Roe v. Wade Overturned: Where were you?

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On June 24, at 10:14 a.m., my phone lit up with a text from my dad. I was just finishing a walk with the toddler I was nannying, and my heart pounded as I leaned down to see the message. 

Few texts have ever brought as much emotion as the one I read that morning in an Indiana driveway. As I stared at the sentence, “Roe is overturned!” I began to laugh with a joy that was promptly accompanied by tears of gratitude. The sweet toddler was understandably bewildered.

Although the Dobbs decision and the overturning of Roe v. Wade is only the beginning of the battle over abortion in America, pro-life Americans should celebrate June 24 for the historic triumph that it is. 

My dad’s profession on the front lines of the pro-life movement has made me about as cynical as they come in regards to the protection of the unborn. For nearly half a century, America had suffocated beneath the blood-stained death robe of Roe v. Wade. Despite the significant progress made in many states over the last several decades, there was only so much that could be accomplished, so long as the Supreme Court upheld a supposed “right” to abortion. 

On the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the shameful decision of 1973 tumbled to Hell. Despite the uncertainty of future pro-life legislation, the day was a reminder that the Lord truly hears the cry of the poor and that He makes all things new. 

Over the last several months, you have likely heard of the need to not only make abortion illegal, but unthinkable. A crucial solution to this need lies in one of my favorite questions to ask over the last several months: “Where were you when Roe was overturned?”

When I ask this question, some of the answers are viscerally powerful, like the people present in Washington D.C., or the UD Summer Rome students who were scattered across European cathedrals when the decision was released. 

But the majority of people don’t have much of a story to share with me. My mom and I were both at our respective jobs. My sister snuck onto her phone in ballet class to see if the decision had been released. Several of my UD friends were still asleep.

There was no flash of lightning, no flattening forcefield like in Peter Jackson’s depiction of Sauron’s defeat. A shameful period in American history ended on a Friday that was so ordinary for most people.

It is this ordinary beauty of quotidian life that holds the power to make abortion unthinkable. Now that abortion is no longer the law of the land, we can begin to truly rebuild a culture of life. Much of this is accomplished through explicitly pro-life initiatives, such as supporting crisis pregnancy centers, raising awareness about safe haven laws and educating ourselves and others on pro-life apologetics and fetal development. 

But the full ramifications of 49 years of federalized, legalized abortion will not be seen for years to come. All Americans born after 1973 have grown up in a country whose legislation inculcates the belief that some lives are not worth living. We have grown up in a culture that prizes autonomy over all other goods, including personhood. Abortion promotes sexual license, offering men and women a way to take advantage of one another with consequences that seem nonexistent, but are in fact lifeshattering. 

Tocqueville writes that “it would be better for the democratic man to believe that his soul passes into the body of a pig after death than to fall into materialistic atheism.” Dialoguing with pro-abortion protesters this summer revealed that many Americans justify abortion by believing that they themselves are nothing more than a clump of cells.

But when I grow angry thinking about the pro-abortion protestor who told my sister, “I hope you die,” I think of all the mentors and friends who pour out their love for my sister and who teach her about her beauty and identity. I think of all the young couples practicing chastity and battling our pornographic culture of death through their witness to the beauty and dignity of the human person.

When my heart grows heavy considering the souls who are caught in a generational cycle of broken, fatherless families, I think of my parents. Their love and fidelity not only forms their five daughters but uniquely reveals Christ’s love and grace to their community, city, and Church. 

When I weep for the 62 million babies who never had a birthday, I must also think of all of my friends and family members who are alive because of their birth-mothers’ profound courage to choose life and place them up for adoption. 

With every mother who chooses life, every community that sacrifices to support her and her baby, and every individual who witnesses to the inherent joy of the Gospel of Life, we move one step closer to a world where abortion is seen for the heinous act that it is.

We need solid pro-life legislation more than ever. But we also desperately need ordinary men and women whose lives proclaim the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: “Each of us is willed. Each of us is loved. Each of us is necessary.” 

Where were you when Roe was overturned? Where will you be today to make the destruction of human life unthinkable?

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