We Won’t Go Away

This is the fifth anniversary of this piece I wrote originally as a National Catholic Register editorial, but which has been republished yearly.

America, we won’t go away. Many people wish we would, and heaven knows we would rather be doing almost anything else. But we can’t go away, and we won’t.

I’m sure you’ve seen us. We may have made you angry, or sad, or we may have made you turn quickly away and find something else to look at.

You may have seen us two days before Christmas outside the Planned Parenthood building. The old man with the rosary, the college kids in sweats, the sad-looking woman clutching brochures and an “I Regret My Abortion” sign — that was us.

Maybe you felt offended that we stuck abortion in your face as you rushed out to do last-minute shopping, cheered by Christmas songs on the radio. Well, we felt offended that the “clinic” was open that day. We wanted to enjoy ourselves, too.

Or maybe you heard one of us at a town meeting you attended at the school or the senior center. Maybe it was a savvy young woman lawyer that you heard voice the pro-life argument. Or maybe the voice of the pro-life movement you heard was a halting, nervous voice that got a little too angry or whose words got a little too tangled. In either case, that was us, too.

We may have made you uncomfortable that day. We’re sorry for that. But we’ll be there again at the next town meeting, too. And the next. And the next.

We won’t go away, and we won’t stop talking about abortion. We won’t stop saying, again and again, that this is wrong, and it has to stop.

America, you know more about the unborn than you ever have before. Life magazine used to sell out when they put an unborn baby on the cover. Now, we’ve seen National Geographic’s “In the Womb.” We have sonogram photos at the front of our baby books and we saw our children for the first time in utero, through a video monitor.

America, you know more than ever that abortion hurts women. Those of us who have had an abortion know the guilt at what was done and the anger at those who made it seem inevitable, who refused all help except the kind that kills. Those of us who have a friend who has had an abortion know it is a topic that we must never, ever discuss. It causes too much sadness, inflicts too much pain that can’t be relieved.

America, you know what abortion is, and we know you know. We won’t stand by and pretend with you that nothing is happening.

And we won’t go away, because we can’t make abortion go away from our own consciences. Abortion stings us. The sting is there when we see an empty playground and remember that 1 in 3 children in America dies by abortion. The sting is there when we read of successful surgery saving unborn children in the womb, and remember that babies don’t survive the most common surgery in the womb.

Is abortion necessary for women’s rights? Ask the teens impregnated by older men and brought to the “clinic” by them, too. Is it a matter of choice? Ask the women who wanted to have their babies but were badgered and pressured and tricked and even forced to kill instead.

But doesn’t abortion help women? Ask the ones who died on the operating table — or the ones who say they wish they died because the depression is too much to bear.

What would America be like without abortion? We can’t even imagine. In It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey gets a glimpse of what Bedford Falls would be like if he hadn’t been born, but then he returns to a world where that tragedy never happened.

We won’t get to return to the world we could have had.

Did we abort a statesman who would have changed the course of this country? Did we abort the musician who would have taken that art — and our emotions with it — to new heights? What cures, stories, jokes, athletic feats or technological innovations did we abort? What great actor is missing from our movies, what great teachers will never inspire our kids at school?

No, America, we won’t go away, no matter how much you want us to or how much we want to go.

We want to think we would have told the slave-sellers, “No way. Not here. I will use every legal means to stop you.” We like to think we wouldn’t have sat still in World War II Germany as the trains rumbled by. We wish we could have sat with Rosa Parks or prayed with Ruby Bridges on the way to school.

But we can’t do any of that. What we can do is remind you, America, in season and out of season, of the words you were founded on: “All men are endowed by their Creator with the right to life.”

So you’ll see us shivering in the cold again this January for the March for Life. And you’ll see us next January, and the January after that, and the January after that, until we wear you down at last and there’s no more reason to march.

And if we die before you change, America, we’ll be able to stand before God and say, “I defended the defenseless. I stood for the weak. My brothers and sisters couldn’t cry ‘Stop,’ so I cried it for them. And I refused to go away.”


Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., where he teaches in the Journalism and Mass Communications department and edits the college’s Catholic identity speech digest, The Gregorian.



  • MLF

    Steve Jobs

  • Panda Rosa

    Did we abort a statesman who would have changed the course of this country? Did we abort the musician who would have taken that art — and our emotions with it — to new heights? What cures, stories, jokes, athletic feats or technological innovations did we abort? What great actor is missing from our movies, what great teachers will never inspire our kids at school?

    Or was it the drug pusher who menaces our kids outside their school that we lost? The gang leader who’s shooting death made the evening news? The trailer trash tramp screaming at her man on Jerry Springer? The burned-out crack-head scuffing his way along the alley, desperately looking for a victim to rob in order to score another hit? The wanna-be rap queen prancing around half-dressed in front of our daughters?

    I’m only saying that we don’t know what we’ve lost, the bad as well as the good. Abortion is a tragedy without equal. So is a child growing up without hope, without structure, without support. To rescue the unborn should also mean to give them the chance to achieve a worthy life. The Church does that much.

  • whart

    Thanks, Tom. Nope, we’re not going away, not now, not ever. God bless all of those who marched in the cold and damp drizzle. Your sacrifice is not for naught.


    In May of 1975, poised to enter college for my freshman year, I found that I was pregnant with my future husband’s child. I discovered this pregnancy the day that I registered for college, going with my sister to a Planned Parenthood Clinic so my father would not know that I had gone. Finding that I was indeed pregnant, the representative of the Clinic immediately suggested that I schedule an abortion before I “ruin my life.” There was no discussion of my family situation, financial condition, or support system. My sister, who attended the visit with me, was also recruited to encourage me to proceed with an abortion, to the extent that they frightened her about the safety of my carrying a pregnancy to full term at 17 years old. God prevailed, however, as I knew that there was absolutely no possible way that I would even consider an abortion, despite the objections that the Clinic representative never hesitated to bring to our attention. I left there that day knowing that I would have to tell my father, knowing that I would not be attending the college where I had just registered, and knowing that this was the path I would choose to take, regardless of what my future husband would decide. I felt very strongly that although my baby was not conceived in the holy sacrament of marriage, God would not want me to abort my baby. My husband and I did marry and went on to have two more sons. Now, 37 years later, my son Chad is currently in Afghanistan defending our country, for the fifth deployment! He is an exuberant and engaged father to two children, Charlie who is 3, and Sydney who is 1 1/2. When I think of the fact that Charlie and sweet Sydney would never have existed had I made that terrible decision, it makes me realize even more the toll that abortion takes on the individual and the future family of that woman. Thank God that he spoke to me that day and long before I ever had to make that decision. I was not alone that day and have not been alone since. I pray that women who are in the position to make that decision seek out prayerful counsel and have the faith that their situation can be resolved without resorting to abortion.

    • Diane

      God Bless you, Karen, for your courage and strong faith you had at the young age of 17!! I think you should travel the country and talk to young girls everywhere about the evils of abortion, and the preciousness of human life.

  • susan guderjan

    Absolutely we will not be going away but increasing in numbers, each year tens of thousands of people brave the cold damp January weather to Walk for Life their numbers growing. Killing babies for convenience is wrong, coercion to abort is also wrong, the babies have their own separate DNA, completely different from their mothers, their very own, they are in the womb to be protected till it is time for their birth, not to be torn limb by limb and decapitated.Planned Parenthood is not Pro Choice it is pro abortion, it’s their solution so they recommend it to all women who enter their doors,it’s the way they make the most money, abortions are great for their bottom line not the care of women and their babies. If you still believe in 2012 that PP is a medical clinic to help women then it is time to pull your head out of the sand and check the statistics of women who have had abortions, they are left with a future full of physical and mental health issues.Always support pregnant women, never aid them in an abortion.By the media’s absence in reporting today’s march as in years of the past it proves completely how they report only on liberal elitist agendas, ignoring the rest of the Pro-Life country who work hard and pay taxes only to be forced to see their hard earned money spent unwisely to hurt women and kill their babies.



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