Apropos of the sun shining, Georgetown beating Louisville, Branson insisting on a Catholic christening, and the 644th anniversary of the transfer of St. Thomas Aquinas’ relics to the Dominican church in Toulouse, I offer the following apologia:
A human life begins at conception. No serious scientific argument maintains otherwise. That said, many human lives end before birth, solely because the fragile process of gestation often fails.
The Pro-Life Movement does not (and cannot reasonably) object simply to the natural (that is, purely material) evil of embryonic and fetal death. What the Pro-Life Movement objects to is: Embryonic and fetal death caused by human actions, actions that directly or indirectly intend the death of an unborn person.
Granted: An unborn child cannot reasonably be said to possess “rights” like an adult, or even an older child, does. If an unborn child has a right to live, that right can only be vindicated by the generous co-operation of the child’s mother. While this co-operation proceeds with the force of a natural obligation, to carry and bear a child involves many heroic acts of self-sacrifice.
No woman should ever be forced to mother a child. Every woman possesses the right to retain her bodily integrity, even to consecrate herself in a state of perpetual virginity. Every woman has the right to renounce sexual intercourse and motherhood for any period of time prior to marrying, or to put off marrying indefinitely. Any woman who exercises these rights deserves respect and admiration. Rapists should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The Pro-Life Movement takes no particular position regarding the best way for women to live their lives. Every woman must make her own choices about becoming a mother.
The Pro-Life Movement simply proposes the following: It is impossible for any woman who is pregnant, or who even might be pregnant, to retain an upright conscience if she chooses knowingly to act in such a way as would cause her baby to die. The Pro-Life Movement focuses solely on these actions, which intend to kill unborn children, either directly or indirectly. No one can act in this manner, or co-operate in such an action, and retain a pure and honest conscience.
The honesty of human consciences is, then, the object of all the Pro-Life Movement’s efforts. The moral harm of abortion, its darkening effect on conscience—this damages everyone involved. It is impossible to recover from this spiritual injury without profound repentance and change.
The babies themselves are in the hands of God. But the persons who are morally responsible for their deaths find themselves in an untenable state. The Pro-Life Movement holds that we find ourselves in this untenable state as a nation.
With tears, we lament this collective darkness of soul. We insist that purification and enlightenment can and must be a legitimate object of political activism. We reject the abortion-tolerating status quo as foreign to human decency.
If Americans are not bound together by a common desire to live together with consciences that are upright and true, then, in fact, we have no “community” at all. Roe v. Wade has effectively put our country into a kind of state of war. Each individual American lives in a state of war with all the other individuals, without even a treaty establishing basic norms of common life. The Pro-Life Movement seeks an America in which this state of war is brought to an end. We seek a common life together, which is based on the fundamental norm that acting against the life of an innocent person is an unacceptable crime.
This is why I march every year, dear reader.