The 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision striking down the nation’s abortion laws is approaching.  I asked six prominent Catholic pro-life activists to share their thoughts on Roe and the fight for the right to life for the unborn.

 

Judie Brown of the American Life League

Brown said she was “stunned” when Roe was announced in 1973.  The thought of the Court striking down the nation’s anti-abortion laws “never entered our consciousness,” she said.  “We were horrified.  Nobody believed it.  It boggled the mind.” 

Regarding the status of the fight today, she said, “Many of us on the pro-life side have done a lousy job educating the public about what happens when an abortion occurs.  Abortion is not merely a political issue.  It is the act of killing an unborn child.”

Brown’s Catholic faith has been a key motivator in her decades of fighting for life, she noted.  She is a daily communicant, and remarked, “I couldn’t do it if I wasn’t close to Christ and the Blessed Sacrament.”

 

Chris Slattery, founder and director of EMC (Expectant Mother Care) Frontline Pregnancy Centers in New York City (www.emcfrontline.org)

Slattery said, “On this anniversary of Roe, each of us must reflect on whether we’re doing enough for this critically important cause.  Are we doing enough to reach out to young mothers in our communities?”

Fighting for life in the Big Apple is a challenge he admitted: “New York City is a hard place in which to do pro-life work. Hearts are hardened, and the political environment is extremely left wing … they’ve done everything they can to crush our movement.  It’s a hellishly anti-life environment.”

 

Robert George, constitutional scholar, Princeton University

George believes that there is a possibility that Roe will be overturned, because “[Roe] is widely regarded, even among liberal academics, as poorly reasoned – at best.”

He recommended the issue be presented as “a matter of justice and fundamental human rights.”  He continued, “Like slavery, it is a matter of natural justice.  To uphold that principle and insist on it in our political practice is not to ‘impose religious dogma,’ it is to fulfill our basic moral obligations as a society dedicated to ‘liberty and justice for all.’”

 

Archbishop of Denver Samuel Aquila

Archbishop Aquila has long been a champion of the pro-life cause, and has prayed outside of abortion clinics for the end of abortion.  Before going to seminary, he worked as an orderly in a Boulder, Colorado hospital in the early 1970s.  Colorado was among the first U.S. states to liberalize its abortion laws.  He recalled an incident in which a woman who had had an “incomplete abortion” was brought into the facility (he and the staff at the hospital had not been involved in the abortion, just aiding the woman afterward).  He said, “It was there I first saw the remains of an unborn child, about three and a half months along.  It really impacted me.  It was impressed in my mind and my heart and that this was a human life.  It had now been forever destroyed.  Ever since then I’ve been outspoken on human life issues, and tried to help people to understand the dignity of human life.”

The Roe decision, he said, was “very disappointing,” as it “it opened up the floodgates and we’ve had millions of abortions since. Some, as in the case of partial birth abortion, are, in fact, infanticide.”

The Archbishop has been supportive of the 40 Days for Life campaign to end abortion, and has encouraged priests working under him to get involved as well.  At times, he’s seen abortion-minded women change their minds, or “sometimes we see the fruits of our efforts later, such as when women participate in our Project Rachel program to recover from the abortion experience.  These women experience forgiveness and the healing presence of Our Lord through prayer and the sacramental life of the Church, including Reconciliation and Eucharist.  They come to know the mercy of God.  Not only is the aborted child a victim of abortion, but often the mother herself.  Many post-abortive women tell us they were not told the truth about abortion, and that they didn’t fully understand what was happening.”

 

Gloria Purvis, pro-life activist

Purvis has been active in the pro-life movement in the Washington, DC area.  She began her activism after an experience at Mass. Once, while reciting the Creed, she reflected on the phrase, “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life…”  She said, “I was struck by the gravity of that statement.  We’re saying it in front of heaven, and those words have consequences.  We cannot be silent about abortion and contraception.”

When she speaks on the Gospel of Life in the black community, she often finds receptive ears.  She noted, “People are often uninformed on life issues.  If I, for example, talk about what a gruesome procedure abortion is, people are horrified, even priests.  They don’t really consider what happens with abortion.”

 

Dr. Anthony Levatino, former abortionist turned pro-life activist

Dr. Levatino gave up performing abortions after an accident claimed the life of his daughter.  Today, he’s grieved by his past.  He said, “I’ve had a complete and utter change of heart.  I’m horrified by it.  I killed 1,200 kids.”

Today, he speaks to high school groups, and is pleased to see more students self-identifying as pro-life.  He noted, “I start by asking the kids, how many of you consider yourselves pro-life?  When I started giving these talks 25 years ago, maybe one hand would go up.  Today, many more do.  The numbers of pro-life teens is definitely increasing.”