Today is the 35th anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision, which, with the companion decision handed down in Doe v. Bolton, made it legal for a mother to have her child killed at any time during her pregnancy, no questions asked, no limits, no problem.
Over the course of these thirty-five years many courageous Americans have taken a stand against this evil. They have spoken, written, marched, and voted. They have picketed, protested, sidewalk-counseled, and provided women in crisis pregnancies with real choices by helping them meet their immediate financial needs and giving them hope and support for their future, and for the future of their unborn child.
And abortion on demand is still the law of the land.
Recognizing this fact doesn't in any way detract from the noble and heroic efforts of all the champions of life out there. But as we click around the Internet to see the pictures and read the stories from so many who have attended the various marches around the country, and especially the March for Life in D.C., it's time to consider the future.
Because thirty-five years from now I don't want my children and grandchildren to be marching on our nation's capital on the 70th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I want them to live in a country where the personhood of the unborn human is recognized and protected by our laws, and where there is never any need for a mother to seek an abortion, and no legal way for her to obtain one.
Some people say we can't go back. The genii is out of the bottle, Pandora has opened her box, and there will never be a time in America where all or even most abortions are illegal.
I reject that pessimistic viewpoint. I wonder how many people in 1850 would have believed that slavery in America, far from being a permanent, if unfortunate, reality, was on the way out? If we could end slavery, we can end abortion. We have the moral obligation to do so; and all those marching and all of us supporting and praying for their efforts have the will to do so, as well.
So how do we do it? How do we bring about an end to this evil?
In the first place, I think it's time to put an end to that well-meaning but ultimately powerless notion that if we want to end abortion we need to change the minds and hearts of Americans. If we had waited for minds and hearts to change before slavery was outlawed, there would probaby still be slave owners in the South. If the civil-rights leaders had waited for the minds and hearts of Americans to change, African-Americans would probably still be sitting on the back of the bus, or segregated at lunch counters. If American women had waited for the minds and hearts of American men to change, none of us women, in all probability, would be voting this fall.
This doesn't mean that we don't want to change people's minds and hearts, of course; but it does mean that we have to realize that in order to end abortion in America we have to change the law. And we can't afford to wait until 100% of Americans, or even close to that amount, agree with us; we have to aim for 51% or 52% and work with that.
And while we definitely want to support a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution, we should take a glance at the play book being used at present by the gay marriage supporters: are they waiting to change the minds and hearts of Americans, or working on a constitutional amendment? No; they seem perfectly content to be doing the kind of incrementalist chipping away at the definition of marriage that far too many pro-lifers have ruled out on abortion, on the grounds that we can't support such things philosophically. This is true, of course; but we can support flawed legal prohibitions on abortion while still insisting that our philosophy demands its complete eradication. Granted, some efforts in this regard have been and still are being made, but I think that there is room to do more, especially at the state and local levels.
In the second place, I think it must be said that many of our churches have failed to be strong leaders against abortion. Speaking as a Catholic, I know that few priests make the subject of abortion a regular part of their homilies; it is the greatest moral evil that faces our nation at present, and there are some Catholic churches where it's never even mentioned. There are some wonderful pro-life priests, and some courageous bishops, too; but if every Catholic priest in America made a solemn promise to preach even one Sunday homily a month against the evil of abortion, what an effect this could have on our efforts to eradicate it!
In the third place, it will come as no surprise to my regular readers that I think we need to do a better job of holding our politicians accountable on this issue. How often have we voted for a Republican candidate, only to discover later that his commitment to ending abortion is practically nonexistent? We need to be willing to insist that the people we support and elect are truly concerned about the unborn--and not just once every four years, as a way of garnering our votes. There is no room for carpetbaggers in the pro-life movement; we must make it clear that we will only vote for people who recognize the evil being done each day to our unborn brothers and sisters who die as a result of our unjust laws, and who are fully and vocally committed to ending this evil as a priority in office.
And finally, I think that we can all turn inward and examine our own efforts on behalf of the unborn. Some of us can picket or march or counsel or work in crisis pregnancy centers; some of us can speak or write or teach the young; some of us can be involved politically. But all of us can pray, and all of us can ask God daily in our prayers to end abortion in America, begging Him to succeed even where we by our own efforts would fail. He Who is the author of life itself will hear and answer our heartfelt prayers on behalf of the innocent victims of the terrible evil of abortion.