Last week marked the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the infamous Supreme Court Case that legalized abortion. Recently released statistics show that since that landmark decision, 55 million unborn babies have been aborted. To paraphrase Josef Stalin, one abortion is a tragedy, 55 million is a statistic. These numbers are incomprehensible and so too is the emotional toll to those involved in the taking of a human life – abandonment, loneliness, guilt, loss, regret, anger and depression.
After 40 years, the media owe it to the American public to tell the truth about the activists on both sides of the debate. For years they portrayed pro-choice activists as crusaders for women’s health and freedom and the pro-life movement as mountaintop moralizers with judges who are singularly focused on forcing women to do what they think is right without concern for the difficult circumstances far too many women are forced to confront.
It is true that pro-lifers stand outside of abortion clinics in hopes of talking and praying with expectant mothers about the consequences of the deadly decision they have made. In between conversations, they pray for those inside. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the concern for the mother and her child. In the past 20 years, there has been an explosion of free clinics started by people of faith that receive no government funds and provide supportive services to women before and after pregnancy. It’s not just about counseling and prayer; it’s also about clothing, diapers, wipes, toys and, in some cases, food and housing are provided to mothers and their babies.
But most of all, these clinics are about unconditional love. All over the country, pro-life activists are there for the unborn child and her mother, not to mention support for the fathers who are on hand. Unconditional love means that these pregnancy centers are not just there for mothers and their children, they are there to love, counsel and support even the mothers who have taken the life of their child through abortion.
Contrast that with the abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood that receive significant government funding. They provide counseling to encourage abortion, which they then provide for a profit. They refuse to help women who choose life and make money on those who choose death. It isn’t about health and freedom, and it certainly isn’t about love.
The insensitivity to the inherent dignity of all human life that Roe v. Wade spawned didn’t begin and end with abortion. We see it the drive for euthanasia and at the bedside of the chronically ill and severely disabled. Anyone attending the March for Life Friday could hear from the speeches and see from the crowd that the pro-life movement is about more than abortion. As three of our children walked with me and Karen in the annual March for Life on a bitter cold day, we were encouraged by all of the young people there. But we were truly inspired by the people marching in wheelchairs and coping with other disabilities.
Our special girl, Bella, was home that day, but she has blessed us with a keen appreciation that the March for Life is about fighting for those marginalized by society, the very old, the chronically ill and the severely disabled. Through the eyes of love, we see these people for the blessing they are and not as useless or a drain on our society’s precious resources. Before these past four years with her, I didn’t have a clue about the blessing she would be for our family. Bella has Trisomy 18, a condition the medical literature concludes is “incompatible with life.” Sadly, it is true that 90 percent of these children die at or before birth, many by abortion. Only one in 10 that survive birth see their first birthday, in part because parents often have to fight the medical establishment to receive care for their children, and pro-life disability groups are there to help.
Many in our society believe children like Bella, as well as other disabled and severely ill people of all ages, have lives that are not worth living and are troubled by the medical resources they consume even for routine care. Admittedly, caring for a person with a severe disability can be a great challenge on many levels, but embracing Bella for who she is has made us better people and enriched the lives of everyone she touches.
For someone who has been fighting in the pro-life trenches for 20 years, our experience with Bella has opened my eyes to another sad reality – the prejudices in our society toward people with cognitive and physical disabilities, particularly in the medical community. That prejudice will only get worse as the disabled become an even bigger cost center for the government under Obamacare.
On this anniversary, the media has by and large acknowledged that the pro-life movement is slowly winning the hearts and minds of Americans. Let me tell you why. Yes, we are winning because what we stand for is true, but we are doing it with love.
I implore you to join us to stand beside the disabled, the sick, the unwanted, the unloved as well as the confused and desperate young woman struggling to decide what to do about her unplanned pregnancy. Join the movement that history will teach spoke truth and love to power for more than 40 years and never faltered, even when it looked hopeless.
March with us for a society that welcomes and loves all of God’s children, no matter who they are or what they can do for us or themselves. You and America will be better for it.