49 years is a long time. As of yesterday, that is how long the country has lived under the Roe v. Wade regime – that is, the coercive mandate from the U.S. Supreme Court to make it legal in all 50 states to kill a child in the womb for almost any reason at any time, due to the twin judgments decided in 1973 of Roe and Doe v. Bolton. There is an old saying that “the law is a teacher,” so to put that in perspective, our government has been attempting to teach over two generations of our citizens that it is perfectly acceptable to kill a fellow human being. Or, to put in another way, a significant percentage of our parishioners have never lived in a world where the law didn’t condone killing of the littlest innocent ones.
Despite the extreme length of time, we should never simply get used to that reality. The silent voice of 63.5 million children in this country stricken down by abortion before they saw the light of day since that date should be far more than enough to remind us of that. As terrible as the ruling was, I don’t think even the proponents of the ruling would have imagined where they would be almost half a century later: living in a world where abortion is not only allowed but where those promoting the egregious evil would routinely scold and hector those who opposed it as if they were the ones with a moral problem.
Would anyone have predicted in 1973 that a baptized Catholic president would be chief among those leading that charge, and using the office of the Presidency to attempt to browbeat others into supporting what the Church calls an “infamy” that “poisons human society” and is a “supreme dishonor to the Creator.” (Gaudium et Spes, #27)? Not likely. But we must always remember that “ideas have consequences.” That is, once people accepted the twin ideologies of feminism and radical individualism (the philosophies that child-bearing holds back women from self-fulfillment and the desires of an individual are supreme, no matter who gets hurt in the process), then in a way this was inevitable. That’s especially true since there will always be those who are only superficially Catholic or Christian and invested in the thinking of the world rather than the Gospel of Christ. While those two philosophies were not new to the 1970s, they certainly came to full flower and flourishing then.
I bring all this up because it is very likely that we will be at a real turning point come June. That is when the Supreme Court is likely to rule on a case that challenges the very underpinnings of Roe v. Wade. We don’t know how they will rule, of course, but there is a significant possibility that they will allow States once again to severely restrict the deadly practice.
If that happens, then the judicial chokehold will be lifted and the States will have to decide what to do again. That in turn would give Christians an opportunity to make the case to their lawmakers and fellow citizens to save countless lives and prevent psychological and moral harm to countless women. We should certainly pray for wisdom in how to proceed but also plan for this possibility so that we are not floundering once the ruling takes hold (cf. Luke 14:28-32).
This is about much more than just political strategy and civic involvement, however, as important as it is for Christians to engage in both even as they pray. That’s because, even if many states enact laws very protective of unborn children, we will have won a major battle, but not the war. The ideologies that have been taking deep root since before the 1970s will still be with us. We will still have a society that debases human life, that has a terribly skewed vision of feminity and womanhood, that mocks fatherhood and its protective instincts, and so on.
Lest we get too complacent, we should also be aware that even if the number of surgical abortions are drastically reduced, there is still a grave threat of killing children via chemical abortion. In recent years and especially under Joseph Biden’s administration which has encouraged and enabled them by loosening safety restrictions, the percent of children killed by chemical abortions vs. surgical has skyrocketed from a small sliver to almost 40%. These are much harder to regulate.
The bottom line is that we have to work a two-prong approach: to remain active in the legal sphere for the short-run (while being strategically prudent) while at the same time working to bring the Gospel and teachings of Christ to all in the long run, so no one would never want to kill a child even if it were legally possible and convenient. That should be the goal of every Christian: to bring people to the truth and love of Christ and, in Him, recognize the incomparable gift of every human life from conception onward.
Let’s pray that through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the unborn, that we will be willing to sacrifice and witness boldly and fearlessly to the Gospel of Life so Christ may transform the hearts of our fellow citizens. By the time we reach the 50th anniversary of that tragic court decision in 2023, let’s pray that our nation will be a very different place, well on the way to respecting the dignity of each human life conceived in the womb, and welcoming him or her into the world with open hearts and arms.