Norma McCorvey’s death highlights Jane Roe’s conversion to life

She founded ‘Roe No More’ two decades ago to expose abortion lies.

Just last month, two major marches in Washington DC drew hundreds of thousands of Americans to public demonstrations on both sides of the four decade long battle over the ‘right to abortion’ on demand legalized by the infamous Supreme Court Roe decision. It’s probably safe to say that the vast majority of activists on both sides don’t know who or what Roe was.

Norma McCorvey was the woman named Jane Roe in a 1969 Texas court case challenging that state’s abortion law, a case that went to the Supreme Court as the vehicle to overturn all US state laws in 1973 and ensconce abortion as a right. But McCorvey wasn’t all that involved in the case as even this New York Times article admits.

McCorvey, five months pregnant with her third child, signed an affidavit she claimed she did not read. She just wanted a quick abortion and had no inkling that the case would become a cause célèbre.

Four months later, she gave birth to a daughter and surrendered her for adoption. (Her second child had also been given up for adoption, and her first was being raised by her mother.) She had little contact with her lawyers, never went to court or was asked to testify, and was uninvolved in proceedings that took three years to reach the Supreme Court.

Something most people who even know who she was probably don’t know is that Norma McCorvey never had an abortion. This Times article reports that her mother raised her first child, Norma ‘gave her second child up’ for adoption, and “surrendered” her third child for adoption while her court case was still being heard. But she gave them life. As tough as her life circumstances had been, she gave life to three children and families have grown as a result. She admitted to a local radio station “I think I have always been pro-life. I just didn’t know it.”

Another point coming out of accounts of Norma McCorvey’s life and death is that her conversion from abortion backer to pro-life advocate, from seeker to Christian to baptized Catholic, came as a result of the friendship first encountered with minister Flip Benham, whose “humility disarmed her”, according to this Washington Post piece. She worked in an abortion clinic, he worked next door in a pro-life office.

As McCorvey stood outside smoking…Benham sat down beside her. He apologized for calling her names: “I saw my words drop into your heart, and I know they hurt you deeply.”

McCorvey was taken aback. She excused herself, went inside and cried, she wrote (in her book Won By Love)…

“The war in front of our clinic became a war of love and hatred,” McCorvey wrote in her book.

Love won. Her longtime friends at Priests for Life know her fuller story personally, from working with her in the pro-life movement for over two decades, and receiving her into the Catholic Church. Here’s an account by Fr. Frank Pavone, who knew her best.

She was used for a time as an icon by those in the “pro-choice” movement, but they were plagued by her straightforwardness. On one occasion, when she was being shown a new abortion device, she shocked the clinic administrator by bluntly asking, “Is that what you guys use to suck the children out of their mothers’ wombs?”

Then she began flirting with the truth, a little here and a little there. As St. Peter was brought to repentance at the moment he heard the cock crow, Norma heard several cocks crow. In many instances. it was a normal human event that became a deep interior summons to life. Rev. Flip Benham, the founder of Operation Rescue, apologized to her one day for some unpleasant things he had said on a previous occasion. His admission to her that he, too, was a sinner, opened her eyes to the fact that pro-lifers were not self-righteous.

On another occasion, she was moved by the hug of Emily, the little girl whose invitations to Norma to come to Church finally prevailed upon her. This is significant. Many in the abortion industry fail to recognize the value of the unborn child’s life because they fail to recognize the value of their own lives. The hug and invitations of this little girl gave Norma a message that many others in her life had denied: You are lovable; you are good: your life is valuable.

Conversion is not an easy road. Norma began realizing many things she didn’t like, such as how cold and callous the abortion industry really is, being more concerned for itself than the good of the woman. She even began persuading women not to have the abortions for which they were calling to make an appointment. Little by little, truth drew her in and proved itself more attractive than the abortion industry. Her rediscovery of the value of her own life helped her rediscover the value of the unborn.

That is what the pro-life movement has been about, since Roe v. Wade, it will continue to be the mission of the pro-life movement to be a whole life message of love and care for mothers and their children, and Norma McCorvey dedicated the last decades of her life to ending what Roe wrought, and spreading what she knew from firsthand experience. Which wasn’t abortion.

‘What can language do against the truth of abortion?’

‘Choice’ was always a flimsy cover.

After 44 years of abortion on demand since Roe v. Wade, and tens of millions of human lives never lived and children never known or given a chance to be held, known or loved by their parents or at least one of them, or any family member, or couples eager to adopt, the cost of this violence and the cumulative ravages and drastic loss it left has been realized and mourned.

Of all the articles, columns, commentaries, posts and testimonies that have given voice to the plaintive cry of this awareness, this one sums up as well as any the story of how the ‘pro-choice’ movement came about and grew, and how it started falling apart as revelations came to light of what abortion really is and does. What it takes, and what it leaves behind.

