Anniversary of Roe, glimmers of hope

Friday, 20 January 2017

Jan. 22 marks the 44th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton. As I have written, this anniversary is bittersweet. While we mourn the 60 million unborn lives that have been taken since Roe, we push forward in trust that the ultimate victory is the Lord’s. 

As we seek to overturn Roe, it is imperative that we recognize that law follows culture. To put it another way, law is downstream from culture. Culture has a priority over the law. Law may dictate what it desires, but a society whose culture is unprepared to receive the law will prove the law ineffective. 

On this year’s anniversary of Roe, I would suggest reflecting on the ways that you engage the culture in order to bring about a greater respect for the unborn child. For me, these engagements with culture are glimmers of hope as faithful advocates push back on Roe and the Supreme Court’s morally bankrupt abortion jurisprudence. I wanted to stop and share a few glimmers of hope from recent pro-life activities that brought joy to me as our culture of life pushes back on the culture of death. 

Attendance at the Pro-Life Mass and Nebraska Walk for Life. As I am every year, I was edified last Saturday by the turnout of faithful pro-life advocates that attend both the pro-life Mass and Nebraska Walk for Life. The number of attendees is usually around 5,000 people, and this year was no different. 

These events are tremendous signs of solidarity—a diversity of people uniting to promote the common good and supreme dignity of human life. As the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church articulates, it is “structures of solidarity”—which seek to modify laws and juridical systems—that overcome the “structures of sin” that exist within our society. 

The Mass and Walk, then, become visible events where members of society selflessly and sacrificially stand up for the voiceless and those hurting from abortion. These events are a prophetic witness to the fact that life is gift, and it is given by our most benevolent God.

Hidden (Fruitful) Conversations. After the Nebraska Walk for Life, I left the student union and headed south to the origins of the Walk to fetch my car and go home to my lovely wife and baby girl. As I left, I noticed that the pro-abortion, counter-protestors were still meandering across the street with their signs, many of which were painted with vulgar, offensive messages.

But there was something different as I walked by. Nearly each of the counter-protestors remaining (about a dozen of them) was accompanied by a number of college-aged pro-lifers. The pro-lifers had courageously, actively, and respectfully engaged the counter-protestors in conversations about the issue of abortion.

Their outreach reminded me of the words spoken earlier in the day by Senator Ben Sasse to “move the culture by persuasion” and “not in shouting people down, but in engaging people.” 

Renewed Energy. A friend of mine has been undertaking a variety of pro-life efforts. My friend was caught up in a number of tasks that were certainly meaningful, but also somewhat removed from the day-to-day efforts in the trenches of the pro-life movement (e.g., praying outside the abortion clinic, assisting at pregnancy resource centers, engaging in conversations with pro-abortion advocates). This led my friend to feel a bit burdened and out-of-touch. 

However, my friend shared about a moment of renewal when they came into contact with a post-abortive woman who was seeking healing and counseling. This one encounter reinvigorated my friend’s other pro-life efforts and put those efforts in perspective.

Take-Away. As I offer just a few examples, I am confident each of you could add many more. It is these encounters in the day-to-day of life, oftentimes carried out in the quietness of life when nobody else is looking, that will ultimately bring about a society that properly values life. And it will be this society that not only overturns Roe, but no longer has any need or desire for Roe. Prayerfully engage the culture!