2022 Victories and Challenges for the New Year
A happy New Year to all of my readers and supporters of Human Life International.
I pray that you have had a blessed and a holy Christmas, filled with much fun, laughter, and new memories. I hope, too, that you have been able to spend some time in quiet, contemplating the great love that God has for us, that He would send His only begotten Son into the world to save us from our sins.
On this second day of the new year, it is fitting to take a moment to reflect on the past year, and to look forward to the year to come. What were the great victories of 2022? How did we fall short? What are the challenges that we face in 2023? How can we personally do more to contribute to the “great campaign in support of life” that Pope St. John Paul II spoke of in Evangelium vitae?
The Year Roe Went
By far the biggest (and best!) news of the year, was the demise of Roe v. Wade. Even as I write these words, I find it difficult to believe that it’s true.
For nearly fifty years, pro-life activists did everything in their power to eradicate this horrific court case. Every year we marched in Washington, DC, as well as in numerous cities across our nation. Every year we worked to elect pro-life politicians. Over and over again, we thought we had elected the president who would finally give us the pro-life Supreme Court we needed. And time and time again we were sorely disappointed.
And then, suddenly, Roe is gone. Abortion-on-demand is no longer the law of the land. Of course, as I have repeatedly noted, the end of Roe is in many ways only the beginning of the fight to protect the preborn. With Roe gone, the issue of abortion returns to individual states. In some of those states – e.g., New York and California – abortion is viewed as being practically sacred. Pro-lifers there have their work cut out, to convince these so-called “tolerant” and “progressive” states that there is nothing tolerant or progressive about massacring preborn children in the womb.
And yet, the demise of Roe is a watershed moment in the history of the pro-life fight, both in the U.S. and globally. In the first place, there is the enormous symbolic value in erasing the fabricated “right” to abortion in Constitutional law. No longer are we a nation that protects baby-killing in law by appealing to our most important founding document. No longer can pro-aborts claim that the legalization of abortion is “inevitable” and permanent.
In the second place, there are the immediate, and massive practical effects. In just one state – Texas – abortions have dropped by a staggering 97% since the reversal of Roe. Recent data from the Society of Family Planning found that there were 10,000 fewer abortions in June and July in the U.S. than would have been expected.
Pro-aborts Lament a ‘Devastating’ Year
It’s hardly surprising, given the above, that the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute recently proclaimed 2022 a “devastating” year for the pro-abortion cause.
However, as their report notes, the bad news from their perspective is not simply due to the reversal of Roe. It is also due to the enormous progress made by pro-life activists at the state level, without which the reversal of Roe would not be nearly as momentous.
All told, pro-life activists passed 50 pro-life measures in various states in 2022. As the Institute notes, this is significantly fewer measures than were passed in 2021 (108). However, there is one critical difference. Many of the measures passed this year were total abortion bans.
This makes sense. In previous years, pro-life activists were hamstrung by Roe, with the result that the best we could do is pass a large number of smaller measures, some of which might only make a small dent in abortion numbers, while hopefully moving the culture in a pro-life direction. However, this year, with Roe gone, pro-lifers could swing for the fences, passing abortion bans in the confidence that courts couldn’t simply toss those bans by appealing to Roe.
The result is that fourteen states are currently abortion-free, or nearly so. And abortion bans in another eight states are currently suspended while litigation proceeds. However, those bans are likely to survive court challenges now that Roe is gone.
The Meteoric Rise of Transgenderism
While there is much to celebrate at the conclusion of 2022, it should come as no surprise that we are also facing some enormous challenges. Unfortunately, on this side of heaven we can never rest on our laurels. The devil is wily.
Perhaps nothing has taken me aback so much as the sudden, and frankly insane, rise in transgender propaganda in the past few years. This phenomenon seemed to explode during the Covid pandemic. I don’t think this is simply a coincidence.
At its heart, transgenderism is based upon fantasy. The idea that a man can be “born in a woman’s body”, or vice versa, is patently ridiculous. There isn’t one iota of scientific evidence that such a thing happens or can happen. In fact, it isn’t even clear what transgender activists mean when they say someone is “born into the wrong body.” As conservative commentator Matt Walsh hilariously showed in his documentary, What is a Woman, transgender activists can’t even say what a woman is, let alone how one could be born into a man’s body, or what it means for a man to “identify” as a woman!
During Covid, however, billions of people were isolated from one another during extended lockdowns. Naturally, many of them spent hugely increased amounts of time on their computers. My fear is that this flight to the digital world also in many cases led to a kind of flight from reality. Particularly vulnerable were the many hundreds of millions of school children, who were left alone with the transgender propagandists on TikTok and other social media sites.