It’s a grim experience, going through an abortion, and we assumed a woman would choose one only as a last resort. We were fighting for that “last resort.” We had no idea how common the procedure would become; today, one in every five pregnancies ends in abortion. Nor could we have imagined how high abortion numbers would climb. In the 43 years since Roe v. Wade, there have been 59 million abortions. It’s hard even to grasp a number that big…

We expected that abortion would be rare. What we didn’t realize was that, once abortion becomes available, it becomes the most attractive option for everyone around the pregnant woman. If she has an abortion, it’s like the pregnancy never existed. No one is inconvenienced…

Abortion can’t really turn back the clock. It can’t push the rewind button on life and make it so that she was never pregnant. It can make it easy for everyone around the woman to forget the pregnancy, but the woman herself may struggle. When she first sees the positive pregnancy test she may feel, in a panicky way, that she has to get rid of it as fast as possible. But life stretches on after abortion, for months and years — for many long nights — and all her life long she may ponder the irreversible choice she made.

Frederica Matthewes-Green captures the gamut of abortion emotions, lies and truths, activism and realism in a keenly exquisite expression of the impact of abortion.

This issue gets presented as if it’s a tug of war between the woman and the baby. We see them as mortal enemies, locked in a fight to the death. But that’s a strange idea, isn’t it? It must be the first time in history when mothers and their own children have been assumed to be at war. We’re supposed to picture the child attacking her, trying to destroy her hopes and plans, and picture the woman grateful for the abortion, since it rescued her from the clutches of her child…

Read the article. She asks the intellectually honest question of how we would react to seeing this sort of behavior in nature, in animals, with a mother turning on her own babies.

You would immediately think, “Something must be really wrong in this environment.”

So how did this early pro-choice feminist come to this?

I changed my opinion on abortion after I read an article in Esquire magazine, way back in 1976. I was home from grad school, flipping through my dad’s copy, and came across an article titled “What I Saw at the Abortion.” The author, Richard Selzer, was a surgeon, and he was in favor of abortion, but he’d never seen one. So he asked a colleague whether, next time, he could go along.

Selzer described seeing the patient, 19 weeks pregnant, lying on her back on the table. (That is unusually late; most abortions are done by the tenth or twelfth week.) The doctor performing the procedure inserted a syringe into the woman’s abdomen and injected her womb with a prostaglandin solution, which would bring on contractions and cause a miscarriage. (This method isn’t used anymore, because too often the baby survived the procedure — chemically burned and disfigured, but clinging to life. Newer methods, including those called “partial birth abortion” and “dismemberment abortion,” more reliably ensure death.)

After injecting the hormone into the patient’s womb, the doctor left the syringe standing upright on her belly. Then, Selzer wrote, “I see something other than what I expected here. . . . It is the hub of the needle that is in the woman’s belly that has jerked. First to one side. Then to the other side. Once more it wobbles, is tugged, like a fishing line nibbled by a sunfish.” He realized he was seeing the fetus’s desperate fight for life. And as he watched, he saw the movement of the syringe slow down and then stop. The child was dead. Whatever else an unborn child does not have, he has one thing: a will to live. He will fight to defend his life.

The last words in Selzer’s essay are, “Whatever else is said in abortion’s defense, the vision of that other defense [i.e., of the child defending its life] will not vanish from my eyes. And it has happened that you cannot reason with me now. For what can language do against the truth of what I saw?”

The truth of what he saw disturbed me deeply. There I was, anti-war, anti–capital punishment, even vegetarian, and a firm believer that social justice cannot be won at the cost of violence. Well, this sure looked like violence. How had I agreed to make this hideous act the centerpiece of my feminism? How could I think it was wrong to execute homicidal criminals, wrong to shoot enemies in wartime, but all right to kill our own sons and daughters?

After so much more deeply probing, painful, confessional thought, she concludes…

In time, it’s going to be impossible to deny that abortion is violence against children. Future generations, as they look back, are not necessarily going to go easy on ours. Our bland acceptance of abortion is not going to look like an understandable goof. In fact, the kind of hatred that people now level at Nazis and slave-owners may well fall upon our era. Future generations can accurately say, “It’s not like they didn’t know.” They can say, “After all, they had sonograms.” They may consider this bloodshed to be a form of genocide. They might judge our generation to be monsters. One day, the tide is going to turn. With that Supreme Court decision 43 years ago, one of the sides in the abortion debate won the day. But sooner or later, that day will end.

It’s happening now, and this 44th annual March for Life last weekend adds another element of closure on the lies of more than four decades of abortion activism. These students at the University of Notre Dame expressed in a brief letter to the editor of a student newspaper the core reasons for their pro-life activism, in a message that is whole-life as much as anything.

Why We March.

We march because we believe that abortion is the deliberate and systematic dehumanization of an entire class of people based on their age, wantedness and state of dependency.

We march because we stand against the elimination of human life based on sex, race or disability.

We march because the world that we want for those who are refugees, immigrants, poor, elderly, homeless, disabled, sick or lonely is impossible if we allow the dehumanization of any group of persons, especially vulnerable or defenseless persons.

We march against any human person being considered disposable for the “greater good,” against any deliberate death being justified as a “necessary evil,” against any human life being classified as “negligible.”

