After all these years of pro-life activity I am still labeled by some who seek to protect the so called “right” to take the lives of innocent children in the womb as “religious right.” I tried to stop caring about labels a long time ago. After all, the old children’s jingo “sticks and stones…” does have some merit. Names should not hurt me.
However, they still do. I have never liked being called a “conservative.” I am also NOT a “liberal” because of what that term has now come to mean. Finally, I deplore the theft of the term “progressive” by those who want to call a return to paganism or libertinism “progress”.
I am simply a Catholic Christian.
I believe that what the Catholic Church teaches about the inviolability and sanctity of every human life, at every age and stage, is true. I try to inform all of my life, including my social, economic and political participation, by the teaching of the Catholic Church. Because of that teaching, I sometimes speak of myself as pro-life, pro-family, pro-freedom, pro-poor and pro-peace.
I am being a Catholic Christian when I insist upon an end to legalized abortion. I am ashamed of fellow Catholics, and other Christians, especially those in public life, who have failed to stay faithful to the truth about life, and in some instances, have become collaborators with the Culture of death.
We are called by our baptismal vocation to serve the common good. Legal Abortion does not serve the common good. As a part of our mission to building a truly just society where the polestar of all public policy is the recognition of the inherent dignity of every human person, at every age and stage, we simply have to end legal abortion in America and throughout the world.
We must not let up in our efforts to see Roe v. Wade vacated, overturned, or in any other feasible way eradicated from our jurisprudence. The decision is a heinous example of how bad science, worse history and nefarious judicial engineering disguised as “legal reasoning” can be used to unleash a horror on an entire class of persons.
I believe that we will see its reversal. We now need to plan beyond that reversal. Our work has always been about more than Roe; it is about building a culture of life and a civilization of love, a new society. This new society we must build, in addition to protecting children, the elderly and the infirm against those who would kill them, must also promote and protect authentic marriage and the
stable and healthy families that are built upon it. It must reach out in compassion to embrace all who have been wounded by the weakened state of the institution of marriage.
This new society, because it is genuinely concerned about justice, must proclaim the truth concerning human freedom and openly reject the relativist and libertine counterfeits that have sought to redefine the word and lead men and women into new forms of slavery.
It must hear the cry of the poor and promote public policy and legislation which is a response to our social obligations in solidarity. We are our brothers (and sisters) keeper. Such concern for the poor is not “left wing”, it is human and just.
It should promote a public policy which not only offers the poor compassion, but expands the embrace of economic participation by promoting true economic justice, insisting that the market first serve the person, the family and the common good.
Finally, this new society must work for authentic peace, rejecting militarism as a solution to international conflict. War is never the answer. It promotes the culture of death.
Concepts such as a “pre-emptive” war are inconsistent with the strict “Just War Analysis” which has served Western Civilization well in analyzing how principles of self defense work within Nations and in international conflicts. It must not be abandoned. To do so may lead us into the abyss of continual conflict.
These kinds of goals – and the initiatives that they should give birth to – are neither nether “right” nor “left”, liberal or conservative, or any permutation of those terms, they are human and they are just.
I see the momentum shifting against those who have defended the evil of protected procured abortion under the lie of a “right” to choose. They have presented themselves as somehow concerned about women for far too long. Women have been the second victims of this lie and they are rising up to expose it. In increasing numbers, women who have had abortions are joining the growing majority of those who oppose it.
The rhetoric of the legal abortion movement is tired, its lies have been revealed and the wind is out of its sails. Some choices are simply always and everywhere wrong, such as the taking of innocent human life. I have proposed that we re-enter the war of words and call those who continue the lie, the “Wrong Choice Movement”. Intentionally killing the innocent can never be a “right”, even if a Court tries to make it one by judicial fiat.
The pro-life position is not “conservative” or “liberal”, or even simply “religious” – at least in the sense of a position confined to religious people. It is a defensible human rights position that can be – and increasingly is – held by many types of diverse people.
A growing majority of Americans are coming to recognize that without the right to life and the freedom to be born there simply are no other rights. In fact, the very foundation of all rights is placed at risk when those without a voice become subject to death on demand under some promethean notion of freedom as the power of the strong over the weak.
Truth has an amazing power within it to bring about personal and societal change. I believe that it is doing just that on the issue of the humanity of the child in the womb. This truth is winning the hearts and minds of more and more Americans. That is because this truth is written on every human heart by the Natural Law that obligates us all to do justice and then binds us all together in its pursuit.
One does not have to have any religious faith to recognize the truth concerning the dignity of every human life. As a Christian, I believe and proclaim that this truth is also confirmed by Revelation. However, it is a fallacy for the
opponents of the right to life to characterize the pro-life position as simply “religious”. To do so is sophistry. They simply want to muffle a truth claim in order to try to undermine it.
Science is clearly a pro-life ally as well. It always has been. But recent advances have unmasked the lies of the opponents of the right to life and their efforts to say otherwise. Sonograms are now showing us a film of our first neighbors in their first home, within their mother. Recent reports point to a cell phone which will enable a mother with child to send images of that child in her womb over the cell phone. How wonderful!
With the introduction of “baby’s first picture” we all watch these children smile, play, feel pain and grow. These images are becoming more and more prevalent, even showing up on television commercials. A sure sign, in a consumerist culture, that this technology is having an effect. Only a deceived person can see that child in the womb as anything other than just that, a child.
