The Humanity of the Unborn Child
All Life is Sacred
“Woe to you if you do not succeed in defending life.”
— Pope St. John Paul II: 1993, Denver, Colorado
Every day in our country, thousands of pregnant women enter so-called medical “clinics.” When they emerge hours later, they are no longer pregnant. Their babies, so recently living and growing within the warmth and safety of their mothers’ wombs, have been suctioned out with a vacuum, or injected with poison or scalded to death with saline fluid and then pulled apart limb by limb with forceps.
The gruesome reality of what happens to those babies is disguised by a veneer of medical respectability, by the white gowns worn by profiteers who play at being “doctors” and “nurses.” And it is hidden by the plethora of carefully crafted euphemisms designed to cast a pall of confusion over the abortion debate: “products of conception,” “blob of tissue,” “reproductive rights,” “freedom of choice,” etc.
But no number of white gowns, and no number of euphemisms coined by clever propagandists can ever change the cold reality of what happens in every abortion mill every day of the week – the deliberate, calculated killing of living human beings.
The first part of the mission of the pro-life movement, then, is to peel back these layers of obfuscation and deception and to show to the world what – or rather who – is at the center of the abortion debate: the unborn child. And the second part of our mission is to speak for that unborn child, who has no voice of his own.
The March for Life: A Voice for the Voiceless
In my books, the annual March for Life in Washington D.C. is one of the most effective tools devised by the pro-life movement to accomplish both of these goals.
Though the mainstream media works mightily to ignore the March for Life – actually, any pro-life and family march – the growing phenomenon of social media and independent conservative media has ensured that the witness of the hundreds of thousands of pro-life Americans willing to stand in frigid and often inclement weather in D.C. to support the right to life of all human beings is broadcast around the world.
Furthermore, even the mainstream media can’t entirely ignore the March, especially these past few years when both the President and Vice-President have addressed those participating. As a consequence, millions of people have been exposed to pro-life information, arguments and witness.
They have seen, first-hand, how much the actual pro-life movement differs from the media caricatures. Far from being a fringe minority, pro-lifers have created the largest annual human rights march in U.S. history. And far from being hateful zealots, pro-lifers are decent, ordinary people motivated by an extraordinary love.
“This is a movement founded on love and grounded in the nobility and dignity of every human life,” said President Trump in his address to the March this year. “When we look into the eyes of a newborn child, we see the beauty and the human soul and the majesty of God’s creation. We know that every life has meaning and that every life is worth protecting.”
As one popular pro-life blogger noted on Twitter on the day of the March, what makes the March for Life so unique, is that “nobody in attendance is marching for themselves. Nobody is demanding rights or privileges for themselves. Everyone is marching on behalf of those who cannot march.”
What a witness!
Pro-Life = Pro-Science
Pro-abortion advocates want everyone to believe that abortion is a highly “complex” matter rife with shades of grey. But it’s not. Ultimately it comes down to one, simple, scientifically-answerable question: is the unborn child human or not?
At this year’s March for Life, Ben Shapiro, a wildly popular young, Jewish conservative media star, answered that question with his trademark clarity during an hour-long broadcast from the main stage – a broadcast likely watched by hundreds of thousands of people.
Shapiro systematically dismantled ten of the most popular pro-abortion arguments, noting that the core pro-life arguments, far from being politically partisan or faith-based, are politically agnostic and purely empirical. As he put it, the pro-life cause is based upon the “sheer, unadulterated science of human life.”
Furthermore, he noted, victory is inevitable since the “science is moving in the direction of our movement.”
St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) once succinctly summarized this unassailable and scientifically-backed pro-life argument. “If the right [to] life is an inherent and inalienable right, it must surely obtain wherever human life exists,” she said. “No one can deny that the unborn child is a distinct human being, that it is human, and that it is alive. It is unjust, therefore, to deprive the unborn child of its fundamental right to life on the basis of its age, size, or condition of dependency.”
Even more succinct still is this statement by Dr. Jerome Lejeune, the world-famous scientist who discovered the cause of Down Syndrome: “Life has a very long history, but each of us has a very neat beginning, the moment of conception.”
A couple of years ago, Bill Nye and a bunch of other pro-abortion and liberal activists organized a so-called “March for Science.” As it turns out, however, the March for Life is the original March for Science – a march supporting the unassailable “scientific consensus” on when human life begins, against the hopelessly outdated, faith-based arguments of pro-abortion “human-life deniers.”
The Sacred Value of Human Life
But though the pro-life position is entirely defensible using science and reason alone, faith has a way of cutting through the rhetoric and personal prejudices and opening hearts to receive the arguments from reason.
Pro-abortion activists like to point out that a huge number of the participants at the March for Life are religious. Every year, for instance, hundreds of priests, seminarians, bishops and cardinals participate in the Vigil Mass for Life at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, while tens of thousands of Catholic youth attend various youth masses on the morning of the March.
Abortion activists seem to think that this somehow amounts to “proof” that the pro-life cause is simply fueled by religious “bigotry.” I wonder, however, if they would say the same thing about the historical fact that huge numbers of those involved in the effort to abolish the slave trade were also religious, and explicitly motivated by religious arguments? Were their efforts, too, just religious bigotry?