We march because we believe what we’ve said before: Dependency is not a measure of worth. No poverty, no vulnerability, no age, no disability, no sickness and no condition has the capability of demeaning the worth of any human person.

We march for a world in which all life is defended and valued, in which all life is considered with the dignity it deserves.

The president of the Notre Dame Right to Life organization and one of the letter writes was on my radio program talking about the more than 710 Notre Dame members attending the DC March for Life as one of many activities the group carries out throughout the year to advocate for the dignity and defense of vulnerable human life.

One new plan they have is to hold roundtables or panel discussions on campus between people who hold pro-life beliefs, and those who believe abortion should remain legal and provided as an option for women in an unwanted pregnancy. The ground rules would be that each would listen to the other, engage with civility, and agree to work together for the common good.

This needs to happen. The Women’s March on Washington a week before the March for Life in DC couldn’t have been more opposite in goals and demonstration of mission. There has got to be some ground on which human rights activists can walk together.

Pro-life movement spreads its message

The mission is to protect all vulnerable human lives.

So the old, unworkable claim that being “anti-abortion” (speaking of old terminology) is ‘single-issue’ activism about just saving babies is as incoherent as the claim that being “pro-choice” is wide-reaching activism about comprehensive care for women in need and their families. You can’t stand for the right to healthcare, free or low-cost contraceptive drugs, the personal right to ‘consult your doctor or minister’ (all of which is so often claimed) or the right to anything else if you can’t or won’t guarantee the right to live in the first place.

That is self-evident. But too may people have deluded themselves in the abortion movement, along with willing and compliant facilitators in media, politics, academia and other opinion shaping positions, it’s now a rescue mission for them as well as babies, mothers, their families and society.

This has gone on for too long to comprehend. The anniversary of Roe v. Wade just passed the 43rd year mark, and the toll is beyond breathtaking. When I see a television special, or coverage of the Washington DC March for Life, and the screen has a ticker in the corner upping the number of babies aborted since the start of that program alone, I panic and want someone to do something to stop this madness that’s so rapidly spiraling out of control. But the only difference between that moment and every other over these decades is that the ticker is right there, on the screen, in full sight, digitally ticking up the numbers to tally the latest toll as fast as abortions are happening.

Here’s a screen full of numbers. Look at any box, especially the one tallying the number of abortions since you loaded the page. From the time I opened it to link it here, to mere minutes later, it showed nearly 700 new abortions worldwide. Watching it tick up is horrifying. Every number is a human life. When I started these last few sentences, I refreshed that page and that one number went back to zero with the reload. On quick glance, it’s already up to 154 and I don’t want to look again at what it’s up to since this sentence was started. (Okay,  I just did, 207.)

I just closed that page, not to have to look again. But see, that’s exactly the point. Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life has always said “America will not reject abortion until America sees abortion.” Out of sight, out of mind. Multiply that toll exponentially by the countries that have legalized abortion (hence the worldwide counts on that abortion ticker page) and the genocide of unborn boys and girls is horrific. And not so out of sight anymore, since the trial of notorious late term abortionist Kermit Gosnell in 2013, and the series of undercover videos documenting Planned Parenthood’s sale of baby body parts that emerged in 2015.

Just about every sentence here calls for further elaboration, and that will come in the days, weeks and months ahead. This is a prominent issue in the American presidential election this year, one among many but a very important one for many candidates still in the race in the GOP, their supporters, and  citizens who may be holding out on politics at the moment, but holding stronger views on protecting innocent, vulnerable human life. Democrats have no candidate running for the presidency who holds pro-life views, and Democrats for Life have to hold their own in the party that has forced their numbers to dwindle.

Amazing, the irony of noting the analogy to The Emperor’s Clothes and calling it obvious.

The 2015 March for Life in DC chose the theme ‘Pro-Life and Pro-Woman Go Hand In Hand’. Fr. Pavone explains:

The real difference between those in the pro-life movement and those in the “abortion rights” movement is not that we love the baby and they love the mother.

The real difference is that they say you can separate the two and we say you can’t.

We love them both. And we are convinced that you cannot serve the mother while destroying her child, and that you cannot save the child without helping the mother.

Much more to come on that.

Prejudice as strong as ever?

It takes many forms, and it snakes its way through cultural relativism. But it’s alive and very active.

The topic is probably worth a book, certainly a long article or series. For purposes of a manageable blog post for now, let’s look at some recent events in light of other related events and see how the pieces fit together to form a picture.

Fr. Robert Barron is the force and the voice behind the Catholicism Series. So he’s an important voice to listen to when he speaks out about some recent anti-Catholic outbursts, and why they should bother everyone.

