In his homily yesterday, Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland (our own
Archbishop is in Rome for his ad limina visit with Pope Francis) encouraged a packed cathedral to witness to the inviolable dignity of every human life. “We are here to proclaim the dignity of every human life.” he said. “But take careful note: we are not here to confer that dignity. That has already been conferred by Almighty God.” In fact, we have nothing to say about the dignity of human life beyond insisting on that it is. We simply witness to this dignity, given by God to every individual the moment he or she is conceived.
After Mass we all made our way to Civic Center, where the Walk for Life Committee had arranged for six speakers. Kathy Folan, who works on staff at St. Dominic’s, delivered the keynote address. I relate her thoughts with careful respect, but as she herself made them public yesterday, I share them with you. As a college student she was raped, but this trauma intensified when, shortly thereafter, she received a positive reading on her pregnancy test. Many, perhaps most, who are prolife, say that an exception must be made to the abortion laws for rape and incest. Kathy had to decide if, because her child was conceived as a result of a violent crime, she should end his life. She decided to bring the baby to term and give it up for adoption. She found a family who eagerly wanted a child, and six days after delivery gave a beautiful baby boy to them, whom she had named Nathan, “gift of God.”
When people say to me, Kathy told us yesterday, that we must make exceptions for rape and incest, I am deeply hurt and offended. I am the victim of a crime. Would you also make me the perpetrator of a crime? Should we kill the baby because he or she was conceived in a violent manner? Should we add violence to violence? Kathy then brought her son Nathan to the podium. Now a successful young businessman on the east coast, Nathan said, with his mother behind him: If you make exceptions for rape and incest, I am that exception. Would you kill me just because I was conceived in this way? No, you wouldn’t, he assured us. There are no exceptions to preserving innocent human life. There are no exceptions to the dignity of every human being, no matter how he or she came to be.