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On the 48th Anniversary of Legal Abortion in America, We Must Use Love to End Abortion

Signs outside the Supreme Court during the March for Life rally, January 27, 2017. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

On Wednesday, I was watching Joe Biden’s inauguration. I was appreciating George W. and Laura Bush, Dick Cheney, and others who probably weren’t the biggest Biden for President or Trump for President supporters being there. I was glad Mike Pence was there. It all seemed a sign of peace and unity. And then the new president talked about humility and tolerance and seemed to respect the people in the country who didn’t support him.

I noticed Kamala Harris was wearing purple, a penitential color, which seemed to be appropriate (even if she was wearing it for different reasons). Right and Left have been complicit in adding to the violence in our society with both words and politics. Recriminations on the Right are ongoing. Does the Democratic Party realize that if they let there be room in their party for pro-lifers, Donald Trump as president may have never happened?

Today is a grave day. The 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. Abortion was legalized at once during all three trimesters of pregnancy. A war was declared between mother and child. It was so dehumanizing and has forever made us a more violent culture. I do not believe, as some seem to, that we’re going to see the end of Roe because of Trump judges — as wonderful as that would be for humanity. Our law teaches something awful for a near half-century. But does anyone think that the country is ready for the reversal of Roe? On this day, and throughout next week on the march to the virtual March for Life, we should all recommit ourselves to being light on this issue, knowing and sharing resources and walking with women.

On January 22, I frequently reread an old Fr. Richard John Neuhaus National Right to Life convention speech, which includes:

We shall not weary, we shall not rest, until every unborn child is protected in law and welcomed in life. We shall not weary, we shall not rest, until all the elderly who have run life’s course are protected against despair and abandonment, protected by the rule of law and the bonds of love. We shall not weary, we shall not rest, until every young woman is given the help she needs to recognize the problem of pregnancy as the gift of life. We shall not weary, we shall not rest, as we stand guard at the entrance gates and the exit gates of life, and at every step along the way of life, bearing witness in word and deed to the dignity of the human person—of every human person.

Like John Paul II’s Evangelism Vitae (“The Gospel of Life”), it expresses great love for the mother and child. And we never stop loving the mother.

Making my own the words of the concluding message of the Second Vatican Council, I address to women this urgent appeal: “Reconcile people with life”. You are called to bear witness to the meaning of genuine love, of that gift of self and of that acceptance of others which are present in a special way in the relationship of husband and wife, but which ought also to be at the heart of every other interpersonal relationship. The experience of motherhood makes you acutely aware of the other person and, at the same time, confers on you a particular task: “Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life, as it develops in the woman’s womb … This unique contact with the new human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude towards human beings not only towards her own child, but every human being, which profoundly marks the woman’s personality”. A mother welcomes and carries in herself another human being, enabling it to grow inside her, giving it room, respecting it in its otherness. Women first learn and then teach others that human relations are authentic if they are open to accepting the other person: a person who is recognized and loved because of the dignity which comes from being a person and not from other considerations, such as usefulness, strength, intelligence, beauty or health. This is the fundamental contribution which the Church and humanity expect from women. And it is the indispensable prerequisite for an authentic cultural change.

I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.

You cannot be pro-life without loving the mother and the child. We must love an end to abortion, not just fight in law and public policy.

I had to stop listening to President Biden’s inaugural speech because I got a call from someone asking me to walk to a nearby abortion clinic to greet a woman who is pregnant with a 1:30 abortion appointment. The point of me going over was to say hello and offer her help once more — she had reached out for help, but seemed to be under some pressure. The good news is she never showed up and people are trying to help her. But many other women went in, and some of them seemed to have no idea that there was an alternative for them, shocked as they seemed when a young man said there is help and even free housing for them if they want to have their babies.

On this day, the president of the United States who quotes JPII when convenient reaffirmed, three days into his administration, his commitment to expanding abortion. Women deserve better. America is better.

Donald Trump had some life-affirming and protecting policies in a harsh package. That may have done tremendous damage to the work of changing hearts and minds.

Please join me in praying in penance and reparation for so much unnecessary violence and death — and for conversion miracles, now.

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