I used to think that almost everyone celebrated their birthday, even if it were only via messages on Facebook. But from the Sisters of Life in New York, I’ve learned that many of the women the religious group serves — who are pregnant and in need of support — have never had a birthday party. The women often come to the nuns in desperate circumstances. And the nuns greet them with love, which includes making a big deal about their birthdays. They truly celebrate the gift of life.
A Quiet Fight for Freedom
Two weeks before the Supreme Court decision that ended the federal right to an abortion, the New York legislature passed a law directing the Department of Health in the state “to conduct a study and issue a report examining the unmet health and resource needs facing pregnant women … and the impact of limited service pregnancy centers on the ability of women to obtain accurate, non-coercive health care information and timely access to a comprehensive range of reproductive and sexual health care services.”
The last thing the Sisters of Life wanted to have to do is go to court, but they quietly fought the targeting of not just their ministry, but the women they so love and care for. They didn’t want this to become a political issue. They didn’t want women to be scared to come to them, for fear that their medical records and personal circumstances would be used in a political football match. The fears that come with an unplanned pregnancy should not be subject to political debate. The Sisters of Life want only to love and serve.
Mercifully, Becket, a nonprofit organization that specializes in religious liberty, secured freedom this month for the Sisters of Life and other pro-life ministries in New York State.
Loving Women Back Into Life
Oddly, I give thanks for the ridiculous need for legal intervention, because it’s an opportunity to talk about the Sisters of Life. My friend Sister Maris Stella, the group’s vicar general, commented:
As Sisters of Life, it’s our privilege to walk alongside each woman who comes to us and to stand in solidarity with her, helping her to move in freedom, not in fear.
We are grateful for this victory, which protects our right to continue to uphold and defend the beauty and strength of women. In over 30 years of serving women in the State of New York, we have learned that what a woman really needs is to be seen, heard and believed in, which is why we are committed to providing the necessary emotional, practical and spiritual support for her to flourish. We are called to bring hope, comfort and joy to women who feel they have nowhere else to turn. The judge’s order will protect us as we continue our ministry.
Our Culture Needs a New Birth
On Election Day this past week, Ohio expanded abortion access — adding a right to it in the state constitution — eradicating even parental consent laws already on the books in the state. That vote didn’t happen because people love abortion. It happened because voters are unsure of what is going on, are unclear about the range of options available to women.
The last people in the country you want to silence or encumber in any way are the Sisters of Life. They make love available to all. They receive women as they are and love them back into life, helping them see themselves as the beautiful gifts to the world that they are.
We need a new birth in our culture, where women and their babies are received in love with an outpouring of resources. The Sisters of Life and so many others who do not make headlines do this kind of necessary work. Whatever our politics, we should be helping them do it.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review magazine and author of the new book A Year With the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living. She is also chair of Cardinal Dolan’s pro-life commission in New York, and is on the board of the University of Mary. She can be contacted at [email protected].