Last week two outrageously anti-Catholic outbursts took place in the public forum. The first was an article in U.S. News and World Report by syndicated columnist Jamie Stiehm. Ms. Stiehm argued that the Supreme Court was dangerously packed with Catholics, who have, she averred, a terribly difficult time separating church from state and who just can’t refrain from imposing their views on others. Her meditations were prompted by Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s granting some legal breathing space to the Little Sisters of the Poor, who were objecting to the provisions of the HHS mandate. As even a moment’s thoughtful consideration would reveal, this decision hadn’t a thing to do with the intrusion of the “church” into the state, in fact just the contrary. Moreover, the appeal of American citizens (who happen to be Catholic nuns) and the decision of a justice of the Supreme Court in no way constitute an “imposition” on anyone. The very irrationality of Stiehm’s argument is precisely what has led many to conclude that her column was prompted by a visceral anti-Catholicism which stubbornly persists in our society.

Clearly and correctly stated. This is true.

The second eruption of anti-Catholicism was even more startling. In the course of a radio interview, Governor Andrew Cuomo blithely declared that anyone who is pro-life on the issue of abortion or who is opposed to gay marriage is “not welcome” in his state of New York. Mind you, the governor did not simply say that such people are wrong-headed or misguided; he didn’t say that they should be opposed politically or that good arguments against their position should be mounted; he said they should be actively excluded from civil society! As many commentators have already pointed out, Governor Cuomo was thereby excluding roughly half of the citizens of the United States and, presumably, his own father, Mario Cuomo, who once famously declared that he was personally opposed to abortion. Again, the very hysterical quality of this statement suggests that an irrational prejudice gave rise to it.

This needs to be addressed and confronted. Fr. Barron takes us back through historical anti-Catholicism and it’s good to remind Americans of what it was.

But…

What is particularly troubling today is the manner in which this deep-seated anti-Catholicism is finding expression precisely through that most enduring and powerful of American institutions, namely the law. We are a famously litigious society: The law shapes our identity, protects our rights, and functions as a sanction against those things we find dangerous. Increasingly, Catholics are finding themselves on the wrong side of the law, especially in regard to issues of sexual freedom. The HHS mandate is predicated upon the assumption that access to contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs is a fundamental right, and therefore to stand against facilitating this access, as the Church must, puts Catholics athwart the law. The same is true in regard to gay marriage. To oppose this practice is not only unpopular or impolitic, but, increasingly, contrary to legal statute. Already, in the context of the military, chaplains are encouraged and in some cases explicitly forbidden to condemn gay marriage, as this would constitute a violation of human rights.

And this is why the remarks by Andrew Cuomo are especially chilling. That a governor of a major state — one of the chief executives in our country — could call for the exclusion of pro-lifers and those opposed to gay marriage suggests that the law could be used to harass, restrict, and, at the limit, attack Catholics. Further, the attitude demonstrated by the son of Mario Cuomo suggests that there is a short path indeed from the privatization of Catholic moral convictions to the active attempt to eliminate those convictions from the public arena. I would hope, of course, that it is obvious how this aggression against Catholics in the political sphere ought deeply to concern everyone in a supposedly open society. If the legal establishment can use the law to aggress Catholics, it can use it, another day, to aggress anyone else.

Which recalls Martin Niemoller’s ‘First They Came…”

Which precisely gets to the point of the Nazi Holocaust and the belief in ‘lebensunwertens lebens’, or ‘life unworthy of life’, when an entire class of human beings can be denied any human rights when another class has power over them.

And that gets to this past week’s anniversary of Roe v. Wade in America, 41 years of abortion on demand. And President Obama’s remarks to observe that anniversary. And Fr. Barron’s assistant Brandon Vogt taking those remarks to task, challenging the message.

Here’s the message:

Statement by the President on Roe v. Wade Anniversary

Today, as we reflect on the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, we recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health. We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom. And we resolve to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children. Because this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.

Here’s Brandon Vogt’s challenge:

Though relatively short, the President’s statement is packed with several confusing assertions. I’d like to respond to some of them:

“[W]e recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health.”

It’s true that every woman should have liberty to make decisions regarding her own body, but not the body of another. Modern embryology affirms that a new human life is created at fertilization (i.e., conception.) Therefore abortion intentionally destroys the life, and thus the body, of an innocent human being. We all should have choices, but nobody should have the freedom to murder anyone else.

“We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care.”

Everyone agrees that women (and men) deserve safe, affordable healthcare. That’s not the question. The question is whether the restrictions put in place by Roe v. Wade constitute healthcare. Unfortunately, they primarily concern the right of mothers to uninhibitedly take the life of their children. It’s not healthcare to disrupt a healthy and normally functioning process (e.g., pregnancy) nor is it healthcare to destroy the health of unborn babies.

“[We reaffirm a woman’s] constitutional right to privacy”

Like many Constitutional rights, the right to privacy is not absolute. In the eyes of the law, what a woman does with her own body in her own environment is her own concern. Yet when her choices threaten the lives of innocent others, the common good trumps her right to privacy. We all intuitively understand this. It’s why we agree that invading drug labs trumps a drug dealer’s right to privacy. The same principle applies here: women have a right to privacy, but not at the expense of innocent lives.

“[We reaffirm a woman’s] right to reproductive freedom.”

