In God’s providence, may this be the last anniversary we observe in which Roe still has binding legal power. But I hope we continue to observe this day.
“I should have been aborted,” Sue told me. I met Sue at a retreat this fall. She explained it to me so casually that I nearly fell over. Her parents already had a child. And their country had limits on the number of children families could have. In our country, the latest rhetoric of pro-choice activists includes “forced birthing” but in theirs, the law was forced abortion. If a woman became pregnant after having a first child, she was forced to have an abortion.
Sue’s mother, a nurse, hid her pregnancy. She dressed to hide the baby growing in her womb. She left her home as little as possible. She wasn’t a Christian, but she knew killing her baby was wrong.
Immense pressure was put on Sue’s family. Her father was skipped over for a promotion. Their coworkers and bosses were denied annual bonuses. Sue was born at home, because her country wouldn’t provide her mother with medical care. In fact, Sue told me with a mischievous grin, “For 12 years I didn’t exist. I didn’t have a birth certificate!”
Today, no serious person could deny that abortion takes a human life.
Today, no serious person could deny that abortion takes a human life. In ages past, without the scientific technology we have today, I suppose one could believe that the embryo was something else until movement or shape began to be felt by the mother. As one columnist recently put it, “But we now know the embryo is not merely a cell with potential. Rather, a distinct human organism comes into existence at conception, and every stage of your biological life, from infancy and childhood to middle age and beyond, is part of a single continuous process that began when you were just a zygote.”
Not only human reason and now, natural science, demonstrate this truth, but it is also a religious one. The 1,900-year-old Christian text known as the Didache provides a list of moral bans, including: murder, adultery, fornication, theft, the use of magic, infanticide, and abortion. The Didache declares: “Thou shalt not murder a child by abortion.” For Christians, from the beginning, God is the giver of life, we are life’s stewards. The unjust taking of an innocent human life is morally wrong.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.” The smallest embryo, from the first moments of life, is a person. And persons have rights. The most fundamental of which is the right to life. The Church protects and defends this first right of every person from conception until natural death.
In the face of a culture at odds with this teaching, Pope John Paul II encouraged us, saying,
“In the proclamation of this Gospel, we must not fear hostility or unpopularity, and we must refuse any compromise or ambiguity which might conform us to the world’s way of thinking (cf. Rom 12:2). We must be in the world but not of the world (cf. Jn 15:19; 17:16), drawing our strength from Christ, who by his Death and Resurrection has overcome the world (cf. Jn 16:33).”
January 22, 2022, marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v Wade, which enshrined the “right” to abortion in national law in the United States. In God’s providence, may this be the last anniversary we observe in which Roe still has binding legal power.
But I hope we continue to observe this day. We must remember the lives touched by such darkness and offer them the healing balm of the Gospel. We must remember and help those women who deserve nothing less than our greatest compassion and financial support. We must remember the 62 million lives lost in our country since 1973. And we must remember to rejoice in those lives, like Sue’s, that against all odds, God sends as his testimony that every life is sacred.