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Editor’s note: The following column first appeared in Catholic New York — America’s largest Catholic newspaper.
Everyone seems to lament the divisiveness in our society today—in politics, culture, schools, even within our beloved Church.
One thing that seems to unite all sides is the worry that our world has lost a basic respect for life. Left and right, Democrat and Republican, East and West, across the globe, all seem to agree.
-We grieve at the plight of refugees and immigrants at the border, scared, worried, desperate, caught between two worlds, treated at times like chattel instead of human beings made in God’s image and likeness;
-We are moved by the scene in Afghanistan with people hurt, injured, and even killed in desperate attempts to escape, falling like cargo from the evacuation planes;
-We’re still shaken by the memories of COVID, with questions still abounding about our elders being crammed into unprepared nursing homes without proper care, the lives of fragile elders treated shabbily;
Timothy Dolan, former president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is the cardinal archbishop of New York. (New York Archdiocese)
-The violence on our streets sickens us daily, with innocent little children and unsuspecting victims killed by callous killers in drive-by shootings, awaiting a train, or murdered for a cell phone;
-What about the murder of George Floyd, and subsequent carnage on our urban streets, which continues to scare us;
-The rise in suicides, especially among our youth, people in crisis pressed by unknown agony to take their very lives;
-We fear turning on the TV or social media, scared of news of another mass shooting . . .
I could continue, but something tells me we all agree: human life is now treated as useless, worthless, disposable.
Pope Francis, as usual, has tagged it: we live in a “throwaway-culture.” Society tells us that life is OK, the Holy Father observes, as long as it’s useful, productive, not a challenge or an inconvenience. As he vigorously states, no, all life matters, every life is sacred, no matter what conditions might threaten it.
Where will all this stop, we ask?
I propose it will not end until we stop the presumed untouchable radical abortion license that seems to have captivated a segment of our society. As Mother Teresa wrote, “We must not be surprised when we hear of murder, of killings, of wars, of hatred. If a mother can kill her own child, what is left for us but to kill each other?”
Think about it: if the fragile life of an innocent baby in the womb of her/his mother— which nature protects as the safest place anywhere—can be terminated, who is secure? If conveniences, “choices,” or “my rights” can trump the life of the baby in the womb, what human life is unthreatened?
When the law allows vulnerable life to be destroyed, forces health care workers to do it against their consciences, and demands that our tax money subsidize it, what message are we giving about the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of life?
When those potent forces pushing the abortion agenda will not allow any thoughtful consideration of any reasonable limit on a right to take the tiny life of a pre-born infant, even up to the moment of birth, where do we go?
Robert Kennedy famously observed that the health and moral fiber of society is gauged by the way we protect the most helpless and vulnerable. Who is more fragile and unable to defend herself/himself than the tiny infant in the womb? To suck that baby out of the womb, dismember it, or poison it is, as Pope Francis describes, like hiring a “hitman” to assassinate a victim.
I recently listened to some of our lawmakers describe the terrible dilemma they experienced when they were told they were pregnant. They described the answer they chose in aborting their baby. They spoke chillingly but movingly to defend their choice.
But, I ask: who speaks on behalf of the helpless, defenseless baby?
Well, we must! Women and men of all faiths, or none at all—since abortion is not primarily a religious issue, but one of civil rights—are uniting to speak up; the unfettered, unquestioned “right” to an abortion is inhumane, violent, and contrary to human rights.
As with other issues of human rights, it is essential that there be equal justice under law for the baby.
So, while we rally for equal protection of the law for the baby, let us also rally around women tempted to terminate their baby’s life, providing care, compassion, accompaniment, proper medical attention, alternatives such as adoption, and a culture that protects babies and moms before and after birth.
Ask again: when will all this violence, and disregard for life that causes us to cringe, halt?
The first step has to be an end to abortion.