ARCHBISHOP JEROME E. LISTECKI
I have been involved with the pro-life movement since the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade in 1973. It occurred while I was in law school. Although early on little hope was offered to stem the tide of the pro-choice mentality, there was and always has been at the very “heart and the soul” of the pro-life movement the truth that this entity in the womb is a “human life.” It seemed obvious to all of us yet there are those that chose to mask and hide the obvious.
Early on, the statistics were not encouraging; 60 percent of Americans supported a woman’s right to choose. It was seen as a progressive determination which recognizes the right of a woman over her body. So men and women prayed and marched in defense of the defenseless. They were mocked and scorned as people out of touch. But what drove them forward was the truth that life was a gift from God and they were life’s defenders, answerable to God for their actions and inactions.
In the generation that followed, things began to change, technology emerged imaging the child in the womb and science declared the imprint of human DNA. It was through the scientific technology that younger people began to take notice and recognize the truth in the Church’s teachings. The 40 percent in support of life suddenly was changed to 50. Marches on Washington produced hundreds of thousands of people, and these individuals were ignored by the mass media mainly because “the pro-life issue” did not fit into their agenda. I was present when more than 500,000 people were present for the March for Life in Washington, D.C. There was also group of a couple of hundred people protesting the marchers and they received more coverage than the pro-life marchers. During this period, Wisconsin Right to Life used communication technology to educate and inform that life needs to be protected, Pro Life Wisconsin witnessed to the dignity of human life, and Forty Days for Life started prayer vigils in front of abortion clinics. Slowly, the mask hiding the truth of life was being removed.
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Early on, pro-life supporters were told that they were insensitive for showing pictures of abortions. Pro-choice advocates even resorted to violence when these pictures were displayed, claiming they injured those engaged in legal activities. If we can hide the atrocity, we can pretend that it is not there. Most Women’s Care Centers, who offer women an alternative to abortions, will report that an ultrasound (showing the picture of the baby in the womb) will save lives. Our Knights of Columbus have been promoting the ultrasound initiatives at Women’s Care Centers.
Now we have entered an era where infanticide is promoted by political leaders, the mask has been totally removed and the horror of abortion is disclosed. The truth is made known that a hidden holocaust has been perpetrated on the American public and the protection of life, in the land of the free and the brave, is not assured.
Young people began to understand the gravity of the action of abortion and rejected the lies that supported death. They also heard the testimonies of those that survived abortions, which allowed these young minds to understand the truth that these are human beings who were attempted to be killed. Today, the current statistic is that 60 percent of the public support the pro-life movement.
It has always been strange to me that in this era of “feminism” that a part of the radical agenda of the feminist movement is the destruction of human life, coded in a term “reproductive medical rights” language. As a gender, women rightly fought for recognition of equal rights. However, the power of women is found in their God-given creative power: they can accomplish something a man can never do. The spiritual power of women is seen in the Blessed Mother, who is an example for us all. She maximized the power of her life as an instrument for God.
The anti-life movement has become more vitriolic and violent. I believe this is because they understand that their lie is being exposed, which endangers their business, their politics and their understanding. It must be difficult for a person to realize that they have engaged in the taking of human life.
I find it interesting that the majority of the states passing legislation that would protect the unborn (fetal heartbeat laws, etc.) are southern states. Perhaps this is an acknowledgment that in the past, the southern states were on the wrong side of the issue in the acceptance of slavery and failed to support the dignity of human life. Now they are taking the lead in the truth that the dignity of human life of the unborn must be protected. I applaud their honesty and forthrightness.
But there is so much more work to be accomplished; however, the future is bright. Why? Because of young prophetic voices that are not afraid of the truth and it is “only the truth that will make us free.” We are on the right path, the path of the just, but the anger and dismissiveness of the anti-life movement will try to block all progress. As St. John Paul told us, “Be not afraid.” Remember, the Lord is with us.
As we leave the month of May, the month of Mary, we call upon her to strengthen the work of the pro-life movement:
Give to them courage in the face of a society prone to choose convenience over sacrifice, pleasure over love, and the material over the spiritual. Help them always to understand that when we choose life we promote your will and diminish the culture of death. Let them never be discouraged but relish in the understanding that they are doing God’s will.
Dear Mother, strengthen us all to be advocates of life, knowing that it is only in collaboration with your son Jesus that we can change the hearts of our brothers and sisters and celebrate your gift of life.