January 22, 2014 marks a dark and somber anniversary. It was on this date, in 1973, that the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe v. Wade, granting the constitutional “right” to abortion. Since then, some 54 million unborn babies have been senselessly killed. In the ensuing years, few topics have aroused such passion and controversy or have had more polarizing effects.
To sanction terminating the life of an unborn baby (or any life, for that matter) is incomprehensible. Yet recent developments around the globe alarmingly indicates that society is becoming inured to the pervasiveness of the culture of death, even as its reach ensnares the aged, the infirm, the handicapped, even children. A quick look at what is happening in Belgium alone, grimly underscores this point.
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta clearly recognized the tragic consequences of abortion and in 1994, she wrote a letter to the U.S. Supreme Court about the Roe v. Wade decision. It is worth quoting at length:
“America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts – a child – as a competitor, an intrusion and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the dependent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters….
“Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or sovereign. The Constitutional Court of the Federal Republic of Germany recently ruled: ‘The unborn child is entitled to its right to life independently of its acceptance by its mother; this is an elementary and inalienable right that emanates from the dignity of the human being.’ Americans may feel justly proud that Germany in 1993 was able to recognize the sanctity of human life. You must weep that your own government, at present, seems blind to this truth.” (From Mother Teresa’s February 1994 letter to the U.S. Supreme Court)
Despite the scourge abortion continues to be, there is cause for hope. Through perseverance and tenacity, those engaged in the battle of defending life are, in fact, making headway, and there is indeed reason to give thanks for pro-life victories. In 2013 alone, 97 defense of life measures that protect the lives of unborn babies and their mothers were enacted in 35 states; of these 69 specifically concern abortion.1
Some of the pro-life victories include:
• North Dakota, the first state in the nation to do so, passed a law prohibiting abortions for genetic abnormality;
• Arkansas, North Dakota, and Texas enacted measures to ban abortion after five-months’ gestation;
• Florida passed legislation protecting born-alive infants as a direct result of the barbarity uncovered during the Kermit Gosnell trial.
Significantly, a recent Gallup poll found that “…on the nominal “pro-life” vs. “pro-choice” question, pro-lifers narrowly outnumber the other side, 48-45. However, fully 58% of adults say abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, or only permitted in ‘a few.’ Just 39% say the practice should be legal in ‘all’ or ‘most’ circumstances.”2
We must continue to pray that the tide will slowly turn away from the culture of death and embrace the culture of life.
There is a saying: the pen is mightier than the sword. In the battle of defending life, this might be paraphrased as: the word is mightier than the sword. We give thanks for every battle won; however, in order to win the war, it must be understood that words cannot be “redefined” in order to rationalize that what is wrong is right or that by attaching a catchy slogan – “death with dignity” – society won’t have to be bothered by any unpleasant consequences. Those on the frontlines in defending life, indeed all who are pro-life, must continue to engage the oppostion in order for them to understand a basic and profound truth:
Life throughout all its stages – from conception to natural death – is sacred. Life is the most precious gift that God, the Author of Life, gives. To reject this gift, whether through abortion, euthanasia or suicide, is a direct affront to God, the giver of the gift.
On this 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, defending life, the most precious of God’s many gifts, remains of utmost importance. In defending the right to life of the unborn, we in turn defend the right to life of the aged, the infirm, the handicapped, even children and all those who have no voice to do so for themselves.
Cardinal Angelo Bognasco, archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference recently affirmed, “A society without babies and children, just as a society without the elderly, is seriously mutilated and unable to function….demographic balance is not only necessary for the physical survival of a community – which without children has no future – but is also a condition for that alliance between generations.”
Let us then arm ourselves with a most powerful weapon – the Rosary – that through prayer, fasting and penance, and the intercession of Our Lady, the culture of life will triumph.