Stand Against Death
Even as participants in the March for Life return home from a chilly 25th annual visit to Washington, D.C., abortionists throughout the nation continue their lethal but lucrative trade to kick-off the next quarter-century's statistics on prenatal deaths.
If statistics hold, more than 700 pre-born babies perished in the United States during the four hours of the Jan. 22 March for Life program and walk from the Ellipsise to Capitol Hill.
Take heart, though. Nothing lessens the essential value of witness and sacrifice by millions of Americans who strive through prayer, action, works, and free speech to bring this national tragedy to an end. And nothing lessens the victory for human life that will come, sooner or later, if pro-lifers don't quit.
It has been quoted many times, but Mother Teresa's response to those who said her work for the poor was futile remains valid: “We are not called to be successful, but to be faithful to the Word and will of God.”
Mother Teresa tried to reach one person at a time. In doing this, she was both faithful and successful. Perhaps everyone who marched in Washington or elsewhere Jan. 22 did indeed save one life from destruction. An unknown woman who planned to have an abortion may have thought hard and been moved to change her mind after hearing word of a march on a car radio, or in a conversation.
Faithful Catholics and others who recognize the intrinsic evil of abortion can take solace in knowing had they not spoken out, marched, prayed, and worked these many years for the preservation of innocent human life, the staggering volume of tragic deaths would be worse-and the future darker.
Only perseverance and faithfulness will help the nation overcome the evil of abortion-just as it overcame the evil of slavery, which lasted far longer than 25 years. Among the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit is strength, or “fortitude.” That strength includes spiritual and moral perseverance. It demands that we remain faithful and not fret about what may sometimes seem a fruitless effort. In the long haul, fortitude promises success, as does full adherence in faithfulness to the Word and will of God.
Perhaps the particularly egregious act of “partial-birth” abortion may become the issue on which abortion-on-demand turns, and falls. For the first time, it appears, the scales have fallen, at least somewhat, from the eyes of many who consider themselves pro-choice.
What we allow ourselves to see as evil we will, if honest, be forced in time to acknowledge as evil. But like the three monkeys carved near the entrance to the temple at Nikko, some will neither see, hear, nor speak out against the obvious evil, lest in seeing they must believe, and in believing they must act either for good or for evil. That is the true reality of “choice.” Deuteronomy clearly states that we have been shown life and death, blessing and curse. It is up to us to choose life if we expect ourselves and those who will come after us to live. Ultimately it's not such a difficult choice at all.
The abortion question spills over into all other areas of life. We move rapidly down the slope from selective deaths of our own next generation, to physician-assisted suicide today, and, inexorably, to selected non-voluntary euthanasia tomorrow.
In one of his finest novels, the late Catholic writer and physician Walker Percy spoke troubling words through the mouth of his physician protagonist: “You are a member of the first generation of doctors in the history of medicine to turn their backs on the Oath of Hippocrates and kill millions of old useless people, unborn children, born malformed children, for the good of mankind-and to do so without a single murmur of protest from one of you.”
If we choose life, as we say we do, we must continue to speak out unceasingly for the dignity and protection of all human life from conception to natural death. In that, lies our own survival and that of our children.
Drew DeCoursey is the author of Lifting the Veil of Choice, a book of essays on abortion. He works with Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity at a soup kitchen in Newark, N.J., and at an AIDS hospice in Manhattan.
- January 25, 1998