In Scripture, children are always viewed as gifts from God, and divine image-bearers. Thus Psalm 127 depicts the man whose quiver is filled with children as being blessed. Psalm 128 depicts that same man as doubly-blessed if he exercises great care and faith in the raising of his children to walk in the fear of the Lord.
And then there is Psalm 139, which reads: “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know. My bones are not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth.” (Psalm 139: 13-16).
The mass participation of Christians at the March for Life, and the central place given to prayer, is not a cause for shame, but rather a badge of honour. It shows that the profound respect for human life found in the Scriptures has seeped into our bones and imbued us with the spiritual energy needed to take risks and make sacrifices to defend the right to life of all human beings. It also emphasizes the truth that the flourishing of a Culture of Life can only come about as a consequence of widespread conversion of heart.
The only shame about the presence of Christians at the March for Life is that there are not so many hundreds of thousands more – that every Christian pastor in the country is not there and has not exhorted his flock to attend.
We Must Act
Our culture desperately needs to be reminded that all humans are made in the image of God – Imago Dei – and that human life has inherent and inalienable dignity and value.
As Pope St. John Paul II lamented at World Youth Day in Denver: “In our own century, as at no other time in history, the ‘Culture of Death’ has assumed a social and institutional form of legality to justify the most horrible crimes against humanity: genocide, ‘final solutions’, ‘ethnic cleansings’, and the massive ‘taking of lives of human beings even before they are born, or before they reach the natural point of death’.”
The “father of lies,” said the pope, “relentlessly tries to eradicate from human hearts the sense of gratitude and respect for the original, extraordinary and fundamental gift of God: human life itself.”
Given the stakes at play, there is not one of us who is not responsible in some way for stemming the tide of this Culture of Death. “Woe to you if you do not succeed in defending life,” the pope warned the youth in Denver. “The Church needs your energies, your enthusiasm, your youthful ideals, in order to make the Gospel of Life penetrate the fabric of society, transforming people’s hearts and the structures of society in order to create a civilization of true justice and love.”
One of the simplest, most effective ways to declare your support for the Gospel of Life is to attend a March for Life. As Pope St. John Paul II stated, “Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places, like the first Apostles who preached Christ and the Good News of salvation in the squares of cities, towns and villages.”
Though the March for Life in Washington D.C. is the largest march in the U.S., it has fostered hundreds of imitation marches around the world. Even if you cannot attend the Washington March, I urge you to look up the march closest to you, and to attend – to join the “Great Campaign in support of Life” (Evangelium Vitae, ¶95).
Our country, and the world, are thirsting for Christians who eschew the lure of comfort, and proactively swim against the tide of the Culture of Death. Stand-up, therefore, and make your voice be heard, for your voice is the only voice that the unborn have. Silence is not an option.
Father Shenan J. Boquet was ordained in 1993 and is a priest of the Houma-Thibodaux Roman Catholic Diocese in Louisiana, his home state, where he served before joining HLI as its President in August 2011. Father Boquet earned a BA from Saint Joseph Seminary College, a Master of Divinity (MDiv) from Notre Dame Seminary Graduate School of Theology, a Certification Program in Health Care Ethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and a Master of Science in Bioethics (MSBe) from the University of Mary in Bismarck. In 2018, Father Boquet was awarded an honorary visiting professorship by the Benedict XVI Catholic University in Trujillo, Peru. He is available for interviews and bookings on behalf of HLI by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope all prolifers will think about the need to forgive abortion, and the culture of death in general. Slavery led to the American civil war, and civil & national wars over abortion are probably in the making as you read this. Only forgiveness can avoid such wars.
The Church in her wisdom desires the conversion of sinners. God cannot forgive those who do not want to be forgiven but are obstinate in their sin. Abortion is a sin, and if abortionists ask for forgiveness and seek to convert to God changing their behavior, then they shall find forgiveness. For there to be love, there must be freedom. If we freely wish to ignore God, then being the gentleman that He is, He will let us go our way, but He will not change His laws to accommodate our caprice.
Since moral choices make things become our goals or our means, there is only one alternative in giving value to people as a means to our ends. We can make sure that their good becomes ours (as happens between friends and in the execution of the evangelical mandate). In such a way, we realize that people are entities that realize our goals and their goals. The key is to understand that they are capable of understanding and wanting, that they are people and not just individuals who serve our ends, that is, they are mere means for us. They are ends in themselves, that is, bodies that make morally free acts. Here is the basis of the absolute value that must be given to the person, both human and angelic or divine. So, if you cannot see the dignity of the human person in the womb, you cannot see the dignity of the human person in general. That is then the cause for all the evil around us, including wars, famine, and strife. It is no wonder that after contraception was accepted, abortion was next, and now we see euthanasia. It is all a consequence of not understanding the human person and the human act.
As Mother Teresa said, once abortion is no longer accepted, wars will be over. Think about the connections, Mr. Jolliffe.
Two words: Project Rachel!
There is so much forgiveness and hope and healing. God’s mercy for all. Being prolife is about judging an action (abortion) and declaring it wrong, not cancelling the human being who has chosen the sin. We want to see all post-abortive women, friends, men, doctors and nurses and medical staff, politicians, or once stalwart defenders of death – to have that moment of conversion and grace and turn back towards God.
And while it is not a Catholic organization directly, this group founded by Abby Johnson is filled with prolife supporters who work to help people formerly in the industry:
And Then There Were None
Forgiveness, healing – for ALL.