What’s Wrong with the World

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The dark anniversary

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 Please God, there may come a day, though, when we can mourn it as something that really is past, that has been repealed and in some measure nationally repented of.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.

Comments (11)

Is there a worthy organization or charity fighting this good fight, that you might recommend one to consider supporting financially? Thanks.

There are many, but here are just a few that I know of and recommend supporting:

40 Days for Life

The Human Life Foundation


Here was my post about their journal, the Human Life Review:

Life Training Institute, which does excellent work with worldview training and teaching young people about the arguments against abortion:


For international issues concerning the evils of population control and giving a heads-up about abortion law changes in other countries, I recommend (and recommend contributing to) the Population Research Institute


And of course your local crisis pregnancy center.

Beautifully put Lydia. As with any of the narratives necessary for the transmission of the history of man's struggle against injustice, this one too needs to be told over and over, from generation to generation, even beyond the overturning of Roe. As with the Passover, the diaspora of the Jews and so many others from their countries (I think of the famine in Ireland), slavery in America, and everything in between, we must tell these things to our children and their children and let them know that they must never be satisfied with anything less than the end of abortion.

I was born after the iron curtain had fallen. I grew up knowing that the west was in a protracted conflict with the evil of international socialism. I never dreamed that Germany would be reunited apart from a war between the Soviet Union and the West. I never dreamed that Christian Orthodoxy would be resurgent in Russia.
The Reagan era ushered in an era where the evil of communism was openly talked about. In calling the Soviet Union the Evil Empire, the rhetorical battle was launched. The story of the shattered dreams of the captive nations was discussed. Lines in the sand were drawn.
What happened at the end of the Reagan era has caused me to hope. I now have a vision for a future, where secular liberalism is discredited; and with it the scourge of abortion is forced back into the dark shadows.
In the 1970s the pro-abortionists had won the rhetorical offensive in the West. Now Christendom is beginning to win the war of words. Many may see abortion as a kind of necessary evil, but now few except die hard feminists and liberal Episcopal priests see abortion as a good or a blessing.
Triumph will come, only when the story is told. Pat Buchanan may have fired the opening salvos in the culture war. The war against secular liberalism in the culture of the west is the new protracted conflict.

Thank you, Thomas. Momentarily I was confused by your use of the phrase "after the iron curtain had fallen," because I think that nowadays people tend to use the phrase "the iron curtain fell" to refer to the _end_ of the iron curtain regime rather than to its _beginning_. This is probably because of the historical and ideological connection with the "fall" of the Berlin Wall. Actually, your usage is more accurate, for it means something quite different for a curtain to fall than for a wall to fall. In fact, the two are opposite. For a curtain to fall is for the curtain to come to be in place. For a wall to fall is for the wall to cease to be a barrier.

You have an excellent point about the unpredictable happy surprises that history sometimes has for us, and the fall of the Soviet regime is a good example. The general unpredictability of history, together with many other confounding factors (the shakiness of the economy and of civil order in the U.S., for example, Islam, for another example), is the reason for my simply saying that I do not know whether Roe will be overturned.

And that is considering only the _good_ sense of "overturned." Back on the pessimistic side, Wesley J. Smith has mentioned several times in the last year or so that the increasingly radical justices on the Supreme Court may well yearn to "overturn" Roe and Casey in a very different sense--that is, overturn the few restrictions and regulations that those decisions _do_ permit on abortion. This would mean enacting the old FOCA bill, which failed (probably not a lot of people remember the attempt to pass FOCA), as an act of judicial fiat, striking down parental consent, waiting periods, requirements for physician privileges at local hospitals, ultrasound laws, requirements for documentation of "health" exception abortions, etc.

So there is unpredictability that can go both good ways and bad, which is why above all we must do the task that lies before us.

I used to think the radicals who showed what abortion actually looks like and does to the child to be fools, but after learning a little about dialectic versus rhetoric I think we won't win the fight by focusing on the intellectual as much as the emotional. Stalin said (paraphrasing) the death of one man is a tragedy and the death of a million is a statistic. We need to not pull any punches, especially with women. They need to see ugliness, the pain, the misery and the loss. There is nothing good or joyful in abortion so focusing on its ugliness is simply focusing on the truth. The truth is, it's murder and a murder that makes most first degree murders look tame by comparison.

I'm not at all opposed either in principle or in fact to using graphic pictures of abortion victims. There are both men and women who would learn something from it if they would allow themselves to learn rather than telling themselves that this is "just emotion." I have defended a student who got in exaggerated trouble with her Christian college for showing graphic pictures when the administration had told her not to. The decision of whether to show such pictures is entirely a matter of prudence and context. There is no one right answer that fits all occasions as to whether making use of them is right or wrong.

Here's an improvement. I did not actually see this myself, but my daughter reports that the one place where they had these graphic signs, they also had warning signs, adjacent to the pictures but more visible, so a person could avoid looking at the pics or could block a child's looking at them.

Bless you Lydia.

I am new to the battle -- indeed, I must hang my head in shame for my misplaced youth when I (a) didn't give the issue much thought one way or another and (b) foolishly bought into some of the lies of the pro-aborts.

There are two quick thoughts that should encourage you. One is that even when I wasn't doing much careful thinking about abortion, I suspect that the natural law was compelling to me -- the moral law written on my heart as it were. I think that without the sophistry and pressure from the other side, there is a natural inclination in people of goodwill to understand that an unborn fetus is a human-being that should not be disposed of as if it were some sort of cancer in a woman's body. Second, when I did start thinking about the issue seriously, it was people like you at this website (and Robbie George and Francis Beckwith) who helped me understand the gravity of the issue and what was at stake. Not to mention what a travesty the Supreme Court made of the law when it decided Roe v. Wade. So rational arguments are compelling and do change minds, or at least help move them along when they might be confused.

I'm glad to join you now in lighting the "fire of love" as you put it, and helping people stop this terrible injustice against all those unborn lives defenseless in wombs all across America.

Thank you, Jeff, that is a great encouragement indeed.

Christians are shy about taking up the rhetorical offensive. One approach that I like can be found here.

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