I agree! Women should be completely free to reproduce however and, with certain qualifications, wherever and with whomever they will. But Roe v. Wade doesn’t concern reproduction at all. It regards what happens *after* reproduction occurs, after a new, unique, individual human has already been produced by his or her parents. I agree we should promote reproductive freedom but not the freedom to terminate any resulting children.

This is intellectual honesty we seldom see, directed at each line of the president’s remarks. This is engagement we need.

“[We resolve to] support maternal and child health”

I struggle to see how the Roe v. Wade decision supports child health when it seems that 100% of the children it directly affects are no longer alive.

Yet it doesn’t support maternal health either. By violently disrupting a healthy bodily function, abortion leads to increased depression, cancer, mental illness, future pregnancy complications, and more.

Also, note the President’s chilling word choice here. He didn’t resolve to support women’s health, but specifically “maternal” health. The word maternal connotes motherhood, and you can only be a mother if you have a child. This subtle choice insinuates that the President knows well that pregnant mothers carry children, not some abstract clump of cells, and therefore abortion is not a neutral surgical procedure. It involves a mother intending the death of her child.

“[We resolve to] build safe and healthy communities for all our children.

Again, I struggle to see how the Roe v. Wade decision supports children. Abortion doesn’t result in safe and healthy communities for children. It results in less children.

“Because this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.”

I wholeheartedly agree! And that’s why Roe v. Wade should be overturned. The misguided court decision crushes the rights of unborn citizens for the sake of born citizens. It smashes their freedom and opportunity on the altar of false liberty. Everyone in this country deserves the same rights—men, women, and children—especially the smallest and most vulnerable among us.

Argue with that, and you are defending age discrimination, among other class distinctions.

Kermit Gosnell: the back-alley abortionist Roe ensconced

But that’s giving away one of the punchlines of a very lengthy, gut-wrenching, soul-searching article in the Wall Street Journal the other day that, taken together with the commentaries and articles linked within it, is filled with punches to the gut. It may be the best handling of the worst abortion news we’ve heard publicly since the news that the Supreme Court made abortion legal with its Roe decision.

The headline on James Taranto’s article in the WSJ was succinct and apt: From Roe to Gosnell. There is a direct line if you follow the logic of abortion.

This pull quote pretty well sums up the article:

“The reductio ad absurdum of the pro-abortion side is Kermit Gosnell. That is why the Gosnell case has crystallized our view that the current regime of abortion on demand in America is a grave evil that ought to be abolished. It is murderous, if not categorically then at least in its extreme manifestations. Maintaining it requires an assault on language and logic that has taken on a totalitarian character. And it is politically poisonous.”

Don’t think this is some pro-life screed of triumphalism using the horrors committed by notorious Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell as a launching point to vent nearly 40 years worth of pent up angst over fighting the pro-abortion movement.

It’s an alarm bell set off by a former “pro-choice libertarian” journalist from what he himself calls “the mushy middle” on abortion issues. A journalist who’s been making the transition for many years from one position to another, although one who sees the full pro-life position as “a bridge too far” but found in the Gosnell case and subsequent trial the most damning evidence that Roe was really wrong all along.

Using the editorial ‘we’, he explains:

Our path was more cerebral and less visceral. It started with our education in constitutional law. Although we thought abortion on demand was a good policy, we knew how to read, and the Constitution had nothing to say about the matter. We came to view Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that declared otherwise, as a gross abuse of power by the Supreme Court, notwithstanding that it was in the service of a cause we agreed with.

A funny thing happens when you dissent from Roe v. Wade: You come to see that there’s not much else by way of intellectual content to the case for abortion on demand. Roe predates our own political consciousness, so we have to assume there were once stronger arguments. But these days the appeal to the authority of Roe is pretty much all there is apart from sloganeering, name-calling, appeals to self-interest and an emphasis on difficult and unusual cases such as pregnancy due to rape.

Among other things to get from this is the point that a former pro-choice libertarian is writing it and wrestling with the logic of abortion and the truth of following that logic through to its consequences.

When you dissent from Roe v. Wade, you notice that people committed to the pro-abortion side almost never acknowledge that the question of abortion poses a conflict of rights or of legitimate interests. Try to pin them down as to where they’d draw the line–at what point in fetal development does abortion become unacceptable? It’s pretty much impossible.

Right. That is true time and again.

Now here’s an important line that shouldn’t be missed:

Our own moral intuition is that an early-term abortion, or the use of an abortifacient to prevent implantation, is different in kind from a late-term abortion or infanticide.

This is an opening to a good discussion or debate, though Taranto is already open to that. But virtually nobody who considers themselves ‘pro-choice’ will talk honestly about abortifacients at all, much less their role and goal in preventing the implantation of the de facto beginning of a new human life already present at fertilization. Different in ‘kind’ from abortion or infanticide gets into a debate over the difference space and time make in the life of that unique, separate, whole, living human being already present at the moment of conception. Justifying it at one end extends to justifying it at some other end along the human continuum depending on cognitive ability and vulnerability and dependence, etc.

