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The Sanctity of Life Issue
By Mary Jo Werbiansky

"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." Albert Einstein

Many organized religions support the idea of the sanctity of human life. Many Christians, including Orthodox Christians, will tell you that they believe that abortion is murder and that removing life support from the elderly or infirm is murder. To me, it is easy to have these beliefs. When we really let ourselves look into the deepest place in our hearts, the place where we have always known right from wrong, it is easy to know that taking a life is wrong. Sometimes we find ourselves arguing with someone who will not defend human life, but who is insulted that we might be wearing animal skins. Or someone who is insistent that women have a choice to take life from their unborn child. Most are appalled to hear of a kitten or a puppy killed for convenience ("we don't want it anymore"), and yet most remain silent regarding the death of people that we don't want anymore. Children are born with an innate understanding of right and wrong, but it is buried by the world in just a few years. Ask a 3 year old if it is okay to kill a baby. Unless we can prayerfully get people to the place where they can see into that deep spot in their heart where the knowledge of the difference between right and wrong exists, we won't be able to change their minds.

And yet, I have come to a point in my life where I have more worry about the complacency of those believers who do support the sanctity of human life than those who are blind to the evil. Many such people lived in Germany and knew something bad was happening, but looked the other way. A daily holocaust is occurring today and the victims have no chance of running, hiding, or saving themselves. They are safe in their mother's womb one moment, and a disposable pile of tissue and blood the next.

If we are to change minds and hearts we need to act. The simple act of standing along LaGrange road for one hour per year on a sunny October afternoon holding signs and praying can change minds. Yet few of us have the time for the Life Chain. Maybe a football game or nice lunch or a nap takes precedence.

Joining other believers in action by attending a lovely, underwritten banquet, praying, learning, and adding our financial support at a comfortable level is actually an enjoyable and uplifting experience, yet we don't really have the time and we don't join in the support even though we will say that we support their mission.

Buying a package of diapers once per year in May and bringing them to church is also a simple and easy act of love for a mother who has decided to bring her child to term. Only 4 people had the time and the heart to do that at St. Luke last May.

A tiny percent of Orthodox Christians in America walk in Washington, DC each year to support the Sanctity of Life. They set aside their lives and plans to make a visible statement to the nation alongside many others.

I might sound like a scolding mother. Forgive me for that. I have never marched in Washington D.C. The amount of monthly support I give to PASS is not hurting my lifestyle. I have missed the Life Chain in the past. In fact, I am sure there have been multiple opportunities in my life where I could have shown support for the Sanctity of Life and failed.

We have heard the news over the last decade. And we have responded. The director of PASS has talked to us twice, a volunteer spoke to the youth group about abstinence, a mother who gave her child up for adoption shared with us, a former parishioner who was a single mom hand painted a bed and dresser and we filled it to overflowing for a needy mom. In small part, our donations have helped put nurses and ultrasound at the Tinley Park PASS facility. Another bright spot at St. Luke for the past decade has occurred at Christmas. Many families share gifts under the PASS Giving Tree. It is hard not to participate when there is such a lovely visual and such a worthwhile experience for your children. And yet, even that support has dwindled in past years.

On behalf of the unborn, thanks to each of you who have offered support to save their lives in one way or another. Please continue and please encourage your children, families, and friends.

In an era in our church where we might question if our financial support for national charities really goes to those intended to receive support, I can assure you that the support you offer for our Sanctity of Life programs at St. Luke goes where it belongs. The diapers and gifts go directly to PASS and are given to moms in need. Any donation goes directly to PASS.

Now, here is the challenge - find that spot deep inside that whispers right from wrong. Jiminy Cricket called it your conscience. The Church Fathers have called it that small inner voice, through which God speaks to our hearts. It does not matter what you choose to do, but if you feel that life is sacred, please do something. Go to DC, stand along LaGrange Road, support PASS either once per year or become a monthly donor, support another pro-life group, buy a package of diapers, put a baby gift under the tree, volunteer at PASS or another agency. In addition to active support, of course we need to pray. But let me leave you with this thought: Do you think there have been those who knew historic atrocities were occurring who prayed and yet did not act? Let your actions be your prayer.

Abortion Statistics

Approximately 46 million abortions are performed every year, worldwide.

Approximately 126,000 abortions are performed daily, worldwide.

Only 22% of all abortions are performed in developed countries. The remaining 78% of abortions occur in developing countries.

Over 1.3 legal, reported abortions were performed in the United States in 2001. (How many of those mothers-to-be were expecting twins or multiple births?)

On average, since 1972, 80% of all abortions are performed on unmarried women. (United States)

95% of all abortions are chosen as a method of birth control. The remaining 5% are performed as a result of sexual crimes, health problems, or fetal abnormality. (United States)

When asked if they were Pro-Life or Pro-Choice over a period of five years, the public's approval of the Pro-Life position rose from 33% to 43%, and their collective opinion of the Pro-Choice position declined from 56% to 48%.

Sources: Center For Bioethical Reform,,, The Alan Guttmacher Institute, Gallop Poll, New York Times January 2001

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