I suspect that these lonely, hyper-digitized conditions were a breeding ground for the kind of fantasy-driven thinking that is feeding the transgender craze. The result has been a catastrophic explosion in people – particularly young people – “identifying” as transgender, with many of them undergoing “transition” processes, including artificial hormones and surgical interventions.
One ray of hope in the midst of this madness, is that a growing number of so-called “de-transitioners” – i.e., those who regret their transitions, and are willing to speak out about their mistake. I predict that this wave of de-transitioners will soon become a tsunami, and that we will soon see a major backlash against the transgender extremism. The only question is: how many people’s lives will be destroyed in the meantime?
The Attack on Marriage
I also do not think it unrelated that 2022 was the year that the radical redefinition of marriage was cemented in law, a change that was preceded by a rapid increase in public acceptance of same-sex “marriage.”
As I wrote a few weeks ago, the U.S. Congress recently passed the so-called Respect for Marriage Act. Rather than respecting marriage, however, this bill codified the redefinition of marriage into U.S. federal law.
For thousands of years, every person with an iota of common sense recognized that the union of a man and a woman is unique, and uniquely important for the welfare of civilization. Only the union of a man and a woman can conceive and welcome children. And only the natural physical, psychological, and spiritual complementarity of the male and female sex can provide the ideal conditions for raising children.
How strange it is that in a few short years, so many people have abandoned that age-old common sense. According to a recent poll, as many as 70% of American citizens support same-sex “marriage.” Troublingly few seem to be worried by the growing, dystopian surrogacy industry, and the increasingly bizarre reproductive technologies that sexually incompatible same-sex couples are using to acquire more-or-less genetically related children.
As with the growing acceptance of transgenderism, my fear is that the blithe acceptance of same-sex “marriage” is traceable to our overall flight from reality. So many people are so isolated, lonely, and increasingly hooked on the digital world, and in particular hardcore pornography, that we’ve lost our ability to tell fact from fantasy. We are increasingly convinced that we can mold and shape the physical world to our whims, in a manner similar to how we can shape the digital world to our desires.
Gender is whatever we say it is. Marriage is whatever we say it is. Sexuality is whatever we say it is.
However, the physical world has a habit of reasserting itself according to its own innate principles. That is to say, natural law exists. Many of those who underwent gender transitions are learning this lesson in a hard way. You cannot pump your body full of massive quantities of artificial hormones, or mutilate your body surgically, in an effort to escape the body and nature given to you, without consequences.
The consequences of the breakdown of marriage are somewhat less self-evident, but are no less devastating, as the many children raised in broken homes have learned. One of my fears is that the flight from reality in relation to marriage and sexuality will make it difficult for us to reassert the reality of the humanity of preborn children, even as we make some progress in law in protecting the preborn. We cannot lose sight of the fact that these issues are interconnected, and that robust protections for preborn children depend upon a robust understanding of the God-given meaning of sexuality and of marriage.
Lean on Mary
It is fitting that the Church marks the new year by celebrating the great Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.
Facing a new year can be daunting. One thinks about all the struggles of the past year. One worries what the future will hold. There are so many uncertainties, so much disturbing news, so many injustices. Even as we make progress on one front (e.g., the demise of Roe), it seems as if the devil has simply slipped in the back door (e.g., transgender madness, increasing secularization).
The only thing we can do with all these fears, ultimately, is to offer them to our Lord Jesus and his Blessed Mother. It is comforting to remember that Mary was like us in all things but sin. She, too, faced immense uncertainty, and underwent unspeakable sufferings. Her heart was pierced with seven swords.
And yet, she never lost her peace. She shows us the way to live in this vale of tears, filled with hope, and living in intimate union with her Son. As Pope St. John Paul II said in a homily on the Solemnity of the Mother of God at the end of the last millennium,
The Gospel reminds us that [Mary] “kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). So, she did in Bethlehem, on Golgotha at the foot of the cross, and on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended in the Upper Room.
And so, she does today too. The Mother of God and of human beings keeps in her heart all of humanity’s problems, great and difficult, and meditates upon them. The Alma Redemptoris Mater walks with us and guides us with motherly tenderness towards the future. Thus, she helps humanity cross all the “thresholds” of the years, the centuries, the millenniums, by sustaining their hope in the One who is the Lord of history.
It is fitting, too, that on January 1 the Church celebrates the World Day of Peace. As war, and rumors of war spread across the earth, and as the war against innocent preborn children and the sanctity of the family continues, it is fitting that we look to Mary, the Queen of Peace, to spread her mantle over the earth, and to show us how to love one another with the kind of love with which she loved her Son.
As we begin this new year, let us consecrate all our efforts to spread the Gospel of Life to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. And let us set out into the deep with confidence in God’s great goodness, and his Blessed Mother’s tender love for us.
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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 email@example.com.