Taranto said as much.

But we concede that intuition is irreconcilable with the scientific fact that the difference between a zygote and an infant–or, for that matter, an adult–is one of degree: All are the same human being at different stages of development…

Any line one could draw between acceptable abortion and homicide would be an arbitrary one.

In fact, he goes on later to say…

The most jaw-dropping example of pro-abortion Orwellianism is the one we cited last week: the fierce objection to the assertion that life begins at fertilization. As we noted, that is a simple statement of scientific fact–a tautology.

Look…

We live in a free society. People have an absolute right to form opinions about matters of public concern, and a nearly absolute right to express those opinions, individually or in concert with others of like mind. “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The Supreme Court, by interpreting (or misinterpreting) the Constitution, has the capacity to impose vast and sweeping changes in the law, as it did when it decided Roe v. Wade. What it cannot do–what it lacks not only the authority but the slightest ability to do–is control people’s thoughts.

The media and politicians and the abortion movement have done that over the decades since Roe. But they are losing their grip. The truth has been coming out. The old arguments aren’t working anymore.

One of the strongest practical arguments in favor of the Roe regime is that abortion has been around since time immemorial and outlawing it only drove it underground, leading women to endanger themselves by seeking out the services of back-alley quacks. The Philadelphia grand jurors recounted a powerful example from their own city’s history.

Pay attention to this.

It was called the Mother’s Day Massacre. A young Philadelphia doctor “offered to perform abortions on 15 poor women who were bused to his clinic from Chicago on Mother’s Day 1972, in their second trimester of pregnancy.” The women didn’t know that the doctor “planned to use an experimental device called a ‘super coil’ developed by a California man named Harvey Karman.”

A colleague of Karman’s Philadelphia collaborator described the contraption as “basically plastic razors that were formed into a ball. . . . They were coated into a gel, so that they would remain closed. These would be inserted into the woman’s uterus. And after several hours of body temperature, . . . the gel would melt and these . . . things would spring open, supposedly cutting up the fetus.”

Nine of the 15 Chicago women suffered serious complications. One of them needed a hysterectomy. The following year, the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade. It would be 37 more years before the Philadelphia doctor who carried out the Mother’s Day Massacre would go out of business. His name is Kermit Gosnell.

Roe at 40

“Picture a football stadium that holds 55,000 people, and then multiply that to 1,000 such filled stadiums, and you’ll have an idea of how many human beings we have lost, how many babies have been killed, since the Roe v. Wade decision 40 years ago.”

That stunning statement left a radio talk show host speechless for a moment, when my guest put a visual to the idea people have long lost sight of in the word ‘abortion.’ Or its terminology.

John Morales is the producer/director of the documentary film 40, a film that “will present the argument that abortion is not merely a religious or political issue but the most important fundamental human and civil rights issue of our times,” he said.

Lila Rose told me the same thing, of course because she has stood for and worked for that belief for a long time in her young life. She’s dynamic, courageous, creative, dedicated and determined to attract people to the truth and beauty of human life and the deception of the abortion industry. Live Action posted this intruiging list of questions to ask and answer on the anniversary of Roe.

FOR ABORTION SUPPORTERS

If there is uncertainty as to when individual life begins, should we error on the side of protecting life or discarding life?

Which right is more fundamental, the right to not be killed or the right to not be pregnant?

Does it concern you that everyone who supports abortion is no longer threatened by it?

Have you considered the fact that the arguments used to justify abortion were once used to justify slavery?

I make that anology a lot, myself. It’s so clear and direct and apt.

There are questions there for pro-life advocates.

If your grandkids ask you someday what you did to combat abortion, will you have anything to tell them?

If an outside observer were to secretly examine your life, specifically how you invest your time and money, would they conclude that abortion is a grave injustice or no big deal?

If all abortion-opponents responded to abortion as you do, would that help or hurt the cause?

Would you be doing more to combat abortion if the lives of your own children hung in the balance?

Is it more important to believe that abortion is wrong or to act like abortion is wrong?

If it was your life that was threatened by fatal violence, would you want advocates who politely held their tongue, or advocates who actually spoke up in your defense?

And more…

A site called The Gospel Coalition posted 64 questions for this anniversary, or presumably any other day people might engage a conversation or debate about abortion. Which is a good idea anytime.

A random sample…

What shall we call the unborn in the womb?

If the entity is a living thing, is it not a life?

So when does a human being have a right to life?

Shall we make intellectual development and mental capacity the measure of our worth?

Are three year-old children less valuable than thirteen year-olds?

Is the unborn child less than fully human because he cannot speak or count or be self-aware?

Does the cooing infant in the crib have to smile or shake your hand or recite the alphabet before she deserves another day?

If an expression of basic mental acuity is necessary to be a full-fledged member of the human community, what shall we do with the comatose, the very old, or the fifty year-old mom with Alzheimer’s?

Eric Metaxas gets down to the bare facts, stripped of euphemism and terminology. Here’s The Naked Evil of Abortion, his commentary at Breakpoint.

