A Pro-Life Moment
5/1/2017by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson
The United States has an unprecedented opportunity to halt Roe v. Wade’s legacy of abortion on demand
PRO-LIFE AMERICANS now face a historic opportunity. Not since the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973 has the United States government had so many high-ranking officials who are pro-life.
Consider this: The House majority leader and the speaker of the House are strongly pro-life. So are the Senate majority leader and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Both the president and the vice president as well as 17 members of their cabinet are pro-life.
Just three days after the inauguration, President Trump signed a presidential memorandum reinstating the Mexico City Policy, which requires that, as a condition for receiving U.S. foreign aid, nongovernmental organizations agree to neither perform nor promote abortion. Then, several days before the March for Life, the House of Representatives passed Rep. Chris Smith’s “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”
Vice President Pence went from meeting pro-life leaders and speaking at the March for Life to later casting the tie-breaking vote to pass legislation overturning an Obama administration rule blocking states from defunding Planned Parenthood.
The pro-life agenda has had an important place in the first 100 days of the new administration and the new Congress. But that agenda is far from complete.
The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, issued by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in 2004, describes the right to life as “the first right” (155) and states: “Promoting human dignity implies above all affirming the inviolability of the right to life, from conception to natural death, the first among all rights and the condition for all other rights of the person” (553).
Last August, during our Supreme Convention in Toronto, I stated that we can never hope to build a true culture of life and civilization of love as long as the legal regime of abortion mandated by Roe v. Wade remains in effect — a regime that has resulted in the deaths of an estimated 60 million unborn children in the United States since 1973.
As the Compendium affirms, “The immediate purpose of the Church’s social doctrine is to propose the principles and values that can sustain a society worthy of the human person” (580). And Pope Francis in his encyclical on “care for our common home,” Laudato Si’, speaks of the need to “safeguard the moral conditions for an authentic human ecology” and to provide the poor with the “right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity.”
The civilization of love rests on respect for the equal dignity and right to life of every person. Human dignity goes beyond abortion. But the right to life is not only a foundation; it can also be a common ground to a broader engagement with society.
Our Knights of Columbus/Marist polling on abortion has consistently shown that strong majorities of Americans support significant restrictions on abortion. And on some questions, these majorities include majorities of those who describe themselves as “pro-choice.”
On Jan. 22, the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Pope Francis stated, “The Church must never tire of being an advocate for life and must not neglect to proclaim that human life is to be protected unconditionally from the moment of conception until natural death.” He went on to encourage participants of the March for Life “to work tirelessly for the building of a civilization of love and a culture of life.”
Today, we have in America a new pro-life moment. Now is the time for Catholics and other pro-life Americans to seize this moment to turn the corner on the legacy of Roe v. Wade.
The political stars are aligning in a way as to make change possible. It is time to take up the challenge of Pope Francis to work tirelessly for the building up of a culture of life by advocating for the unborn.
If we do not, then in the words of Shakespeare, “the fault … is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”