This week, the champions of the pro-life movements offered Mass, personal prayers and witness to the continuing battle for the soul of the United States. I offer my gratitude to all who have written letters, protested, voted for pro-life candidates, participated in prayer services, made trips to Washington, D.C., and given voice to the silent unborn seeking to have the opportunity to live. They faced marginalization and alienation from members of the secular community and sometimes even among the ecclesial communities, in the post Roe v. Wade (1973) era.
It is amazing to me that a year and a half after the overturning of the Roe v. Wade decision, there are those in our society who are still upset that the killing of a human being has been denied. The pro-abortion, pro-choice movement became so outrageous that some were openly advocating the destruction of a child eight months in the womb. This would be legalized murder. The Supreme Court justices made the right decision. We cannot survive as a nation or a people when we do not protect human life, especially the most vulnerable among us.
I have listened to the rhetoric surrounding the issue since I was in law school in the early 1970s. The very first approach was to change the language. It started as anti-abortion and pro-abortion. Traditionally, abortion was understood as the taking of a human life. The law was clear. It was, in most circumstances, prohibited. It was an end to the life of a child in the womb. This approach was embedded in the law of our nation and most nations of the civilized world. But advocates of this procedure needed to dampen the sentiment and so reformulated the pro-abortion wording to pro-choice. Everyone loves choice — we associate choice with personal freedom. However, there never existed an arbitrary decision to take a human life.
Early on, it was claimed to be a women’s issue. It was her choice to continue or to end a pregnancy; after all, it was merely a collection of tissue with no definition. So, a denial of the child in the womb was imperative. We have heard the instruction by our society to follow the science, and the science clearly established that this is a human life and not a collection of tissues. None of us followed a different path to birth other than the natural development in the womb. Thank God for the Knights of Columbus and other organizations that provide MRIs to women’s care centers. Many women change their minds when they see an ultrasound picture of the baby they are carrying in their womb. It is modern scientific technology that presents us with this hidden human being and that technology gives the mother the first picture of the child she carries.
Abortion became a big business and the ruling to return the decision of the termination of life to the individual states cut into the easy access to the abortion mills that dotted the landscape. This stopped the flow of cash into the pockets of those abortion providers, some of whom claimed that they have existed to support the health care of the woman. Little attention is paid to the psychology of the woman and the effect of the loss of life. Thank God individuals like Vickie Thorn brought attention to this problem through Project Rachel.
Many who claimed to be enlightened on the subject of the care of individuals in our society seem to conveniently forget the child in the womb. It is no wonder that as a society we are confused as hospitals struggle to save the life of a newborn when across the street a clinic quickly can extinguish a life.
I am confronted with many who claim their strict adherence to the social teachings of the Church. The Church does have a proud tradition in the defense of “human dignity” in the rights of the worker, in the necessity to provide for education, in the elimination of poverty, in the pursuit of peace. Yet there is, at times, a blind eye for many when it comes to the very first right which precedes all others, that being the right to life. If this right is not secured, then all other rights are in danger.
One of the major reasons why the Church is so vociferous in its defense of human life is that all human beings are created imago Dei, “in the image of God.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of Life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.” (CCC 2258)
I have come to note that the attack on life is a direct attack on God. In the ideologies of our modern world, it is important that individuals no longer see God as the ultimate authority in their lives. For the Nazis, Jews were less than human; for the communists, the state dictated how many children one could have and even forced abortions; and now for the radical secularist, God is an obstacle which stands in the way of personal freedom and economic convenience. Pro-lifers are not only defending the child in the womb but God himself.
There are many issues still confronting proponents of life: the protection of life in every state, frozen embryos suspended in a scientific limbo, manipulation of DNA, euthanasia and others. The ultimate weapon that pro-lifers have is an ultimate trust in God, and we will do so through prayer, knowing God will use us as an instrument of his glory and presence.
After all, the Father sent his Son into the world to sacrifice himself out of love for us. We follow Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through the Son. We joyfully stand with Christ, taking up his Cross and standing for life.