The numbers related to abortion are almost anesthetizing to the conscience of America. Since 1973, more than 55 million unborn babies have had their lives snuffed out.

These numbers are so mind-numbing that perhaps we in the pro-life movement may be forgiven if we occasionally forget what those numbers actually mean.

John Morales helped though, with his visual of the thousand football stadiums…

Look if you will, says Metaxas, or look anyway, because you should see.

That’s why we occasionally need a reality check—such as a brand new documentary called “3801 Lancaster.” It’s available for free online, come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and we’ll link you to it. The title refers to the address of an abortion clinic in West Philadelphia that is the site of a scandal so horrific that it’s almost impossible to describe without tears.

The documentary, written and directed by David Altrogge, shows what happened at the so-called Women’s Medical Society over a period of twenty years. That clinic, run by a well-known doctor named Kermit Gosnell and situated in a rough neighborhood, catered to a mostly poor, minority clientele. The documentary shows how the facility, which looks run down on the outside, was a filthy house of horrors on the inside.

Yes, Dr. Gosnell specialized in late-term abortions, but that’s a rather antiseptic description compared with the grisly reality. Walls and beds were stained with blood. Jars were filled with what are gingerly called “fetal remains”—arms, legs, you get the idea. It gets worse, and I hate to be so graphic.

But that’s what it takes for some people to see.

How, you might well ask, did authorities allow this carnage to go on for so many years? According to the grand jury report, the Pennsylvania state department of health, in order to remove “barriers” to abortion, had stopped inspecting abortion clinics. And no one cared anyway, because most of the women were poor and members of minority groups. In fact, “3801 Lancaster” makes it very clear that African-Americans and other minorities are specifically targeted by the abortion industry, making abortion one of the key civil rights issues of our time.

So while numbers are important, indeed inescapable, in the battle for human dignity, sometimes we and our neighbors have to see the naked evil and cruelty of abortion with our own eyes.

The unintended benefit of Roe?

As long as current abortion law is on the books as legalized in the Roe v. Wade decision, it may be providing some new strength to the legal case for conscience protection in health care. Really.

The irony is well elaborated in this opinion piece in LifeNews. Specifically here:

Roe and its successor, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, are perhaps the best known examples of the Court’s use of the concept of “substantive due process” to declare constitutional rights that are not actually written in the Constitution.

The Court has described this analysis as a search for “fundamental rights” that are “deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions.” In Casey, the Court focused less on history and more on personal autonomy and self-definition, finding that the Fourteenth Amendment also protects a person’s right to “define one’s own concept of existence . . . and of the mystery of human life” by choosing whether or not to have an abortion. In short, it is clear that under the Fourteenth Amendment the government cannot compel a woman to abort her own fetus–the question asked here is, can it force her to abort someone else’s?

It’s counter-intuitive, as he says. And startling in its logic.

Pro-lifers have long argued that Roe and Casey were wrongly decided, and that the Supreme Court has no business writing new rights into the Constitution. Nevertheless, a close examination of the Court’s stated test yields a surprising result: the right to refuse to perform an abortion actually has better historical support, and better satisfies the Court’s stated tests, than the abortion right itself. Thus, so long as Roe and Casey remain the law, their reasoning also protects the right of healthcare providers to refuse to participate in abortions.

Good conclusion:

None of this, of course, resolves the long-running debate about the legitimacy of Roe and Casey themselves. But it does suggest that, so long as those cases are the law of the land, they must be understood to provide a constitutional basis for the rights of the other undisputed constitutional “persons” in the operating room–the healthcare providers. For this reason, in an era of increasing government involvement in healthcare, pro-lifers in search of conscience protection may find that revisiting Roe might be just what the doctor ordered.

How’s life in the US?

What irony that the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the March for Life, and the State of the Union all fall in the same week.

It all goes together.

The Constitution requires that the president “reports on the condition of the nation”. The Constitution, in the Fourteenth Amendment, provides the due process clause that Justice Harry Blackmun and the Roe court tortured into a previously unimaginable configuration that stretched the right to privacy into the ‘right’ to abortion. And the Declaration of Independence defined certain rights, especially the “sweeping statement”…that has been called “one of the best-known sentences in the English language” and “the most potent and consequential words in American history”.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

So, how is the state of the union at this point? When the first unalienable right is rescinded by the Supreme Court, and state’s rights to protect it are nullified? When the political party that stands for abortion ‘rights’ is headed by the president who stands on Monday for the protection of abortion rights and on Tuesday in the well of Congress delivering a spectacularly staged and showy speech filled with great clouds of words that included this:

We may have differences in policy, but we all believe in the rights enshrined in our Constitution.

Not anymore. Because abortion policy denies the fundamental right to life, without which other rights have no coherent meaning.

Mother Teresa knew the state of this union better than the politicians who run it, and she stated it in fewer words with more clarity than most of them can.

“America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men.

It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts — a child — as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters”…

Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign.”

