Catholic Herald Staff
Sixty-five people participated both virtually and in-person in a speaking engagement Oct. 28 hosted by St. Patrick’s Parish, Hudson.
The event, which featured Emily Shimota from ALPHA Women’s Center in the Twin Cities, focused on what it means to be pro-life in today’s world.
Organizer Antoinette Kaiser, St. Patrick’s middle school youth minister and pro-life coordinator, introduced Shimota and led a spontaneous prayer.
Shimota began her presentation with some facts about fetal development.
“From the very moment of conception, the baby’s entire genetic makeup is complete, including the gender and DNA,” she stated.
By the fourth week, the fetus’ heart is beating at 65 beats per minute. By the time the baby begins to make its presence known with movement easily felt by the mother around the fifth month, Shimota said that everything needed for survival outside the mother’s womb is almost fully formed.
Additional information was shared with a short video clip, “Miracle of Life,” such as the opening and closing of the baby’s eyes in the fourth month and that ultrasounds have detected signs of REM sleep, indicating the baby even dreams before birth.
The child’s unrepeatable DNA can be shown in a sense by the mapping of their unique fingerprints, which are present as the baby continues developing and maturing inside of his or her mother.
After the video, Shimota asked for thoughts and comments from attendees.
One person commented that the child’s heart is beating long before the mother might even know she is pregnant.
Shimota spoke on the frequently used argument in favor of abortion of the woman’s right to choose. That it is her choice because it is her body.
She offered an experience that had really influenced her. In the testimony of a woman who survived an attempted abortion, Shimota echoed the question, “Should a choice be allowed that takes another’s life?”
The survivor shared her consternation over why one group of humans’ rights are favored over another group’s. If the abortion was her mother’s right, then what was hers?
Shimota shared statistics to shed light on what she called “the human rights fight of our time.”
During the Holocaust, 11 million men, women and children were killed. Since the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973, 61 million lives have been taken through abortion.
Annual statistics for causes of death in black communities include 7,900 lives lost by homicide and 69,000 to cancer. By comparison, almost 260,000 black babies’ lives are lost in abortions – a total which is greater than the top 15 causes of death combined.
Shimota encouraged listeners to be engaged and involved, in line with the church’s social teaching as expressed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: “The measure of every institution is whether is threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.”
The presenter showed another video clip titled “Sing a little louder,” which highlighted the courage it takes to stand up for something, especially when it might seem that it is not personally as relevant as other social issues.
An elderly man startled awake from a nightmare that he says has haunted him for decades.
“There are some things that time cannot erase,” he said and recounts the true story from his childhood in Germany of how the Christian congregation his family attended would sing – and sing louder – to drown out the cries of Jews being carried by train to nearby Auschwitz.
As told on pennylea.com, the pro-life author, speaker and music minister Penny Lea heard the story first person by the senior gentleman at a church service in New York.
As he confessed the plan devised so church-goers would not be disturbed by the Jewish wailing, he cried out, “God forgive me! God forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians, yet did nothing to intervene.”
The man acknowledged Lea’s weeping and crying out for the “mission of babies who have died right here in America.
“It’s happening all over again,” he mourned. “May God forgive America for drowning out the screams of dying children … for this holocaust in beautiful America.”
Shimota invited participants to ask themselves what they can do to act out their pro-life convictions. She acknowledged not everyone will be to called to start a pro-life group or is able to attend the annual March for Life; however, everyone can do something through conversations, civic action and being vocal on social media. She also encouraged prayer.
She shared how through her work with ALPHA Women’s Center, 80 percent of women change their mind about going through with an abortion after seeing an ultrasound.
The speaker closed with a music video of Matthew West’s song “Unplanned,” which includes clips of the movie of the same name. “Unplanned” tells the story of former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson, who had undergone two abortions herself. After aiding with a procedure, Johnson experiences a life-changing conversion and is currently one of the most renowned voiced in the pro-life movement.
As the song lyrics say: “I’m listening to symphony in every beat of your tiny heart. You used to be a choice to make … as long as my God holds the world in his hands, I know that there’s no such thing as unplanned.”