Earlier today, I found myself on the website of the Center for Reproductive Rights. On it, there is an a section dedicated to Roe v. Wade on its 38th anniversary. Melissa Harris-Perry, a Princeton professor I recognize from too much MSNBC viewing (she is a frequent guest and guest host on the network), has the following quote there: “Why is Roe v Wade important to me? It means that my friends, my sisters, my nieces, my students, my daughter and I can learn, grow and live knowing that we will have privacy, safety, and options to make the most important decisions in our lives. It means that we can support one another as we walk down our different paths. It means that we can share or shield our choices without shame or danger.”
Lines like that call to mind a speech former senator of New York James Buckley delivered on the United States Senate floor in 1973, upon introducing his Human Life Amendment:
Abortion, which was once universally condemned in the Western World as a heinous moral and legal offense, is now presented to us as not only a necessary, sometime evil, but as a morally and socially beneficial act. The Christian counsel of perfection which teaches that the greatest love consists in laying down one’s life for one’s friend, has now become, it seems, an injunction to take another’s life for the security and comfort of one’s own. Men who one day argue against the killing of innocent human life in war will be found the next arguing in praise of killing innocent human life in the womb. Doctors foresworn to apply the healing arts to save life now dedicate themselves and their skills to the destruction of life.
To enter the world of abortion on request, Mr. President, is to enter a world that is upside down: It is a world in which black becomes white, and right wrong, a world in which the powerful are authorized to destroy the weak and defenseless, a world in which the child’s natural protector, his own mother, becomes the very agent of his destruction.
I urge my colleagues to join me in protecting the lives of all human beings, born and unborn, for their sake, for our own sake, for the sake of our children, and for the sake of all those who may someday become the victims of the new ethic.
As we stand here on this day, quite literally thousands of unborn children will be sacrificed before the sun sets in the name of the new ethic. Such a situation cannot continue indefinitely without doing irreparable damage to the most cherished principles of humanity and to the moral sensibilities of our people. The issue at stake is not only what we do to unborn children, but what we do to ourselves by permitting them to be killed. With every day that passes, we run the risk of stumbling, willy-nilly, down the path that leads inexorably to the devaluation of all stages of human life, born or unborn. But a few short years ago, a moderate liberalization of abortion was being urged upon us. The most grievous hypothetical circumstances were cast before us to justify giving in a little bit here, a little bit there; and step by step, with the inevitability of gradualness, we were led to the point where, now, we no longer have any valid legal constraints on abortion.
What kind of society is it that will abide this sort of senseless destruction? What kind of people are we that can tolerate this mass extermination? What kind of Constitution is it that can elevate this sort of conduct to the level of a sacrosanct right, presumptively endowed with the blessings of the Founding Fathers, who looked to the laws of nature and of nature’s God as the foundation of this Nation?
It is an ethic that is almost four decades old now. What have we done today to combat it? To heal the wounds it has inflicted? To advance something beautiful in its place?
These are questions we ought to ask ourselves daily. Respect Life Month is a good time to instill the practice.