January 24, 2020


Progress in the pro-life battle

This week, we observe the 47th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s horrendous Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States. The pro-life movement continues to have marches to protest the legalization of the murder of defenseless life in women’s wombs, and Masses to implore God’s help in fighting this scourge in our country.

Are we making any progress? Is there room for optimism?

There is good news. The number of U.S. abortions has been declining steadily almost every year, but the total was still 862,000 in 2017. That’s good news only when you realize that the number was 1.36 million back in 1997.

There is good news, too, that the number of abortion centers continues to decline, mainly because some states have passed new laws restricting abortion as much as the Supreme Court will allow.

About that Supreme Court: Many people voted for Donald J. Trump for president because they hoped that he would appoint pro-life justices to the Court, and he has done so. It appears that the Court is now composed of five pro-life justices. But what does that mean?

We will find out in the months ahead. On March 4, the Court will hear arguments in the case of June Medical Service v. Gee. It will test the constitutionality of a Louisiana law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admission privileges at nearby hospitals. The Court will probably hand down its decision in June—which just happens to be in the middle of this year’s presidential race.

Many people, both pro-abortion and pro-life, think that this might be an opportunity for the Court to reverse the Roe v. Wade decision. That’s why some states have enacted restrictive laws on abortion while other states have done the opposite, making sure that abortion in those states will remain legal no matter what the Court does.

People should be aware that, if the Court does reverse the Roe v. Wade decision, it would not make abortion illegal. It would return the matter to the states, which is why some states have been preparing for the eventuality.

We doubt, though, that the Court will completely reverse Roe v. Wade, at least in the short term. Chief Justice John Roberts seems more likely to try to fashion some sort of compromise. It’s hard to imagine, though, how any compromise will keep the issue from going back to the states. Therefore, it seems clear that the battle over abortion will continue.

That’s why it’s vital that those in the pro-life movement continue to try to convince the general public that abortion is wrong. So far that has been an uphill battle because the pro-abortion crowd has succeeded in making abortion a women’s rights issue. They stress that a woman must have the right to do what she wants with her body.

But that thinking must stop, we must emphasize, when it involves another person. It should be easy to get agreement that nobody has the right to kill another person. Alas, that doesn’t seem to be the case. There’s disagreement with some over whether the child in the womb is a human person.

Let’s not say that our religion teaches us that the unborn child is a human person. Let’s say that biology teaches us that. From the moment of conception, when a man’s sperm unites with a woman’s egg, a new person is created. That’s basic biology, not religion.

It has become common lately for those who support abortion to claim that pro-life people care only about the unborn baby, that they don’t care about the mother who is convinced that she can’t have a baby at this stage of her life. That claim simply is not true.

The Catholic Church has numerous ways of helping mothers who need help, especially through Catholic Charities agencies, including those here in central and southern Indiana. We hope that those who read The Criterion are aware of them, but we must do a better job of letting the general public know about them. We must prove that “pro-life” includes multiple issues and not only abortion.

There are indications that more young people are becoming pro-life. Certainly many of them participate in marches. Let’s pray that their unwavering commitment helps convert those with hardened hearts.

—John F. Fink

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