6 Pro-Life Catholics Speak as Roe Anniversary Approaches

“I survived Roe vs. Wade. Roe vs. Wade will not survive me.”

Clockwise, from upper left: Fr. John Raphael, Joe Scheidler, Bishop Michael Burbidge, Melissa Ohden, Archbishop Joseph Naumann, Bryan Kemper
Clockwise, from upper left: Fr. John Raphael, Joe Scheidler, Bishop Michael Burbidge, Melissa Ohden, Archbishop Joseph Naumann, Bryan Kemper (photo: Register Files)

The 46th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision striking down the nation’s abortion laws is approaching, as is the 46th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Friday. I asked six prominent Catholics who have been active in speaking up for the rights of the unborn to share their thoughts on abortion, the Roe anniversary and the March for Life.


Joe Scheidler, 91, founder of the Pro-Life Action League

When he learned of the Roe decision in 1973: “I couldn’t believe our country had sunk so low as to legalize abortion.”

Scheidler’s message in traveling to 48 states in the decades since Roe: “I say abortion is murder, the abortionist is violating his Hippocratic Oath, and we need to work hard to stop abortion.”

On the help his Catholic faith provides in fighting for life: “I couldn’t go on without it. We see ourselves as fighting for God.”


Bryan Kemper, Youth Outreach Director for Priests for Life and operator of the pro-life website www.standtrue.com

“This is the generation that will abolish abortion … As one of the t-shirts we sell proclaims, ‘I survived Roe vs. Wade. Roe vs. Wade will not survive me.”

“Science, including 3D and 4D technology, is on our side. The other side is admitting that the unborn child is a human being, they just say abortion is a ‘woman’s right’ or that it’s about a ‘war on women.’”


Michael Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington, Virginia

The bishop has been a regular participant over the years in the January March for Life in Washington, D.C., including spiritual events surrounding it. He said, “I’m grateful to the older people, the pillars of the March, who have been [protesting the Roe v. Wade decision] for many years. I’m also grateful to the many young people who have joined the March. They have to make some sacrifices to participate—the weather can sometimes be bad—but their presence sends a message that life is sacred. It bodes well for the future.”


Joseph Naumann, Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas and incoming Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference Committee on Pro-Life Activities

“… the pro-life issue has been, and remains, one of the paramount moral issues that the Church tries to give some guidance on to our own people, as well as society at large.”

“My own father was murdered before I was born. It was in December 1948, and I was just three months along inside my mother’s womb. So, I was part of a crisis pregnancy, in a sense, even though it was a different culture at the time. As the issue evolved, and became an issue in our culture today, my personal background gave me a greater sensitivity to women facing a pregnancy under traumatic circumstances.”

“… I like to point out that what makes abortion so particularly destructive is that it not only takes the life of a child, but scars the family, because the abortion occurs in the womb, the one place where life should be most protected.”

“… it was really the U.S. Supreme Court that created the problem, usurping the role of the states to create public policy in these areas. I think that we have some hope that we can change the composition of the Supreme Court. Also, when you look at the data since the time I was first involved in the pro-life fight, more Americans have become pro-life, particularly among the young. They’ve lived with the tragedy of abortion, and understand how bad it is. I’ve seen evidence of this myself, when I participate in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., it’s become dominated by young people.”


Fr. John Raphael, Diocese of Nashville

He became active in the prolife movement after seeing Dr. Bernard Nathanson’s 1984 pro-life film The Silent Scream. He said, “I realized that I couldn’t just be personally pro-life, but had to be actively involved.”

Father, who is black, has led groups to participate in the March for Life. Stressing that his approach is non-partisan, he said, “I’m trying to bring about a deep appreciation among African-Americans about the humanity of the unborn. It’s been difficult, as most African-Americans have a big commitment to the Democrat party.”

Father said that while he hasn’t seen a significant change among blacks publicly about the issue, “people are troubled about it. They have more internal conflict. That’s a good thing.”

Currently hampering his efforts, he said, is that among blacks, the pro-life position is “too closely aligned with the Republican Party.”

Nonetheless, he said he plans to continue his efforts because “we must translate our belief in the sanctity of life into laws which protect the unborn.”


Abortion survivor Melissa Ohden, 41, survivor of a saline abortion (www.melissaohden.com)

“… by the grace of God, I’m alive. [The abortion] failed and I was born alive. I have the medical records that say that.”

“… Mine was a late-term abortion. I should have been delivered as a deceased child, scalded in the womb. But, after I gasped for breath, a nurse wasn’t going to leave me to die. She rushed me to the NICU.”

“It’s an important time to be active politically, because there is a lot going on. Life is forefront and center. It is important that we stand up as witnesses for life, and encourage each other.”