So at the end of the day….at the end of the week….we’ve heard virtually nothing from big, secular media about the anniversary of Roe and he massive, impressive and largely youthful March for Life. We’ve heard little else but partisan politics and the SOTU address and President Obama’s theme: Win the Future.

What irony. How can we plan to win the future when we can’t guarantee that there will be one for all human beings?

Rights and Roe

President Obama marked the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in America by restating his commitment to protecting that ‘constitutional right.’

He said the Roe decision affirmed what he called a “fundamental principle that government should not intrude on private family matters.” Trouble is, it actually wasn’t a constitutional right, but one concocted by Justice Harry Blackmun by stretching the right to privacy beyond any historical understanding. And when it was handed down, it intruded on states rights across the country. It has always been called ‘wrongly decided law’, even by liberal, pro-choice scholars and judges.

Look at this lineup. Let’s just look at the first three..

Laurence Tribe — Harvard Law School. Lawyer for Al Gore in 2000.
“One of the most curious things about Roe is that, behind its own verbal smokescreen, the substantive judgment on which it rests is nowhere to be found.”
“The Supreme Court, 1972 Term—Foreword: Toward a Model of Roles in the Due Process of Life and Law,” 87 Harvard Law Review 1, 7 (1973).

Ruth Bader Ginsburg — Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
“Roe, I believe, would have been more acceptable as a judicial decision if it had not gone beyond a ruling on the extreme statute before the court. … Heavy-handed judicial intervention was difficult to justify and appears to have provoked, not resolved, conflict.”
North Carolina Law Review, 1985

Edward Lazarus — Former clerk to Harry Blackmun.
“As a matter of constitutional interpretation and judicial method, Roe borders on the indefensible. I say this as someone utterly committed to the right to choose, as someone who believes such a right has grounding elsewhere in the Constitution instead of where Roe placed it, and as someone who loved Roe’s author like a grandfather.” ….
“What, exactly, is the problem with Roe? The problem, I believe, is that it has little connection to the Constitutional right it purportedly interpreted. A constitutional right to privacy broad enough to include abortion has no meaningful foundation in constitutional text, history, or precedent – at least, it does not if those sources are fairly described and reasonably faithfully followed.”
“The Lingering Problems with Roe v. Wade, and Why the Recent Senate Hearings on Michael McConnell’s Nomination Only Underlined Them,” FindLaw Legal Commentary, Oct. 3, 2002
“[A]s a matter of constitutional interpretation, even most liberal jurisprudes — if you administer truth serum — will tell you it is basically indefensible.”
“Liberals, Don’t Make Her an Icon” Washington Post July 10, 2003.

As Carney says, President Obama’s praise for Roe is unsurprising, given his abortion bona-fides.

But Obama is also a Harvard Law School alumnus, and he used to teach Constitutional law, and so you would think he would see Roe for the embarassing bit of ideologically motivated junk it is.

Archibold Cox did.

“The failure to confront the issue in principled terms leaves the opinion to read like a set of hospital rules and regulations…. Neither historian, nor layman, nor lawyer will be persuaded that all the prescriptions of Justice Blackmun are part of the Constitution”

Marking Roe

The Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion in America turns 38 today. It’s getting old.

The argument for “choice” is losing a significant amount of whatever credibility it had, and it had that as a result of a concerted marketing campaign of deception, truth be told. The cumulative effect of abortion leaders, providers and survivors coming over to the pro-life movement with the gravity of their experience and awareness and witness has been a reversal of public acceptance of abortion laws in recent years.

So did the pro-abortion American president keep a low profile on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade? Not exactly.

President Barack Obama is marking the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on abortion by calling the procedure a constitutional right he’s committed to protecting.

Obama also said in a statement Saturday that he remains committed to policies designed to prevent unintended pregnancies. And he called on Americans to recommit themselves to ensuring that, in the president’s words, “our daughters have the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.”

Obama said the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion affirmed what he called a “fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters.”

What semantic gymnastics, to borrow a phrase from that 1970 California Medical Association editorial. Our sons and daughters have no rights, freedoms or opportunities at all until they’ve made it past the moment of full-term, completed live birth, because of radical laws instituted through tortured logic by the most ardent abortion supporters. Who fight to protect the right to kill a baby in the middle of the birth canal in the process of being born, otherwise known as partial-birth abortion. Which the abortion movement refers to as “so-called” ‘partial-birth abortion’, which they prefer to simply call “late term abortion.” You don’t get any later than birth to still kill the child and claim the mantle of ‘abortion rights.’

Let’s be honest. The truth about abortion is becoming clearer.

There is an obvious tension between thinking that unborn children are in some sense human lives worth saving, and also thinking that these human beings should have no formal right not to be harmed.

The Associated Press notes at the end of that little piece:

Anti-abortion activists will participate in an annual “March for Life” in Washington on Monday.

The secular media changed their style books to help that linguistic engineering of public opinion a while back. Better stated, the pro-life movement will hold the annual “March for Life” in Washington on Monday. If the media can’t get around to covering it, they’ll have lots of help this time from the armies of young people ready to text and tweet live updates.