The decision came Friday morning.
Shortly after, my daughter Clare texted that she and some Young America’s Foundation colleagues were heading to the Supreme Court to counter the pro-abortion protesters already there.
My son Joe texted from Wisconsin, hailing the decision and noting that it was issued on the feast of the Sacred Heart.
Meanwhile, I was on a golf course outside Richmond with an old college buddy, blissfully unaware that the event I had been praying, working, and advocating for over the course of almost 50 years had finally come to pass.
Only when I finally checked my phone messages late that afternoon did I learn the Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade, striking down the unfounded “constitutional right” to abortion that ruling had created out of whole cloth in 1973. It was my children, now adults active themselves in defending life, who alerted me to the momentous news.
And that is fitting. For as another old friend, from our own pro-life youth days more than 40 years ago, texted, “the bigger battle”—actually securing full legal protection for the lives of unborn children—will probably “go on long after we have left this earth.”
There is far more to say about this than can be covered in one post. I plan to address various aspects of this ruling and its aftermath in an ongoing series of shorter articles—interspersed with commentary on other compelling matters that I’ve been putting off amid all the breaking developments around this foundational issue of life and justice.
For now, let me offer some personal reflections.
Driving back from Richmond to my daughter’s home in northeastern Virginia, I found myself thinking about all the people, across the last half-century, who have personally touched my life and inspired me through our mutual involvement in the pro-life movement. For they are representative of a broad cross-section of millions, across America and across generations, from every walk of life, who have sacrificed much while often enduring vicious vilification and overcoming setback after setback, to finally achieve this first major step on the road to justice for the unborn.
Some were and are skilled professionals—doctors and nurses, lawyers, elected officials, clergy, academics, sports and entertainment stars—many who took great personal risks to stand against the pro-abortion zeitgeist dominant in their professional circles.
But mostly they have been grass roots Americans, ordinary people doing extraordinary things—and making extraordinary sacrifices—to defend other human lives, with nothing to be gained for themselves.
And yet for me, involvement with them has gained much, giving my life a purpose and direction that I know now was God’s intent when He first called me to join this great cause. Everything that has subsequently happened in my life—my successful academic pursuits; every step in a career primarily involving service to the Church in various capacities; my family—my wife Eileen and I having first met (where else) on a picket line outside one of Bill Baird’s abortion mills—has, I am convinced, flowed from the things I learned, the experiences I gained, and the people I have encountered in the pro-life movement.
Many of those I knew from the earliest years are gone now. But it is largely because they stood up, stayed strong, and kept the faith, that each succeeding generation has been inspired to continue their work; so that today’s youthful, self-proclaimed “pro-life generation” is ready to carry this great cause forward, and in their turn inspire future generations to do so as well.
I fear we are heading into very dangerous times. Physically, we’re already there. Since the decision was leaked weeks ago, pro-life offices and pregnancy service centers are being firebombed, pro-lifers set upon by pro-abortion mobs, Catholic churches vandalized, the Supreme Court justices doxxed, their homes targeted for protests, Justice Kavanaugh for assassination.
“We expect violence could occur for weeks,” the Department of Homeland Security predicted Friday, as some building owners in Washington D.C. boarded up their windows. Lawless Portland is at it again, with “black-clad marchers…smashing windows and scrawling graffiti on downtown businesses” Saturday night.
Here in New York, former mayor Rudy Giuliani was assaulted by a man shouting profanity-laced pro-abortion rants—apparently unaware of the Catholic Giuliani’s consistent pro-abortion record.
There is also the danger that the powerful forces arrayed against us—in government, media, academia, the entertainment world—will find creative ways to block pro-life laws, harass pro-life pregnancy centers, persecute pro-life activists, and intensify their decades-long misinformation campaign to mislead people about the reality of life in the womb, the brutality of abortion, and the true natures of the pro-life movement and the abortion industry.
We must not be complacent. As Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse emphasized, “Roe’s days are over, but the pro-life movement’s work has just begun.” We must intensify our education, lobbying and political action efforts; our loving support services for women and children; our public witness; and especially, our prayers.
We must, as Martin Luther King exhorted the civil rights movement, “meet physical force with soul force,” eschewing violence even in the face of violence directed against us.
But forceful we must be—albeit peacefully so. That, with rare exceptions, has been the hallmark of the pro-life movement since its beginnings. We see now, despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, that that approach—untiring effort and prayer joined to a steely resolve and Christ-like love for even hate-filled opponents—can achieve our pro-life goals.
Let us honor and emulate our early pro-life forebears by continuing the firm, peaceful approach through which they, and we, have finally reached this historic pro-life moment.