An event that took place in our nation’s capitol today, the annual March for Life, attracts a huge crowd of marchers … but often fails to garner more than cursory attention from the nightly news. (Digital accounts usually offer some attention.) In the March for Life, people from around the country gather to mark the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
Abortion is an issue that tends to make people squirm … as it should. Some people consider abortion a “necessary evil” we must tolerate because of the number of unplanned pregnancies that occur; opponents of abortion maintain that unplanned pregnancies can be (and should be) addressed apart from destroying the precious, unique lives of unborn babies. Supporters of abortion uphold the procedure as an important choice – a woman’s sacred right to choose; opponents argue at least two individuals are involved in every abortion “choice” and the humanity of unborn babies is casually denied and ignored.
In reading this blog, you have no doubt come across previous comments and posts about abortion. Only a week ago, I referred to the scourge wrought by abortion within the black community. Even though blacks represent less than 13% of the overall population, black women have the highest abortion rate of any ethnic group … 483 abortions for every 1,000 live births.
People involved in the March for Life have rallied long and hard to honor life and with the hope of ending legalized abortion. The photo at left shows a crowd from 1974. Why do they continue to bring this cause before the public? Why haven’t they just given up after all these years?
The answer is simple: babies lives matter or #BabiesLivesMatter. Unborn babies have no voice; someone must speak for them!
When abortion was first legalized via the Roe v. Wade decision rendered by the Supreme Court, most Americans (generally) knew little about the procedure. The usual explanation was far from straightforward, posing how a small “glob of tissue” that had yet to “become human” would be surgically removed … all very sanitized and sterile. Women were urged not to think too seriously about the actual procedure, just to have the abortion done quickly and cleanly … don’t agonize over it … and then carry on with the rest of their lives.
Forty some years removed from Roe v. Wade, we’ve learned much more about the procedure … and while denial is still a preferred protective mechanism, it’s doesn’t sit well with what we know about fetal development. Nor does it justify destroying babies in the womb, particularly when stories of premature babies surviving and thriving have become a common occurrence, especially over the last twenty years.
The personal story of Dr. Anthony Levatino is instructive. This New York state ob/gyn performed abortions as a part of his normal medical practice. Over time, especially as he repeatedly reconstructed the tiny bodies of aborted babies (to ensure he’d successfully removed all the tissue), he began to realize he could no longer deny that arms and legs and brain matter and skeletons he observed had come from once-live human beings. And he had killed them – legally disposed of them!
As I think about the decades-long struggle to protect all human life – not just the so-called wanted babies, but ALL babies – I can’t help but recall the struggle of William Wilberforce (and his allies, including philanthropist Hannah More) to end the scourge of slavery.
For twenty-six years, Wilberforce carried the parliamentary lead to end the slave trade throughout Great Britain. When that effort eventually succeeded (in 1807), he was only halfway through the battle. Wilberforce continued to lead the British anti-slavery movement until 1826 when he left Parliament due to ill health. Mere days before his death (in 1833), the Slavery Abolition Act was finally adopted.
Though slavery was ended in Britain, it remained in place in the US where the abolition movement took inspiration from Britain’s vanguard role. William Wilberforce was a role model for abolitionists in our country. Further, the oldest private, historically black university in our country, Ohio’s Wilberforce University, is named to acknowledge Wilberforce’s monumental contribution. And, yes, we honor Wilberforce today for his tenacious striving in a struggle that seemed without end.
Today’s March for Life carries the same banner Wilberforce held high. Life is sacred – all lives. We should treat each one with the dignity and care we all deserve.