Post-Roe, Pro-Life Work Goes On

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.

Published by Rick Hinshaw

I have spent the last three decades in primarily Catholic communications work: as a reporter, news editor, columnist, and for eight years editor of The Long Island Catholic; several years as co-host and co-producer of The Catholic Forum program on the diocesan Telecare channel; two stints as Director of Communications for the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights; and a year as Associate Director for Communications at the New York State Catholic Conference. I also served for three years as Public Information Officer for the late Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon, a staunchly Catholic and active pro-life leader. Over that more than 30-year career, I have gained an ever deeper understanding of and appreciation for the moral and social teachings of our Church. In my various roles I have lent my voice to articulating those teachings and their applicability to the critical issues of our time. That is what I intend to do with this blog. Moreover, at a time when our political and social disagreements seem to have degenerated into constant vitriol, vilification, verbal abuse and intolerance of those who hold differing opinions, I hope that this blog can contribute, in some small way, to a restoration of respectful debate and discussion, where we can defend our beliefs forcefully without demonizing any who disagree with us. As a Catholic commentator, that is what I have always striven to do--remembering that even as we are called to stand firmly in defense of our Church, her teachings, and our right to be heard in the public square, we are also called always to be the face of Christ to the world--most especially to those with whom we disagree.

11 thoughts on “Post-Roe, Pro-Life Work Goes On

  1. The breath-taking comments on the Dobbs decision by the president of the United States last Friday should lead to a Cordileone moment for the cardinal archbishop of Washington and the bishop of Wilmington. That won’t happen, sadly, because they are, at heart, politicians.

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    1. And if they did, Larry? Would it change Joe Biden’s politically motivated stance? Would it in any way alter what we as Catholic laity are called to do to advance pro-life policies in the broader culture? Let me restate my position on this: When a Catholic bishop, like the courageous Archbishop Cordileone, after much effort to lovingly, prayerfully persuade a pro-abortion Catholic government official–in this case, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi–determines that he must, out of care for her immortal soul, bar her from unworthily receiving the Eucharist, he will have my unqualified, prayerful support. But his purpose in doing so is NOT to effect a change in the law–which in any event it will not do, for as we see, Pelosi is wearing that ban as a political badge of courage. She is playing the martyr, standing up to her bishop to defend a woman’s “right” to abortion. And that’s what Biden would do as well, if Cardinal Gregory or Bishop Koening were to deny him the Eucharist. Once more: this is NOT to say they should NOT do so. It is to say that is THEIR responsibility to decide, not mine; and, as it will have no practical effect on MY responsibility, as a Catholic lay person, to work to bring about pro-life laws and policies, I see it as neither appropriate nor useful for me to spend time lobbying the bishops to take such action. I say this respectfully, Larry, knowing that many pro-life Catholics–including many readers of this blog–agree with you on this, not with me. I hope you can just respectfully consider my thoughts, as I do yours. And thanks as always, for your continued input.

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      1. Rick,
        My comments on your blog were reactive to Biden’s comments made immediately following the release of the SCOTUS opinion. My comments were as much from anger and less from deep reflection. But I don’t rescind them. And, as I stated, I have no expectation that either the cardinal archbishop or the bishop will bar him from receiving Communion in their respective sees. I am too realistic (and perhaps cynical) to think they ever would. But I can dream, can’t I?

        I agree with you that Biden has gone too far down the political road to turn back, and barring him from the reception of Communion would make no difference to him (and probably not to Georgetown Jesuits who enable him). But, as I fanaticize about it, and realizing that a ban wouldn’t affect Biden, I do consider the shock effect on those uncatechized and poorly catechized American Catholics who might then give thought to how seriously the Church takes its teaching on the sanctity of life. If Biden’s immortal soul is beyond reach, the ban may positively affect the souls of others.

        My frustration with my president and, frankly, with the American bishops generally, will not impact my own efforts to affect change. Hundreds and hundreds of Saturdays in front of one or more abortion facilities has, I know from experience, made a difference at the granular level. The bishops of the US have lost much or most of their credibility over the past twenty-five years. They should want to restore it by taking bold steps.

        Best to you. We’re on the same page.

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  2. Thanks, Rick.
    A great moment for the country.
    May the pro-movement be only strengthened by this epic Supreme Court decision.
    Msgr. Bob Batule

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    1. Thanks, Monsignor. Yes, hopefully this momentous decision will renew the strength of pro-life veterans, and inspire new generations to take up the cause of life.

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  3. I well recall the pro-life marches and Masses you led Rick. Standing up and praying for almost 50 years by a mere remnant of the faithful has taken a giant step toward overcome this evil.

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    1. Thank you, Walter, it was such a blessing and privilege to have been able to lead that public prayer and witness, with the active support of our bishops and priests, and the participation each month of hundreds of active pro-life lay people like yourself. We never know at the time what effect our works will have, but I think we can all feel certain now that all of our efforts and prayers, over all these years, have, with God’s blessing, borne fruit in helping to bring about this seminal pro-life moment.

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  4. beautiful tribute to the many people who prayed and worked for the sanctity of life over the past five decades. Yes there’s still more to do to change hearts. Hopefully the contrast between the rage of the abortion enthusiasts and the prayer and service of the pro lifers will win more people to the right to life.

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    1. Excellent point, Patty, and so important for us all to keep in mind. It can be so hard sometimes not to react in kind to the anger, hatred and violence being brought against us. But when we are able instead to react with firm resolve, reasoned discourse, and–as Christ did–love for our tormentors, we will change many more minds and hearts.

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  5. Rick, This is not about Roe v Wade repeal. That only took 50 years, longer for us New York residents who started resisting New York State becoming the abortion capital of the world. How about blogging on the Pope and his near silence on the self acclaimed devout Catholics, Biden and Pelosi, presenting themselves for the Eucharist and receiving It in sacred venues. I was a parishioner of St Augustine’s in Brooklyn NY. I am less appalled at the desecration of their tabernacle and it’s contents than I am by learning that our political leaders were hosted in local parish churches and the Pope’s environs where they received the Eucharist in photo shoots. Thank God for that Archbishop who directed his ministers of the Eucharist to deny it to Pelosi if she presents herself to receive. Is the papacy trying to vindicate the pronouncements of the SSPX advocates? John Lando

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

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    1. Well, John, even considering my reply above to Larry Longua, you (and he) do have a point considering that the other reason for denying the Eucharist–besides trying to safeguard the person’s immortal soul–is to avoid giving scandal, that is, potentially leading others into similar serious sin. When a pro-abortion public official very publicly presents him or herself for the Eucharist–at a papal Mass, no less, and especially after she has been publicly instructed by her bishop not to, it does hold out the obvious potential for misleading others into believing that the sin in question–promoting the mass killing of innocent human life–is really not all that serious. Nevertheless, I still do not see it as my role, as a lay Catholic, to instruct the bishops, or the pope, as to their responsibility in such matters. I can pray that the Holy Spirit guides them to the proper action–without presuming myself to judge what that action is. (Doesn’t mean I have no opinion as to what I would do if I were them–but I am NOT them, and so God has not entrusted or empowered me with those decisions.) Thanks, John, for continuing to offer thought-provoking questions and insights to my posts.

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