Doctors are now operating “in utero” to help these children at this stage of life. Psychologists are speaking of communication between parents and their child in the womb- and encouraging it. Music is being played to children in the womb.
All of these advances have “humanized” the child in the womb to an increasing number of people who once bought the lie of those who promoted abortion, the intentional killing of a child in the womb, as a “choice”. The efforts to paint the child as a “cluster of cells” or to use other dehumanizing phrases to hide the perfidy of abortion have failed.
Both science and technology confirm what our conscience told us all along, the child in the first home of the whole human race is our neighbor.
Headlines over the last ten years concerning the increase of crimes against pregnant women also move us forward to the triumph of life and turning of the tide of public opinion. Let me recount just a few.
We were all relieved, just before Christmas in 2004, when the child, brutally removed from the womb of Bobby Jo Stinnet of Missouri by her murderer, was found in good health. It was as though that baby was our own child- because every baby is. In a news account the following morning, the former owner of a grocery store in Skidmore, Missouri, the slain mothers’ home, expressed all of our sentiments when she affirmed: “The community will help raise this baby.”
We witnessed the horror of the killing of Laci and Conner Peterson and called it what it was, a double homicide. The glaring inconsistency between this truth and the current practice of legal abortion on demand became obvious to many.
Even the proponents of the approach to abortion unleashed by the horrid decision in Roe v Wade have begun to speak of rethinking their “strategy”, calling for a “new language” and speaking of a new concern for the “fetus”.
A growing majority of Americans are beginning to understand that the past approach of abortion on demand is not only wrong but exceedingly dangerous for the elderly, the infirmed, the poor and the marginalized.
This all supports my belief that we will see the end of federally protected abortion as it has emerged in the bloody wake of the decision of the Supreme Court through its horrid ruling in Roe and its progeny.
However, make no mistake; the end of Roe is NOT the end of the struggle.
We must prepare ourselves for the real work of building a culture of life and civilization of love, a new society. The end of Roe is not the end of the struggle. The roots of the culture of death run deep in a society that has followed the siren song of selfish materialism, neo-paganism and nihilism.
We need to re-educate some within the pro-life community. Too many pro-life people have become so used to “opposing” abortion that they do not know how to propose the culture of life. The truth about the dignity of life is a positive position. We are on the side of the truth.
Lasting movements for societal change have not been built around negative language. Oh, of course they oppose what is wrong, but they also propose another way. Our task as a people committed to life is not simply about opposition but also about conversion. We need to present a new way, the way of life, to replace the culture of death.
Additionally, as important as changing the make up of the Supreme Court is, we will not succeed in our long term mission simply through using political efforts. People’s hearts and minds need to be changed. This mission is both a spiritual and a rhetorical task. We need to pray – and we need to be in the public square, persuading people of the truth concerning the dignity of every life by using all of what has been discussed in this article.
We need to engage and not outrage. Let me explain what I mean. Every morning I receive charged pro-life mailings from someone who sends them out to anyone who will receive them. I know how “bad” things are. I have already read most of what he sends me. Frankly, I have grown so tired of these mailings that this morning I almost added him to my blocked senders list.
Now think about that. I am pro-life. It makes me wonder what kind of effect this man is having beyond the choir that he is singing to!
We need to engage this age with a confidence borne of truth and not be afraid of the culture of death. To build a culture of life and a civilization of love requires a new language. For example, I have taken to regularly speaking of children in the womb as our first neighbors. After all, they reside in the first home of the whole human race, their mothers womb.
As I use this expression “first neighbors” in my pro-life work in the public square, people inevitably ask me the questions that always open the door to explaining the truth.
Truth is very convincing. When proclaimed, it defends itself.
We should speak of our work as working for human rights. The right to life is a basic human right. It is not simply a “civil” right, in the sense that it depends upon the civil government to confer it. Rather, it is an unalienable right in the words of the American founders.
It cannot be taken away by any government.
Christians need to remember that the American founders did not invent this concept of unalienable rights. It was derived from the treasury of classical western Christian thought. The right to life was given to all men and women by the One who is the source of all life. Every government should be judged as just or unjust based upon how it respects human rights and treats the poor.
Our position not a “single issue” position, but rather a framework, a lens through which every other issue must be viewed in our mission and in our economic, political, cultural and social participation.. We should support and advance every legitimate effort to ensure that the dignity of every human person, at every age and stage, becomes the polestar of all public policy.
This kind of whole Life/ Pro-Life position affirms our obligation in solidarity to our first neighbor in the first home of the entire human race, the child in the womb, as well as our commitment to the poor in all their manifestations, the marginalized, the infirmed, the elderly, all those who have no voice.
Without the right to life and the freedom to be born, as well as the further right to live a full life and die a natural death, unimpeded by euthanasia, passive or active, there simply are no other rights or human freedoms.
Our entire system of rights is at risk in a “culture of death”, where human persons are regarded as property to be used rather than gifts to be received.
We are freedom fighters. When “freedom” becomes reduced to a notion of doing whatever one “chooses”, including the intentional killing of children in the womb, the elderly, and disdain for the “dependent”… it is gutted from its true meaning and reduced to a raw power over others.
We need a holistic social vision and mission to move us down the road to the Inevitable Triumph of the Pro-Life Position.