In our times, abortion is defended by posing questions about all the irregular situations: What about rape, incest, “unwanted” out-of-wedlock, and teen-age pregnancies? Although the circumstance is of quite a different nature, Joseph too is faced with the most irregular of all pregnancies, a situation leaving him quite unsettled: his wife has conceived by the Holy Spirit! The child is not his biologically or genetically. It is not the fruit of his physical relationship with his wife. In fact he is called to believe that the child is conceived not by physical relationship with any man, but by the unique and direct intervention of God. How can a man accept such an overwhelming pregnancy? Only by faith. How can he accept fatherhood over such a child that could be called not his own? Only by openness to the will of God, by willingness to do as the angel of the Lord tells him.
We learn from Joseph that fatherhood is much more than simple physical generation. In fact Joseph, who does not engender any child at all, is the best of fathers and a model for every father. He accepts the life in the womb by honorably taking Mary his wife. He journeys with her to Bethlehem to register the child in the list of humanity. He gives the child a name in the line of David. He defends the child from the cruel attack of Herod.
Joseph was the one chosen for the role of father to the Son of God incarnate in Mary’s womb, and he fulfilled this role so faithfully. Within his universal patronage, it is certainly fitting in our times that he be given a new title as “Patron of the Unborn.” No one can be a better defender of innocent, helpless life in the womb. No one is a better model of fatherhood to parents of pre-born children. No one can more fittingly aid in the process of healing and reconciliation for those who grieve and agonize over having committed the sin of abortion. No one is a better image for women who have been hurt by men unwilling to accept fatherhood of the child they engendered.