Eunice Agyapong has a quick response when asked why she opposes abortion. "I was supposed to get aborted when I was a child. So this really means a lot to me," said the 15-year-old girl who attended this week's "Respect Life" Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral Downtown.
Eunice Agyapong has a quick response when asked why she opposes abortion.
“I was supposed to get aborted when I was a child. So this really means a lot to me,” said the 15-year-old girl who attended this week’s “Respect Life” Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral Downtown.
Agyapong said doctors expected her to be born severely disabled and offered her mother the option of an abortion. Instead, her mother prayed and decided not to abort, and Eunice was born healthy.
“I owe my life to God,” said Eunice, who attended the Mass with fellow students from St. Francis DeSales High School on the North Side. “I feel like I have to express gratitude to him and to my mom and to live life to the fullest.”
The Tuesday Mass, on the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, came three days before several busloads of central Ohioans are scheduled to attend the anti-abortion March for Life on Friday in Washington, D.C.
The march is largely made up of “people just filled with love, not anger and hate,” said Janet Schmittgen, who is among those leaving for Washington tonight on a bus from the Vineyard Grace Fellowship church in Heath in Licking County.
Schmittgen, a pharmacist, said she favored abortion rights until she miscarried a fetus at about six to eight weeks and learned that “the tiny baby had a complete backbone.”
“I, like many others, have been touched by abortion,” said Schmittgen, 51, who attends St. Edward Catholic Church in Granville in Licking County. “Although I never had an abortion ... I have influenced several friends to have an abortion. “That is one reason that people are reluctant to speak about abortion, because we all know so many people touched by abortion.”
According to a Pew Research Center poll released last week, 47 percent of Americans believe that abortion is morally wrong, 13 percent say it is morally acceptable, and 27 percent say it’s not a moral issue. Sixty-three percent of those polled do not want the Roe v. Wade decision overturned, while 29 percent do.
The Roman Catholic Church opposes abortion in all circumstances, while a number of other Christian denominations oppose abortion except in certain circumstances, such as to save the life of the mother. Among groups that support abortion rights are the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.
Not all people who consider themselves religious oppose abortion, said Cathy Levy, a Presbyterian who serves as executive director of the Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. The group offers counseling by clergy members from various faiths to help pregnant women struggling to decide whether to parent a child, use adoption or abort.
“There are so many people who are truly religious and find ... within the Bible and within their hearts that there can be a moral reason to terminate a pregnancy,” Levy said. “In order for women to express their God-given talents, they need to have reproductive health care.”
The coalition has joined with the Columbus Section of the National Council of Jewish Women to sponsor a celebration, “Looking Back, Moving Forward: 40th Anniversary of Roe,” at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Gateway Film Center in the University District.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is marking the anniversary by asking followers to participate in “Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage” through Sunday. Locally, the commemoration ends with a Eucharistic Holy Hour beginning at 3 p.m. at St. Joseph Cathedral.
Columbus Bishop Frederick Campbell presided over Tuesday’s Mass, calling it a “sad anniversary."
“We must redouble our efforts to change hearts and minds about the grave questions of human life and dignity,” he said. “After 40 years of widespread abortion, many people’s sensitivity to the dreadfulness of the violent death of the unborn can be dulled. Their consciences must be reawakened.”