2019 March for Life participants stand in front of the Supreme Court Jan. 18. One participant holds a sign from Right to life of Northeast Ohio with the 2019 march theme “Unique from day one.” Photograph by Krystyna Swierczewski.

Equal rights for unborn women

Originally Appeared in : 9903-1/31/19

On Dec. 8, 1941, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously called Dec. 7 “a date which will live in infamy” because of Japan’s “sneak attack” on Pearl Harbor that took the lives of some 2,500 American servicemen.


I began writing this column on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, the 46th anniversary of another date that lives in infamy, Jan. 22, 1973. On that date, the U.S. Supreme Court carried out a sneak attack on Americans’ right to life, by arrogating to the judiciary the legislative power to ban or restrict the killing of unborn children in their mothers’ wombs.   


The body count of Roe v. Wade so far is 60 million innocent American children (including approximately 30 million girls), 10 times the number of innocent European Jews slaughtered in Hitler’s holocaust. Abortion quickly became the leading cause of death in the United States and remains so to this day.


By effectively legalizing abortion on demand, the court affirmed the “culture of death” that is expanding to include euthanasia (“physician assisted suicide”). To counter this culture of death, the Church has articulated its position on the defense of life from conception to natural death in such magisterial documents as the Encyclical Letters Humanae Vitae (“Human Life”) of Pope Saint Paul VI in 1968 and Evangelium Vitae (“The Gospel of Life”) of Pope Saint John Paul II in 1995.


It is important to note that this stalwart defense of the intrinsic value of each and every human life, created in the image and likeness of God, also accords with science, especially genetics. 


From the moment of conception, we all have our unique DNA, to which our father and mother each contribute 23 chromosomes, which will not change until our death (and can even survive in some tissues after death). Our 46 chromosomes make us human beings and not, for example, zebras, from the conception of our first unique cell we are alive—“manifestly alive and demonstrably human.” The anti-life activists, who go by the euphemistic name “pro-choice,” lie about both the humanity of the fetus and its separate life. 


It was both sad and interesting to observe the mainstream media’s coverage of last Friday’s March for Life and Saturday’s Women’s March in Washington. The March for Life was much larger, but was generally ignored as it always has been by the media, except for the bizarre coverage of an encounter between some male and mostly—but not entirely—white Covington Catholic High School students taking part in the March for Life and two groups of protesters, one black and one Native American, shouting vulgarities and banging drums. A brief Twitter feed of a two-hour encounter went viral and the media jumped to the conclusion that the boys were at fault. Death threats ensued. When the full video did not support that conclusion, even some pro-choice voices “walked back” their comments, while others did not.


The irony that the Women’s March had excluded pro-life women, who support equal rights for all women, not yet born as well as already born, was lost on the media.  


On Jan. 22 this year, I vividly recalled the shock of learning of Roe v. Wade between theology classes at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome on January 23, 1973, the day after the infamous decision was rendered in the U.S. One of my classmates had heard it on the radio. I felt sick to my stomach. I drafted an open letter to the Supreme Court and tried to round up as many signatures as I could from my fellow seminarians and sent it by registered mail, and then joined a pro-life circle of American expatriates who were concerned about the anti-life propaganda then pouring into Italy from the United States—the same slick posters translated into Italian. The one that still sticks in my mind showed a fierce looking woman with the motto “Da ora in poi, lo decido io” (“From now on, I decide”). Five years later, the propaganda had had its desired effect and the Italian people, overwhelmingly Catholic—at least nominally—legalized abortion on demand during the first trimester of pregnancy in a referendum. (The notion of the state having no right to intervene in the first three months, then a slight right to do so in the second trimester, and some right to intervene in the third had been made up out of whole cloth by the U.S. Supreme Court and had spread like a cancer throughout the developed world.)


It is time to wake up to the lies of the culture of death and to proclaim the Gospel of Life and Truth, for the sake of all women—and all men—not yet born as well as already delivered.


Father Douglas K. Clark is pastor of Saint Matthew Church, Statesboro.

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