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SEATTLE, Wash. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A life-changing initiative of Washington's bishops has helped more than 12,000 families statewide embrace and cherish life.
"PREPARES walks the journey of life from the moment of conception through the child's fifth birthday — and sometimes beyond," Yakima's bishop, Joseph Tyson, explained to Church Militant.
Catholic Charities agencies and parishes across the state's three dioceses (the archdiocese of Seattle and the dioceses of Spokane and Yakima) partner with volunteers to offer material and spiritual assistance.
"We provide wrap-around support that can be as basic as baby supplies donated by our Knights of Columbus and our local parishes to parent groups, mom groups, father groups, family support, Kaleidoscope Play and Learn programs, maternity and support," Bp. Tyson continued.
At the top of the service are trained volunteers who serve as what they call "family companions." They are often seasoned mothers who support newer mothers. The friendships that are formed sometimes last beyond the five years of support.
Bishop Tyson observed, "We've got the capacity to really walk the journey of life in a way that is positive, joyous and life-giving."
Bishop Tyson lamented a sad state of affairs, saying, "Washington state is the only state to have legalized abortion before Roe v. Wade by popular ballot."
On Nov. 3, 1970, over 1 million Washington voters decided whether to pass Referendum 20. In a roughly 57–44% split, the measure passed, legalizing abortion up to "four lunar months after conception." Before Referendum 20, abortion was a criminal offense in the state, except in cases of danger to the mother's life.
Since then, the laws have become increasingly more liberal in favor of protecting abortion instead of protecting children in the state.
Abortion in Washington state is currently:
Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, Washington state's Democrat-controlled legislature and the state's far-left governor, Jay Inslee, have established even more aggressive pro-abortion laws. For example, a shield law that protects abortionists and abortuaries by preventing Washington law enforcement officials and courts from assisting other states in abortion-related investigations and a law that permits children without parental consent to undergo taxpayer-funded abortions.
Washington's bishops officially opposed those laws when they were bills. When the second of those laws was recently passed, Bp. Tyson explained it is important not only to oppose but to propose. This is exactly what PREPARES does; it proposes and offers concrete assistance for choosing life.
"PREPARES is changing hearts one at a time," the bishop noted.
"PREPARES seamlessly anchors the basic dignity of the unborn with care for children and families at every stage," he continued. "Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life comes together with Catholic social teaching — uniquely embodied in all aspects of PREPARES."
Throughout the state, PREPARES presently has the participation of at least 158 parishes and 525 direct volunteers.
In the Yakima diocese, the staff is bilingual to help serve Spanish-speaking parishioners, who account for almost 3/4 of Catholics in the diocese.
The Washington State Catholic Conference was established in 1976 to advance a unified voice among the state's bishops on public policy issues.
In addition to its primary mission, established decades ago as the country celebrated its bicentennial, the WSCC has further established two key initiatives, namely, PREPARES and the Cornerstone Catholic Conference — a series of ongoing conferences first established in 2014.
The Cornerstone Catholic Conference was created "to inspire and educate Catholics and others to continue working together to protect all human life."
The two initiatives are designed to offer ample opportunities for Catholics in Washington state to grow in faith and to engage in the corporeal and spiritual works of mercy.