Every year comes the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and every year I tell myself that it just isn't possible to come up with something to say about it. Other people do that sort of thing so much better. (See here and here for two good posts at Redstate today.) The very importance of the issue leaves me with few words, though I have spent so many words over the past twenty-odd years, in one forum or another, on the abortion holocaust. So every year, here in the dark time of the year, only a month past the solstice, I tell myself, "This year, I won't even try to write anything. It will give people more time to read what others write, which is so much better." Every year, I think that this year I will write, if anything, about something else instead. Meanwhile, I wait for the Sun of Righteousness to rise with healing in His wings.
But not writing anything is hard to do. (See here and here for the last two years' posts.) For we would not have you think, readers, that we at W4 are ever, no matter how many years pass, indifferent to the silent slaughter that goes on, day after day, year after year, in this our beloved land and in many other lands. But especially here, under the cover of a vile lie about the Constitution on which our beloved land was founded. That lie will never grow less vile or less worth mourning, no matter how many years pass. Please God, there may come a day, though, when we can mourn it as something that really is past, that has been repealed and in some measure nationally repented of.
Two things have encouraged me today. One is this picture, which I hope you can see (you may need to belong to Facebook, but it is on a public FB page), of a group of Dominicans at the March for Life, bless them. They look young, too. It was linked proudly by a Protestant FB friend whose Catholic nephew is a Dominican and was in D.C. today, though he is evidently not in this picture. The fight brings us together, Catholics and Protestants; the mourning of the dark anniversary brings us together.
I was also encouraged by a FB friend's status update in which he stated that he changed his mind years ago from a somewhat unthinking pro-choice position to a pro-life position, partly through the arguments of Frank Beckwith, an erstwhile contributor here to W4. How often do we wonder, understandably enough, whether anyone's mind is changed by argument? To know that even one man saw the light of reason and rejected the deep irrationality of "abortion rights" is encouraging.
Then, too, I received a phone call yesterday from a relatively young man (under thirty) whom I know only through Facebook and telephone conversations. He wanted to talk about abortion. He's just now really getting "up to speed" on the information on this issue, including the scientific information. He said that he subscribes to a pro-life organization's news service and that they said that they believe our fight against Roe will be victorious, that it will be overturned. He didn't precisely ask me what I thought about that question (though today one of my daughters did ask me), but I told him anyway. The answer is: I don't know. And though in one sense it matters intensely, to many lives and many souls, in another sense it does not change what we must do. (See here on "The Glory of Lost Causes.")
Then I told him that if I had entered this fight nearly three decades ago, almost as long as he has been in this breathing world, buoyed up and sustained chiefly by the expectation of a quick or a certain victory, I would long ago have despaired. And I made a story of it and told him what it was like to be a conservative pro-lifer in the heady days of the late 80's, when we followed every SCOTUS appointment with bated breath and truly thought it not at all implausible that the next appointment would mark the end of the Roe regime. We thought, with some reason, that we were just one vote away.
At that point my young friend asked, like everyone who hears a story, "And what happened?"
I said, "Anthony Kennedy." (Not to mention Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter, but chiefly Anthony Kennedy.)
So I told him about Robert Bork. And then I made another story. It was the summer of 1992, and I was traveling with my husband and in-laws all across the country, as they helped us move to a new home and a new job. The much-awaited Casey decision was about to be handed down. No Internet, of course. No iphones. No wifi. We bought newspapers at a restaurant on the trip and read what had happened--how the justices in the majority opinion, while leaving some aspects of the PA law in place and while muddying the waters concerning the trimester system, had emphatically refused to overturn Roe v. Wade, had, in fact, tried to tell pro-lifers to shut up and sit down and accept their Majesties' diktat. I told him of poring over the newspapers on that long drive and of the bitter disappointment of that decision. Anthony Kennedy happened.
Today it came home to me: Nobody is born knowing that history. A whole generation is growing up who knows none of this unless they are told. They must be told. Fr. Richard John Neuhaus said, encouraging us pro-lifers, "We shall not weary. We shall not rest." This is one way in which we must not weary or rest. So today, though I've told it before, I told it again to my younger daughters--the answer to the question, "What is Roe v. Wade?" lest they forget.
We must go on telling that sad, dark story from our nation's living history year after year, for it is sharply relevant. We must tell it again and again, that out of that darkness a fire might be lit in hearts, especially young hearts, a fire of love and a burning desire for justice for the unborn and the unloved, the aged and the infirm, all those whom our culture despises and our law demeans as disposable. Never mind the results we see or do not see before our eyes. Let us light that fire now, in even one heart, that it may burn through the night into a future when the morning shall dawn and the shadows flee away.