiencing difficulties. Prior to this year, though, not all women had access to state-of-the-art ultrasound screening services to confirm a pregnancy and to see their developing babies. With the Knights of Columbus’ initiative that provides financial and project development assistance, these services are now available in all three regions of the diocese.
Another exciting development in Monroe County is the establishment of a 24-hour answered telephone (and coming soon, text messaging) that immediately assists a mother in finding the services she requires to bring her baby to term. Thank you to all who contribute to this effort.
No one was prouder than I at the number of you who made the pilgrimage to Washington, D.C., to mark the 40 years since the Roe v Wade decision. Ten full busses traveled to the capital, as well as numerous others who made the trip privately. Public witness and the reinforcement that comes from working as a community cannot be overestimated. Thank you to all and each of you for all that you do to restore a culture of life in our nation.
Armantrout is diocesan life-issues coordinator.