Every year for the past 38 we have been commemorating the sad day of January 22, 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in the United States. That decision was the culmination of years of lobbying by liberal feminists and pro-choice radicals, and the outcome of secular thinking of the 1960s.
With a few exceptions, the states of our union before 1973 forbade the killing of infants in the womb; but the right to continue to make such protective laws was denied the individual states by seven Supreme Court judges. American citizens were given a license to kill by Roe v. Wade.
Those who defend life are still deeply disturbed by such thinking. Nowadays lawyers and judges refer to Roe v. Wade as “settled law,” meaning that it has a special weight and authority and deserves to remain. In the 1992 Supreme Court Casey decision (Planned Parenthood v. Casey), the majority of justices argued that it would not be good for the country if those Supreme Court decisions that promised to settle serious social issues were overturned too quickly and too often. Such actions would unsettle citizens and lessen their confidence in the Court. If Roe were overturned, they argued, women especially would be affected because their declared right to an abortion would be taken away. The only problem is that in reality a second person is involved in an abortion — the baby — a person who also has rights. This basic and fundamental truth is denied by Roe.
We are disappointed that the killing continues, however, there are great gains that have been made in the past year alone, and we should be encouraged by them. First of all — and most important — the majority of Americans now believe that there are too many abortions, that more protection should be given to the unborn, that restrictions on abortion should be imposed. Eighty percent believe that late term abortions should be banned.
America is becoming more pro-life than before. In 1991 there were 2,200 abortion clinics in the United States; today there are only 670! That’s a net loss of 1,530. In the past 18 months alone some 50 clinics have closed their doors permanently. Wichita, Kansas, does not have a single clinic still open. The hearts of Americans have been changing — and that is what we need to bring about a change in laws.
In addition this past year, pro-life bills have flooded American legislatures. Over 900 were introduced in 2011 and many of them passed into law. Others will become law as the legislative processes unfold. Seven states passed legislation that banned so-called “telemed” abortions, i.e. abortions that are done by taking pills under the direction of a doctor via video teleconferencing. That is the only contact with a physician during the procedure.
Six states passed laws banning abortions of babies 20 weeks old based on the presumption of fetal pain. Thirteen other states introduce similar bills that are working their way through the legislative process. Scientists agree that an unborn baby at five months is capable of suffering during an abortion. Many states have more closely regulated abortion clinics, removed millions of dollars for Planned Parenthood from state budgets, authorized the mandatory showing of sonograms of the unborn baby to the mother. It is hard to deny the humanity of the child when his/her picture is seen.
In 2011 a number of celebrities publicly declared their pro-life views. Tim Tebow, star quarterback for the Denver Broncos, continued to speak about his pro-life views and to thank his mother for not having the abortion which so many urged her to have when she carried him. This past year teen idol Justine Bieber was asked by a Rolling Stone reporter what he thought about abortion.
He replied: “I really don’t believe in abortion. It’s like killing a baby.” (Of course the pro-choice crowd went immediately after him and began calling him “anti-choice Bieber.”) In July of 2011, Eduardo Verastigui, the star of the movie “Bella” (and former romantic star of Mexican soap operas) founded a pro-life organization in Los Angeles named “The Mantle of Guadalupe.”
We should be aware of how much is being done in the United States for life. The tide of history is with the pro-life cause now.
Lifenews Note: Father John A. Leies, SM, STD, is a Contributing Writer of HLI America. He is president emeritus of St. Mary’s University and formerly served as head of the Theology Department there. A version of this article originally appeared in Today’s Catholic, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.