Living and Witnessing ‘Whole-Life’ Advocacy

The March for Life Chicago takes place today, and it is a pro-life event that celebrates life and calls for an end to abortion. But being pro-life is not just about defending the unborn. It’s about protecting the dignity of the human person throughout their whole life.

“We as  Catholics understand that life is sacred from the moment of conception to natural death,” said Dawn Fitzpatrick. “And that means everything in between.”

Dawn Fitzpatrick is the Director of the Respect Life Office for the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Human Dignity and Solidarity. She is also the President of the Board for the March for Life Chicago, and she joined Sheila Liaugminas on A Closer Look™ recently to discuss the March and how being pro-life means being a ‘whole-life’ advocate.

“What we do at these Marches is we bring people together, and we show the joy of fellowship, the joy of community, the joy of love, the joy of children, the joy of motherhood, the joy of being a part of a family, of fatherhood,” Fitzpatrick said. “All of those things are just imperative to the success of our society. We need each other. And that’s what these Marches do, they bring people together.”

Fitzpatrick explained that being a whole-life advocate means we must protect the sanctity of the unborn, the sick, the elderly, the imprisoned, the immigrant, and the poor.

“We know that it starts with conception and we need to protect the most innocent – our unborn,” she said. “And we absolutely know it is wrong to kill people when they are sick and elderly. We know that it is wrong to kill people in the electric chair, because capital punishment is wrong in almost all cases. And just as that’s important, so are the hungry people in front of us. So are the immigrants who don’t have a place to live. So are the people who are facing natural disasters, and people who live in poverty. All of these things are important, and we need to take care of people across the board.”

So then why all the focus on abortion? Sheila and Dawn discussed why the right to life is the foremost of all rights – the one that undergirds all others.

“First and foremost, you have to defend the right to live,” Sheila said. “Because how can you make any case to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless if you can’t guarantee that they can live in the first place? It all goes together after that.”

Dawn agreed, saying, “I think it all goes back to that fateful day in 1973 when Roe vs. Wade was made law. Because the fact of the matter is that a whole generation of people since then have been taught that the vulnerable don’t matter.”

Another component of being a whole-life advocate is that it may require you to get outside your comfort zone. You may be a passionate advocate for the hungry, but quiet when it comes to the unborn. Or you may have worked in the pro-life movement for decades, but are unaware of the plight of the homeless in your community. But this is a feature of whole-life advocacy, not a bug.

“I really believe you have to take yourself out of your comfort zone,” Fitzpatrick said. “And if you feel a little bit uncomfortable about doing what’s right, try it. Then you’ll start to feel more comfortable with it, and you can move on to the next thing.”

“That’s what something like the March for Life will do for people,” she continued. “It will take them to a point where they are feeling really good about the people they are in community and solidarity with, and then they can go out to take care of people who are hungry, needy, and dying.”

Listen to the full conversation with Dawn Fitzpatrick below:

A Closer Look airs weekdays at 6:00 p.m. Eastern/3:00 p.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio®.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.