Moving Forward on the Pro-life Highway

01-19-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

After the US Supreme Court issued the Dred Scott Decision, President Lincoln and the US Congress passed a law-making slavery illegal in any US territory or any new state that might be carved out of those territories. Lincoln refused to accept that a slim majority of the Court could impose a policy that was binding on the nation as a whole or on the voter who considered it wrong so as to remove the issue from legislatures and voters. It was a way to both undermine the institution of slavery and push back against the Supreme Court’s ruling. In a somewhat similar manner since January 1973, many Presidents and Congresses have issued executive orders or passed laws pushing back against the Court’s Roe v. Wade decision and demonstrating that abortion is not a settled policy binding upon the states. So, this week we mark another March for Life and another push to undermine the legality of abortion on demand.

The current Administration has put forward an amazing array of executive orders and policy and funding changes that have protected conscience rights of medical providers and restricted tax payer funding of abortions. Add to this the frenetic pace of appointing Federal Judges, who are hopefully more inclined to staying with the original meaning of the US Constitution (which never grants abortion rights) and prolife legislation may be less likely to be struck down. And that can outlast an executive order by a President or funding restrictions by a Congress. Which means state laws that prohibit post -abortion infanticide, Partial-birth abortion, limiting abortion to 20 weeks, Parental Notification, Ultrasound and a ban on sex-selective abortions are less likely to be overturned. This term the US Supreme Court will hear a case about a Louisiana Law that requires a doctor who performs abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby Hospital. The difference this time is no Justice Kennedy on the bench. We’ll see if the two newest Supremes sing a different song than Kennedy.

And for the first time, a US President when addressing the UN General Assembly was unambiguously clear on the issue of abortion:

"Americans will also never tire of defending innocent life. We are aware that many United Nations projects have attempted to assert a global right to tax-payer funded abortion on demand, right up until the moment of delivery. Global bureaucrats have no business attacking the sovereignty of nations that wish to protect innocent life. Like many nations here today, we in America believe that every child, born and unborn, is a sacred gift from God."

The statement along with the new position that the U.S. and allies will oppose efforts to impose a global right to abortion in international law caused a lot of ru+ed feathers in the permanent, mostly abortion happy, bureaucracy of the US State Department and caused grinding and gnashing of teeth among members of the European Union, who are oh, so disappointed in the US position. The foreign policy of the US now prohibits funding for abortion in foreign aid and in any family planning services that the US funds internationally.

On the domestic side, President Trump has issued an executive order forbidding Title X funded Family Planning Clinics, like Planned Parenthood from referring women for abortion or lose their funding. The Department of Health and Human Services issued new guidelines and protections for medical workers who morally object to performing certain services such as abortion or sex-reassignment surgeries. It also allowed churches, monasteries, religious organizations and businesses to opt out of insurance which grossly violated their sincerely held beliefs.

One of my personal favorites is when the President called out the mainstream media for its failure over 40+ years to cover the Annual March for Life. It is amazing how year after year, in the freezing cold of January in Washington, DC, the media could ignore hundreds of thousands of people who March for Life. Which, lest the media wanted to prove Trump correct, they doubled the coverage in 2019. For much of the media, prolife people just don't exist or where they do, it is handfuls of crazed, women-hating knuckle-dragging Neanderthals like the students from Covington Catholic High School. Guess who got the last laugh on that one… The annual March for Life reminds the country that the issue of abortion is still deeply contested and its imposition on the entire nation by the Court is at odds with the moral values of a great number of its citizens.

While our Prolife efforts still have a long way to go, much progress has been made. Pro-life efforts are working. The abortion rate in America is the lowest it has been since Roe v. Wade and in recent years states have passed more than 400 laws to protect the unborn. The number of freestanding abortion clinics in the U.S. has dropped from 2179 in 1991 down to 710 today. 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. (the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus)


Fr. John B.