Written by Melissa Gorley. Originally published in Family Foundations. (Part 1 in series)
With the U.S. Supreme Court reversing the alleged Constitutional right to abortion in the Dobbs decision, the issue has largely returned to state governments. This is a huge victory for human life and the righting of a great national injustice.
Political battles at every level will remain an important part of the reality of limiting access to, and funding of, legal abortions and abortifacient contraception. Yet, access and funding are more complex parts of the political process than the previous nationwide fight against a flawed Constitutional finding of the unlimited right to kill an unborn child.
What’s the dedicated pro-life Catholic to do now, especially those who do not work in politics or government? Of course, every citizen is called to cast informed votes when and how we can. But what else can be done? The answer is clear. What else has always been needed? Continue to challenge the culture of death. Every day. More than ever. Eliminate the perception that abortion and contraceptives are “needed.”
How do we practically challenge the secular culture that promotes easy solutions to moral dilemmas and the choice of death rather than a rearranged life? How do we support mothers who feel pressured to abort and who lack resources, human and material? How do we build, as Pope St. John Paul II phrased it, a “Culture of Life”? We speak the truth about the value and dignity of every human life, including those killed by abortifacient contraceptives. We do the work to stand with and support women, couples, and families who are facing challenging pregnancies. We witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His love and mercy for every person.
This blog is a part of a series where we will meet three couples who are boldly doing this work and living the truth that “the Gospel of God’s love for man, the Gospel of the dignity of the person and the Gospel of life are a single and indivisible Gospel” (The Gospel of Life, Pope St. John Paul II).
Speaking the Truth in Professional Work
Maryland pharmacist Lucilla Akanegbu is a CCL Promoter who talks to anyone who will listen about what it means to be pro-life- from priests to women to medical colleagues. “To be pro-life is to be open to life. Contraception is not open to life,” she declares. Lucilla’s husband, Benedict, currently travels back and forth between their home in Maryland and their native Nigeria for his work. The Akanegbus met in Nigeria in their early twenties. In 1988, they married and moved to the United States, where she went to pharmacy school. They were blessed with one daughter in 1990 and were not given another child until fifteen years later, a second daughter.
Lucilla intentionally works in a hospital setting that does not require her to fill prescriptions for “the Pill” because she knows it is abortifacient. Throughout her life, Lucilla has heard from women about their abortions. Especially when she lived in Nigeria but also in her work as a pharmacist, “women from all over the world have told me about their abortions,” she shared. As a result, she was inspired to volunteer at a local pregnancy center from 2017-2020 before Covid restrictions interfered. There, she witnessed to the mothers about natural family planning and supported them in their needs.
Most recently, she tried to raise pro-life issues at a parish meal and discussion group. The group was not receptive to her topic. “It’s always a hard sell,” she chuckled cheerfully but it’s clear Lucilla intends to keep charitably raising awareness about life issues.